By Kim Olver for YourTango.com.
In an article published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that couples who value their friendship over other aspects of their relationships report greater romance and sexual satisfaction over couples who look to their partners mostly for sexual gratification.
This probably doesn’t surprise anyone but it’s great to have the research to back it up. But why do you think a friendship with your significant other will actually increase the odds you will have long-lasting love?
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When I surveyed 100 happy couples for my book, Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life, friendship and quality time together are in the top 20 factors the couples themselves said are important to their relationship success. Adding those two responses together, 70 percent of respondents found those to be important factors.
When I think of reasons people cheat, I often hear things like, “She never supports me.” “He didn’t want to spend time with me.” “She doesn’t understand me.” “He never really listens when I talk to him.” “I don’t even think s/he likes me.” “S/he is always complaining.”
Aren’t all these statements really the opposite of the core of friendship? Think about how you are with your friends. You tell each other everything (are there things you keep secret from your partner?). You look forward to being together (are there times you dread spending time with your partner?). You freely give your time, energy and attention to your friends (do you do the same with your partner?).
It’s rare that we criticize our friends. In fact, we often do the opposite. We really listen to them, attempting as best we can to understand their position. Even when we think our friend might be wrong, we defend him or her, nonetheless. We would never publically put down our friends. We support them through dark times and encourage them to always be the person they are meant to be. (In order to get a blueprint for being the person you want to be in relationships, my eBook on Relationships from the InsideOut is on sale this month at The Relationship Center. Check it out.)
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Too often in our romantic relationships, we play a different role. Not in the beginning of the relationship, though. In the beginning, we treat our partner like the best friend we ever had. If you still have a solid friendship with your long-term partner, congratulate yourselves and celebrate your friendship this week. You will likely be together for a very long time.
If, however, your relationship has gotten off track and you realize you aren’t being the best friend you could be to your partner, why not change that now? You don’t even need their commitment to do the same for you. Ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be in my relationship with my most significant relationship of choice?” Take a long look in the mirror and ask, “Is that the person I am being right now?”
If the answer to those questions is no, then think about performing a random act of kindness in your relationship. One of the best gifts we can give our partners is the gift of total acceptance of who they are without expecting anything in return.
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Don’t think, Why should I do this if s/he isn’t going to do it too? Is that how you treat your friends? You have recognized you are not being the person you want to be in your relationship. You are the only one who can change that. Your partner may notice and respond accordingly or she or he may continue being exactly the same. It doesn’t really matter. What’s most important is that you take control of the one thing you can control in your relationship—what you do!
Start today and you will feel better and there’s a great chance your relationship will improve dramatically as a result. Put the friendship back in your relationship now!
To stay in touch with Kim, go to The Relationship Center, sign up for her email list, and receive her free report on Relationships from the InsideOut.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Why You Should Be Friends First, Scientifically Speaking.