I'd say the lines get blurry here, firstly due to modern views on life. For instance, I can only assume that people in biblical times would spend time together before they got married, but here is where the deviation begins, there are no references to the state of Girlfriend and Boyfriend in these times. There was the state of getting engaged, and getting married. That said this leaves us in limbo on the "friend" issue. Their are also some different ideas of sex in these days as the following verse mentions
Judges 16:1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
now here in judges we see that Samson not only took a harlot, but it also somehow got recorded forever in the holy bible.
But we do also notice that this was during the time when Samson (who was given unto God) did not lose his strength because of this as some today would tell him of course if he did this that all of his strength from God would be taken away! It would also seem that he had sex with Delilah. And it would also seem that ultimately he did lose his strength because of love of women, yet was in no way rejected by God.
Here is the problem I see today though:
First, that the idea of "friends" hardly ever remains in this category, but this leaves us with the dilimma of actually choosing who we might marry. Let grace abound in this issue.
Second, that we see unusually long periods of "friends", this can often time be attributed to the mere fact that society has taught every women that she should be receiving a ring that is supposed to cost 1-6 months of the boyfriends salary (yes, he is expected to go into debt). I can tell you this is an issue because I have faced it personally faced it, and lets face it, it is hard in today's system to save money, so you either go into debt, or you will actually wait much, much, much longer if you "save up" for it. Also worth mentioning that young men have to establish a credit history to even get a loan, and I will say, myself included, never needed any credit before I was supporting another person, and I was supporting her the second I met her because her mom (different issue) got mad at her for not giving her the paycheck she was getting and kicked her out of the house. Again this does not apply to everyone, but is a factor here. I assure you that 99 percent of women will feel "cheated" if this tradition is not followed.
Thirdly, my fiancee (whom I call my wife, because I have already decided she is my wife, and we have a son together, and we actually are more man and wife than many who have gone throught the current tradition of marriage, and I myself have told her on more than one occasion that I will get married tomorrow in a court or in a church or whereever) anyway, that put aside, my fiancee, who watches on TV these weddings that cost like $100,000 all the way up to more than $500,000, which are weddings of rich people, these are where she has got the idea of how our wedding is "supposed to be like". I assure you I would have no problem with this, except for this one fact, that it is also "american tradition" that the girls parents pay for the wedding. She was raised by a single mother and doesn't even know who her father is, and in no way can possibly support any wedding, much less this "vision" my fiancee has. Anyway, this leaves all wedding expenses to us. She has been planning this "huge" wedding for more that a year now. Meanwhile, I have been planning on just how big of a loan is going to need to be taken to actually achieve this wedding feat that is in her head.
This might be similiar to where Jacob actually had to give himself into a type of indentured servitude just to get the wife he wanted.
But in my case it is not her father who is putting me into servitude, it is modern tradition.
Anyway, I assure you, she will have the wedding that she wants, I will be in debt (saying I, because she doesn't even seem to grasp the fundamentals of how hard it is to earn these vast quantities of money). She is looking forward to this day like no other, and I as well, but the difference is, I am going to be paying off this wedding with the sweat of my brow for years to come and would be just as happy with a very small wedding.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, since she is not christian, and even repels a bit when Jesus is mentioned, we can't even have this wedding in a church, yes, that is right, in a church that is actually set up to do weddings, this means we have to create our own environment which to me just means more money.
Ok, Ok I know that I seem to be rambling on a bit, but this just doesn't seem like the same simple marriage that Abraham probably had!