Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The relationship secret people in long-term couples want you to know

Dating expert Hayley Quinn shares the secret to long-lasting love

Smiling young woman using mobile phone while reclining on boyfriend sitting on sofa at home
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
14 February 2024
Share this:

When you're dating, there's nothing quite like feeling sparks fly when you meet someone new. Those firework feelings make the first flushes of romance extra exciting, but if you've experienced them a few times, you might have noticed that sparks often fade as fast as they initially flew.

The fast-fading frisson has led many of us to realise that chasing that elusive spark in dating may not always lead us to happy, fulfilled and committed relationships, according to Match.

The dating experts at Match say that 2024 is set to be the year of buddying. "Instead of an instant click being top of single's priority list this year, we predict there will be a surge in 'friends to lovers' scenarios, with singles recognising the value of friendship as a foundation for a real and loving relationship," explains Hayley Quinn, dating expert for Match.

Woman with long hair in polo neck
Hayley Quinn is Match's dating expert

According to Match's research, a third of their users want to make 2024 'their year for love,' and if you're in the same boat, looking to your friendships could be key when it comes to lasting love.

From friends to lovers

"When you're good friends with someone first, they have already inadvertently checked a lot of your boxes for what makes a great partner," explains Hayley.

"You'll hopefully know that they’re reliable, that you can trust them and that they’ll accept you just as you are. When you begin a romantic relationship with a friend, you won’t feel a need to try and change who you are, but instead embrace it."

Young couple hugging in a cafe© Getty
Love can bloom from friendship

This is something that HELLO!'s senior fashion and lifestyle writer, Georgia Brown, found when she started dating someone she'd been friends with for three years. "I felt comfortable with him from the very start of our relationship and I didn't feel like we had to earn each other's trust, it was already there," she says.

"As teenagers we worked together in a busy beachside café where everyone was very social. We eventually both left the café to start university and lost contact, but found ourselves back there during the summer to earn extra money between studies.

"It was then that our former teenage friendship picked up where it left off. One friendly post-work walk turned into sitting on the beach talking until 2am - we'll be celebrating our 8th anniversary this summer!"

 READ: Why me-time is essential for a healthy, happy relationship 

Hayley explains that while friendship isn't always the first thing, we look for in someone we're dating, perhaps it should be!

"Long-term relationships will have their fair share of challenges but having a great friendship with your partner will help you to weather the storms, given that the relationship is built on mutual respect and compatibility.

A young couple lovingly embrace each other during a meetup and barbecue with friends.© Getty
Friendship is a great foundation for love

"It might sound like a cliché, but the key to a healthy, committed relationship is having a partner who you can talk to, be yourself with and laugh about life’s ups and downs with – ultimately a person that is your best friend."

Georgia agrees with the benefits of being friends first. "I feel that being friends first played a major factor in our relationship lasting as long as it has.

"We respected each other as friends and built a loving relationship from being able to communicate with each other so well.

In my previous relationships that hadn't been built on friendship first, I always felt there was a pressure or expectation to be intimate before you really knew someone, and I never enjoyed that aspect of dating.

"My female friendships are so important to me, but I would say that I'd consider him my best friend," Georgia says.

Colourful studio portrait of two women© Getty
Friendship can lead to lasting love

A new relationship blueprint

Hayley says that while the elusive spark when you first meet someone signifies chemistry, in reality you know very little about them. "You’ve still got to work out much more important, long-term points of compatibility," she says.

"Whilst sometimes you instantly feel the spark, sometimes the spark can grow, as in friends to lovers situations.

DISCOVER: How can I stop relying on my friends for happiness? An expert's guide 

"Rather than always looking out for a relationship that starts with fireworks but easily burns out, try to look for the blueprint of your ideal long-term relationship - one where you start out as good friends, and then grow a deeper sense of love and commitment between you."

Going from friends to more

When you develop feelings for a friend, it can be daunting to make the first move. On navigating the changing direction, Hayley says: "See if they’re happy to spend time with you one to one. If you’re already communicating and spending time together regularly, try sharing how you feel in an informal way that invites their response – without any pressure.

"You could say, 'I’m really enjoying spending time together and I have to admit at times I’ve been curious if this could be something more?'

Couple sharing dessert and coffee on a day date© Getty
Going from friends to lovers needs to be navigated

"Shifting your relationship status from friends to lovers will require great communication," she continues.

"You will need to both be clear about what you want and have similar expectations about what this transition will involve.

"If someone suddenly expects to spend every weekend together, and the other doesn’t, this could lead to disappointment. However, if you have a great friendship, then navigating these trickier conversations will come more easily.

"It’s also worth remembering that part of what makes someone 'right' for you long-term, is their ability to share a similar vision for your relationship, and to communicate with you through any challenges that you face."

Visit HELLO!'s Happiness Hub for inspiration on living a happier life.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Weddings

See more