A quarter of students who have attended an Explore session in their school, tell us that they believe friendship is important in a lasting relationship. But why is it important?
Many romantic relationships start from a place of physical attraction but it is the friendship built within a relationship that is most likely to create deeper, longer lasting love and commitment.
When that early flurry of euphoria passes and adrenaline, cortisol and dopamine levels return to normal, couples will need that base of friendship, built on common values and understanding, to be able to develop something that will continue to engage and excite, and encourage commitment for the longer-term.
A stronger, deeper connection in a relationship will also mean better trust and communication as a couple… which in turn provides the opportunity for that important “Forever Conversation”, when couples can talk openly about what commitment means to them and what steps they can take to make their relationship last a lifetime.
People often refer to their partner as their “best friend” and this is certainly something that surfaces time and again in our sessions with young people. When asked “how have you kept your relationship going for so long?”, “what is the secret to the success of your marriage?” or “what helped you get through that tough time in your lives?”, more often than not, the reply will relate to the friendship and connection they have established within their relationship.
A study by US Psychologists in 2016 found that friendship does more for the long-term survival of a relationship than any other single factor*. Focussing on developing the friendship early in a relationship, will lead to a happier, more satisfying and fulfilling relationship, and provide the solid foundations needed to help weather the storms that invariably come in life.
It is a privilege to give young people the opportunity to think about friendship in the context of relationships. If they can understand that the best relationships come from friendship, they are more likely to choose well and find happy, healthy and permanent relationships in their future, which is ultimately what Explore is seeking to achieve.
So, take the time to nurture the friendship within your relationship or marriage by scheduling time alone together and continuing to be curious about your partner or spouse’s interests. Invest in engaging with your partner or spouse as a friend, and enjoy the benefits of the deeper connection and understanding that this will bring.
*Study by Purdue University, Indiana. Published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.