Although much has been said about finding a partner for whom you feel passionate, increasing bodies of evidence are delineating the importance of having a partner that you are not necessarily head-over-heels passionate about but with whom you have a strong, close, and comfortable relationship. While it might not be quite as glamorous as many of the stories involving intense, passionate love, falling in love with your best friend could actually be one of the best, most effective ways to make sure that your relationship will work long after the so-called honeymoon period has ended.
A boyfriend/best friend combination can happen on either end of the scale. For some, a close friend gradually moves into "boyfriend" territory, and for others, the spark of attraction turns out to be far more than a simple romantic connection. Either way, it starts, though, numerous surveys and studies have demonstrated that having a boyfriend who is your best friend is an unfailingly strong way to cultivate a strong, lasting, and respectful relationship.
Best friends make great partners, largely because a best friend has something that a romantic partner does not necessarily possess: unwavering support and sincere affection. Romantic partners are wonderful, but much of the beginning of a romantic relationship involves some amount of dishonesty; in a romantic relationship, both people typically try to maintain some mystique or are on their best behavior to impress their new significant other. Conversely, a best friend knows your flaws, knows that you know their flaws, and can relax and spend time with you without the same amount of pressure and discomfort.
The role that relationships play might age over time-both as a whole and in your relationship, specifically. One study found that people in relationships report their partner being their best friend at a rate of over 80%, a significant change from the 40% reported a mere 30 years ago. The change could be due to a number of factors, the most significant one likely being the ever-changing roles partners play in relationships and marriages.
As people continue to value friendship at a greater pace and crave the same closeness and intimacy in their romantic relationships that they experience in their friendships, the likelihood of calling their significant other their best friend increases. Though they have long been called a ball and chain, marriage relationships have enjoyed a much different lens through which they are viewed, wherein both parties see their partners not as an overlord or a ball and chain, but as a source of comfort, support, and love.
This is not to say that all romantic relationships are now seen through this perspective; in some marriages (just over ten percent), having a significant other who is considered a best friend is neither a priority nor a reality. In some parts of the world, too, marriage is still considered, by and large, a contractual decision, rather than a love or friendship-motivated one. Even in many of these relationships, though, support is extremely important and can be the measure by which the relationship is evaluated.
The Beauty Of These Relationships
"Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Please make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times." -N'tima Preusser
As Preusser suggests, being with someone who supports and loves you unconditionally and makes you feel safe is an important part of having a long, successful romantic relationship. A boyfriend who is not supportive, or who speaks poorly of you, or who does not like to see you being free, silly, or playful, is not likely to be someone you can truly find happiness with. While you might not want to go the route of your boyfriend being your actual best friend, the advice stands: find someone you can trust and be yourself with.
"True love isn't found; it's built." -Unknown
This particular quote, though its origin is unknown, encompasses all of the beautiful aspects of being best friends with your boyfriend: your relationship is not one that enjoyed a quick burn at the beginning and eventually petered out, but is a long-standing relationship that is built on mutual love, support, respect, and care. When searching for true love and being open to finding it with a friend, it is important to note that you build up to your partner being your best friend, even if the two of you are best friends before your relationship becoming romantic; people do not become best friends overnight. It may only take a matter of weeks to develop a relationship close enough to warrant the term, but the bonds that continue your relationship can usually last a lifetime.
Why Boyfriend/Best Friend Relationships Work
"I meant it when I said I didn't believe in love at first sight. It takes time to really, truly fall for someone. Yet, I believe in a moment. A moment when you glimpse the truth within someone, and they glimpse the truth within you. At that moment, you don't belong to yourself any longer, not completely. Part of you belongs to him; part of him belongs to you. After that, you can't take it back, no matter how much you want to, no matter how hard you try." -Claudia Gray, "A Thousand Pieces of You"
As Gray's quote suggests, love takes time. Friendship can considerably speed that time, as the intimacy and bond that you create within friendship can easily span decades, while romantic love often fades within a matter of months or years. The kind of love that forms within friendships is often stronger and deeper than the kind of love that forms within romantic relationships, largely because friendships are usually more honest: in romance, you are often trying hard to impress your new flame, while friendship is often more about vulnerability, and making yourself known. Although a best friend type of friendship is not necessary to cultivate a strong relationship, it can be a wonderful and beautiful way to create a strong, lasting relationship with your partner.
Pitfalls Of Romantic Relationship/Friendships
Although evidently many people would argue that a boyfriend/best friend relationship is a wonderful thing, there are some pitfalls associated with such an arrangement. The most significant pitfall that can be found in this type of relationship is the possibility of failure and the consequential loss of two relationships. If your romantic and friendly relationships are kept separate, and you break up with your partner, you have lost only your partnership. If, however, your partner is your best friend, and the two of you break up, it can feel as though you have lost two relationships, rather than one, and can leave you feeling isolated and scared.
A boyfriend/best friend relationship can also be problematic if one or both of you crave mystery and find that you have very little mystery between the two of you. Many best friends see their best friends in the most unpleasant situations imaginable and know their best friends' every flaw and misstep. Although in a best friend relationship, this kind of intimacy is valuable and cherished. In a romantic relationship, one or both of you might struggle to have an intimate knowledge of past relationships, personal flaws, or personal hang-ups.
Should Your Romantic Relationship Also Be A Friendship?
Ultimately, the choice is yours: whether you prefer having a romance separate from friendship or the prospect of a friendship-enriched romantic relationship makes you feel ecstatic, you ultimately get to decide your goals, preferences, wants, and likes. If you enter into a relationship with your friend first, and you decide you prefer stronger boundaries between the two types of relationships, you can count on a learning experience and move on to another relationship-one with boundaries that you feel safe in and comfortable with.
If you are currently in a boyfriend/best friend relationship and struggle with any of the aspects of such a close, intimate union, your relationship could benefit from a session of couple's counseling, which can help you learn how to set better boundaries and develop communication and coping tools to help keep your relationship on the right track. You and your partner could see a therapist in your town, or you could try couple's counseling online, through a site such as ReGain.Us, which can offer counseling on your timetable, from the comfort of your home, and at a price that is often cheaper than traditional therapy methods.