Most romantic relationships start as friendships, study finds

The researchers then conducted an analysis of seven of their lab’s studies with university students and adults of all ages, consisting of almost 1,900 people in Canada and the United States. The online studies were done between 2002 and 2020 for other purposes, and the data used for this analysis came from demographic information about the participants.

That analysis found that 66% of couples began as friendships, many of them long-term friendships spanning several months or years.

In the final study, which only looked at 300 university students, the “friend stage” lasted almost 22 months on average before turning romantic. Almost half of this sample said friends-first initiation was their preferred method of beginning a romantic relationship. However, the vast majority of the sample did not enter their friendships with the intention of a romantic relationship.