Study: Love first, friendship first? This is how relationships begin

Updated: 07/13/2021 – 21:42

The current study reveals
Love at first sight or friendship first? This is how most relationships begin


Photo: Getty Images / Kathrin Ziegler

Do most relationships precede intimate friendship? Is it like love at first sight? Researchers have now dealt with this in a study.

For some love it must grow, and for others it must appear at first sight if possible. What is the most common? And how long have future spouses been friends before, on average? A recent study looked at this.

Of course there is love at first sight. And while some are interested in this romantic form of falling in love, it is inconceivable to others: after all, the exchange of a word or two before it happens also plays a big role. or? Researchers wanted to know more about it and investigated more Relationships are built on: love first or friendship first. the study Together with the interesting results we present here.


Study: Love first or friendship first? How do most relationships begin?


A Canadian research team led by Dano psychology professor Anthony Stenson of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, evaluated data from nearly 1,900 adults, including students. 677 of them are in a permanent relationship or married. Essentially, people should answer the question of whether their current or recent relationship was preceded by a friendship with their future partner. Conversely, this means that anyone who answered this question “no” began their relationship very quickly, so to speak with love at first sight.


And here’s the finding: More than two-thirds of those surveyed, 68 percent, stated that their current or recent romance began as a friendship. Gender, age, educational level, or ethnic group played no role in this assessment. However, the study also found that the proportion was higher among those over the age of 20 and within LGBTQ+ communities: 85 percent of them said they were initially friends with the intended, before it became a relationship.

Friendship or relationship? question of definition


But at what stage does a platonic relationship turn into a romantic one? What is the difference between friendship and love relationship? According to study director Stenson, this question still needs clarification. Because the answers written for study participants were as varied as they were at times strange, she says, and that’s what friendship means. For some, holding hands and going on vacations together and meeting parents would be normal acts of purely platonic relationships, including intimate things like cuddling by the fire and even having sex together. For others, the exact same behaviors were a clear sign of a romantic relationship.

“So there seems to be a blurry, elusive, blurry line between friendship and relationship,” Dano Anthony Stinson said. “It shows that you can’t tell others what makes friendship versus romance,” she continues. Because everyone decides for themselves.


Friends First: This is the average length of a friendship


About 300 of the test subjects who were also still studying were asked how long the friendship phase that preceded the relationship lasted. The results show that they have been friends for an average of less than 22 months. Almost half of them thought it was also the best way to start a romantic relationship. Other options included getting to know each other at a party or through a dating portal.


Relationships that grow out of friendship: This is how most people feel. Many have a very different idea of ​​how love begins, concludes the study leader: “Many are convinced they know why and how people choose partners, become a couple and fall in love, but our research shows that this is not so.” The issue We may have a good understanding of how strangers are attracted to each other and start dating, but most relationships don’t start that way. “


➔ Read more about studying in English here.



Love at first sight? It can definitely work! This couple says: We fell in love like lightning – and we’ve lived 34 years.


Whether or not we were friends at first: An expert explains what we learn from each relationship in the next.


Did you know that the length of a relationship can actually be predicted? At least a little bit, according to a study.


You can find more interesting articles about partnerships on our Relationship Tips topic page.



love and sex

love and sex

All videos are about love, sex and partnership.

Show description


Leave a Comment