Dating Your Best Friend—Good Idea Or Horrible Mistake?

Did you know that when you start dating someone you were previously friends with, it’s usually a good foundation for a long-term relationship? Researchers recently found that almost two-thirds of the adults they studied claimed that their current or most recent relationship began as a friendship.

Although, while being friends with someone can lead to something very special when you two connect romantically, it doesn’t always work out.

Dating your best friend—good idea or horrible mistake?

Dating Your Friends

Cast of "How I Met Your Mother" sitting at a table in a bar cheersing with drinks
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | CBS
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | CBS

Although some couples meet and have an instant spark, some people are friends for months or even years before they started dating.

And according to research, this is a great way to start a relationship because you already have a strong bond with one another.

It’s Actually Pretty Common

"dating your bestfriend is key to a long and healthy relationship"
Photo Credit: @jorgeinerarity / Twitter
Photo Credit: @jorgeinerarity / Twitter

New scientific research from an article called The Friends-to-Lovers Pathway to Romance, suggests that more than two-thirds of all romantic relationships begin as friendships.

Danu Anthony Stinson, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, claims that she and her collaborators have been interested in this for a long time while studying relationship initiation.

The Reason Why Relationships Start Is Understudied

couple watching netflix on couch
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

The reason why relationships tend to start is pretty understudied. According to Stinson, “There are valid reasons why researchers may neglect to study relationship initiation beyond the moments of initial attraction.”

She explains that doing this kind of research is hard because when people start relationships with one another, initiation may occur in private places like homes or workplaces that are difficult for researchers to access.

Studies Don’t Often Look At Friendship As A Way To Start A Relationship

couple embracing at sunset
Photo Credit: Rosie Ann / Pexels
Photo Credit: Rosie Ann / Pexels

“As we show in the paper, most people are friends with their romantic partners before they become romantic,” said Stinson.

She explains that the team had observed from their own research and from other theories that most studies on relationship formation skip looking at friends altogether.

Stinson’s Team Analyzed Data From Nearly 2,000 People

couple sitting and having coffee together
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels

Stinson’s team analyzed data from about 1,900 college students and crowd-sourced adults. The investigators found that for 68%, their current or most recent relationship began as a friendship.

Those numbers were even higher among people in their 20s and in people who identified as LGBTQ+, with about 85% of couples beginning as friends.

The Emotional Bond Between Two Friends Is So Strong

Jim and Pam from The Office
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | NBC
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | NBC

“That kind of friendship bond between romantic partners is the foundation of a good romantic relationship,” Stinson said.

She explains that if partners have established some of the characteristics of a good friendship, it could potentially set them on a good track for having a long-term relationship that is satisfying for both people. And although this isn’t for sure quite yet, she thinks that it’s a good possibility.

It Can Make For A Great Relationship (But Not Always)

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Photo Credit: Olya Kobruseva / Pexels
Photo Credit: Olya Kobruseva / Pexels

Stinson lists some of these important qualities, including mutual responsiveness, like equality, egalitarian values or norms, caring, and each person being important.

So, let’s put it to the test, internet-style. Reddit user mooemy asked their fellow Redditors, “To people who started dating their friend/best friend, how did it end up?”

“I’ve Been With Him Since I Was 15”

This user explained that the two had been together since they were 15 years old, and now have a child together.

And even after all those years, he is still her best friend.

"We Connect On So Many Levels"

This woman explained that even though it has been years since the two decided to start dating, they always have a good time together.

They connect on so many levels and are so comfortable with one another. So maybe Stinson was right—friendship values can translate into GREAT relationship values!

"We Have Always Had SO Much In Common"

Reddit comment: "We were best friends at university, but never got together. We spent all our time together but we both had significant others so it was just friendship. Late nights watching dvds, còoking sausage pasta (all we could afford!).We have always had so much in common, he always made me laugh and we had such a solid relationship.Then we found ourselves single, living in the same area and started hanging out again. 8 and a half years on...reader, I married him."
Photo Credit: Reddit
Photo Credit: Reddit

When you’re in a friend group with a bunch of people, two of you are bound to hook up at some point.

This user explains, "We spent all our time together but we both had significant others so it was just friendship. We have always had so much in common, he always made me laugh and we had such a solid relationship. Then we found ourselves single, living in the same area, and started hanging out again. 8 and a half years on … I married him."

"We’ve Been Married 38 Years"

Can someone say high school sweethearts? These two met when they were just tweens and it’s clear that they never once looked back after that.

And they have been married for a whopping 38 years!

"The Heart Wants What It Wants"

If you want to do something risky, start dating your boss, or even your business partner.

This user explains that the two knew the risks involved, but to this day, they are still best friends. Even though this is such a sweet little story, it must be said that things could have gone horribly.

Things Don’t Always Work Out

woman watches sad man on bench from a distance
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Even though there are tons of success stories out there, dating a friend doesn’t always work out.

I dated a close childhood friend of mine in high school, and when it didn’t work out, we broke up and he basically never talked to me again. So, not only did I lose a boyfriend, but also a close friend whom I cherished. That being said, let’s get into some of the not-so-sweet answers from Reddit.

"We Dated For Three Date Years, The Breakup Was All On Me"

It can be tough when you break up with someone who was a friend before they were a significant other.

In this case, things went well, until someone fell out of love. They didn’t speak for two whole years, but at least now they’re talking again.

"We Knew We Could Never Be Friends After That"

These two were in a weird spot where they liked each other too much to be just friends, but they probably should never have seriously dated.

Their lives were headed in different directions, and they never really reconciled after the breakup.

"It Just Was Not The Same"

This user explained that dating one of their friends went "terribly." This is because everything suddenly felt awkward when they decided to start dating one another, especially when it came to intimacy.

Have you ever gone from friendship to relationship before? How did it go?