Your question reminds me of one I answered on OKCupid. Here it is:
Which of the following relationship timelines would you most prefer?
- Attraction > lovers > love > friends
- Friends > love > attraction > lovers
- Attraction > friends > love > lovers
- Attraction > friends > lovers > love
My usual modus operandi with romantic partners is #1. Very rarely am I "friends first" with someone. If that happens, it usually never goes beyond friendship. But I have remained good friends with men who started as lovers.