Friends Are Like Lovers – Minus The Smarts And Looks

Good listening and communication skills, loyalty, and a sense of humour – these are the basic building blocks for long lasting relationships – not only of the romantic variety, but friendships too, according to eHarmony. In the second instalment of the online dating site’s Relationship Study, friendships come under the spotlight, focusing on the qualities that make for strong bonds, similarities between friendships and romantic relationships, and perceptions of best friends.

Friends are same as partners – sort of

eHarmony’s study finds that Aussies ultimately seek the same qualities in a friend as they do in a partner, with good listening skills and loyalty topping the list as the most valued qualities in both relationships. This also shows that a foundation based on friendship is essential to long-term romantic relationships. In fact, the study found that nearly 90 per cent of Aussies think a partner should actually be a best friend.

As for the differences, it seems it takes more to qualify as a partner, with Aussies preferring intelligence, attractiveness, strong morals and a hard working attitude much more in a romantic partner than friend. The only qualities we value more in a friend are a supportive nature and good listening skills.

Commenting on the findings, eHarmony’s Marie-Claire Ducharme Sayers says that the qualities we seek in a friend are not far off from what we seek in a romantic partner: “Our study finds that a solid foundation based on compatibility, trustworthiness and good communication is key when it comes to important relationships, whether it be with a best friend or a partner.”

Top qualities that make for good relationships:

Friend Partner
Good listener 76% 73%
Loyalty 75% 81%
Good communicator 60% 70%
Funny 60% 65%
Empathetic 59% 63%
Supportive 57% 65%
Fair 51% 53%
Good shoulder to cry on 51% 49%
Good moral compass 50% 62%
Smart 31% 50%
Hard worker 15% 46%
Attractive 4% 47%


Friendly facts

When looking at friendships more broadly, the research shows more than ninety percent of Aussies believe it’s better to have one friend than 10 acquaintances, with the majority (88 per cent) realising that some friendships are not meant to last forever.

eHarmony Relationship and Dating Expert Melanie Schilling says this is a trend that has come out of social media sites creating shallow connections. “With the rise of online networking, hundreds of thousands of interactions occur by the minute. But our research reveals we are overwhelmingly seeking deeper, more meaningful relationships with a core group of friends.”

“Although social communication is easier than ever before, our capacity for maintaining emotionally close relationships is finite. And while this number may vary from person to person, what holds true in all cases is that quality relationships, founded on compatibility, loyalty and empathy, are most important,” Schilling said.

When it comes to best friends, those aged 18 to 24 have phased out the notion of having a single best friend, instead defining this as a tier of people (75 per cent) – a feeling that consistently diminishes as people age.

Interestingly for some, work seems to double up as a social hub, with more than 60 per cent of Aussies having met some of their best friends in the workplace.