Today's Big Stories

From friends to lovers... when it works (and when it doesn't)

Life is made worthwhile by the meaningful relationships we keep.

But what qualities do we look for in friends versus lovers? And when are the lines blurred?

Clinical psychologist Dr. Helgo Schomer says the essential difference between friendship and romantic relationships is physical attraction.

But at the same time, that physical attraction alone is not enough to keep romance alive.

Many people may start as friends first, then develop attachments in the relationship which lead to romantic feelings.

While it sometimes works out, if the romantic relationship fails, it can be difficult to salvage or restore the original friendship.

Unfortunately, some people have very little impulse control - and then it goes wrong.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Dr. Schomer explains that many friendship traits are desirable qualities that people also look for in partners.

Essentially, friendships are an important buffer for stress and strain. They give people the sense of assurance that somebody is standing by you.

Below are some key qualities people look for in friends:

  • the ability to keep confidences
  • loyalty
  • warmth
  • honesty
  • humour
  • invested time
  • independence
  • conversational skills

Below are some key qualities people look for in lovers:

  • physical attraction
  • intimacy and sharing of dreams, fears, wishes and experiences
  • commitment

Dr Schomer says that in order to maintain platonic friendships, boundaries need to be set - particularly if the respective friends have partners.

In the cases where friendships blossom organically, Dr Schomer advises that it is important for both parties involved to take it slow and view each other holistically.

At the same time, it is important for people to follow their hearts and leave room for the unexpected, as testified by caller Tarryn.

Let yourself be surprised in life and you might still live in wonder.

Dr Helgo Schomer, behavioural psychologist

Listeners called in to share their personal experiences with platonic friendships and romance:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : From friends to lovers... when it works (and when it doesn't)


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