Turns out 68% of romantic relationships start out this way

• Two-thirds of romantic relationships begin as long-term friendships, according to a new study.
• People said they prefer to fall in love with friends over meeting through mutual friends or meeting at a bar.
• Studies rarely explore love via friendship.

Wedding season is upon us — and for those fretting about finding their one true love, it might come in the form of a lifelong friendship.

While storybooks and movies will tell you by-chance meetings spark long-term happiness, a new study found that falling in love with your friend is more common than you think.

About two-thirds of romantic relationships begin as long-term friendships, researchers from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada said.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, explored love in uncharted waters — the friends-first way — which researchers said has been overlooked for decades by research.

“There is more than one pathway to romance, but relationship science does not reflect this reality,” said researchers of the study. “Our research reveals that relationship initiation studies published in popular journals and cited in popular textbooks overwhelmingly focus on romance that sparks between strangers and largely overlook romance that develops between friends. This limited focus might be justified if ‘friends-first’ initiation was rare or undesirable, but our research reveals the opposite.”

How often does romance stem from friendship?

The study used self-reported data from several different studies featuring nearly 1,900 people, who were asked to answer the following question:

  • What was your relationship with your partner before you became romantically involved?
  • (A) Friends; (B) A friend of a friend; (C) Acquaintances; (D) Worked together; (E) Had never met before; (F) other.

Researchers said they found that 68% of romantic relationships budded from friendship. Some of the studies found that many long-term friendships spanned months or years, and in one study focusing on college students, the friend stage lasted nearly two years (22 months) before turning romantic.

Interestingly enough, participants said that becoming friends first was rated the best way to start a romance — making it better than meeting through mutual friends, at school, at a bar or social club, and even finding romance with a colleague.

“There are a lot of people who would feel very confident saying that we know why and how people choose partners and become a couple and fall in love, but our research suggests that is not the case,” said lead author Danu Anthony Stinson.

“We might have a good understanding of how strangers become attracted to each other and start dating, but that’s simply not how most relationships begin.”