A relationship with a best friend is as tight and stable as they come. As 50-plus folks, friendships that we have been maintained for years are like gold, we highly value them. Sometimes, best friends are even better than significant others! You can be your absolute most embarrassing self and know that they’ll still love you.
Yes! Men and women can be friends and without bringing sex into their relationship. According to Kathy Werking, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University and author of We’re Just Good Friends, “In reality, sex isn’t always on the agenda of a friendship between men and women. That could be due to sexual orientation, lack of physical attraction, or involvement in another romantic relationship.”
Don O’Meara, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College, published a landmark study in the journal Sex Roles on platonic friendships. People with close friends of the opposite sex are often barraged with nudging, winking, and skepticism: “Are you really just friends?” This is especially true, said Dr. O’Meara, of older adults, who grew up when men and women were off-limits to each other until marriage. But Dr. O’Meara asserts that “platonic love does exist.”
But things can get tricky when the friendship lines start to blur.
If you have romantic feelings or even feel like you’re falling in love with a best friend and are struggling with how to handle the situation, you’re not alone.
If you believe your feelings for a best friend have turned romantic, the best first action you can take is to intentionally, and objectively, dig deeply into those feelings to figure out exactly what you are experiencing. Is what you’re feeling really romantic love? With best friends, it is possible to feel jolts of affection that may at first appear to signal that you’re in love, but are just the product of the deep trust and respect you share.
Developing a strong physical attraction and picturing your best friend as a bedmate? DON’T act on your emotions yet! First, take the time to truly evaluate the feelings you are experiencing.
When taking your valued friendship to the next level happens, published research has proven that the potential for pain is astronomical, but so is the possibility of finding happiness.
Across two studies with nearly four hundred participants in relationships, the respondents who claimed to place a higher value on their partner’s friendship also reported deeper levels of commitment and a greater magnitude of loving feelings. They were even shown to enjoy more satisfying sex lives than those who did not consider friendship to be an important aspect of their romantic connection. It would seem that Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher was onto something when he said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
Are you in love with your bestie? Go ahead and take the quiz below to find out…
1. Do you confide more to your best friend than to your partner about how your day went?
2. Do you discuss negative feelings or intimate details about your marriage with your best friend but not with your partner?
3. Are you open with your partner about the extent of your involvement with your best friend?
4. Would you feel comfortable if your partner heard your conversation with your best friend?
5. Would you feel comfortable if your partner saw a videotape of your meetings?
6. Are you aware of sexual tensions in this friendship?
7. Do you and your best friend touch differently when you’re alone than in front of others?
8. Are you in love with your best friend?
Scoring Key: You get one point each for ‘YES’ to questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and one point each for ‘NO’ to 3, 4, 5.
If you scored near 0, this is just a friendship.
If you scored 3 or more, you may not be “just friends.”
If you scored 7-8, you are definitely involved in an emotional affair with your bestie.