Relationships with best friends
Best Friend, Soulmate: Why Dating Your Best Friend Might Be A Good Idea
Some of the best relationships start as friendships. Although it may sound like a plot in a romantic movie or book, this is actually a common experience. In fact, statistics indicate that two thirds of romantic relationships start out as friendships. If you find yourself crushing on your best friend, it could be that you have met your soulmate. However, there are worries that can come with these thoughts as well. So, how do you know if dating your best friend is a good idea for you? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks? Today, we will explore those questions and talk about how to navigate this possible relationship change or shift.
What Are The Benefits Of Dating A Best Friend?
Dating Your Best Friend Can Be A Better Idea Than You Think
Discover More With A Licensed Relationship Counselor
Possible Benefits Of Dating A Best Friend
Half The Work Is Already Done
When you start a new relationship, you often have to look at your compatibility in any areas that might matter to you. You’re getting to know them, and you’re starting at the very beginning. This means learning the basic facts about a new person, finding common interests, and discovering what you will enjoy doing together. Although it’s most certainly not always the case, this sometimes means that you’ll find out part way through that you aren’t the best match. When you’re dating your best friend, you may not have to worry about these things quite as much. You already know that you have fun together. Ask yourself, "Am I in love with my best friend?"
The foundation for a healthy and thriving relationship is already partially laid when you’re dating your best friend. You will have to cobble together new avenues, but the journey will likely be much easier given the history you have. Additionally, if there’s an important part of life or your personal value system where you may disagree, it’s more likely that you already know about it. Though it may not always be the case, this could give a relationship with a best friend an edge over a relationship with a stranger.
You Care For One Another
Choosing to stay friends with a person continuously, through thick and thin, says a lot about your connection, and many people who consider themselves best friends have this experience.
You already know that you care for one another because you have chosen to remain friends for what could be a long period of time. This is a great advantage when going into a romantic relationship because you likely already feel special and loved. You have already built that baseline of care for one another, making it much easier to stoke the fire of your love. In other words, the emotional intimacy is already there in some ways.
Now, there are some potential nuances to this. If your best friend rarely checks in on you or doesn’t always show concern for your well-being, you may not want to date that person. You deserve to have a partner who cares about you and the things going on in your life. Dating your best friend can be a good idea, but you’ll want to consider whether this person treats you how you deserve to be treated.
You Understand Each Other
Having a history of friendship means that, depending on how you interact with each other as friends, you might understand more about each other than your average new couple does. This offers great benefits because you are tuned in to one another early on. This will likely make it easier to navigate many of the firsts that can throw a new couple for a loop.
For example, one of the most difficult things to face in a new relationship is your first fight. It is the dreaded and inevitable experience for any new couple trying to make a new relationship work. When you are dating your best friend, you’re likely to have some valuable insight into things like how they engage in conflict, if they’re particularly sensitive to a certain topic, certain cues they may give off when they’re down, tired, or angry, and so on.
While this won’t be enough to avoid an argument for a lifetime, it can help you navigate some of the typical things that every couple encounters, like disagreements or unintentionally stepping on one another’s toes. You may already have the skills you need to communicate effectively with your best friend. Maybe you understand how to soothe them when needed; and if so, they probably know the same about you. This can be a great asset!
You Have A Solid Foundation
A relationship built on the foundation of a solid friendship can be a true gift. It’s true that, oftentimes, the foundation that you build in a friendship differs from that of a relationship. They do have similarities, though. For example, you would want to trust and be open with a friend just like you would a partner. While stepping into other forms of intimacy could be new, other things may already be there. You have memories together, and you may have helped each other through difficult life experiences or transitions already. You might’ve even grown up together, graduated high school or college around the same time, or had similar experiences with the other person by your side, depending on how long you’ve known each other. You might know each other’s family, and they might know you. All in all, you have a history, plus the chances of marrying your best friend and lasting forever is a big possibility.
You Know What To Expect
Too often, you get into a relationship with someone only to realize they are not who you believed them to be. Though it’s sad to say it, some people act out of character to establish a relationship but fail to keep up the façade once they’re together. When you date your best friend, it’s possible that you’re eliminating some of the guesswork as far as what they’re like in romantic partnerships, though this can’t be said for sure. You could’ve seen one another through multiple other partnerships and breakups or separations, and as best friends, you might’ve turned to each other during these relationships for support. That means that, in some ways, you know how the other person’s heart works. They could’ve opened up to you about something that made them feel misunderstood, appreciated or unappreciated, and so on. This means that you probably have real insight into how to love them, and they could have some insight into how to love you, too.
You Know How To Handle Time Apart
A common struggle for new couples is learning how to spend their time apart. When you are dating your best friend, you may already know how to handle time apart. You likely already have structures in place regarding what time you spend with them versus the time you spend with others important to you. It could even be that you have an initial understanding in this relationship that the other needs a certain amount of alone time. One or both of you could be introverted, and you’re used to giving each other room for things like hobbies and vacations. This is not to say that other new couples don’t have this, but it is to say that you have a baseline level of each other’s needs that can sometimes be a unique benefit or advantage.
You Can Be Yourself
Dating Your Best Friend Can Be A Better Idea Than You Think
Discover More With A Licensed Relationship Counselor
New relationships are notorious for their awkward moments, at least for some. Meeting up with someone who you don’t know you’ll get along with, opening up about the more difficult parts of life, such as potential physical or mental health concerns, and so on, can be challenging. When you are dating your best friend, you’ve most likely already gone places together, even if it wasn’t a formal date. You probably won’t have to worry about ice breakers or having small-talk conversations about your childhood. Instead, your dinner conversation can revolve around common interests or exciting things that happened throughout the week. Additionally, you likely already know about quite a few of each other’s quirks.
Every friendship, just like every romantic partnership, is different. Where there may be various benefits, there could be various drawbacks, too. One of the most frequent worries acknowledged by those who have romantic feelings for a friend tends to be the fear that it will negatively impact the friendship if anything happens. This doesn’t mean that it’s not the right choice; it could be mitigated, at least to some extent, by a conversation. You might want to make sure that you’re not entering a relationship due to something like loneliness. It’s a good idea to consider whether you’re seeing a friend because you have feelings for them or because they’re helping you through a difficult time.
How Do I Know If I’m Making The Right Choice?
Talking it out and making sure you’re in it for the right reasons is a great way to set yourself up for success. Sometimes in life, we don’t know until we try. None of this is to say that a friendship will end if a romantic relationship doesn’t work out. Again, many couples start as friends, and regardless of how a partnership started, people in relationships often do consider themselves best friends as well as lovers. If you and your partner, whether you were previously friends or not, encounter something that you need support with, a therapist or counselor may be able to help. You can find a provider through an online platform with independent, licensed therapists like ReGain, or you can look for a qualified professional in your area. No matter what, you deserve healthy bonds, and there’s never shame in asking for support when it’s something you or your relationships could benefit from.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it a bad idea to date your best friend?
When we ask, “Is it a bad idea to date your best friend?” it’s important that we’re looking at the unique relationship instead of asking the question broadly. In other words, the question isn’t, “Is it bad to date a best friend?” in general. Instead, it’s about your potential relationship, your personalities, and who you are as people. Consider who you are as individuals and reflect on your feelings. Are you compatible, and are both of your feelings genuine? Are there any hindrances or hurdles you see? How will you manage those? Many successful relationships start as friendships, and thinking about these things beforehand can be helpful.
Should you date your best friend?
So, you are thinking, Is dating my best friend the right thing to do? Should I avoid potentially ruining a friendship, or should I go ahead and date my best friend?
First, even if things don’t work out, it’s not necessarily going to ruin your friendship. There’s a possibility that you and your best friend could try entering a romantic relationship, decide mutually that it isn’t the right fit, and return to being platonic best friends. Sometimes, it’ll take time to heal. Other times, it’ll feel natural right away, and you’ll be confident in your decision to remain friends from there on out. It all depends on the connection.
There’s also the very real possibility that you could try it out and end up with an incredible romantic relationship. There are many reasons that a relationship between formerly platonic best friends can work and even carry advantages. You may already know how they like to be reached out to, you probably get along, and you likely have similar interests and values.
But that burning question that lingers in the mind of many people who find themselves in such a situation is still relevant: What if everything gets messed up after I’ve started dating my best friend? If things don't work out between you two, you worry that you could lose your best friend and have what is, in some ways, two times the heartbreak to deal with.
This is why it’s important that you and your best friend have a candid discussion when you consider entering a romantic relationship. Maybe you can’t predict the future, but you can gauge where your attitudes are surrounding the topic and see if you’re on the same page.
What happens when you date your best friend?
It’s tough to predict exactly what will happen in any dating relationship, but there are some things that are common in romantic relationships among people who start out as friends. First, the underlying fact that you have known each other for a while will probably be present. This is one benefit you may experience when you date your best friend. You already know what makes them smile and what makes them sad because you know them well enough. It’s also possible that you will encounter new facts and surprises about the other person. After all, you’ll be in new scenarios. You’ll most likely start to go on dates instead of just hanging out. You might see them blush more than you did before, or vice versa. The energy of a new relationship could very well still be there. One other thing that could happen is that mutual friends or other loved ones might chime in, whether they are surprised that you started a relationship, supportive, or something else — though this may be expected anytime someone enters a new romantic partnership.
Do best friends cuddle?
Some best friends do, in fact, cuddle. Even in platonic relationships, friends may cuddle simply because they enjoy it or find it comforting after a tough day. Cuddling is a great source of stress relief, with a number of benefits, and sometimes people want physical touch without wanting a romantic relationship or a sexual relationship. If there’s any question as to whether the connection is platonic, it may be advantageous for you to have a clarifying conversation.
Healthy Friendships and Relationships
Healthy Friendships and Relationships
Different Kinds of Relationships
We see lots of different people every day. Some are closer to us than others. For example, we are usually very close to our family and friends. We talk with them and share our thoughts and feelings. We might not be as close to our neighbors. We might smile or say “hello,” but not even know their names.
Here are some of the people we see every day:
Paid Supports: A paid support is someone you pay to provide you with a service (doctors or dentists, grocery clerks, barbers or beauticians, bank tellers, mechanics, etc.). You may know some of these people very well. Others, you may not know at all. As a direct support professional (DSP), you would fit into this category.
Acquaintances: Acquaintances are people that you recognize. You may wave or say “hello” when you see them. You might not know their names. They might be neighbors or people you see at the bus stop.
Group Members: Some people belong to the same clubs or groups as you. These may be people that you see at work or school. You may enjoy doing things with them in the group or at work but not see them otherwise.
Friend: A friend is someone that you like to be with. You enjoy talking to this person and doing things together.
Family: Family includes parents, sisters, brothers, cousins and other relatives. Some people are very close with their family. Some people do not see their family very much.
Close Friendships and Romantic Relationships: Some relationships are very close. Close relationships develop when two people love each other and like to spend time together. You can have close relationships with many people. Some close relationships involve romantic feelings.
Communication and Sharing
The most important part of any healthy friendship or relationship is the ability to talk and listen to one another. Talking and listening helps people to:
- Share their common interests
- Share their feelings
- Learn to listen
- Know they are an important part of someone else’s life.
Respect and Trust
Healthy friendships and relationships also mean learning to respect and trust each other.
- People respect each other for who they are.
- People may disagree with each other. But with respect and trust, they can talk about how they feel and work things out.
- People also should respect and trust themselves and their feelings so they can set boundaries and feel comfortable.
How does a person know that they have a healthy friendship with someone else?
Here are some signs that a person can use to know if they have an unhealthy friendship.
Being In a Healthy Friendship Means
Being In a Unhealthy Friendship
|The person feels good about themselves when they are with their friend||The person doesn’t feel good: their feelings are hurt or they feel sad or upset around their friend|
|There’s an equal amount of “give and take” between the person and their friend||The person and their friend only talk about the friend|
|The person feels safe around their friend||The person is uncomfortable with what their friend says and does|
|The person trusts and respects their friend||The person’s privacy is not respected|
|The person wants to spend time with their friend||The person feels like they have to spend time with their friend|
|The person can be themselves around their friend||The person acts differently around their friend|
|The person goes to places and does things both people like with their friend||The person only goes to places the friend wants to go|
Friends: A Manual for Connecting Persons with Disabilities and Community Members
This manual suggests ways to help people with disabilities to develop friendships and relationships. Amado, A.N., Conklin, F., & Wells, J. (1990) Available from the Minnesota Governor’s Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities, 300 Centennial Office Building, 658 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55155, (612) 296-4018
Inclusion.com: A resource of books and videos about inclusion in school, work and community
Healthy Relationships and Safe Sex: Tips for Self-Advocates
Prepared by Joe Meadours, a self-advocate from Alabama and Executive Director of People First of California, with research and editorial help from Reena Wagle, Ph.D., Human Services Research Institute. 2006. For copies contact the Human Services Research Institute, 7420 S.W. Bridgeport Road, Suite #210, Portland, OR 97224; 503-924-3783; http://www.hsri.org/
Friendships and Community Connections between People with and without Developmental Disabilities
Descriptions of successful experiences and principles that help others build relationships through social connections. Edited by Angela Novak Amado and available through Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., P. O. Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624.
"Become friends first": the key to happy love
Man and woman Man among people
Love after friendship - does it even work?
Network relationship experts like to scare readers with a mysterious "friend zone": getting into it allegedly means that you will forever remain in the eyes of a potential partner "only a friend." And how is it in reality?
Psychologist Lucy Hunt conducted a survey of 167 couples to find out what were the circumstances of their acquaintance. Each participant was interviewed separately. The results were roughly evenly split, with 40% saying they were friends before becoming lovers, and 41% said they fell in love straight away. At 19% of couples did not agree at all about how their story began.
Lucy Hunt decided to find out if couples who are friends differ from couples who have formed on the basis of sexual attraction. She assumed that in the first case, personal qualities, compatibility of characters and temperaments, common tastes and interests play a more important role - that is, what can provide stability for the couple in the future. And in the second, external data and the attractiveness of the image as a whole should be more important.
The results were close to her guess: partners who started out in love were roughly "in the same league" in terms of visual attractiveness, while among partner-friends there was more diversity. But at the same time, both of them highly appreciated the attractiveness of their chosen ones.
Friendship is the foundation of a couple
Relationships that are built not only on chemistry but also on personal compatibility can be more stable. Psychologist Heidi Reeder found that those partners who value friendship above all else in their relationships with each other are more satisfied with their emotional and sexual lives than those who are primarily sexually interested in a partner.
Social psychologist Grace Cornish argues that couples who start off as friendships are more flexible in dealing with conflict and are more sensitive to each other's feelings: “As friends, you like each other. You learn to respect each other. You will learn a lot about each other. Friendship is the foundation that can make the whole construction of a couple more solid.
In addition, according to the psychologist, in such couples there is much more trust and sincerity: “If you have a real strong friendship, you do not have to pretend to please your lover. Some keep themselves within the limits only until the moment they cross the threshold of the family home. But your true nature will show itself if you communicate as friends. There is no place for a game here, because you need not to impress, but to find a partner to communicate.
It's all about chemistry
Supporters of the opinion about different "shelves" for friendship and love have a weighty argument. The feeling of falling in love - dizzying, intoxicating - is incomparable to what we experience when we think of a person as a friend. Doesn't it happen that by choosing friendship as a first step, we close the opportunity for ourselves to experience these experiences?
Indeed, friendship (or better to call it friendly love) and falling in love communicate with the brain in a different chemical "language". In love, this language is dopamine. It is because of him that we cannot stop thinking about a loved one, we are excited by everything connected with him - a smile, smells, the sound of a voice.
Friendly love operates through the pleasure system - talking with a friend is as pleasant for us as watching a favorite movie or a glass of wine after a good dinner tenderness? Not necessary. With long-term harmonious relationships, the switch between passion and friendship happens by itself. Neuroscientists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook (USA) found that couples who have been happy together for many years had more distributed brain activity than those who had just started dating.
A mature feeling can go from passion to friendship. But it can also be the other way around: we rediscover the other person and are excited by the thought of a new level of intimacy. One way or another, a relationship built on one passion runs the risk of remaining only a bright adventure. Friendship will give them meaning and make them a source of joy for years to come.
Text: Anton Soldatov Photo credit: Shutterstock
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Man and woman
They say the secret of a perfect marriage is that a husband and wife should be best friends first. This makes sense: family psychologists have repeatedly confirmed that if partners perceive each other as friends, their relationship lasts much longer.
But what if the feelings we have for the man we love are purely platonic? What if we see in him the best friend, a reliable support, but these experiences have nothing to do with romantic feelings and sexual attraction? There are several factors that we more often associate with romantic relationships, although they are important in friendships as well.
Friendship and love have something in common
1. Attraction . Attraction to another may not necessarily be sexual or romantic. Best friends tend to attract each other. And people who have been friends for many years, apart, can experience the same feelings as lovers.
2. Proximity . When we open up to someone, share our dreams, thoughts, goals and plans, then this person naturally becomes much closer to others. Well, if we get the same frankness in return, then there is a strong bond based on trust and understanding. And this is possible between friends and between lovers.
3. Respect . Healthy romantic relationships are built on mutual respect, and the same can be said for friendships. But it cannot be argued that if you admire a loved one, then you feel for him something other than friendly feelings. Friends who you can admire and rejoice in their successes will only make you better, inspiring you to new achievements, and their reciprocal respect will not let you give up even in the most difficult situations.
4. Support . Providing mutual support is the main task in both friendships and romantic relationships. It helps us flourish, develop, change and endure everything that happens to us.
5. Pleasure . Enjoying each other's company and having fun together, laughing at the same jokes and waiting for a new meeting - this still does not mean that you are having an affair. But this is definitely a sure sign that you are very, very good friends.
How is love different from friendship?
The first and main difference is sex. But even here the boundaries are somewhat blurred today - we must not forget about the existence of "sex for friendship." However, there are other aspects of relationships that distinguish lovers from close friends.
1. General purposes . Only romantic couples are engaged in planning a joint future. And although friends may completely coincide in their views on religion, politics and lifestyle, their life goals do not tend to a common denominator.
2. Time and attention . In romantic relationships, partners devote all their free time and attention to each other, which can never be found even in the strongest friendship. The two choose to focus on each other, and the attention they receive from the other makes them feel comfortable. Conversely, if one of the two no longer wants to spend energy on a partner, this may mean the near end of the relationship.
3. Interdependence . Social psychologist Caryl Rasbalt argues that the determining factor in a romantic relationship can be considered the degree of interdependence of partners. Yes, friends depend on each other, but the lives of lovers are tightly intertwined. While in a relationship, the two rely more and more on each other and eventually replace "I" and "you" with "we".Commitments are often forgotten, and it depends on whether the relationship remains friendly or turns into a romantic one
4. Positive illusions . In a healthy relationship, partners are fascinated by each other. They have high expectations and ideas about a loved one, which often do not coincide with reality. But psychologists Sandra Murray, John Holmes and Dale Griffin believe that this is absolutely normal. It is these rosy dreams that distinguish love from more realistic friendship.
5. Influence . Of course, friends influence decision-making, goals and plans, preferences and prospects, but a loved one here has more power. We tend to make our partners part of our sense of self, to perceive ourselves through the prism of our loved one. With friends, this is not possible.
6. Liabilities . They are often forgotten, and according to Caryl Rasbalt, it depends on this whether the relationship remains friendly or turns into a romantic one. The very decision to start a romantic relationship portends stability and reflects a conscious choice in favor of working towards creating a couple.
“Deciding on the future of a relationship is a big step that requires weighing all the pros and cons, opportunities, advantages and investments that have already been made,” says Caryl Rasbalt. And while most friends can make good partners, it's the decision and willingness to dedicate one's life to one that determines the success of a romantic union.