Yet not every close friendship will develop into the kind of romance that would give Danielle Steele a run for her money.'It's the sexual chemistry that ultimately sends you over the edge,' states Christine Northam, a counsellor working for Relate. Each of us has a psychological make-up that has been moulded by life's influences and experiences, and most of the time we're not even aware of it.If I'm honest it felt so familiar, and it wasn't a fire-in-the-stomach thing, but it made me very happy.All day I couldn't stop thinking what an amazing person this quiet man had become.' For Simon the development in their relationship was a complete shock.He'd even sit with her in the pub and have a couple of warm-up drinks while she waited for a new date to arrive. 'On that day of the wedding, when everyone around me was saying how lovely he was, I suddenly thought they were right.She described him to other friends as 'not very exciting'. It was like an epiphany.' Most psychologists would say that was unusual.I'd go on dates with other men and find myself thinking about him, and once I joked that we should get together.I suppose I was testing the water to judge his reaction.
All the time you're being friends, you're learning about each other.
It was at her boss's wedding that Sophie Holland decided, with stone-cold certainty, that she wanted to be next down the aisle. Simon, one of her closest friends for the previous three years. We'd stayed overnight at his parents' house, and I woke up and thought, "I am going to ask him to marry me."' Until then Sophie, 40, had worked alongside Simon, 44, in a fabric shop in Soho, London.
She'd found this affable, gentle man appealing as a shoulder to cry on when her succession of thrilling but chaotic relationships dissolved.
'And there are certain people, friends or otherwise, who you could never imagine as a sexual partner. We unconsciously sum up this blueprint in another person, and if there is a "fit" we make an emotional connection.
Because long-standing friends have had plenty of time to develop this bond, they already know they have plenty in common.