Is it actually a good thing if your partner's also your best mate?
You often hear people describe their S/O as their 'best friend'. But when it comes to thinking of your partner as your closest pal, there seem to be two, very opposite, schools of thought: 1) it's awesome and means you'll have a more intimate relationship with a great connection and 2) it's weird and really not healthy.
Personally, I admit I'm down with the first and think of my boyfriend as one of my best pals. We laugh... a lot. We goof around 24/7 and our relationship (and sex life) is based on having fun and being honest, meaning we tell each other loads of personal stuff.
Maybe this is because our relationship is built on a 10-year friendship (we became friends when I was 16 and got together a decade later).
We're both happy to talk about our past relationships in detail, and don't feel jealous or insecure when the other talks about past sexual experiences. I put this down to our underlying friendship and really value the chilled, 'matey' vibe of our relationship - I wouldn't change it for anything.
But how healthy is it?
Why it could be a bad thing
While I consider my boyfriend to be my legit bezzer, that doesn't mean I don't have other friends. Because when your partner is your only close friend, that's when you enter dangerous territory, right?
We all know our S/O can't be the one and only person to give us everything we need (unending laughs, support, motivation, orgasms) and so when we expect them to, it can end in us not only becoming overly reliant on them, but frustrated and disappointed when they can't deliver the high emotional, physical and psychological demands we're putting on them.
I spoke to relationships expert Suzie Parkus to find out if considering your partner your best friend is a good thing, or potentially harmful to your relationship.
Suzie explains that when someone's partner is their 'best friend' and tells them absolutely everything, it can have a few possible outcomes depending on the type of person they are.
"Sharing and oversharing becomes a fine art to master."
While your partner should love you for who you are, in all your complicated glory, there can be a balance to be struck for some couples. "Sharing and oversharing becomes a fine art to master in relationships in order to not tip the balance."
While this will vary wildly from couple to couple, depending on what they consider acceptable within a relationship, Suzie says there are a few behaviours you may want to avoid, even if you are close pals.
"Not giving each other space and privacy is important in maintaining a relationship and sexual chemistry," she says. Y'know, just because you're close, it doesn't mean you need to be each other's shadow. Why it can be great
In most relationships, regardless of gender, there is often one partner who is more open emotionally and one who is more closed. This can result in couples not feeling able to talk honestly about their feelings with each other. But if they're dating someone they think of as a BFF, it may mean they're more likely to open up, Suzie says.
"This brings about a huge sense of closeness, comfort and connection. It's a massive juncture in the relationship and says a lot about the strength of a relationship, too."
Being best mates can also affect the overall energy of a relationship, Suzie explains. "You tend to laugh and let go a lot more. When you're carefree and joyful with your partner, this then transcends into awesomeness in the bedroom."
Overall, Suzie reckons achieving BFF status with your partner "brings greater levels of closeness and connection" which results in you both being more relaxed within yourselves and the relationship.
Should Your Partner Really Be Your Best Friend?
I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be marrying my best friend,” is a refrain you hear a lot during weddings. And it sounds lovely—a partner, a best friend, your other half.
But is that really what people mean (and really what people want) when they talk about their spouse? At first glance, it seems harmless. We already overuse heightened language like ‘soulmate’ and ‘the one’, so next to that,
calling your partner your ‘best friend’ can seem downright tame. But having your partner for a best friend can also smack of codependence—of a lack of a fulfilling life outside of your relationship.
I can’t think of anyone I’m closer to than my partner in one sense, but I still have a few people I would call my ‘best’ friends. So is it important that your partner takes the top spot?
There Are Some Benefits
There is some evidence married people just don’t need other friends in the same way single people do. I know it sounds weird—and I find that hard to believe—but the research doesn’t lie.
John Helliwell, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics and the editor of the World Happiness Report, has found in his research that friendship is really important—but actually it just doesn’t make quite the same difference to married people.
“While the effects of real friends on your well-being are important for everybody, they are less so for married couples than singles,” he explained to the New York Times.
”That’s how we got to the idea that marriage is a kind of ‘super-friendship.’” Interestingly, in his research, those who listed their spouse as a ‘best friend’ were twice as likely to have higher life satisfaction than those who don’t.
Men were slightly more likely than women to say their partner was their best friend—which is perhaps a consequence of men having fewer friends generally.
But you shouldn’t think that your marriage is failing you just because you don’t look at your partner as your number-one-top-of-the-list-BFF. “The benefits of marriage are strong even for those who are littered with outside friends,” Dr. Helliwell said. “It’s just bigger for those who consider their spouse their closest friend. It’s a bonus.”
Don’t Let It Make You LazyNot all experts agree, however. Some worry that the language of friendship is either just a shorthand for security and trust when applied to your spouse—or that it could even be a sign of complacency in a marriage. Friendship may be normal language to use at the very beginning of your relationship or when you’re decades and decades in, but it doesn’t always fit.
“It’s the in-between ones, when they use the language of friendship, my stomach turns,” Dr. Ellyn Bader, co-founder of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, CA and co-author of Tell Me No Lies told the New York Times.
“It’s a red flag for a lot of conflict avoidance and intensity avoidance. It often means they’ve given up on the complexity of being with somebody. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, well, that’s who they are,’
it’s better if they try to work things out.” And that makes sense—we accept a lot more from our friends than we do from our partners. We need to be more lined up with a partner in our values than we do with our friends.
All of Your Eggs in One Basket
The other problem, of course, with calling your spouse your ‘best friend’ is that there’s a danger of putting too much on one person. Just like how talking about soulmates and waiting for one person to ‘complete you’ can set up expectations that are nearly impossible to reach, having a partner, best friend, and everything else wrapped into one person is a lot of pressure.
And sure, some relationships can handle it. But not all of them can. I know my partner gets things from her friends that she doesn’t get from me and the same is true of me with my friends.
The most important thing: we don’t resent each other for it.
Instead, maybe start to think of your partner as one of your best friends. “I think that your spouse should be ‘one of your best friends’! relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Brides. “It’s certainly important to feel like you and your partner are very close, that you are on the same team, and that they’d have your back in life.
However, one wants to be careful of having your spouse be your ‘one and only best friend’ for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a version of putting all your eggs in one basket.
We need a strong support system in life. One person can’t be everything. Secondly, if you and your spouse become too claustrophobic with each other, it’s not good for either one of you.
All relationships, including marriage, need a breath of fresh air!” Anyone in a relationship knows, no matter how much you love each other, no matter how compatible you are, sometimes, you just need a break.
The truth is, the language just isn’t quite right. Romantic partnerships and friendships are different, so something’s bound to be lost when using the label from one to describe the other.
And even though your partner may be the closest person to you, try not to set unrealistic expectations. Having a best friend outside of your relationship doesn’t make your relationship any less amazing—it just shows that you have a life outside of it, too
15 Reasons Why Your Partner Should Be Your Best Friend
Should you really be best friends with your partner?
Some people argue it’s better to have someone else other than your partner as your best friend. Such people may claim that a relationship with your partner is different from that with your best friend and that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.
While these people want a lover and lifetime partner, and even profess to “love” their partners, it can be argued they don’t really “like” their partner, which (if true) points to something disjointed in the relationship that should probably be looked into.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules about what is right or wrong in relationships. What matters is whether something works for you. But, for the vast majority of people, coupling and even marrying their best friend works beautifully.
It is arguably your best bet for finding true and lasting love. Here’s why there is nothing better than having your partner as your best friend.
1. You are more yourself in the relationship.
That’s because you are already close friends. You have no reason to feel self-conscious or act out in the relationship. And being your true self in a relationship is of paramount importance for a healthy union.
2. You are familiar with each other’s bad side.
As best friends, you know each others’ weaknesses, insecurities and dark sides all too well. In fact, you know each other so well that some reprehensible little habits have become strangely endearing.
3. You are more or less aware of each other’s relationship histories.
That means it’s unlikely there will be any serious surprises popping out of nowhere in your relationship since you share a common past.
4. Your fights and disagreements are less damaging.
All couples have a few disagreements and fights from time to time. However, when your partner is your best friend, actual fights and disagreements that could easily spiral into full blown wars often start to fizzle out into playful fighting by the time they are over
5. The process of adjusting to your partner’s tastes is much smoother.
That’s because you’re already accustomed to each other. You have a sense of what your partner likes and dislikes and know exactly what to expect of them. This means you’re both well equipped to deal with any arising issues.
6. You see each other in true form.
Best friends see beyond the façade we put on display publicly. They see right through to our well guarded selves within. When your partner is your best friend, he or she knows you for who you truly are and accepts you just the way you are. You have each other down to a science. So much so that you both know if you were ever to try anything fishy, you’d be able to bust each other immediately.
7. You have way too many inside jokes that no one else understands.
As best friends, the random laughing, singing and dancing that goes on between the two of you is the stuff of envy and admiration. You’ve even coined hilarious inside words and phrases that could quite possibly be incriminating, but aren’t.
8. You can wear each other’s clothes.
It may be considered weird for lovers to wear each other’s clothes, but when couples are best friends, weird is often the norm. Hearing couples ask questions like, “Can I wear those sweatpants today?” is a totally normal thing that happens when your partner is your best friend.
9. You don’t have to call each other all the time to know that you have each other on the mind.
You can actually go a little while without talking to each other and be completely fine. You just don’t worry you’ll let your partner down because you know each other too well for such petty worries.
10. You have movies and TV shows that you watch together.
And if one of you were to watch one of them without the other, World War III would probably break out in your residence. But truth be told, it is just so endearing and warming when you watch your favorite movies and television shows together.
11. You can do fun, childlike things together.
As best friends, you’ve actually already done some pretty childish things together, like skipping instead of walking and licking the bowl of brownie batter. And you are not about to stop it, because you’re so comfortable with each other that embarrassment is no longer even a factor.
12. You can be totally honest with each other.
Best friends tell each other the truth and trust one another more than anyone else. When your partner is your best friend, he can criticize you without you misunderstanding the intention behind it. You can also tell him when you think he’s being silly, and he has no problem with it.
13. You don’t worry your partner might say or do something silly in front of your family.
That’s because both your families have seen you two walk and grow together as good friends and as a couple for a long time. They’ve witnessed it all and are completely at ease and comfortable with you. Silly mistakes in front of your parents, ironically, endear them more.
14. You connect at a much deeper level.
It often seems like you always know what your partner wants even when they haven’t spelled it out. You are totally in sync, thanks in large part to the friendship foundation you have built, and have (and most likely will continue to) enjoy each other’s company for years. 15. You can see yourself growing old together.
Growing old with your best friend is the best thing that can happen – pun intended. Imagine having to spend your sunset years stuck with someone you can’t stand.
Fortunately, with your partner as your best friend, you don’t have to worry about that happening to you. Your love is based on genuine friendship, and blossomed into real love. Not everyone gets to have that in life.
M I Ro