What is the best way to start a relationship? How did you do it? In this digital age many people might assume the best, and most often used, way to start a relationship is online, either through dating apps like tinder or over social media. Research in many journals also tends to focus on strangers and them becoming romantically involved. So that must be how most people start dating, right? Well, new research points to a surprisingly overlooked way of starting a relationship, being friends.
The researchers took data from 7 studies in which 1,897 people were asked about their relationship with their partner before because romantically involved. They were asked to pick from 6 options: Friends; a friend of a friend; acquaintances; worked together; had never met before (strangers); other. 68 percent of the respondents said their relationships started out as friends.
To better understand this “pathway to romance” the researchers were asked to rank the best ways to meet someone. Being friends first ended up as the top-rated way to start a relationship, followed by “through a mutual friend”. Some of the worse ways of starting a relationship were “through an online dating service or on a blind date”. The researchers also found that about 18 percent of people became friend first to try to date the person they were interested in, and those that started out as friends were friends for about 2 years before becoming romantic.
One strange bit of information the researchers found was that about 80 percent of published articles tended to focus on strangers or acquaintances, indicating a serious gap in the current literature.
Study: Stinson, D. A., Cameron, J. J., & Hoplock, L. B. (2021). The Friends-to-Lovers Pathway to Romance: Prevalent, Preferred, and Overlooked by Science. Social Psychological and Personality Science.