Scientists Reveal Exact Time When Friendship Becomes a Romance

"Friendship is the ground through which love's seeds grow. If you want to bring love into a relationship, you must first bring friendship." Anurag Prakash Ray

The paths to love

Are you looking for love, or do you know someone looking for love? What is the best piece of advice would you give to help them find love? There is perhaps no better place to start than with the findings of an extensive data analysis by Danu Anthony Stinson, Jessica J Cameron, and Lisa B Hoplock.

Their research explores the different paths to a romantic relationship.

One way of finding that special someone is by asking them on a date or try the “friends-to-lovers pathway”


If you think that blind dates and dating apps are the best way to find love, you might be ignoring a vital statistic observed by psychologists across a few studies.

What research can teach us about finding love

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Scientists Reveal Exact Time When Friendship Becomes a Romance 2

The research carried out by Stinson and colleagues is very thorough. Their first study found that all too often, researchers focus on dating initiation rather than friends first initiation. Their second study was a detailed analysis of previous studies written about the subject. Finally, their third and fourth study focused more on collecting new data and interviewing couples.

Spoiler alert: Most romantic relationships begin with 70% of men preferring to be friends first; sexual desire and romantic feelings come later. Only 30% of men seek out partners out of sexual desire, with friendship developing later.


Most people in a romantic relationship, when questioned about how it started, don’t admit that it began with them being two strangers falling in love or the man admitting that he was pursuing his partner out of romantic and sexual desire.

Romantic relationships begin with two friends gradually developing romantic feelings for each other.

In summary, ‘A large portion of romantic couples start as friends, and many people looking for love prefer the friends-first route to romance.’


This latest research from Stinson and colleagues from Canada challenges the way people currently perceive how most romantic relationships develop.

The commonly held belief of how a romantic relationship starts is that men tend to make the first step and that their initial intention is based on romantic and sexual desire. Feelings of friendship come later (understanding, warmth, interdependence), and romantic and sexual desire continues to develop in tandem with feelings of friendship.

The study, which involved nearly 1900 participants, states when men are asked why they first initiated a friendship with their romantic partner, only 30% admitted that they were motivated by romantic interest and sexual desire. 70% of men will say they were not sexually motivated when they met their current romantic partner.


Most romantic marriages started as friendship first

The research to states, 42% of friends-first married couples reported having had a friends-with-benefits relationship with the person they later married. Again, this was even more prevalent among queer and same-gender couples.’, which is a strong indication that a large proportion of people don’t wait for sex before marriage.

This research suggests that 68% of married people or in a romantic relationship didn’t have sex with each other before they were married and that they had friends first approach; marriage and sexual desire came later.

This certainly gives a different perspective compared to all the other advice out there on finding a life partner.


Perhaps the best advice for finding romance is don’t look for it; in most cases, it will happen on its own accord with friendships that you form with someone.