Life is so much easier when you and your boss get along. Entrepreneurs may find their boss in the boardroom. Corporate employees may find their boss in a conference room. Employees of the butt-kissing, face-time-seeking kind may conveniently keep running into their boss in the bathroom. Whatever the case, research shows the boss-employee relationship is one of the most critical factors in employee retention.

So, if given a choice, wouldn’t you rather get along swimmingly with your superior (and I use the term “superior” loosely)? And yet it’s tricky to know if you really have broken through and formed a tight relationship with him/her (bosses can be tricky that way).

Up until now.

A 3,000 person study by Olivet Nazarene University sought to better understand manager/employee relationships. They studied 14 factors that indicate familiarity between boss and employee, which I’ll share in a moment. Most telling from the research, though, is the fact that among those who code themselves as “very happy at work,” a whopping 74 percent all had one telltale sign in common.

Their boss introduced them to their significant other.

Things were good. They had crossed over into the boss’s personal life.

And you know what? It makes sense. Over the years, all the people who worked for me that I was closest to met my wife at some point. In looking back on it now, I realize it was a sort of milestone in the relationship. In that sense, and not to get weird here, but it’s no different than a romantic relationship. Things are clearly at the next level when you take the leap and introduce the parents.

Now for the other 14 factors that also serve as a measuring stick for “closeness,” and what percent of us say, “Yes, that’s me” (along with some of my personal running commentary):

  • Have my bosses phone number (a butt dial waiting to happen):  68 percent
  • Asked my boss for advice on a personal issue (hopefully, he had the name of a good lawyer):  34 percent
  • We’re friends on Facebook (which keeps you from posting what you really did last night):  32 percent
  • Bought a gift for my boss (you suck-up):  32 percent
  • Boss asked me for advice on a personal issue (hope it wasn’t a medical one):  29 percent
  • Called/texted my boss unrelated to work (other than to call in sick):  28 percent
  • Visited boss’s home (presumably while he was there):  24 percent
  • Hung out with my boss socially (hopefully, he/she was buying):  24 percent
  • Been in a car 2+ hours with my boss (lucky you):  18 percent
  • Bought a meal for my boss (see the “Bought a gift” factor):  16 percent
  • Boss has visited my home (presumably while you were there): 15 percent
  • We follow each other on Instagram (seriously?): 9 percent
  • Exercised with my boss (um, eww):  5 percent
  • We follow each other on Snapchat (no, seriously?):  4 percent

I don’t share this list to encourage you to rush out and try to tick each box. That would be weird. And creepy.

Just think of this as an awareness campaign. Now you know the signals that might come up along the way as you cross that bridge into a truly strong relationship with your boss. And crossing that bridge sure beats wanting to throw your boss off of one.