5 signs you and your partner are best friends, according to psychology

I’m old enough to remember the eighties’ American sitcom, Cheers. Even now I’ll watch rerun episodes from time to time: I love the humor and the onscreen chemistry between Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson) and Diane Chambers (played by Shelley Long).

Whenever he wasn’t dating Diane (they were always on-again, off-again), Sam was quite the playboy. His relationships were often a bit of a hot mess. 

Well, art can often imitate life and Danson has said in the past that when he met his wife, fellow actress Mary Steenburgen in 1983, that he was what he calls “a hot mess.”

It wasn’t until both of them were divorced and went on a trip with mutual friends that the now-married couple (for almost 30 years) realized that there could be something more than friendship between them. 

“I wasn’t ready for anything like a relationship,” Steenburgen told People Magazine of their initial friendship in the early 1990s. “We just kept working together and becoming better and better friends.”

Long-term couples often talk about the importance of being best friends as well as romantic partners. 

Here are five signs that you and your significant other are best friends, according to psychology. 

1) The fact that you can both sit in silence together speaks volumes… 

My mother is a social butterfly and a very chatty person. My father, on the other hand, was the strong, silent type. 

My mother has often said that in the early days of their marriage she thought my dad was way too quiet. 

Over time though, she says she came to find my father’s reserved nature comforting and dignified. 

I’ve observed both of my parents sitting in silence together many times, both of them being completely content. 

Being able to sit in silence with your partner isn’t just healthy, but it’s also proof that the two of you have a relationship that’s also based on a deep friendship, says Ioana Casapu from Thought Catalog

“It does not need nonsense chatting and continuous blabber to be perfectly functional.”

Amiable silence shows that two people can carry on with their day or just be lazy in each other’s presence, without feeling the incessant need to talk.

“There’s something ultimately so comforting and refreshing about shared silences,” adds Casapu. “They offer the space for the mind to unwind, and for the body to lose the tension accumulated throughout a busy day.”

Silence can make way for a sense of belonging. Reading a book in one another’s company or listening to music together (this doesn’t include being on your phones though because that could be an avoidance issue).

Companionable silence is beautiful. 

2) …but you can also vent to each other whenever you need to 

But the opposite is also true for romantic partners who are also the best of friends. 

Many people on Quora say they are able to vent to their partners whenever something is bothering or stressing them. 

“Being able to vent to your partner is healthy,” says one Quora user. “If [your partner] gets irritated, that’s a red flag that they can’t support you emotionally…A loving partner should realize that venting [once in a while] is an important part of the relationship and what you need is support.”

Being able to talk about upset emotions (not the person you are upset with) can quickly help you calm down, says Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, from Psychology Today

“It helps if the person stays neutral on the issues and what to do or take sides in a conflict. Primarily listening and giving you some empathy can be the most helpful way for someone else to help you calm your upset emotions.”

A partner who is a best friend can help you manage emotions like if you got into an argument with your boss, or your best friend, for example. 

A supportive partner will validate your emotions but they might also give you an objective point of view that perhaps you hadn’t considered. 

3) You get a kick out of each other’s humor

pic2559 5 signs you and your partner are best friends, according to psychology

“Can a relationship succeed if partners have different senses of humor?” asks this Reddit user. 

“My boyfriend is great…But there’s one major problem: our humor styles are very different. I’m into dry, witty humor, while he seems to like more obvious humor. He doesn’t pick up on my sarcasm, and he loves to explain why a joke is funny. I just want to scream, ‘YES, THAT WAS THE JOKE!’”

Partners who are best friends most often will have a shared sense of humor that bonds them, not divides them.

Therapist Susan Kraus Whitbourne, PhD, ABPP agrees. 

“You might not always laugh at the same joke, but if you can share a similar approach to life’s funny situations, your appreciation of each other will only improve across the years.”

In long-term relationships, such as marriages, couples will generally share a similar sense of humor, adds Gil Greengross from Aberystwyth University

“Humor is a great ice breaker and a social lubricant.”

4) They’re there for you whenever you need them—and they don’t feel threatened by you, either

Great relationships don’t just happen, they are created when we give our time, attention, and care to one another, say husband and wife therapist team Charlie and Linda Bloom

You don’t just want someone around when things are going well. 

“One of the great benefits of partnerships is support when difficult circumstances befall us. A partner can be there in our time of need, be sympathetic, and provide a shoulder to cry on,” say the Blooms. 

“Such sincere support softens upsetting blows and helps us get through challenging times.”

At the same time, we want our partner to be genuinely happy when things go well for us as individuals, not someone who feels threatened by our success or someone who feels a need to compete with us. 

“We all want to know our partner is not competitive with us or envious of our good fortune. We want them to be proud of our achievements, and celebrate with us to magnify the joy.”

In a study conducted by Shelly Gable, who is a professor of psychology at The University of California at Santa Barbara, she found that people who show the most enthusiasm for their partner’s achievement have the least conflict in their relationship, enjoy more fun and leisure activities, and have the most relationship satisfaction. 

5) You have each other’s back, baby!

Just like your bestie always has your back, so should your partner—and of course, vice versa.

You don’t make empty threats to each about leaving any time you get into an argument. 

This does nothing but leave you with an insecure, hurting partner, says Shauna H. Springer, PhD.

“One way to have your partner’s back is to become a student of their emotional reactions. This is not to say you need to read their mind, but it’s generally helpful if you can generally be aware of and responsive to your partner’s emotional state.”

We’re only human and sometimes we can unintentionally make our partner feel insecure.

“When this happens, having your partner’s back means being attentive, responsive, and willing to quickly address the primitive panic you have unintentionally triggered in your partner,” says Springer. 

This could be something like asking: “Did I do something that was hurtful to you just now?” or “Did your mood just shift?”

This is especially important during conflict situations. 

Springer says that positive reinforcement is important such as frequently letting your partner know that you love them

“[Also] showing them with your behavior that you respect them, and holding their worth high when you speak of them to other people.”

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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