After two years of dating and much speculation about their relationship going further, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have confirmed their engagement. They have been friends since starring together in That 70's Show as Kelso and Jackie and they began dating after Kutcher split from ex-wife Demi Moore in 2011. They make a really cute couple who have been photographed many times together, looking at each other lovingly. From the surface, it appears that they are a good match for one another.
So this begs the question — do friends make the best lovers?
The answer is yes, and the idea is supported by research. A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests that couples who value and maintain a strong friendship at the core of their relationship are more likely to stay together than couples who value other aspects of their relationship more highly. However, the study doesn't indicate whether the subjects were friends before they began their romantic relationships, just that valuing their friendship at the core of their relationship was a predictor of increased happiness over time.
People who regard their partner as one of their best friends are head and shoulders above other couples in the happiness category, both with their relationship and other parts of their lives. Since Mila and Ashton have been friends for a long time and are very likely to know each other extremely well, they have a stronger than average chance at making things work in the long term.
So should you date your friend?
People go back on forth about whether trying to start a romantic relationship with a friend is a good idea. They cite the reason that if a relationship doesn't work out, they will likely lose the friendship as well. This is accurate. There is a definite risk involved in persuing a relationship with someone who is already a close friend. Also, falling into a "friends with benefits" situation is ultra risky. Often, just the suggestion of changing the relationship can make one party feel bait-and-switched, like their friend was just hanging around the whole time hoping for something more.
Dating a friend creates a make-or-break situation where the friendship either turns into something more powerful and life changing or the whole friendship can be lost. However, if you are powerfully attracted to a friend and really want more than friendship, aren't you hanging around the whole time, hoping for something more?
And what about the dreaded friend zone? The friend zone is real, but reason that people put each other in the friend zone category is usually because they don't feel sexually attracted to them in the first place. If your friend has mentioned that they just want to be friends, this is their way of making it clear there can be nothing more. Lots of statements like "I really value our FRIENDSHIP," can be a tip off if you haven't asked them directly about the potential for a romance.
If you think that one of your friends could really be your life partner, I would argue that it is worth it to talk to them about your feelings. If you get rejected, then you know where you stand and can move on with your life. If they feel the same way, you might have hit the jackpot.
Whether you begin a romance with a friend or simply develop a strong friendship with your partner, having a friendship at the base of a relationship is part of having a great relationship. If you decide to pursue a romantic relationship with a friend, like Ashton and Mila did, it helps to keep in mind that when it's good, it can be great and when it's terrible, the friendship is at risk.
Mazel Tov to Mila and Ashton on their engagement!
Elizabeth Stone is a relationship author obsessed with helping women improve their relationships. You can find more at Why Men Leave. Get a free copy of her book here.
More love advice on YourTango: