Ryan and Blake: Why Being Friends First Works

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Ryan Reynolds says his romantic connection with wife Blake Lively didn’t happen overnight. In fact, they were just “buddies” for a while after they met during filming of The Green Lantern.

The now-couple actually realized there was something between them while on a double-date with other people months after they met. “About a year after Green Lantern had come and gone and we were both single we went on a double date – she was on a date with another guy and I was on a date with another girl – and it was like the most awkward date for the respective parties because we were just like fireworks coming across,“ Reynolds said on SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio Deadpool special.

“We were buddies for a long time, which I think is the best way to have a relationship, to start as friends,” he added.

Reynolds and Lively have been married for four years — seemingly happily so — and have a daughter together. Is he on to something with this?

On some level, yes, Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, PsyD, tells Yahoo Health. “Research suggests that couples that emphasize the foundation of friendship in their marriage versus the romantic elements are happier and more satisfied both with their marriages and life in general,” he says.

In fact, a study from Canada’s National Bureau of Economic Research found that couples who consider their partner their “best friend” have the highest levels of happiness and reap double the amount of well-being benefits from marriage than those who aren’t buddies with their spouses.

And that happiness typically translates into relationship success. “Marriages that have higher levels of happiness and fulfillment are certainly more likely to last longer,” says Cilona.

But Cilona says you don’t necessarily have to be friends first to get this boost — you just need to view your significant other as a friend as well as your romantic partner.

Of course, some couples do get together like Reynolds and Lively. But the process of transitioning from friends to lovers can be difficult for some — especially if it was a close friendship to start. “Many people struggle around the fear that a cherished friendship might be lost if a friendship turns romantic and then doesn’t work out,” Cilona points out.

While it can happen, Cilona says it doesn’t apply to everyone. To lower the chances that a friendship will be over if a romantic relationship doesn’t work, he advises approaching the move from friends to lovers with honesty and openness about concerns, needs, and feelings, and to communicate them clearly. “Addressing these issues from the foundation of friendship can help diminish fears and make these tricky issues a bit easier to navigate,” he says.

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