Being friends is an important part of any healthy and happy romantic relationship. You’re supposed to marry your best friend, right?
But is being friends enough?
How do you know if your feelings towards someone are truly romantic or if perhaps your relationship would actually thrive best as a platonic friendship?
Where’s the line between friendship and love? Should you be friends or a couple? Which relationship would serve each of you best?
Let’s lay out some factors that people often associate with romantic relationships but are just as important in friendships:
So where do romantic relationships diverge from friendships?
Beyond the sexual component, which is generally a defining feature of romantic relationships and absent from most friendships—one reason “friends with benefits” are often a source of confusion—there are other aspects that can clarify whether two people are well-suited to be joined as romantic partners, not just as friends.
Deciding the future of a relationship is a weighing of costs, benefits, alternative options, expectations, and investments already made into a partnership (Rusbult, 1980), but such weighing should reflect an appreciation for the work that goes into maintaining a partnership. While many friends could be good partners, it is a decision and commitment toward a life with someone that promotes relationship success.
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Tudor, M., & Nelson, G. (1991). Close relationships as including other in the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(2), 241-253.
Fazio, R. H., Effrein, E. A., & Falender, V. J. (1981). Self-perceptions following social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41(2), 232-242.
Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2014). A new look at social support A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, Advanced online publication.
Hendrick, C., Hendrick, S. S., & Zacchilli, T. L. (2011). Respect and love in romantic relationships. Actas de Investigación Psicológica, 1(2), 316-329.
Laurenceau, J. P., Barrett, L. F., & Pietromonaco, P. R. (1998). Intimacy as an interpersonal process: the importance of self-disclosure, partner disclosure, and perceived partner responsiveness in interpersonal exchanges. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(5), 1238-1251.
Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Griffin, D. W. (1996). The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(1), 79-98.
Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16(2), 172-186.
Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological review, 93(2), 119-135.