The Romanticization Of Friendship

During the last couple of years, I have noticed that considering your lover your best friend is trending. The amount of commertials on TV and online selling items to commemorate these dual role couples has skyrocketed. Entire product and jewelry lines aim to sell to this coveted audience because they are more than happy to spend on these items. It’s so excessive and passive-aggressive that I wonder who lets themselves be manipulated into forcing their significant other to conform to this standard.

My husband and I are NOT best friends, and I can honestly state that my relationship thrives because of this fact. Not being best friends make us stronger people. Why? Because by sharing our thoughts and concerns with our besties, we have a neutral sounding board to process our emotions before unleashing them on our unsuspecting significant other. These people help us internalize and vocalize our intended demands or needs. They listen to us without a need to justify themselves or feeling guilty because they are the subject of our anxiety and frustration; our very own demilitarized safe zone. The insight our BFFs bring into the discussions about us as a couple and what they have observed as we grew into the people we are today is priceless. It gives us room to scream and shout and tantrum or cry without losing our cool at each other. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The school of thought surrounding the “best friends/best spouses” theory is very controversial. For decades, we have started to put pressure on our partners to be the panacea for our ailments; they must be The One, perfect in every way, addressing our needs even before we have identified them. Whereas traditional couples split the labor and chores of family life without considering each other friends, modern people cannot lift a finger unless their counterpart fulfills their every emotional and psychological desire. We became codependent instead of retaining our independence inside our spousal roles. We placed our happiness in the other person’s shoulders. That is an insurmountable burden for those we hold so dear.

Truth be told I couldn’t make my husband my best friend even if I wanted to. I need a partner not a parent; a passionate lover, not a friend. What drew us together was that our opinions about life, travel and the pursuits of nerds differ greatly. The exchange of data and knowledge is the cornerstone of our family’s foundation. My partner doesn’t complete me and vice versa. As a team, we must present a cohesive and disciplined while retaining the unique charm that made us fall in love with each other, our individuality. The constant advertising of this aspect of marriage made us angry because people expect us to buy into the hype. Happy couples dote on each other and make everyone else puke with disgust, right? (Blech) Was our marriage in trouble because we weren’t best friends? Not really. Was it necessary to make each other better people? We didn’t think so. Then what do we gain for buying into the propaganda? Nothing!

The eerie part is that by romanticizing friendship we opened up Pandora’s box. Out came friend zones and sexual attraction expectations, and the romanticization of friendships emerged. Doesn’t every woman want to marry their best friend? Time and time again I see this theme come up in movies or literature; best guy and gal pal fall for each other after years of missing verbal and physical queues. Some charcaters even manage to find each other before a wedding or funeral gets in their way. We are obsessed as a culture with the star-crossed lovers predicament, and we all want our own happy ending.

Before all these expectations were thrust into the public limelight, friends could be friends without an implication of physical intimacy. In my case I have a vast pool of best friends and confidants and everyone involved, male and female, knows I am not romantically attracted to them. However I do love them and tell them at every opportunity we get to share our lives and laugh at ourselves. Love is not about sex and neither is friendship. The reasons as to why linking all three concepts is beneficial for society is still lost on me.

I can feel love for a person and not feel wanton or desire for them. I can also feel kinship with a fellow human and not consider them a familiar. Because people keep confusing these three concepts-love, lust and camaraderie-we propagate the myth of the all inclusive and perfect marital contract. Marriage can work well regardless of the presence of any of the three. The people inside the union are the only ones that can decide what makes it work or what doesn’t. We don’t feel we are worse off than those who swear their partner is the epitome of a best friend. To each their own.

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