The types of relationships we have aren’t always cut and dry. Lines get blurred, and you may not know exactly what type of situation you’re actually in (especially when it comes to open relationships, dating exclusively, casual dating, etc.).
However, when it comes to the difference between relationships and friendships, things are usually clear unless certain lines have been crossed. But if you’re unclear on your current situation or just the general difference between relationships and friendships, then you’re in the right place.
So, let’s check out the relationship vs friendship comparison and, hopefully, give you some more clarity.
What is a relationship?
Relationships are many things. You have a relationship with your landlord, teacher, family, and friends. A relationship is technically any way in which two people are connected. So, relationships can be many things.
However, in this article, we’re referring to romantic relationships. So, then, what’s a romantic relationship? Well, romantic relationships happen when there are feelings of love or attraction toward each other.
In a romantic relationship, there is passion and intimacy, which creates a relationship that often feels more intense than your average friendship. Love in relationships and friendships feels different, especially at the start of a romantic relationship.
What is friendship?
Again, since relationships are fluid and don’t always fit nicely and neatly into their own little boxes, friendship can mean many things to different people. However, we’re referring to a platonic friendship.
So, a friendship is a relationship in which you care deeply for one another; there are no sexual or physically intimate interactions.
Having deep friendships is an extremely important part of life. The love or connection shared by friends is truly one of a kind. However, the feeling of love and closeness shared between friends is usually different than that of a romantic relationship.
Relationship vs Friendship: What’s your situation?
Ok, we’ve defined a relationship and a friendship, but maybe you’re still confused about your current situation. So let’s dive deeper into these terms.
You’re just friends if…
- there’s no physical attraction
- you’ve never been physically or sexually intimate
- there’s no potential for getting physical in the foreseeable future
Did you notice anything on our list? The biggest defining factor between relationships and friendships is that in romantic relationships there is a physical bond, while in friendships there is not.
However, that’s not to say that friendships can’t turn into romantic relationships. Friendships can be an excellent base from which to build strong relationships. That is, of course, if you both develop feelings of attraction toward one another. If not, it is best to keep the situation as friendly as possible.
Alternatively, romantic relationships can turn into friendships. Over time, in long-term relationships, you want your partner to feel like your best friend. However, you want to also be attracted to that person. Sometimes romance, passion, and lust fade, and two people may realize that they are better off in a friendship as opposed to a relationship.
Relationship pros and cons
As with most life situations, there will be pros and cons that come along with being in a romantic relationship.
Often, that’s why, when we’re in a relationship, we feel like we’d love to be single. And when we’re single, we’re hoping to have a partner. Annoying, right? But it makes sense since it’s human nature to focus on the negatives. We also tend to want what we don’t have at the time.
So then, to mix things up, let’s first check out some benefits of being in a romantic relationship.
- Physical connection
- Emotional support
Now, those are the pros of a healthy relationship, which we all know isn’t necessarily always the case in romantic relationships. But if you’re in a healthy romantic relationship, it can be a wonderful way to grow, learn from one another, and have an added person in your support system.
But even a healthy relationship isn’t without its negative aspects.
- Constant compromise
- Someone is usually sacrificing
- Having to consider someone else’s needs
Some of these cons have many people opting for different types of romantic relationships. It seems as though more and more people nowadays are less willing to sacrifice for another person. And this certainly depends a lot on your current life circumstances.
For example, if you’re starting a business and it’s consuming most of your time, you probably don’t have the time or energy to put into building a romantic relationship.
However, at the right point in time and with the correct person, romantic relationships can be truly wonderful experiences.
Friendship pros and cons
Building and establishing friendships is a huge part of the human experience. However, how many friendships you can maintain depends greatly on you and your personality.
I, for one, am a big believer in quality over quantity—and that goes for my friendships as well. I much prefer to be able to be a good friend to a few people than to be an average or even absent friend to a plethora of people.
Like with all relationships, friendships come with their pros and cons. While the pros overwhelmingly outweigh the cons, they’re both still worth mentioning.
- Emotional support
- Fun and caring company
- Chosen family
Friends are an integral part of our well-being. Certainly, your family or your partner can be your friends. However, it’s important not to depend on one person to meet your emotional, social, and physical needs. That is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
So, even if you’re in a romantic relationship, don’t forget about your friendships.
Now, what are some of the less glamorous aspects of having friends?
- Needy friends
- Take energy to maintain
- May not have the time right now
Okay, now, generally speaking, if a friend is constantly draining your energy and not giving anything back to the relationship, then it may be time to let that person go. That’s right; friendships, like relationships, can certainly be ended.
However, with friendships, it’s important to recognize how they change and grow depending on each friend’s current life circumstances. For example, a friend may be going through the loss of a family member and need more emotional support. Or, maybe they’re traveling a lot for business and are unavailable for large gaps of time.
Good friends understand these changes and flow with the situation. All friendships are different. So, remember, friendship is good if it works for you.
So, What’s better? Relationships and friendships?
I’d venture to say that neither is better than the other. However, romantic relationships come and go, whereas friendships usually last forever. Therefore, remember to not lose sight of your friendships when getting caught up in the passionate whirlwind that can ensue when starting a romantic relationship.
Depending on your life circumstances, it may not be the right time for a romantic relationship. It all depends on you and what you’re willing to take on. Romantic relationships take up a lot of time and energy. It takes work to maintain even the healthiest of romantic relationships. And, let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t want to commit to that.
So, before entering a romantic relationship, be sure that it’s the right time of life and the right person.
On the other hand, friendships are almost always welcome in your life. I can go years without having a romantic long-term partner and feel fine. However, if I go a week without talking to my friends or family (many of whom I consider friends), I probably feel quite lonely.
Mature friendships shouldn’t be full of drama. Of course, even the best of friends will have their spats. But deep friendships will continue even through the hard times. Some may venture to say that friendships are some of the most beautiful love stories.
Have it all
Depending on your current life circumstances, it’s certainly possible for you to have it all (friendships and relationships). However, both take time and energy. If you decide that now’s not the time for a romantic relationship, then that’s completely valid! When you’re ready, you’ll know.
Friendships should be a top life priority. These people will be some of your most consistent support systems. Of course, a committed partner can be your biggest supporter as well. But that doesn’t mean that you should ditch your friends. You need friendships even when you’re in a happy, healthy, committed relationship.
Friendships and relationships—or everything in between—are some of the most exciting parts of life. So, get out in the world and start forming those relationships with others!