Man meets beautiful woman who has no time for him. Somehow they end up spending a lot of time together. Inevitably they fall in love – they meet, it’s cute. But something inevitably goes wrong. They fight. Make-up. And get married.
Our movies and stories tell us that this romantic relationship is the most important kind of relationship.
But it’s not that simple. Romantic relationships are great. For some people, they’re the most important relationship in their life.
But because we place the romantic story at the pinnacle of human interaction, we fail to acknowledge that other relationships are just as meaningful.
Life is full of relationships – strangers, acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family. All of these relationships play a huge role in a person’s life. But one of the most important – and undervalued – is the relationship we have with our closest friends.
Romance casts a long shadow, often putting friendship in the dark.
Let’s imagine a situation involving two friends, Riley and Sam:
Riley and Sam are best friends; they have been forever. One day, Riley starts to see someone. Sam, being Riley’s best friend, is supportive – excited. But then slowly, Riley stops hanging out with Sam as much. Eventually, they drift apart, and both of them lose one of the most important people in their life.
How many times have we heard this story?
Friendships are put on the backburner all the time; they don’t get the credit that new flames get.
Friendship is just as meaningful, impactful, and significant as a significant other. Healthy and intimate friendships that have the power to change someone’s life completely.
It’s knowing that someone loves you unconditionally. It’s knowing that there’s someone who will celebrate with you when you’re promoted at work, when you get the grade you wanted, or when months of hard work pays off. It’s also knowing that there’s someone who will laugh with you over who knows what for hours, who will sit and do homework with you, or come with you to buy your groceries.
It’s the big things and the mundane things that are made so much better by friends.
Friendship is all of these beautiful things without the confusion that romantic or sexual relationships tend to add. But we sometimes forget them. Why is that?
Part of the reason is under-representation in the media – how often do you watch a comedy that’s just about two friends loving each other?
A lot of people see bad friendships in stories and believe that’s what friendship is.
Friendships are classically portrayed as being dishonest, destructive, and difficult. When this is the only kind of friendship we’re used to seeing, it only makes sense that people put energy into toxic relationships.
After all, we don’t know any better, and we continue to believe that’s just the way friendship is. It’s only after that toxic friendship ends that we realize, “Oh, maybe that wasn’t such a great relationship.”
Yet we repeat the same mistake again, and again, and again.
That’s not to say that someone can’t be both significant other and best friend.
Having more than one person to go to for comfort or just to hang out is better for everybody. This balance we need is similar to having a balanced diet. You wouldn’t spend your whole life eating just bread, right? You could, but your body would appreciate throwing in some vegetables, maybe some fruit.
If your entire life revolves around, and depends on one person, what will happen if you lose that person? You’ll still need someone to cry with you. Someone who will shoulder the pain with you.
People need balance in their lives. This means balancing time spent with yourself, your partner and your friends.
Friends are amongst the most important people in your life; there are few people you get to choose to be in your life. The ones you do choose should be the best people you know.
Seek out healthy friendships and value the unique intimacy you can have with your friends. Friendships are some of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences in life.