Does being best friends first before dating or getting married benefit your relationship in any way?
Friendship can indeed turn into romance and the happily ever after.
As many marriage therapists, counsellors and relationship coaches will say ‘you need to be best friends’. This is because if you have a strong foundation to work from, where you respect, trust and support each other, share similar values and dreams, and can talk about everything and anything then you’re halfway there already.
When you grow old and grey together, it’s more about being there for each other, being together and companionship that sustains a relationship. However not all friendships will turn into a budding romance and you may well need to let go and move on if you’ve been put in the friend zone.
Being best friends means that you are already familiar with each other, know your likes and dislikes, are comfortable being around each other, have experienced things together and know each other’s friends and families which makes it easier than that initial awkward dating phase where you’re still trying to impress each other.
If a couple wants to take their friendship to the next level, they both need to make a conscious effort to bring romance and intimacy into the relationship so that it doesn’t risk being a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship, or that it fizzles out before it has even got off the ground.
When looking to take your friendship to the next level you need to have some courageous conversations upfront, in other words the difficult or uncomfortable topics such as:
- Expectations from each other and the relationship now that you’ve moved past the friend zone and into the relationship zone.
- Finances (who will pay for what in proportion to income)
- How you will resolve conflict, how you will share the household responsibilities (i.e. the chores), who will be responsible for what (paying the bills, grocery shopping etc),
- Setting couples goals (this will keep your attention focused inwards on your relationship and each other rather than on where other couples are at),
- Boundaries with family, friends, hobbies and interests.
This way you know where you stand with each other from the start and are able to manage each other’s expectations and needs.
The other important conversation to have is how you will manage the situation should your relationship not work out in the long term.
- Will you still be able to remain friends?
- Do you need to give each other some time out for a period of time to re-establish your friendship?
- How will you manage your circle of friends if you share the same friends so that it doesn’t become awkward and uncomfortable for everyone else?
It’s not impossible to go from best friends to happily ever after if you approach your relationship with the right mindset and attitude.
Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. Paula teaches individuals and companies tools and skills to immediately and positively enhance the quality of their personal and organisational relationships.