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Want to be a good lover? Learn to be a good friend first

What’s not to love about being in love? Positive romantic relationships in adulthood have been linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety as well as better physical health.

But what’s the secret to a happy adult partnership?

Psychologist Dr. Dave Szwedo studies social and emotional development and relationships. While at the University of Virginia, he and colleagues researched factors from adolescence that could predict a satisfying adult romantic life.

Think back to your early teen years. Who was your very best friend? Now think back to the qualities that made or still make you close.

“It may be that the real important work that’s being done is occurring in these friendships and that’s what’s going to translate ultimately to how satisfied people are later on," Szwedo said.

The social scientists used data from 165 men and women age 27 to 30. They examined their early peer same-sex friendships and they asked participants whether as teens they felt close to their friends and comfortable speaking their minds.

“It was really this friendship domain that seemed to be most predictive of how folks were feeling about their romantic life later on,” Szwedo said.

Szwedo said teens may get caught up in the excitement of young romantic relationships. He advises parents to encourage kids to nurture friendships at that age. Help them be assertive and learn to resolve conflict. These are skills that make you a great best friend, and later on, a good romantic partner.

Some might be surprised to know the social scientists say they also found that physical attractiveness did not have any impact on how satisfied the teens, now adults, were with their current romantic lives.