value of friendship, the

“She’s just a friend.”

I don’t love this phrase.  I’m supposed to attach some sacred value to a person with the title, “girlfriend,” or “boyfriend,” “fiancé” (with one “e”) or “fiancée” (with two “e”s) or “spouse.”  Since time began, I imagine men and women whispered this to each other, “Don’t worry about Sarah, she’s just a friend.  She’s no threat to you.”

What is just about a friend?

Except I’ve always craved friendship.  I’ve never thought a friend should be less than a romantic partner, nor did I ever see sex as some sacred limitation from those I deemed “less worthy.”  Sex was never something one earned from me, rather a gift we exchanged to each other.

My best friend in college to them must be less than my boyfriend– even though I kept up the friendship for nearly a decade after graduation and lost touch with said boyfriend a half a blink after breaking up (which sort of inevitably happened after we both graduated and realized that sharing nearby dorm rooms was the only thing keeping us together).

Today, it is my friends that I miss more than my “relationships,” and though I miss someone with whom I share a romantic label, it is the friendship between us that I miss, rather than the physical intimacy.  I rarely think of the play partners in my life, but my friends I miss daily.

Friendship is fleeting.  Friendship is, somehow, more shallow than romance. 

“I’m single, I just have friends,” makes you look sad and pathetic.  “Oh, don’t worry, I have my husband,” is somehow more than enough.  Except we’re also supposed to be married to our best friends to be super romantic?  So what gives?

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I do get that some people use the word “friend” to mean more like “acquaintance,” rather than a deeply involved emotional connection.  My one friend calls her good friends “sister,” rather than friend.  To clarify the difference.  

But let’s not pretend that is what the rest of the world means by the phrase.  No, what they mean is that a relationship lacking in “commitment” must be lesser.  “Commitment” is something that can only exist in relationships that, by “default,” involve sex.  Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?  Are you going to tell me that nobody ever questions if asexual folk can have romantic relationships, because, well, none of their relationships involve sex?

Imagine  if the phrase were, “She’s just my wife”?

I don’t think people would like that very much.  They’d think you were dismissing their marriage.  Why should we allow people to be so disrespectful of others’ friendships?

I am not naïve. I realize that physical intimacy is tied to emotional intimacy.  I, like many, more strongly desire physical intimacy from those to whom I am emotionally connected.  I, like many, desire a partner by my side—and I’d be foolish to think romantic entanglement would not be a part of that.  I want love; I want romance; I want intimacy.  I want it most from those with whom I am closest.   I grasp all of that, without undue struggles.

But I wish that we could see friends as valuable.  I wish we did not put up walls with our friends, because we know that they will never be that involved or important in our lives– and there is nothing wrong with spending more time and effort on certain people in your life.  But does that mean the relationship needs to be shallow?

I place the word “friend” with care and consideration.

I call someone my friend, first, before I trust them in my bed, romantically.  Because the emotional connection I share with you, the bonds of friendship, mean more to me than the sexy times and romantic gestures.  Because I am not “friendzoning” you, because if you cannot be my friend, why on earth would I want you as my partner?

By the way, I find it ridiculous this concept of a “friendzone.”  I am not putting you on the side, I am giving you the chance to actually be something at all.  And I would be hurt, should I find out that by being your friend, I have lost attraction in your eyes.  That once you got to know me, somehow I’m not worth dating.  We have this idea that friendship ruins dating.  But why should it?

Sometimes, it is true, a friend is someone that one sees less often.

Maybe I only see you a few times a year.  Maybe we aren’t that committed in our friendship and we don’t talk nearly as much as we do with our respective romantic partners.  But when we do talk, I want it to mean something; I want to talk about the universe and strange philosophies.  I do not want to talk “fluff” simply because we are “friends.”

You are my friend, and that word means that our time together is equally important to me, as my time with my partners with more legitimate titles.  I call you my friend, and I call my partner my friend.  My partner– with whom I’ve shared the last decade.  My partner– whose family is mine, as my family is theirs.  My partner– who I am rarely apart from for more than a couple of days.  Whereas I only see you three or four times a year.   But you are both my friends.  And that means something, to me anyway.

I see our relationship, whether it be a friendship or a romance, like a wonderful recipe.

Perhaps a cake.  Do you like cake?  Each cake is composed of several ingredients. Each “ingredient” of the cake composes the relationship as a whole.  Those “ingredients” might be business partner, life partner, confidante, partner-in-crime, or volleyball team member.  The more complex the cake, the more complex and meaningful the relationship.

“Friend” means that you are a multiple ingredient cake, at least more than three ingredients.

And perhaps one day you might be “more” than a friend.

But I do not mean becoming my lover, nor even sharing my bed.  No, I mean much, much more than that.

I mean that you’ve risen in my life, as I’ve risen in yours, for this change must be mutual.  And you are no longer “only” a friend, but a partner.  It is true that I have very few partners in my life.

Should we share a life together, build a life together, dedicate ourselves in a way that elevates our connection beyond the single role of friend.   Should we reach that pinnacle between ourselves, then, yes, I would be honored to call you my life partner, my significant other, my love.

…but I would still call you my friend, because to me, that is a precious title.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top