If you were to remove the word “best” from the equation and think about friendship more generally, the answer among relationship experts rings crystal-clear: Yes, a good romantic relationship is also a good friendship, and that’s the main reason why so many romantic partners are friends before they date (or become friends while dating). “All of the things that make up a good relationship—trust, mutuality, respect, caring, compassion, vulnerability, effective communication—all of those things should be in your best friendships, your regular friendships, and your romantic relationships,” says relationship expert and psychotherapist Terri Cole, author of Boundary Boss.
“In reality, friendship and the sense of support it entails is at the core of any healthy relationship.” —psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco, PhD
In fact, that conceptualized line between romance and friendship isn’t nearly as sharp as mainstream discourse makes it out to be. “We often think of our relationships as highly compartmentalized—as in, with a romantic partner, we do this, and with a friend, we do this other thing,” says psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco, PhD. “But in reality, friendship and the sense of support it entails is at the core of any healthy relationship.”
So, should your partner be someone you see as your best friend or just a friend?
Narrowing the focus to best friendship is where the partner-friend dynamic gets a bit more nuanced. If you view a best friend as simply a really good friend, or someone whom you can always count on when the going gets tough, then it’s generally a positive thing to be best friends with a partner.
“Thinking of a partner in this way can bake an additional layer of respect into the relationship and your communication patterns with that person,” says psychiatrist and neurologist Donald Raden, MD. And according to 2014 data from the British Household Panel Survey polling 30,000 people on elements of life satisfaction, those who view their spouse as their best friend are twice as likely to report higher overall satisfaction.
It’s possible that this well-being boost comes from feeling seen, heard, and accepted from all angles, both platonically and romantically. “Your partner has a rare opportunity to see the sides of you that most other people don’t, particularly if you cohabitate,” says matchmaker and dating coach Tennesha Wood. “And feeling as though they’re also your best friend can create an environment of openness where you can truly be yourself.” In other words, calling a partner a best friend could just be shorthand for the idea that you like and love each other—which is certainly a good thing.
Is there any downside to viewing a significant other as a best friend?
Superlatives tend to get us into tricky territory when they’re taken to their literal extremes, and the “best” in “best friend” is no exception. It’s possible that if you take the term “best friend” to mean a friend who is truly ranked above all others in your life, you could wind up putting your partner on a pedestal, and in doing so, set them up to inevitably disappoint you. “Expecting to have all your emotional needs fulfilled by your partner could be expecting too much,” says Cole. “You’re asking them to effectively fill two big roles in your life as partner and best friend.”
Holding them in this kind of all-encompassing light also means you run the risk of becoming insular, or what Dr. Franco calls acting like an island. “In this type of framework, you’re saying that each of you is all that the other one needs,” she says. “But we know from research on what’s called emotionships that relying on different people in your life to help you work through different emotions, like anger or sadness, is related to better well-being.” And, in turn, maintaining other friends—and even other really good or “best” friends—outside of your partnership is essential to keeping the partnership itself thriving.
Given that a romantic partnership is also bound to face certain stressors that a friendship likely won’t (including family and financial obligations), the “best friend” label can occasionally be a slippery slope to conflict avoidance, too. After all, you likely wouldn’t confront a best friend about the behaviors of their parents or the fact that they have a low credit score, but often with a romantic partner, big life decisions and situations require buy-in or even permission from both people, says Wood.
Even without those shared logistics in the picture, though, it’s possible that attempting to satisfy all your romantic needs and all your platonic friendship needs with one relationship could lead to enmeshment or codependency. “That’s when your entire sense of self becomes overlapped with your relationship to that person,” says Dr. Franco, “which can decrease resilience and increase stress.”
But, of course, that’s not inherent to a best-friend partnership so long as there’s enough distance in the relationship for each person to maintain their sense of self—which is something that Dr. Franco recommends in any relationship, whether it’s strongly platonic, deeply romantic, or both.
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Photo by Ed Gregory
They say that if you have been friends with someone for over seven years, then it is highly likely that you will be friends with them for the rest of your life.
As we grow up and take our journey in this thing called life, we meet many people along the way, those who we love and experience for only a brief amount of time and those who we are fortunate enough to share the rest of our lives. These people are our children, our family, and even our friends!
Friends are an important aspect of life as well. They provide strong backbone support for you and your family in times of need and celebration. These true friends are the ones we would like to keep and cherish forever.
But how do you do exactly just that? How can we keep our friends in this era of fast-lived relationships, busy schedules, and plans that don’t just come true? Don’t worry though, we say that it is possible and here are ten ways to keep them for life and even forever:
1. Always have their back in every crisis.
As one of their family friends, it’s important you always have their back in every crisis that they face in life and they would also do the same for you. You should lean on one another to get through the tough times and learn from it. So whether it’s a funeral you’re attending or a graduation celebration for one of their kids, it’s best to make your support and presence felt.
2. Don’t talk poorly of them to others.
Good friends don’t talk bad about their other friends especially when they’re not there to defend themselves. These actions of deceit and insecurity will not foster or make your relationship grow, instead, it will do the opposite and draw you away from each other. Long and true friends are those who know which side they are on and maintain their loyalty even if you’re not there.
3. Support them in their goals.
If you want to keep them, you have to support them with their goals and achievements. If your friend is an aspiring actress, don’t hesitate to accompany her to an audition that is a thousand miles away, because you believe in her and you know that your support can help her make it. Make them feel that you believe in them even when nobody else would.
4. Understand that they need their own space to grow.
It’s important for friends to have their personal space as well. We don’t want to be that clingy, needy, and annoying friend who constantly calls up others to hang out every single hour of every day. Each person needs their time to be alone and to recharge for the next time that you hang out with each other.
5. Make the effort to spend time together.
Even if you’re living miles away from each other, it doesn’t mean the friendship has to go away. In this time of communication, relationships are easier kept with social media and fast telecommunication, so it’s easier to plan meetings or hangouts. Make the effort to spend time together, it doesn’t have to be every week, but just enough so that your group can catch up and have some fun time together!
Photo by Free-Photos
6. Cherish the good times.
Reminiscing doesn’t have to be a sad affair, in fact, when you’re hanging out with your friends this is highly encouraged. Talking about the good and funny times in the past is proven to improve the strength of the bond you have with them. It just shows how many memories you share with each other and how much you’re looking forward to more of it in the future.
7. Keep communication.
You don’t have to call them up or text them every day, the only important thing is that you keep the communication. Sending an occasional text to your friend is harmless and even sweet, especially if you’re asking how they’re doing or asking for a short hang out. We all need a break from our hectic lives and enjoy some fun time with our buddies.
8. Celebrate their milestones.
Aside from sharing a shoulder for them to lean during tough times, it’s equally important for you to help them celebrate their milestones in life. Whether it’s a birth of a new baby, a promotion at work, or the launch of a successful art exhibit of your artist friend, make sure you’re there to open the champagne and cheer. As a friend, it’s your role as well to share their happy memories in life.
9. Include them in your life.
Just as much as you are a part of their lives, make an effort as well to involve them in yours. Don’t shut them out completely and stop talking to them out of nowhere, instead make them feel like family and that their presence is significant too. Show them that you value their opinions and consider their friendship as an important aspect of your being.
Photo by lindsrw
10. Never break their trust and confidence.
Lastly, the best way to keep your friends forever is to never ever break their trust and confidence. If they confide in you about their secrets or any serious matter, then it just means that your friendship level is that high that he or she trusts you enough with this matter. Whatever it is, it is your role as a friend to take that secret to the grave unless they say otherwise. Trust is expensive and you can never buy it.
Friends are such an important thing in our lives. They make each day easier because you have someone you can laugh with, someone you can confide in, and someone that you know will always have your back in any situation no matter what. If you’re lucky enough to have a close and trusted circle of friends, then do your absolute best to keep it.
Reliable, trustworthy, and honest. These people are the ones we need in our life, the ones we should cherish, and the ones we should keep forever.
One minute you’re seeing your best mate all the time and the next you’re lucky to find any free time for each other. Friends drift apart for a range of reasons – maybe your bestie has been spending more time with new friends, they may have started a serious relationship, or you may have no idea what has changed.
While it’s normal for relationships to change over time, it can still be hard to adjust to. If you’re struggling to deal with this, know that you’re not alone.
We chatted to a bunch of young people on the ReachOut Online Forums and put together some ideas on how to cope when friendships change.
1. Give it some time
Changing or leaving school, clashes in study or work schedules or new relationships can make it much harder, or even impossible, to catch up regularly with your former bestie. Seeing less of someone you’d come to rely on to always be there for you, and you for them, can really leave you feeling not quite yourself.
You might feel confused, sad or even angry. Give yourself time and space to work through any emotions that come up. Change is a natural part of life, but that’s not to say it’s always going to be easy to accept. It’s completely possible to maintain the strong friendships you have made, but it might require some adjustments.
Everyone's at a different stage of life, despite being the same age. I live out of home with my partner, but a lot of my friends are single and still living at home. That’s totally okay! It just means that sometimes it can be hard to relate. – Lokifish
Allow yourself and those around you some time to get used to all the changes that are happening. Most big changes tend to get us thinking and feeling a lot. It’s totally normal, and actually very positive, to reflect on different stages of your life. You might find yourself thinking about the impact a friendship has had on you, which can raise some big questions.
- What did this friendship teach me?
- What do I look for in a friend?
- What kinds of friendships are important to me right now?
This could be a good time to focus on you and to think about what you need right now.
2. Try to see the situation from a different point of view
When someone disappears suddenly from your life, you might find yourself thinking they don’t care about you anymore or wondering if you did something wrong. If you find yourself stuck in this sort of negative thought loop, it can really help to try and see things from another perspective.
I think it can be helpful to reflect on why they've drifted away, and to realise that it's not always our fault. If they've moved away or started a new job, then that's totally out of our control. It can also be helpful to focus on existing friendships. – Lokifish
To help get a fresh take on what’s happening, try:
- reminding yourself that a changing friendship doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a bad person – it’s a hard, but normal, part of life
- reflecting on other past friendships that changed but led to your making new friends
- reconnecting with friends you haven’t caught up with recently.
3. Talk about how you’re feeling
Whenever you go through some big feels, it’s a good idea to talk with someone. Keeping it all locked inside can make you feel like you’re carrying around the weight of the world. Whether you spill it to your journal or a mate, know that getting stuff off your chest will ease that pressure.
Something that has personally helped me is recognising that people can “outgrow” each other. I've had to end a lot of friendships with people who were just using me or couldn't be bothered staying in touch. Writing about my feelings also helps me. – Hozzles
It could be a good time to reconnect with an old friend or a different friendship circle you’re part of. Going outside your core group reduces the risk that a mutual friend might pass on your private thoughts about the change in your former friendship, which might result in some drama!
You could even open up to a trusted family member or counsellor about how you’ve been feeling.
While it’s not easy, you could consider sharing how you’ve been feeling with the friend you’re not seeing so much of anymore. Let them know how you feel about it. You might find they feel the same way and you can work out a way to stay a part of each other’s lives. If you need some help with tackling a difficult conversation, check out our tips here.
4. Be open to meeting new people
We’ll be the first to say that this step isn’t always the easiest one. Just the thought of having to make new friends can make you want to vom. Even though it’s hard to push past the initial awkwardness of meeting new people, it’s possible, and it’s definitely worth doing.
Life is full of opportunities to meet new people. Taking up different jobs, hobbies and study usually gives you the chance to make new friends.
It’s worth remembering that everybody feels nervous about social situations at times, but there are some practical ways you can overcome those initial awkward moments. Asking people questions, and taking an interest in them, can go a long way in turning new people into potential new friends. Some young people we spoke to shared what worked for them.
Acknowledging things can be so powerful. I often find that saying "sorry if I seem a bit awkward" actually frees me up to feel less awkward. – Lokifish
I try to enquire about people around me and build a connection by small conversation – e.g. at work with a colleague, I always say hello and ask how her day/weekend was. – Bee
Paying attention to body language, finding some things in common, and just asking about their day [helps] to get things started. – Hozzles
If you’re finding this hard, though, there are many different ways of connecting with others. Just know that you’re not the only one who feels this way. Many people find online communities to be a safe and less daunting space to make friends.
While it sucks to notice that a friendship is changing, it can also be an opportunity to discover which friends you can rely on and to make new friends who better reflect who you are today.
I like to believe that people appear in your life for a reason, and I always like to keep an open mind about who might reappear. – Hozzles
Written by Riley’s Way Council member Giavanna Gambino in partnership with the One Love Foundation
This summer, the One Love Foundation and Riley’s Way Foundation teamed up to highlight the roles empathy, kindness, and respect play in healthy friendships. Together, One Love and Riley’s Way trained a dedicated team of interns to write inspiring advice articles for the next generation of kind leaders! Each week their work focused on fostering authentic connections that build bridges (not barriers) in friendships rooted in empathy and compassion. Visit Joinonelove.org/learn and RileysWay.org to support our dedicated team of summer interns as they spread awareness about the importance of empathy, kindness, and healthy friendships with a new post each week on our blog.
Have you ever had a friend that brought out the worst in you? Did they make you feel self-conscious or unsupported? Ugh, not cool. Our bonds with our friends are some of the most important connections we will make in our entire life and it goes without saying that a healthy friendship can’t grow without proper care and attention. And I’m not just talking about sunlight and air, healthy friendships need a blend of trust, compassion, empathy, and respect among other things to really take root and flourish. Read on to learn more about the 5 important requirements for a strong friendship.
Being able to have trust and confidence in your friend is one of the most important requirements of a strong relationship because true friendship means you are able to count on one another. Part of caring for a friend is honoring what they tell you, no matter the significance, with confidentiality and respect. A true friend should never laugh or mock, but listen with open ears and offer advice if asked. An example of having a trustworthy friend is being able to talk to them about a personal issue you are facing, knowing that what is said will stay between the two of you and that they will not judge you or the circumstance.
Equality is another super important ingredient in healthy friendships that often gets overlooked when one friend seems to have more say than the other. For example, just because one friend is assertive doesn’t mean they should dominate all of the decision making in a friendship. Likewise, a friend that is naturally timid should challenge themselves to speak up about the things they are interested in doing, like seeing a certain movie or eating somewhere new, without worry of being overruled. In healthy friendships, both friends should be able to make decisions together and compromise without being shut down.
Having compassion is when you are able to be empathetic and genuinely there for your friends on a daily basis and during times of need. Having compassion and empathy is a requirement for a healthy friendship because it’s important to have friends that you can count on to be there for you. An example of what a compassionate friend could look like is if your dog died and your friend came to your side to listen to how you felt in that moment of grief. In this scenario, the friend was compassionate by being present and listening to your situation and supportive by being there for you.
Honesty is a requirement for a strong and successful friendship because, at the end of the day, people usually will be more hurt when the truth is concealed than by the truth itself, whatever it may be. Whether it is lying about a simple thing like whether or not you like your friend’s outfit, or something more significant, being dishonest eats away at the foundation of a healthy friendship . Even though being honest may mean having more difficult conversations with your friend, it will make for a stronger and better friendship.
In successful friendships, it is always important to be independent of your friend and allow your friend to have their personal space as well. It is never healthy to always need the company of your friend and their constant attention. You should both have other friends and hobbies besides each other. Getting upset when you are not your friend’s “only friend” is a sign that independence is needed.
If you and your friend have trust, equality, compassion, honesty, and independence, you already have the foundation of a strong and healthy friendship. Even though it can be hard to recognize when a friendship is weak in some areas, it is always possible to improve yourself and your relationship with a friend. All you need is a willingness to do and be better.
“Falling in love” is what drives the romances we read about or watch in our favorite shows and movies. But what does it really mean to fall in love with someone? Falling in love happens when you have strong feelings of admiration and attraction to someone you care about. It is easy, when you are new to a relationship, or new to these feelings, to see the best about a person easily. You probably prioritize the time you spend together, and share lots of time, gifts, and affection with them. Falling in love is often a joy, and it can be part of what points you toward the person that’s right for you. But it’s important not to rely on strong feelings of attachment alone when making decisions about dating and marriage. You want to be sure, if you feel like you’re falling in love with someone, that you share compatible beliefs about life, about priorities, and about spiritual things. You want to commit to someone only if they are respectful of you, your needs, and your boundaries. And if you feel “out of love”, it may not be a sign of the end of your relationship. Depending on your reasons for falling out of love, you may be able to rekindle warm feelings by getting support and talking through your relationship.
Friendships are one of life’s greatest joys. Finding someone we can share our heart with — someone who understands and accepts us just the way we are is priceless. When we can have a deep friendship with someone from the opposite sex, it is a tremendous gift. There is so much to learn and respect about both genders. But at times these opposite-sex friendships can also be a great challenge. One of the most exciting, but frightening, barriers a friendship faces is when one person falls in love with their best friend of the opposite sex. The feelings are can be intense, and the fear of revealing them can be paralyzing.
The Gut-wrenching Challenges to Secretly Loving your Best Friend
Laura reveals the gut-wrenching challenges she’s facing being secretly in love with her best guy friend: It’s been really hard because sometimes it seems like he likes me and sometimes it seems very obvious that we’re just friends. It’s torn my heart up on several occasions. I’m currently trying to get over him, because it’s just too hard to love him from a distance. I don’t want to lose our friendship as we’ve been through a lot together in the years we’ve known each other, but I’d rather save my heart for someone who I know is going to give me his heart fully in return.
It’s okay to have feelings of love because of the trust you share with your best friend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are in love. But it does mean you have the ingredients to develop awesome love which could turn into a great marriage. Someone once said great friends make great lovers. The longer you’re friends, the more stable your relationship is going to be.
A lot of good friends can do things that romantic partners cannot. Friends usually say what they need to say to each other without fear, and good friends are more likely to be spontaneous with their activities.
Two Warnings if You Think You Are In Love With Your Best Friend
When you start to feel you are desiring more than just a casual friendship with your best friend and you’re not sure what to do next, let me offer you some advice that could strengthen both your relationship and your love for each other.
First, don’t rush into a romantic relationship with your best friend…many times people confuse love with that other kind of caring love you feel for all of your other friends.
Second, don’t spill your guts right away. You might feel like you have to share all your thoughts and feelings with the other person as soon as you start to feel something. That’s usually a mistake.
Javier agrees: This girl and I have known each other for nearly seven years and we have been close friends for about three. Eventually, we did start liking each other and we went out for a month and a few weeks. After that relationship ended, I didn’t feel very hurt or sad. It was odd. I found myself being freer and I got to thinking: Don’t rush into [a romantic] relationship with your best friend…many times people confuse love with that other kind of caring love you feel for all of your [other] friends.
Find another good friend you can trust…someone with whom you can verbalize your deep emotions about your best friend with whom you are in love. This other friend will help you continue to show the self-control of letting a good friendship grow into an even deeper friendship. Hold your emotions, get them out in a healthy way with another friend. Why chance ruining a good thing, at least for now?
Friendship IS the start of a Real Romance
On the other hand, after you’ve been a good friend with him/her for some time, you should be able to read their moods. You should be able to get some sense as to whether or not the friendship has developed into more of a romance for him/her, as well as yourself. If you see these signs, you might want to begin to talk about them with the good friend you so deeply love. After all, good friends should be able to talk about nearly anything.
I think Jane has a great perspective: The only time I would recommend someone reveal their feelings is if they are SURE it is mutual. A really honest friendship will often develop into love without any conscious effort. And if he doesn’t love you, isn’t having a REAL, HONEST, CARING guy friend better than a boyfriend that might leave you at any moment? Friends are people who you don’t have to constantly worry about leaving you for no reason. And if he cares for you and stands up for you, he already loves you in a way already.
First and foremost, good friends should know how much each person values the other. We make the mistake of demanding that many of our relationships be all or nothing romantically. Whether the person you are in love with ends up marrying you or not, you have had the joy of experiencing real love.
Real love is rich, pure and self-sacrificing. To experience that kind of love with anybody is a priceless gift.
This is how the Bible describes true love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Isn’t that awesome? This verse also describes how God loves YOU! Trust God as He shows you whether your best friend will become your life’s partner. You may want to pray to God for guidance in this relationship and even have others pray for you.
Have you or your friend moved away for studies or work? Have a look at our advice on how to ensure no matter how much time you spend apart, you can still remain the best of buds!
Try to find a time where the both of you can meet and catch up as regularly as you can, whether it’s visiting each other in your new homes, meeting up halfway or planning a weekend away.
2. Stay in Touch
With the wonders of social media, there are so many ways to stay in touch at the click of a button. Starting a group chat on Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger so you can relay your week to each other is a great way to be kept up to date.
3. Find Something You Can Do Together, Apart
Perhaps you could be keeping up with watching the same TV show and having lengthy debates the next day about theories and favourite characters. Finding something you can both do in two different places will always give you something to talk about!
4. Be Accepting of the Situation
If you’re in a situation where your friend has moved away for any reason, you might feel a little lost and disappointed. Of course it’s normal for you to miss them, but if it were the other way around, you would want your friend to be able to accept your choice. They might not have had any say in the situation but assuring them that you’re there for them no matter what the location is a great comfort.
5. Don't Fear Lack of Contact
Waiting for a reply from someone can be very frustrating, but know that even if someone has read your message, they may not have the time to reply just yet and will get back to you as soon as they can. Also, if neither you or your long-distance friend has spoken in a while, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer friends – make a point to catch up with them!
6. Communicate in a Different Way
Okay, so maybe not via interpretative dance, but if you can’t keep in touch online every day or week, sending each other letters in the post can be a nice way to keep in contact so you always have something to look forward to, plus getting mail is exciting!
7. Use Distance As An Opportunity
Distance can be a good thing, especially if your friend lives further away, you could use it as an opportunity to plan a mini-break or holiday away from home and really make the most of getting away for a while.
Remember, just because you’re not living next to your bestie anymore doesn’t mean you friendship has to end. Make sure to keep in touch, but also take time to allow your other friendships to develop and don’t begrudge your friend from making new friends too.
Christie Caluccia is a writer in the lifestyle space.
It’s no secret that falling in love is easy. In fact, some argue it’s the simplest part of a relationship. Commitment, compatibility, and trust are what tend to be more difficult to manage, especially if the person you’ve fallen for happens to already be a close friend.
“Catching feelings for your BFF happens. The happily ever after party? That happens mostly in rom-coms,” says relationship expert Dr. Darcy Sterling, a therapist and the former dating and relationship trends expert at Tinder.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Darcy Sterling is a licensed clinical social worker and the host of E! Network’s hit show Famously Single. She and her wife, Stephanie Sterling, own the New York City-based therapy practice Alternatives Counseling.
It's not impossible to transition from just friends to dating; however, Sterling recommends you do your due diligence before professing any feelings and risking the special friendship you already have. "It's important to realize that the minute you put your feelings out there, you cross the Rubicon," she says.
If you've already done some serious soul-searching and decide it's worth it to pursue a romantic relationship with a friend, Dr. Sterling points out that communication will be the key to overcoming the potentially awkward transition period.
Curious to learn exactly how Dr. Sterling would approach getting out of the friend zone? Ahead, she explains how you'll know the relationship is worth chasing and how to move on once you've put your feelings out there—for better or worse.
Ask Yourself the Real Questions
Think long and hard about the decision to put yourself out there (something you've likely already spent a good amount of time doing). To help make your daydreams a bit more productive, Dr. Darcy poses a few enlightening questions to determine if the risk is worth the reward (or potential heartbreak).
First, there are the basic, logistical questions to consider: Are you both single? Are you both looking for the same kind of relationship? According to Dr. Sterling, if the answer to either of these questions is "no," it's probably not worth the risk. "Relationships are hard enough to maintain when people are compatible," she points out. You're likely going to harm the friendship you already have by attempting to change the game under these circumstances.
Relationships are hard enough to maintain when people are compatible.
Dr. Sterling suggests asking yourself a few deeper questions if you are both single, of a complementary sexual orientation, and looking for the same kind of relationship (serious, open, or otherwise). Think to yourself: How likely are they to have feelings for me? What’s the cost of keeping my feelings to myself? Can we truly continue being friends if they don’t feel the same way?
Look for Signs of Flirting
When it comes to getting an idea of whether or not your friend may also be interested in taking things to the next level, there are a few indicators you can look for. “We humans aren’t great at hiding our feelings,” Dr. Sterling says. “We flirt. We touch. We compliment each other,” she continues. Keep an eye out for signs of flirting like a light touch on the arm, holding eye contact, or leaning in during the conversation. “If your BFF is sending any of this your way, there’s a good chance they feel the same way,” the dating expert explains.
Find a Playful Way to Broach the Subject
Once you've decided that professing your feelings is the right move for you, it's time to find the perfect way to do so. Dr. Sterling suggests finding a lighthearted way to start the conversation, like playing 20 questions. "Make sure one of the questions you ask is, 'Have you ever had feelings for a close friend?'" she explains. "If the answer is 'yes,' you can ask increasingly more pointed questions like, 'What would your advice be to someone who had feelings for a close friend?'” It's a fun, flirty, and playful way to gauge their feelings as you prepare to reveal your own.
Be Open and Direct
When making the transition from friends to dating, being open and honest is paramount. “Direct communication is the key to any relationship,” according to Dr. Sterling, “but transitioning from a best friendship to a romantic relationship is a minefield.” The best way to navigate this uncharted territory is to be direct from the start. That means clarifying what type of relationship you’re going to have. Is this a friends-with-benefits situation, or are you looking for a long-term relationship? It’s important to answer these questions from the beginning so you can both move forward mindfully.
Transitioning from a best friendship to a romantic relationship is a minefield.
Respond Gracefully to Unreciprocated Feelings
As with most things worth fighting for, there’s always the possibility of getting hurt. Dr. Sterling recommends using a bit of humor to address the situation and move forward if your feelings aren’t reciprocated. She suggests saying something along the lines of this: “As prepared as I thought I was for this possibility, I didn’t work out a script for what to say at this point, so would you help me recover from this awkwardness?”
It won't always be possible to salvage the friendship after confessing your feelings, so be very sure about your decision to do so. If you just want a quick fling, it may not be worth it.
Once tensions lighten, you can explain that you're committed to the friendship and open to hearing how they feel about what you've told them. Clarify that you want to make sure the friendship isn't damaged and then you can begin to move on.
Drawing a distinction between friendship and marriage is important for the success of the latter, experts warn.
Think your wife is your best friend? You’re wrong. It doesn’t mean your marriage isn’t wonderful — it’s just a recognition that friendship and marriage, while they share key areas of overlap, are fundamentally different relationships. Conflating the two can cause far more problems for your marriage than your friendships, experts warn.
“In most cases our friends do not live with us, are not financially, legally, relationally entwined with us. Our friends are attached to us because they want to, when they want to,” says marriage and family therapist Carrie Krawiec of the Birmingham Maple Clinic. “ They have volition and empowerment to leave or at least take space from us when necessary. Our partners are connected to our homes, family, schedules, life.”
It makes sense that marriage and friendship might be conflated. It’s well-documented that marriage is good for individual health, well-being, and longevity, and the same is true for friendship. Married people also tend to rely less on friendships than single people do. But that’s not because their spouses have stepped into the best friend role — it’s because everyone else has.
“When married, you also have each other’s parents and siblings as sources of support — or even children,” Krawiec explains. “Married people tend to have a broader pool of potential supports.”
However, that’s different from friendship, and mistaking one for the other can cause conflicts in marriages, Krawiec warns. Unreasonable expectations are dangerous things. Husbands who expect their wives to be their best friends may develop impractical expectations of how they should support them and their decisions. If a man were to quit his job to pursue a passion for carpentry, a friend could easily be his cheerleader. But his wife? She’s going to have questions.
“When we mistake our partner’s own questions, fears, concerns as a lack of support, we are holding them accountable to a friend standard that does not exist for our partner,” Krawiec says. “When we get too disappointed or resentful we end up eroding our relationships.”
It’s important to note that mistaking friendship for marriage won’t always harm your well-being. One study found that men who reported that their spouses were their best friends were twice as likely to report high life satisfaction. John Helliwell, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics who conducted the research, told the New York Times that this is likely because men tend to have fewer friends. And for people who don’t have a lot of friends, let alone a best friend, a spouse becomes more important for their health because that role may not have otherwise been filled. “That’s how we got to the idea that marriage is a kind of ‘super-friendship,’ ” Helliwell says.
But not a true friendship, and keeping that in mind could be the difference between a successful marriage and a life full of disappointment. If it helps to think of your spouse as a best friend who happens to be financially and legally tied to you, go for it. But keep in mind that, when you heap best-bud expectations onto your wife, nobody benefits.
About 65% of people maintain close friendships with at least one co-worker, according to a study by Good&Co. What do workplace friendships mean for productivity and company culture?
- Employee turnover is lower in organizations that have exceptional cultures characterized by trust and inclusion.
- Women and men who have a best friend at work perform better than employees without any close relationships.
- Organizations should invest in building a culture that encourages friendships and inclusion among its employees.
Do you have a close friend at work? Research from job-hunting platform Good&Co shows that 65% of workers maintain a tight-knit friendship with at least one co-worker. These types of relationships can boost employee satisfaction and engagement, and it shows. Good&Co's researchers found that 54% of employers believe strong work relationships improve company culture.
"Relationships matter because they help us feel connected, making us more motivated and productive," Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn's senior director of global integrated marketing and communications, wrote in a blog post. "It's much easier to share feedback with someone if you have built up a solid rapport, or ask someone for advice if you have invested in the relationship." [Related Article: Build and Maintain Healthy Business Relationships]
The research showed that employees increasingly value a positive social and cultural environment at work, nearly as much as good compensation. About 36% of workers say they look forward to going to work when they work with a friend, and 31% feel stronger and more valued. The researchers found that people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged and productive.
On the flip side, isolated workers tend to harbor negative emotions, which can be counterproductive and damaging to those employees' contributions to the overall team. An engaging, friendly environment is key to reaching out to those employees who would otherwise find themselves isolated and disconnected from the larger group.
Workplace friendships don't just stay in the workplace, either. After work hours, 59% of office friends communicate face to face, 50% speak with one another via messaging app, and 42% interact on social media. Work friends, then, are often real-life friends. Translating that support to the workplace can be vital for many employees.
"I'm not suggesting we all start texting our managers at any hour about our latest crush or a favorite new shirt, but it does indicate that our growing workforce wants to have more of a connection," Fisher wrote.
Managers can do their part to foster an inclusive social environment at work. By leveling with workers not just as subordinates, but taking a real interest in their lives, managers can foster the type of culture that values social bonding.
Fisher offered several tips to help managers who aren't comfortable with becoming too personal with their employees to ensure their millennial employees feel connected:
Don't limit conversations to email or formal meetings. Take a walking meeting. Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn's culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to and, ultimately, more connected, Fisher said.
Benefits of having a best friend at work
Increased job satisfaction
Employees who have their best friends at work experience higher levels of job satisfaction. They are happier and often not looking for other job opportunities. According to Gallup, those who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher-quality work, have a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job.
The study further found out that women who have a best friend at work were less likely to look for job opportunities. They are equally likely to experience positive experiences while not reporting any negative ones.
In a challenging situation, employees who report having a best friend at work have lower stress levels. They are more confident and composed in finding solutions to their problem. Their friends provide them with the required comfort.
Work can be monotonous. Regardless of what tasks you are performing, you are likely to experience burnout after working for some time. Individuals who have friends at work are less likely to experience burnout than workers without workplace friends. [Related Read: How to Improve Your Work Productivity]
Friendly challenges to improve
Best friends are likely to engage in friendly competitions to accomplish their tasks. Moreover, they are each other's constructive critics. Individuals often take criticism more positively when it comes from someone they care about.
Lower employee turnover
Employees who have a friend at work are less likely to search for other jobs. Work friendships provide a sense of work-life balance that allows employees to enjoy a social life in their workplace.
How to turn your best friend into your romantic partner.
Turning a Friend Into a Romantic Partner
Falling in love with your best friend is as simple as breathing air. People fall for their friends all the time! You grow with someone, you get to know their quirks, they suddenly become attractive in your eyes.
Who hasn’t had a crush on a friend? In some ways, the best person you could be dating right now is your friend that you’ve known for ages. You know what to expect, you don’t have to worry that they’re a total creeper, and you might feel more comfortable going on a date with them than someone you just met online.
You first want to make sure that your friend is getting the same vibes as you. Flirt a little and see what happens. Most people — who are really friends — are not going to totally freak out just because you seemed a little more into them. Do simple little things like open doors for them, move their hair behind their ear, get them little gifts, and text a little more. Throw some energy their way and see how they respond.
Make sure when you tell a friend that you like them that you’ve set things up just right. You want to be somewhere private and where they don’t feel put on the spot. Just in case things go poorly, you want to be somewhere that they can get away with ease.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to admit these things at the end of an event that way there is a natural progression toward saying goodbye or extending the night a little. Some people need a moment to process someone’s confession, so don’t be alarmed if they need a little space. If you’ve known each other for a while, it could be a big deal.
You want to make sure there are positive indicators before you make this jump. Does your friend seem interested in you? Are they reciprocating your advances? Are they suggesting a date themselves?
How to Date a Friend
1. Set up a convenient time where you can talk to this person one on one. Preferably during the day, on a weekday, or normal hours. Trying to convey feelings around the company of others is awkward and distracting. Plus, you want to give your undivided attention.
2. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t lay on thick details about how beautiful their hands are and how much you want to hold them and how you think their lips are totally kissable. This might scare the living crap out of them, especially if they’re not interested in you. Tell them:
“Hey, I just want you to know that I think you’re really awesome. I would like to spend more time with you and get to know you more, and I think you might be interested in that too. . . and I’m sorry if I’m mistaken. I want you to know that I like you, and I’m curious how you feel about me.”
This is inviting, it isn’t aggressive, it lays out what you’re thinking clearly, it is concise, and it is open to conversation rather than manipulative. Do give them a moment. Say, “I know that this may be a lot to take in or you may not have ever considered this, so I can give you your space and know that if you’re not interested in me I still want to be your friend.”
They may not have considered you as a potential partner in your whole history. So yes, they may need a few minutes, a few days, or a week. Any longer than a week is cruel, and unless they generally are super indecisive, it probably is a “no” on their part.
3. Just because they are not interested does not mean you need to despair. In fact, I would say before leaving, especially if they do say no at that point say something like, “If you happen to change your mind at any point and I’m still single, feel free to broach this topic again.” People and their interests change so be open to that. They may not see you as a potential right now, but they may later.
Also, don’t become overly distressed and depressed. That isn’t going to help your case. You may feel that way, but don’t display it. Take some alone time to process your thoughts and feelings. Congratulate yourself for putting yourself out there — go buy a steak dinner. You didn’t do anything bad even if you feel bad. And now that your friend knows your thoughts. . . they may start to see you in a different light and that may take time.
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4. They may be interested in someone else who they might 1.) succeed in getting into a relationship, or 2.) end up getting over. It may hurt when they get into a relationship, but play it cool. Over time, you will definitely find someone else. So don’t blow off your friendship just because they didn’t want to take it up a notch. Ultimatums don’t end well.
5. Whoever it is that you like, you can’t be certain that they will be available forever. You don’t want to treat them like a piece of meat you have to swipe directly from the butcher’s knife, but you do want to keep in mind that if they’re hot property then it’s guaranteed that someone else knows it too.
6. Before even getting to the point of confessing feelings, make them feel special. Figure out what they like and speak to their heart. You may win over or soften their heart. If you see them being less guarded and opening up, then you’re doing your job right. Friends usually start flirting more and changing their patterns when they’re ready to start dating.
7. If it’s your best friend… then you can trust them to handle this conversation. You don’t need to be pushy or over the top. Be yourself. Let them know it’s worth trying, the friendship won’t be ruined. You care about them, so you’re not going to throw everything away because feelings got in the way.
8. Keep your nosy friends out of it. When you start dating a friend, your whole friend group doesn’t need to know. In fact, your nosy friends could ruin things because they add too much pressure. Date in secret for a little bit, and if the romance builds let it unfold naturally.
Staying close with a friend who moves far away is difficult by definition.
We become close with our friends in the first place because we mutually let one another into our lives, and we’re there for one another when we need support. That’s the difference between knowing classmates, neighbors, and coworkers and being friends with them, explains Mahzad Hojjat, PhD, Professor of Psychology at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and co-editor of the book “The Psychology of Friendship”. “We do not become close unless we learn about deeper aspects of their lives and become part of their world (and vice versa).”
When one of us moves away, both being in one another’s lives and being able to be there for one another becomes more difficult in a lot of ways because of that lack of proximity — whether it’s being there to celebrate your friend’s birthday, going to hear a band you both love, or watching his dog when he needs to leave town unexpectedly.
Missing those events doesn’t mean you don’t care. But it narrows what would have been an opportunity to share in our friend’s experience, Hojjat tells NBC News BETTER.
Virtual lines of communication — the telephone, FaceTime, Facebook — all help keep us connected in those moments when we can’t be together, but they’re usually not the same as physically being there. “You don’t know exactly how your friend reacted,” Hojjat explains. “And retelling after the fact rarely captures the intensity of emotions that individuals experience in the moment.”
Interactions with others is what creates intimacy, along with how many cultural dimensions you share, adds Robin Dunbar, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at University of Oxford, who studies the behavioral, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms of social bonding.
How good are the relationships that you have with your colleagues?
According to the Gallup organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. But it doesn’t have to be a “BFF.” Gallup found that people who simply have a good friend in the workplace are more likely to be happy. What’s more, good work relationships are linked to better customer engagement and increased profit.
In this article, you’ll learn why it’s important to have good working relationships, how to build and maintain them, and even find ways to work with people that you don’t get on with.
Do you put in enough time to build relationships at work?
Why Have Good Work Relationships?
Human beings are naturally social creatures. And when you consider that we spend one-third of our lives at work, it’s clear that good relationships with colleagues will make our jobs more enjoyable.
The more comfortable co-workers are around one other, the more confident they’ll feel voicing opinions, brainstorming, and going along with new ideas, for example. This level of teamwork is essential to embrace change, create, and innovate. And when people see the successes of working together in this way, group morale and productivity soars.
Good work relationships also give you freedom. Instead of spending time and energy dealing with negative relationships, you can, instead, focus on opportunities – from winning new business to focusing on personal development.
And having a strong professional circle will also help you to develop your career, opening up opportunities that otherwise might pass you by.
Defining a Good Relationship
A good work relationship requires trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion, and open communication. Let’s explore each of these characteristics.
- Trust: when you trust your team members, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions. And you don’t have to waste time or energy “watching your back.”
- Respect: teams working together with mutual respect value one another’s input, and find solutions based on collective insight, wisdom, and creativity. : this means taking responsibility for your words and actions, and not letting your own negative emotions impact the people around you.
- Inclusion: don’t just accept diverse people and opinions, but welcome them! For instance, when your colleagues offer different opinions from yours, factor their insights and perspective – or “cultural add ” – into your decision-making.
- Open communication: all good relationships depend on open, honest communication . Whether you’re sending emails or IMs, or meeting face-to-face or on video calls, the more effectively you communicate with those around you, the better you’ll connect.
Which Work Relationships Are Important?
Although you should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone, some deserve extra attention. Like the relationship between a boss and employee. Gallup found that a manager alone can account for up to 70 percent of a team’s engagement.
Regular one-on-ones let managers build relationships with employees. At these catch ups, you can show how an individual’s work fits with the organization’s “bigger picture,” understand their strengths, and help them identify areas to develop.
You can also explore managing upwards , to analyze how your own manager prefers to work, anticipate their needs, and adapt your approach for a smoother relationship.
You’ll also benefit from developing good work relationships with key stakeholders. These are the people who have a stake in your success or failure, such as customers, suppliers, and your team. Forming a bond with them will help you to ensure that your projects – and career – stay on track. A Stakeholder Analysis helps you to identify who these people are so you can devote time to building these partnerships.
Working closely with others can also lead to personal relationships. If that happens to you, our article, How to Handle a Personal Relationship at Work , will show you how to maintain professionalism during working hours, and preserve your business reputation as well as your relationship.
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Having friendships in your life gives you a sense of belonging, reduces stress, boosts your confidence, helps you through tough times, and makes it easier to avoid unhealthy lifestyles. Scientifically, adults with robust friend networks are less likely to have mental health issues, high blood pressure, and increased body mass indexes. Older adults who have a lot of friends are also more likely to live longer.
How, however, do you cultivate those strong friendships? Read more to find out.
The Qualities of A Good Friend
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively about what friends are, what makes good friends, and much more. He even said that between friends, there is a particular type of love. However, he essentially said that good friends have sympathy and mutual caring between each other. This can mean sharing emotions through empathy and helping a friend in need.
In practice, this can look like:
- Feeling good. Good friends say nice things to each other. They lift each other up and give compliments. So, not only should you feel good about yourself but you should also help your friends feel good.
- Supporting each other. In sad moments when your friend feels down or blue, a good friend thing to do is to help them feel better.
- Love the differences. There is no possible way that your friends will have all the same interests or hobbies as you. Even if you and your friend’s interests do not line up, remain open. Try out your friend’s interests and see if you like them, too. If you don’t, understand that good friends encourage each other even in their separate interests.
- Be a good listener. Be sure to listen and not interrupt your friend. In a healthy friendship, both parties are interested in what the other has to say.
- Be a trustworthy friend. Good friends are not judgmental, and they keep private information confidential.
- Maintain respect and respectfulboundaries. If you are friends with someone for long enough, there are sure to be issues that arise. Perhaps you will do or say something that will upset your friend. Or maybe they have done something that upset you. Either way, close friends can candidly talk about these things and work through their issues.
- Give them your time. Making a close connection takes work and time. By giving your friends time regularly, you let them into your life. Perhaps at first, it may feel awkward, but more and more, you both will feel more comfortable.
- Reciprocal connection. Being a good friend doesn’t just mean listening to your friend or vice versa. Strong friendships are mutual; no one person should be dominant. Again, you should both make each feel good and lift each other up.
- Create a community. While certain friendship connections can feel special, like having a “best friend,” it is always a great thing to have more than one friend in your life. Having a few good friends can widen your perspective on life, give you different types of friendships, and increase your support.
- Quality over quantity. While having a community is essential, you can feel pressured to have lots of friends in this modern age of social media followers. However, resist this pressure. It is more important to have quality and close connections to fewer people than many superficial friend connections.
Let It Go When It’s Time
It is important to cherish your good friends. If problems arise, let your friend know how much you care about them and want to hear them out. Then, try and work through the difficulties. This can offer you both a chance to connect and grow in your relationship.
However, sometimes people grow apart. Good friends develop long-lasting mutual respect and understanding. They understand that occasionally certain friendships do not fit into certain phases of life. Truly appreciating your friend means that you support them even when they need space from you. Although it hurts, let them go if that’s what they need. Give them the chance to grow and expand into a fuller version of themselves.
Kidscape: “What makes a good friend?”
Mayo Clinic: “Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your heart.”
Your best friend is easily one of the most important relationships in your entire life. So when a romantic partner comes along, you have to learn how to balance a relationship and friends. Because before you had a partner, your best friend was the one who would talk to you on the phone late at night. Your best friend was the one who would bring you chicken soup when you were sick. Your best friend was the one who would cuddle with you after you had a bad day and come over to do nothing but eat Chex Mix and watch Netflix.
When you have a romantic partner, your relationship with your best friend will inevitably change. Now, there are two people who have a deep, emotional connection to you. Depending on your best friend’s relationship status, you still might be the closest person to them. Even if they do have a partner, you still need to keep a close connection to your best friend in order to preserve your sense of self. In the flush and passion of a blossoming relationship, though, how do you make sure that you are maintaining enough space for your best friend? Here’s how to make sure that your BFF doesn’t fall by the wayside the minute you fall in love.
1. Make Plans To Hang Out
You only have so much room and space in your life. Especially at the beginning of a new relationship, you and your partner are going to want to spend a ton of time together. Making intentional space to see your best friend one-on-one is healthier for both relationships. It ensures that you and your new boo don’t get totally wrapped around one another to the point where you isolate yourselves. It also tends the garden of your friendship.
When you hang out with your best friend, don’t bring your partner along unless your friend has vocalized that they would like to meet them. Presumably, your bestie isn’t close friends with your partner, and if they were, they could make plans to see them separately. When you are seeing your best friend, your priority needs to be actually spending time with them.
2. Talk About Them First
When you hang out with your bestie, don’t flood them with the exciting new details of your new love. It’s great to gush, but your best friend has a life, too. Ask them how they are doing and what they have been up to. Take extra care to comfort them if they’ve had a bad day. The two of you might be spending time together differently now, so you want to ensure that your relationship is still a nurturing one.
And if and when you do talk about your partner, don’t go on and on about them. Give your bestie the highlights. It’ll stop you from completely obsessing over your relationship and will give you other things to think about. It’ll also make sure that you’re saving relationship talk for the one other person who really cares about your relationship: your partner.
3. Compartmentalize Your Relationships
Don’t ask your best friend what they think of your partner unless you really want their honest opinion. Don’t ask them for advice if you need a counselor. Don’t keep relating the conversation back to yourself and your relationship. If they have a new love interest, don’t compare them to you and your partner.
If your best friend is still single, understand that being in a committed relationship makes things easier for you. You have someone who can cook you dinner, hang up a shelf, or offer you emotional support. Definitely don’t pity your best friend for still being single, but don’t take up all of their energy either. Be sure you continue to be there for them even when you don’t need them to be there as much.
4. Remember Who Will Actually Always Be There For You
All different kinds of relationships can come and go throughout your life, but your best friend is the most likely to stick around. I mean, the person who befriended you after you threw up all over yourself at a party freshman year of college isn’t just going to ditch you as soon as the going gets tough. We all know the stakes are much higher for a boyfriend or a girlfriend. They might be important to you now, but you don’t really know what the future holds.
The relationship you have with your best friend can stay steadier. It doesn’t require you to change yourself or be anything other than the person you are. In romantic relationships, particularly at the start of them, there’s always an element of performance. But that doesn’t mean that your romantic relationship is any more or less important than the one you have with your best friend. The two are completely different entities, on the same plane of importance.
So even if you’re having trouble making time for your best friend right now, continue to make it. The person who will stick by you through everything deserves to have you stick by them, too. And even though it might be tempting to have your bestie come over and hang on your couch while you’re cuddling with your partner, separating yourself for a few hours will just give you and your partner that much more to talk about when you reunite. Cherish your best friend and your partner equally, because personally, I can’t imagine what I would do without my two true loves.
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Love is said to be one of the purest feelings and so is friendship. No matter how alike two people are, both are different from one another. While love gives you butterflies and takes you to seventh heaven, friendship makes you feel treasured and valued.
But what if you find yourself falling in love with your best friend? What if you start getting butterflies when you see them? Or you get jealous when they talk to someone else? It is not at all wrong to fall in love with your best friend unless it is one-sided, or you are already in a relationship. In order to avoid such a confusing situation, here are a few ways to prevent yourself from falling in love with your best friend!
1. Identify the thin line between friendship and love No matter how close you and your friend are, you must always try to maintain a healthy friendship with him. There is a thin line between friendship and love and if you are successful in identifying the difference, then maintaining your friendship would be a cakewalk.
2. Keep a check on your emotions
You must monitor your emotions from time to time. If you observe that you have started feeling differently towards your friend, then self-introspection is the key. Check with yourself and get to know what exactly made you feel in a certain way. Keep yourself disciplined and value the healthy friendship that you have with the other person.
3. Don’t share too much about your life
Friends make life easier and are there to support you through thick and thin. But you must keep a slight check on the things you are sharing with them. Such situations can arise where the other person might interpret something said by you in a different manner. Getting wrong hints might give rise to emotions very different from friendship.
4. Be responsible for your drink
Accept it or not, alcohol is responsible for causing a lot of troubles. While drinking you must know your limits and always be conscious of what you are doing or saying. Never let the alcohol do the talking, as things said and done under the influence of alcohol might make you regret later.
5. Don’t rant about your relationship
Never speak poorly about your partner in front of your friend. At times ranting about your relationship might give wrong hints to your friend which might lead to development of feelings for you.
No matter what, the responsibility of keeping your friendship healthy lies with you. Even if certain events lead to you falling in love with your friend, then you two must be mature enough to talk and sort it out. Acting like adults is the first thing which helps in maintaining and safekeeping friendships. You must never forget that communication is the key, and anything could be sorted out as long as you two talk about it.
Raquel Peel does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Southern Queensland provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
This story contains spoilers for Bridgerton
The first season of Bridgerton, Netflix’s new hit show based on Julia Quinn’s novels, premiered on December 25 last year.
The show is set in London, during the debutante season of 1813. It starts with Miss Daphne, the eldest daughter of the Bridgerton family, being presented to the court in preparation for the social season of marriage arrangements.
As the story develops, filled with secrets and scandals, the young lady seeks to understand what marriage and love is all about. Her mother, Lady Violet, offers this advice:
My dear, why ever do you complicate matters so? You must simply marry the man who feels like your dearest friend.
As a psychology researcher who studies romantic relationships, I think this touches on an idea well supported by research evidence: friendship is the foundation of happy romantic partnerships.
The importance of friendship
American psychologist Robert Sternberg originally theorised love is composed of three elements: passion, intimacy and commitment.
But these elements do not comprehensively describe the complexity of romantic relationships. Researchers have long sought to include other elements such as partner compatibility, emotional connection, accessibility, responsiveness, engagement, acceptance, the ability to communicate and reveal thoughts and feelings (called “self-disclosure”), independence and conflict resolution.
What’s more, although it’s well established physical attraction and earning potential will influence how people select partners, similarity and familiarity are more important for relationships long-term.
Over time, similarities such as values, political attitudes, and religiosity become more relevant and are likely to lead to greater happiness and relationship satisfaction.
All of these are qualities you’d also find in a good friend.
Indeed marriage researcher and psychologist John Gottman argues friendship is the foundation of happy romantic partnerships and the most important predictor of maintaining good relationships long-term.
In his book, The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, Gottman explains couples have a better chance of success if they “know each other intimately — they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams”.
The relationship advice and support provided by Lady Violet was a significant contributor to Daphne’s decision to marry Simon, the Duke of Hastings.
The Duke explains that at first, love was out of the question, but in removing it, they found friendship, which is a far greater feat. He put it simply:
To meet a beautiful woman is one thing, but to meet your best friend in the most beautiful of women is something entirely apart.
Barriers to finding (and keeping) love
On the other hand, the show demonstrates how people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours can potentially sabotage their chances in love. One reason why so many couples struggle to navigate conflict in their relationships is because people are often intrinsically motivated to protect themselves rather than be vulnerable.
The Duke of Hastings is a good example. In an attempt to protect himself from the hurtful memories of his childhood and relationship with his father, the Duke closed himself off to relationships and love.
Unfortunately, this is all too common. In my recent study, published in July 2020, I surveyed 696 people and uncovered countless examples of people who describe being afraid and believing they’re not worthy of love.
Here are some of them:
“I am always afraid it is not going to work out or I am going to get hurt, but I know that me trying to maintain a distance like that is one of the reasons my relationships always fail”
“I fear not being accepted for who I am”
“My own beliefs that I am maybe not good enough, or worthy of such affection, make it difficult to maintain relationships”
“I am not good enough for my partner and one day they will realise that and leave.”
These beliefs influence how people perceive quality and stress in relationships, and can mean people prevent themselves from forming and maintaining successful relationships.
Overcoming the trials of relationships
Unlike “happily ever after” tales, Bridgerton follows the couple into a story of conflict when navigating the expectations of marriage.
The trust between the couple seemed to have been broken beyond repair after Daphne discovered Simon had been lying to her about his inability to have children. But a foundation of friendship remained. And it was this foundation that helped them overcome their issues.
In my research, I found participants were able to overcome issues in their relationships by focusing on trust, communication, commitment, safety and acceptance. They noted these as important elements when managing conflict and relationship expectations.
Maintaining a healthy relationship long-term requires partners to know, trust and be vulnerable with one another, while also engaging in open communication and collaboration towards the common goal of working on their relationship. Altogether, these elements also describe meaningful friendships.
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Services include parent education to maternal and child healthcare, child care, crisis support, child protection, family violence and relationship services
Alcohol is responsible for most drug-related deaths in the teenage population.
The Alexander technique stresses that movement should be economical and needs only the minimum amount of energy and effort.
Well-managed anger can be a useful emotion that motivates you to make positive changes.
There are many people you can talk to who can help you overcome feelings of wanting to lash out.
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Young people’s voices and experiences are shaping the solution at every step. Eleven organisations are working with them to solve this problem, from different angles: young people, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, culture and religion and digital impact.
We know that young people from all walks of life are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse. They see it at home and in their own relationships. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 14% of women aged 16 to 19 reported experiencing some form of domestic abuse in the last year. This is 40% higher than the next age group (20-24) 1 .
We also learned in a recent project in partnership with On Our Radar, My Story Matters, that children and young people don’t identify with the term ‘domestic abuse’, do not always know what is and isn’t acceptable in their relationships, and do want help but do not always feel that services are designed with their needs in mind. The Your Best Friend project aims to address these gaps.
We want girls and young women to be confidently well informed about what’s healthy and what’s abusive, how to stay safe, how to reach safety and how to help others be safe. We want to put the power in their hands.
Your Best Friend will:
- Unite young people and experts to combine experiences with know-how
- Use the online world to reach young people wherever they are
- Provide existing support groups and networks with accessible and practical support
By doing this, Your Best Friend aims to give 10,000, and ultimately over 1 million other young people the knowledge, confidence and tools to keep themselves and their friends safe in their intimate relationships. The project also aims to give at least 40 young people’s organisations, groups and networks across England and Wales grants, resources and tools to empower girls and young women, as well as supporting young people who want to step up to peer leadership to do this.
Asking for help is hard. This project aims to make it easy for girls, young women and non-binary people to find what they need in a way that suits them.
The #FriendsCanTell campaign aims to de-normalise the controlling behaviours that hundreds of young people told us are so common that they are considered normal.
It launches on Instagram and will then be followed by a TikTok series and films, podcasts and a national poster campaign throughout Spring & Summer, as well as dozens of grassroots projects in England and Wales, funded by the Your Best Friend Fund.
Help us reach more young people by liking, commenting, saving and sharing the #FriendsCanTell posts, or visit the campaign page for more ideas on how to support the campaign, and for information for friends supporting friends.
Keep your eyes peeled where you are – and share online with the hashtag #FriendsCanTell.
Your Best Friend research:
Hundreds of girls, young women, and non-binary people have spoken to us about friendships and relationships, and times they have been worried about a friend, via a series of focus groups and national surveys.
9 in 10 young people we surveyed had talked to a friend to try and help them with a toxic relationship but 83% said they would hold back from speaking to them if they thought it might damage the relationship.
Read the Discovery Report or read more about the themes that emerged.
Your Best Friend Fund
Grants of up to £25,000 are available for to support young people to prevent toxic intimate relationships
To ensure this vital project gets to all those who need it, £300,000 worth of grants are available for grassroots and youth organisations across England and Wales to share or adapt the #FriendsCanTell campaign with their community, or create something brand new to help young people in their network understand abuse and support their friends.
Young people are at the heart of the process, sitting on the panel that awards the grants.
Interested in learning more about this project?
Sign up to mailing list via the Your Best Friend website.
Your Best Friend Project Partners
SafeLives is the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good, and the lead partner in this project.
Hafan Cymru is a charitable organisation operating across Wales, providing housing and support services to vulnerable women, men and their children, particularly those escaping Domestic Abuse.
At Llamau we believe that no young person or vulnerable woman should ever have to experience homelessness. Our mission is to eradicate homelessness for young people and vulnerable women.
The Mix is the UK’s leading digital charity for under 25s. The Mix provides free, confidential essential support for young people under 25 through social, web, a helpline and counselling. They are unique in reaching over 5 million young people across the UK every year through the technologies they turn to first.
Super Being Labs is a social innovation agency that supports charities across the UK with their strategic vision for, and implementation of, digital services.
Galop is a UK charity supporting LGBT+ people who’ve experienced hate crime, domestic abuse or sexual violence.
At a time when young Muslims are being bombarded with negative media portrayals, and an increasing number are suffering Islamophobia and discrimination, mainstream service providers are unable to meet the specific needs of young Muslims. There is an urgent need for faith and culturally sensitive support services. Muslim Youth Helpline was set up to meet this need.
At Lancashire BME Network (LBN) our mission is to ensure we are enabling communities in accessing opportunities that will allow us to strive towards a Lancashire where diverse communities can achieve equality together, through the spirit of collaboration, respect, integrity, inclusivity and empathy.
Naomi is a SafeLives Pioneer, an expert by experience, community leader and youth mentor. She designed and runs PODS, a peer-mentoring programme to protect young black men and women from abuse and violent crime.
On Our Radar is a specialist group of journalists, technologists, digital storytellers and development practitioners. We work together to tackle voicelessness, surfacing stories from unheard groups worldwide.
YANA Project delivers training and empowerment programmes for young people who have directly been affected by gang related violence, sexual grooming, exploitation, domestic violence and abuse.
The Your Best Friend project would not be possible without substantial funding from the Tampon Tax Fund.
On a recent road trip with my best friend, I came to a surprising realization: we’ve known each other for years, we live together, we spend all day texting and all night gabbing, and yet there’s still plenty we don’t know about each other. Somewhere in the midst of constant interaction and communication, we have failed to connect all the dots. There are things you can ask your best friend that will make your bond stronger — for instance, though I know that my best friend likes to watch old episodes of Seinfeld when she’s sad, I don’t know the right things to stay after she gets in a fight with her mom or gets rejected from a job she applied for. It occurred to me that many adult friendships, especially between roommates, can escalate quickly, creating a false sense of intimacy and closeness that takes an extra effort to create something more authentic and honest.
Whilst stuck in traffic somewhere along the thruway, my best friend and I cycled through our usual topics: social gossip, celebrity rumors, family drama, relationship woes, financial stress, and a lot of grunting and moaning regarding the slow pace of traffic. Her phone was dead, I was driving so I had mine tucked away, and we were a good three hours out from our destination. Without the distraction of mindless Instagram scrolling and without the freedom to leave the car, we decided to play a game of 20 questions that changed the way I approach friendships in my adult life.
What started out as a few failed attempts to guess "a corgi" and "The Lion King," we had decided to play a new kind of 20 questions; we asked each other personal questions. And before long, we arrived at our destination, knee-deep in heady, contemplative conversation, leaving us feeling closer than ever and equally fascinated with each other. Which is no easy feat when you spend most of your time with someone. As it turns out, there is something specific I can say to help comfort my best friend after she gets into an argument with her mother, and to my surprise, she’d much rather go get ice cream than hole up with Seinfeld for an afternoon. In those three hours, we got to know each other in a way we might never otherwise had the chance to. So, here are 20 questions to ask your best friend that will make your relationship stronger than ever — and, of course, help to pass the time.
"What would you like to make more time for in your life?"
Talk about what you’ve meant to fit into your life but haven’t been able to.
"What are you scared of?"
Ghosts? Death? Bees? Rejection? Direct questions elicit honest responses.
"When you’re upset, do you want space or attention?"
You might find out that all this time you’ve been coddling your friend, she’s wanted just a minute alone.
"What’s on your bucket list?"
You might unearth some cool adventures for you two to do together.
"What do you struggle with on a day-to-day basis?"
Empathy is a great skill. To understand your friend, you have to understand what it feels like to be your friend.
"What embarrasses you in front of other people?"
Note to self: things not to do!
"What have you always wanted to try?"
Another great opportunity to try something together. Whether it be mushroom pizza or skydiving, it will certainly spark a fun conversation.
"If you had to spend $10,000 today, how would you spend it?"
A great way to learn about each other’s priorities and indulgences.
"If you started your own non-profit, what would it be?"
Tap into your generous side and learn about what your friend really cares about.
"What do you like to do first thing in the morning?"
Brush your teeth? Cradle your iPhone? Learn the best way to approach each other in those early hours.
"What’s your favorite viral video?"
Yes, if you could only pick one, what would it be? The Hamster Dance? Kristen Bell crying over the sloth?
"What song gets you going?"
We both lowered our heads here and whispered, "What Do You Mean?" by Justin Bieber. The shame was lifted.
"What are you most insecure about?"
This might surprise you how hard it is to answer honestly. But you’ll feel better after you do.
"What’s the title of your quarter-life autobiography?"
Try naming each other’s books. This could go on forever.
"If you had to live in another country alone for a year, where would it be?"
Get creative, broaden your horizons. Encourage each other to consider travel and independence.
"Who understands you the best in your family?"
This might be a tone-changer, but it’s good to know each other in the way.
"What relationship do you think needs work in your life?"
Maybe it’s not something you think about on the regular, in that case, you might find this question extra stimulating.
"What happens when you die?"
It’s not a trick question. There’s no wrong answer. No matter what you say, you’ll be offering a whole lot of insight into your soul.
"When you’re scared, who do does your mind reach out to for safety?"
"If you could re-do one day in your life, which would it be and why?"
Maybe the answer is that you wouldn’t. That’s fine too.
There’s no "right" answer for any of these questions, they’re just designed to inspire you and your friend to open your minds and hearts to some fresh conversations. If one question leads you away from the list, follow it!