Monday, July 4

Two-thirds of couples start out as friends, research finds | Relations

When Harry met Sally, he claimed that men and women couldn’t be friends because “the sexual part always gets in the way.”

But new research suggests that roughly two-thirds of couples start out as friends and stay in a platonic relationship for long periods before starting an affair.

While the union of two strangers, whether through sidelong glances in a coffee shop or the swipe of a dating app, is well documented in the movies and is the focus of much sociological research, not as much is known about the choice of a couple who will work for you, said Danu Anthony Stinson, associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Victoria, Canada.

Stinson and his co-authors investigated the experience of nearly 1,900 college students and crowdsourcing adults (including 677 who were married or in a domestic partnership), all of whom were asked if they were friends with their current romantic partner before getting involved. romantically. .

The majority of participants (68%) reported that their current or most recent romantic relationship began as a friendship, regardless of gender, age, education levels, or ethnic groups. The friend initiation rate was even higher among twentysomethings and within LGBTQ + communities, with 85% of those couples saying their romance started as a friendship.

How does a platonic relationship become romantic and what the distinction between friends and lovers really is is a question that has yet to be resolved, Stinson said.

The written accounts of the study participants were scattered everywhere, he said. Some described holding hands, introducing themselves to family, going on a trip together, hugging by the fire, and even having sex as friendship. Others categorized those exact behaviors as romantic.

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“So there’s a huge, messy, blurry line between friendship and romance … it emphasizes how you can’t really define for someone else what a friendship is versus what a romance is,” he said. “They define it for themselves.”

In the study, roughly 300 college students were also asked how long their “buddy phase” lasted and if they’d rather be friends than take things in a romantic direction. On average, “friends first” initiators were friends for almost 22 months before the relationship turned romantic and nearly half of the total sample thought that initiating friends first was the best way to start a new romantic relationship. compared to the other options presented such as how to get together at a party or online, the researchers wrote in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“There are people who complain about being ‘in the friend zone’ … based on this idea that relationships between men and women are somehow, by default, sexual,” Stinson said. “But when we ask people, they say they have friendships with people, of all genders, who, in theory, they might be attracted to one day. Sometimes they act on them and sometimes they don’t. “

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