Difference Between Friendship and Romantic Relationships

How do friendships differ from romantic relationships? Is there overlap between the two types of intimate relationships? What aspects are the same?

The Circle of Friends is a movie that involves three close friends Benny, Eve and Nan. Benny and Eve are much closer friends than they are with Nan. Benny and Eve’s friendship stems from when they were children and continues well into university. The friendship that Benny and Eve share revolves around trust, security and an intimate understanding of each other. Friendship is an act; it is something you do with another person for whom you are close with. Friendship involves a balanced relationship between people. If we care for a person, if we are always ready to help that person and if we share most of our thoughts with that person, they are our good friends. According to Miller, Perlman, and Brehm (2008) prototypical friendships also include equality, with both partners’ preferences being valued; authenticity, with people feeling free to be themselves without pretense; and respect, with each valuing the other’s talents and judgment.

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Benny and Eve share everything together. Good friends are meant to enhance, rather than diminish, our delight when we share fun and exciting news or events with them and be a form of moral support. This is shown when Eve goes to ask for scholarship money, and Benny waits for her at the end of the driveway. Benny is excited by Eve’s success, and it increased Eve’s enjoyment as well. This type of interaction is considered as capitalization; we often share good news with friends and receive enthusiastic, rewarding responses that are good for close relationships (Miller et al., 2008). Friends know the meaning behind personal jokes and they have a way of knowing what each other means without having to explain in detail. Friends also comfort you and reassure you when you need it. Eve shows her friendship towards Benny when she tells her that she is not to blame for the reason Jack was with Nan. Eve sits in the cottage and comforts her friend in her time of need.

It is interesting finding a difference from friendships and romantic relationships when both can be so similar to each other. When off at university, Benny meets a boy named Jack. Benny is instantly enamoured with him. They glance at each other as a show of interest in the other person. In a relationship of love, sharing seems to be taken for granted. Also, love involves a physical element. These physical elements have no boundary in friendships. Love elicits arousal from two people with an emotional quotient, which also involves a sexual attachment with each other. This is a vital difference between friendship and love

Love Benny and Jack share intimate glances at each other, they daydream about each other, and they find ways to be together as much as they can. Romantic love includes fascination with a partner, a sexual desire for each other, and a greater need to be exclusive with each other than friendship does. Love, like friendship can also cause heartbreak. Benny is heartbroken when she finds out that not only did one of her friends betray her, but so did her love. Benny is equally heartbroken in both cases, but the feelings are more devastating when she feels as though she is not loved by Jack.

The interesting thing about romantic relationships and friendships is that they share certain standards of conduct. Both involve loyalty, caring, support and trust for each other. The major difference between friendship and romantic relationships is the sexual intimacy. Romantic relationships seem to require more of a commitment compared to friendships. It does seem though that friendships are based on the same building blocks of intimacy as romantic relationships are but, with a slight twist of components (Miller et al., 2008)

“The difference between friendship and love is how much you can hurt each other”

Ashleigh Brilliant quotes (English Author and Cartoonist, b.1933)


  • Miller, R., Perlman, D., & Brehm, S. (2008). Intimate relationships (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.


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