Imagine the scene: two people inevitably fall in love irresistibly fall in love. It is a beautiful sight.
How do you see it happening? Are they two strangers looking through a crowded bar and then instantly clicking on their first date?
Or … are two friends falling in love? Developing feelings slowly, maybe even to your own surprise?
Sure, the films paint a picture, but new research is shaking the predominant psychological wisdom to its core.
What is taught does not match reality
Directed by Dana Anthony Stinson of Victoria University, a recent study suggests that psychology journals and textbooks focus too much on the romance that triggers a fortuitous encounter between two strangers, when in fact most couples start out as friends. In addition, researchers also point out that many people seek love prefer the first route of friends to romance.
For the study, aptly titled “The Path from Friends to Lovers to Romance: Prevalent, Preferred, and Ignored by Science,” psychologists searched online databases of highly influential journals for previous research on how people start relationships, using terms such as friendship, first date, attraction, beginning of the relationship, friends with benefits. They found that only 18% of the articles focused on the first initiation of friends, that is, most focused on the formation of love between strangers.
Okay, maybe that figure just reflects reality. Maybe most couples do start as strangers. The researchers wanted to find out, so they conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies conducted over 18 years. To their surprise, they discovered that most couples start out friends.
And what is the best way to find a date?
The researchers conducted a final investigation to find out more about the nature of the first romantic initiation of friends. Participants (both couples and singles) were asked to select the one they considered the best way to find a date: on a blind date; through friends or family; at school, college, or university; at work, at church, or at a party; on line; in a bar; or feeding an existing friendship into something else. The 3 main answers were quite insightful:
- feed an existing friendship into something else (47%)
- at school, college or university (18%).
The researchers asked additional questions to participants who were in a relationship and had first been friends. They found that only a small proportion had been attracted to each other from the beginning (12%) or had always wanted something more dynamic (18%). 70% said both physical and emotional attraction only developed later.
Are Friendship and Dating a Two-Way Street?
To put in context the conclusions of this new study, Stinson et al. they recall that the predominant wisdom in psychology has been that man’s attraction to woman “descends the initial interaction between potential romantic partners,” and that only then “intimacy based on passion.” [romantic interest and sexual attraction] and friendship-based intimacy [feelings of warmth, understanding, and interdependence] continue to develop ”.
However, the results of the researchers do not support this view. Instead, they argue that the relationship between the two types of intimacy described above is a “two-way street.” Sometimes the “spark” (intimacy based on passion) promotes intimacy based on friendship, but often the exact opposite happens: people start as friends and only then experience romantic interest and sexual desire.
We’ve all been there: if you’ve ever dated a friend or know someone who did, people can easily assume that these so-called “friends” were always attracted to each other, or made friends simply with the aim of getting emotionally involved. Stinson’s data et al. it does not corroborate it. They found that only 30% of friends to lovers were motivated by romantic interest or sexual desire from the beginning. For 70%, romance simply grew organically between them.
So maybe it’s time for psychologists to pay less attention to Hollywood lovers. They’re fun, but they don’t really reflect the reality of most couples! Most relationships start out as platonic friendships, and if this new study is for something to follow, this is the path to romance for most people. prefertoo.
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