If you’ve ever had a crush on a friend (and who hasn’t?) you’ve probably imagined what it would be like to start a relationship with him or her. Let’s say he or she is into you too. Would it be a good idea to take things further? Or maybe it best to keep clear boundaries – friends are one thing, romantic partners another.
When it comes to living a happy life, researchers know that good friends and a loving romantic partner are where it’s at. Can being in a relationship with your best bud affect your happiness in any way? We are not just talking about when you start going out but also in the long term.
Curious about precisely this, a team of Canadian researchers decided to look at the combined effects of friendship and marriage on living the good life. To do so, the researchers scanned data from more than 350,000 people in two British studies.
Married people and couples who live together are happier over the long term than singles, the data showed. And this is true not just during the honeymoon phase when everything is supposed to be rosy, but after years of marriage and well into old age.
In fact, the benefits of being with a partner are loud and clear in the middle age, when many people are not really content with their lives. Those in committed relationships are less likely to see their spirits drop compared to singles.
But the biggest benefits of all seem to come from being in a relationship with a friend. Men and women lucky enough to feel their partner is their best bud are twice as likely to lead happy lives, the researchers found.
About half of the participants in the study said their partner was their best friend. The researchers call these partners ‘super-friends’ and though all pals make you happier, if you’re in a relationship with one, the boost to lifelong satisfaction is even bigger.
That’s because many of the benefits of being in a committed relationship are related to social aspects of having a partner, for example, the support he or she can provide in difficult situations, say the researchers.