Many people are tormented by the question, “Can a friendship turn into a relationship?” Yes, of course! After all, the best relationship is a relationship built on friendship. Family psychologists have repeatedly confirmed that if partners perceive each other as friends, their relationship lasts much longer. Moreover, you have a lot of advantages over other people: you know all the strengths and weaknesses of a person you like. You have a flood of shared positive emotions and fond memories.
You know their preferences, tastes, and character. You get on well with their parents, who do not have to get used to a new girlfriend. You have gone through thick and thin together, let your friend into the most intimate secrets, and seen each other in different states – anger, happiness, despondency, the morning hangover, illness, anything at all… In addition, such couples usually have a common circle of friends, so you can avoid being jealous of other people from your group of friends.
Therefore, if you use all the available information correctly, then it will not be difficult for you to turn a friendship into relationships. To achieve mutual love, you should show and prove that you are truly enamored and hold affection for your friend.
What it means to be friends before being in romantic Relationship
Friendship is the first thing you need and very important when it comes to developing a relationship.
Being friends gives you the opportunity to get to know the person for who they are and gives you the opportunity to learn things about them that you would not have learned otherwise.
When you jump into a relationship without being friends first, all types of issues and challenges may occur. You begin to expect more from the person and sometimes set unrealistic expectations.
By putting friendship before a relationship, you can easily decide whether they are the perfect one to date or not as there will be no pretense and more open space to talk about things that matter.
READ ALSO: FRIENDSHIP INTO RELATIONSHIP, CAN YOU TURN A FRIENDSHIP INTO RELATIONSHIP
Why Friendship in a Relationship Matters
The question of friendship between men and women is nothing new. Some people believe they can be “just friends,” while others don’t think it’s possible. In reality, there’s no clear cut answer. It’s a topic that could go either way depending on the person and the situation.
But when it comes to friendship and relationships, the connection is clear: working to strengthen friendship in a marriage or other long-term relationship is a critical part of making a relationship last.
Friendship is at the core of any strong relationship. Research has shown that a high quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor of both romantic and physical satisfaction. Couples who are friends report higher levels of happiness in their relationships than couples who aren’t. Some research has even found that friendship in a marriage is five times more important than physical intimacy.
What are The (seven) 7 core elements of friendship
While any friendship can ebb and flow over time, some consistent sense of forward momentum is necessary to keep it intact. In other words, there need to be clear expectations for the level of communication and connection you’ll have with a friend, whether that means texting every day, calling every week, or getting together for a longer catch-up once a month, says Romney.
When that coalesces into a rhythm, it breeds (even more) trust: Each person can rest assured that when they reach out, they can expect a response in return. And the more this pattern repeats itself, the more readily they’ll be able to predict what that response may be, which just makes both people that much more comfortable getting vulnerable—a positive friendship cycle that reinforces itself.
Any party to a friendship has to both give and take, says Dr. Franco: Too much giving, and you’ll start to resent the other person; too much taking, and you’re not upholding your half of the friend bargain. “Essentially, you both need to consent to the relationship because of the responsibility it entails,” she says.
That also means agreeing on just how much giving and taking you’ll each be doing. “A friendship will work best if you consider each other as the same caliber of friend,” says Dr. Franco, referencing a scale created by friendship researcher and author Shasta Nelson. “For example, if you rate a friend as a 10 and they rate you as a five on a scale of one to 10, then you have a misalignment of expectations where you’re expecting a 10-level of investment in the relationship—which might look like inviting you to everything or showing up when you’re sick—but they’re only expecting half that amount of effort, Getting on the same page about where you fall in someone’s broader friendship scheme (and where they fall in yours) can help you avoid either letting a friend down or being let down.
“When we share privileged information, disclose personal feelings, and accept support, we build intimacy in our friendships,” says Romney. While this element of friendship will be that much more potent with a close friend, feeling able to share some degree of personal information with any friend is necessary for a below-surface-level connection. An ability to be vulnerable is also both an indicator that you have a foundation of trust in place (which is necessary for basically any relationship) and a way to foster even more trust, too.
Difficult scenarios tend to separate our closest friends from our less-close ones for a reason: Depth of intimacy requires a friend having your back, not only when doing so is easy, but also when it’s painful or tough. “Celebrating a friend after they have a baby is just as vital as consoling them through a job loss,” says Romney. Though this dimension of support will vary across the friendship spectrum (that is, not every friend is going to be the one that visits you at the hospital), the idea is that the level of support—like the energy you pour into a relationship, generally—is matched and reciprocated.
It might sound obvious, but you actually have to like a friend better than you would a stranger in order for the friendship to work. “You don’t necessarily have to love them, but you do need to hold them in positive regard and act in a way that shows your affection,” says Dr. Franco. (By contrast, one of the most common traits in toxic relationships is one or both people tearing the other down.)
“A healthy friendship is one that fills you up with energy and positivity more often than draining your emotional resources,” says Romney. Often, someone might stay in a negative or draining friendship merely because they’ve been in it for a long time or because they don’t think they have handy alternatives, says Dr. Franco. “But when they actually evaluate, ‘Do I like this person?,’ they might realize that they don’t—and that alone can cause the friendship to suffer.
READ ALSO: COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP MEANING, WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP
A friendship can flourish only when both people in it feel comfortable around each other. “If you always feel like you need to be on guard or like you’re walking on eggshells, you won’t reap the social-health benefits of true friendship,” says Dr. Franco.
In that vein, a good friendship also has to be void of any power dynamic, she adds: “If one person holds more power than the other, the second person can never really be at ease, or have the latitude to be their authentic self and get their needs met.
Setting boundaries might sound like erecting a wall between you and a friend rather than allowing for the flow of intimacy. But in practice, boundaries can actually help outline how you’ll navigate your relationship in a way that takes both people’s needs, desires, and expectations into account, says Romney. “Setting a boundary with a friend can be as simple as being clear about what days of the week you can or can’t hang out, what activities make you uncomfortable, or what you need from them to feel supported and loved,” she says.
How to build friendship in a relationship
1* Express genuine interest in your partner
Do you do fun things together during your free time? You don’t have to have the same interests as your partner, but you can absolutely enjoy time spent together by engaging in one of their (or your) interests.
Perhaps your partner loves baseball. You don’t have to become a sports expert overnight. However, you can attend games with your partner and enjoy the excitement on your partner’s face when their team hits that home run. If your partner enjoys art, take a class with them. It’s about finding activities that validate your partner that you can participate in together.
2* See Your Partner For Who They Are
It’s become clear that most people just want to be seen for who they truly are – not who their partner wants them to be. Being a real friend to your significant other means seeing all of their parts, not just the shiny ones, and loving them anyway.
This simple act of acceptance and love is one of the best things you can do if you’re wondering how to strengthen friendship in a relationship.
3* Make everything positive in your relationship foreplay
As contrary as it may sound, the smallest ways that you acknowledge your partner’s questions and expressions are the most significant in strengthening and securing your physical bond. According to Dr. Gottman’s research, there is actual legitimacy to the “romance starts in the kitchen” mantra.
Daily experiences like doing the dishes, folding laundry, watching TV, or cooking together can be opportunities for a deeper connection to occur. These can be moments to share about your day, talk about your goals, or simply to check in on how each other is feeling.
READ ALSO: 13 SIGNS OF SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP
4* Make The Time
Just like flowers need sun and water, friendships need time and energy to grow. Set specific times that you and your partner are going to hang out alone. Consider these times a priority. If you can’t find childcare, make time to connect when the kids go to bed. Turn off all of your devices, and just talk.
5* Be on your partner’s team
When obstacles and outside stressors come against your partner, they need to know you’ve got their back. After all, you’re on the same team. That means you can show genuine interest in being on your partner’s side and try your best to never do or say anything that could leave them feeling insignificant or alone.
Examples of this look like standing up for your partner when you see them feeling uncomfortable in a social setting. Or, when your partner faces rejection or disappointment, you can say, “I know this hurts, but I believe in you.”
As with any friendship, your bond must be nurtured and prioritized. Creating meaningful experiences, showing genuine interest in one another, and being on the same team are all simple, daily actions that you can make right now to strengthen your relationship. Cultivating these will become a lifeline for you both.
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