[Mise à jour du 21/07/2021]
Two thirds of couples in love are first friends
Contrary to popular belief about the “friend zone” from which it would be impossible to leave, two thirds of couples would have first been friends before being in love. This is in any case what emerges from a new study, published on July 12 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The team of researchers from the University of Manitoba (Canada) analyzed the data of nearly 1,897 students and adults here., 68% of them saying their current or most recent romantic relationship started with a friendship. There was little variation by gender, education level or ethnicity, but the rate of first approaching friends was even higher among those 20 and older and among LGBTQ + communities, 85% of those couples starting with friendships.
Among the students, the couples were friends for one to two years before starting a romantic relationship. The researchers noted that the vast majority of these participants said they did not form these friendships with romantic intentions or any attraction. In addition, almost half of the students said starting as friends was their favorite way to develop a romantic relationship, far ahead of meeting at a party or online.
“Our research suggests the lines between friendship and romance are blurred”, Said Danu Anthony Stinson, professor of psychology at the University of Victoria (Canada), and the study’s first author, in a statement. “I think it forces us to rethink our assumptions about what makes a good friendship but also what makes a good romantic relationship.”, She added. It seems that friendship leads to love more often than you think.
The border is sometimes thin between these two worlds and it is not always easy to differentiate the boyfriend from the lover, or the girlfriend from the lover. How to navigate and not to attribute false intentions or desires to the other? Here are some avenues to explore to better understand the deep nature of your feelings.
How to recognize the gestures of desire and differentiate them from those of deep affection or tenderness? Sebastien Garnero, doctor in psychology and sexologist, helps us answer these questions.
Know the different very distinct types of love
First of all, it is good to remember that it is always about love, even when we talk about friendship. We love our friends and we love our loves, but we do not love them in the same way: it is the nature of this feeling that differs from case to case. Moreover, as our expert Sébastien Garnero explains, the Greeks had several words to describe the nuances and differences between each type of love.
- Filial love : the Storgê, the love between parents and child. By extension, we could associate it with the bonds of brotherly love within the family.
- Love of the Other : Agape, love for one’s neighbor, humanism. We could associate in psychology the notions of empathy, altruism, helping relationship, generativity (stage of construction of identity).
- Friendly love : the Philia, close to the contemporary notion of friendship. It joins the notions of mutual aid, mutual support, reciprocal esteem between two subjects of relatively similar status. We can note that, in the Greco-Latin sense, it could not exist between two people of different sex.
- Erotic love : Eros is used as a state of love, both in the romantic and passionate sense of love and in direct connection with sexual desire. Perceived at the same time as something negative or “toxic”, but also, in a positive way as a divine form of love which would be the “cause of the greatest good” for the Man.
The major difference between the last two types of love is sexual urge.
Sex and desire as major differences
You will understand, if there is one thing that does not deceive the nature of a relationship, it is sexual desire: in friendship, we do not find the will and the‘want to make love with the other. We do not want to merge, but simply to enrich each other. The main difference between friendship (Philia) and love (Eros) is in the erotic bond that we have (or not) with the other. A fantasy of sexual unity through the union of bodies does not exist in the case of friendship.
To find out what feelings the other has for you or those you have towards him, it is therefore necessary to question his desire and yours.
Recognize the signs of love
When one experiences a feelings of love, the body and the spirit will express themselves in a particular way: the way in which the other and ourselves are held, the tone with which we speak, the flow of words, etc. All these little details are great indicators to take into account.
At the level of the body
Overall, we will try to get closer to the other and to please him: eye contact frequent and sustained; physical proximity sought; care taken in developing oneself and getting ready, etc.
“Women would also tend to roll up their sleeves, while men would raise their eyebrows frequently and have their legs apart. We also know that the pupils dilate in the event of desire, but that, personally, I find it quite difficult to spot, especially when we see each other at night or when the light changes ”, underlines our expert.
At the level of the mind
Cheerful will be the lover. He’ll try to keep the conversation going and won’t leave you spinning alone in the wind. No doubt, sexual fidelity will soon be desired. Another major difference for a majority of couples: “Thephysical exclusivity, while this is absolutely foreign to the concept of friendship », Analyzes our sexpert.
Questions to ask yourself
If you are in doubt about your feelings or his, just ask yourself: Do you think about this person very often and notice the smallest details and changes? Are you strongly drawn to his personality, certain aspects of his physique or specific traits? Do you feel his desire for you? Are you starting to project yourself, to tell yourself a love story, to make films …? Can you imagine yourself in bed with this person? Do you feel the need to see it and / or the lack of it? Do you want to kiss her and touch it? Do you want sexual exclusivity with this person?
If you answer yes to most of these criteria, do not doubt any more: it is about love (Eros) and not, or more, friendship (Philia) only.
If you have no feeling nervous about others and that you don’t ask yourself any questions, friendship is probably the dominant one in your relationship.
Recognize the signs of friendship
“Conversely, Philia will manifest itself above all through thelack of libido and sexual desire, although affection, even tenderness towards others, is often present, notes Sebastien Garnero. How to make love with someone whom one considers almost as his brother or his sister if not to risk entering an almost incestual phantasmal register (in the psychic sense of the term), reason why a true friendship Inhibits the desire sexual. We can clearly see through this approach the total misinterpretation of the expression “sex friend”. ”
“With a friend, you get a feeling of mutual gratitude and narcissistic support. We are looking for our fellow man rather than his half. We are close to an unrelated brotherly bond of affection. ”
Of course, it can move over time, and many love stories first started with a deep friendship. The reverse is also true: many friendship stories start with a flirtation. But, in all cases, at a time T, one is either in erotic dispositions, or in a love of Philia type, that is to say detached from sexual desire.
Finally, if the doubt persists, you will have to take your courage in both hands and tell the other how you feel. The key is to accept the answer whatever it is. Tell yourself that a real no is better than a false yes, and that it is good to be fixed to move on or move on.
Sincerely yours, your friends and your loves.