For me romantic relationships always have a certain level of tension. Like you have to keep your shit together at least on some level so you don't look like a total clown. Eventually that just wears me down and I'll lose interest. I haven't even tried in years either.
I think what I'm trying to say is with a real close friend you can just be totally relaxed in a way I've never managed with a romantic interest. Venerable doesn't seem like the right word, but I guess it gets across the sort of feeling I'm trying to convey. Just open. No pretenses.
I suppose that is why you're excited to see someone at that point. I know I haven't felt as at ease with anyone in years as I did hanging out in my buddy's basement. I don't know if I'm even capable of that sort of thing anymore anyway.