Long should friendship last before dating

In my experience counseling and writing on this topic, everybody thinks (or at least we'll end up in one of the situations you just talked about.

How intimate of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is OK? Won't the friendship be ruined if one of us expresses romantic interest and the other doesn't respond favorably?Basically, the question seems to be how exactly single Christians should relate to members of the opposite sex in that large and awkward zone between "we've never met" and a deliberate dating or courting relationship. I won't repeat the full history lesson here, as several Boundless authors have already discussed it (Joshua Rogers most recently, in his excellent piece "Your Friendgirl Deserves Better").In this series of articles, I've raised several biblical principles regarding the way we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.First Thessalonians 4:1-8 admonishes us not to wrong or "defraud" our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.More specifically, verse 10 reminds us that "[l]ove does no harm to its neighbor." Romans 14:1-15:7 offers a discourse on favoring weaker brothers and sisters above ourselves, valuing and encouraging that which is good in the souls of others.

Bottom line: I believe it is difficult and rare — as a practical matter — to honor these principles in the context of a close, intimate friendship between two single Christians of the opposite sex.If I were a single person desiring marriage, the answers to these questions would matter to me.I admit we're not talking absolutes here, but almost.In other words, they tend to involve much of the type of intimacy and companionship involved in — and meant for — marriage.Yet even with all this deep communication going on, at least one aspect of these friendships inherently involves a mixed message.They tend to involve a deep knowledge of the other person's hopes, desires and personality.