I’ve found that when it comes to men and women, and perhaps everything in between and otherwise, friendship is highly underrated. Several of my friendships have ended because the other person wanted a romantic relationship and I didn’t. They called this “more” and wouldn’t settle for just friendship. It was all or nothing, and they were the ones to cut it off in the end. (Shout out to the friends that didn’t scram when this happened. I love you guys.)
But is romance really “more”? I mean, you could say that a relationship is a friendship plus romance and sexual intimacy, making it “more” than just a friendship. But I’ve had friendships with hints of romance, and I’ve had friendships where physical affection was given with understanding of its intent. More importantly, I’ve had friendships that have been stronger and lasted longer than any of my romantic or sexual relationships have. And at this point in my life, those are so much more important to me than dating or even finding a life partner. Yes, I would like to be in a romantic relationship someday, and yes I entertain the idea of having a life partner, but I think that before either of those can really happen, I need to be in a good place within myself and have a good direction in life. And this all sounds like it would be so much more enjoyable with the support and company of friends.
Every friendship I have is unique, because every person is unique and so every relationship between two people is a unique combination. Some of my friendships are based on our mutual interests and goals, others on mutual appreciation and respect; some have withstood the tests of time and tragedy, others are only acknowledged when we’re around one another and otherwise not really thought about; some are more flirty and humorous while others are deep and profound. In every case, there is a mutual unspoken agreement between us: we are friends. That’s it. As long as we’re both willing to keep this statement true, things will be okay between us. That’s my belief. It’s only when that either becomes too much for one or both of us, or something mutually exclusive becomes more important, that that agreement is broken.
But having it be not enough?? That is where I simply cannot relate. If something needs to be changed – you communicate, you set boundaries, you make adjustments and see how it goes. Things will work out if you’re willing to try. Like I said, it’s only when things get to be too much for one person or both that the friendship has to stop or pause indefinitely. I’ve had friendships discontinue because of jealous girlfriends, lack of interest, overwhelming energies, differences in worldview, and decreased communication because one of us moved away or got involved in something that took up more of our time and energy. And this stuff happens, and it’s okay. Maybe it’s not forever and we can pick it up again in the future. Friendships don’t really die unless you kill them, and even then it’s possible to someday revive them. But when both people actually want to be close to each other, are willing to put in the effort, but one of them wants romance and sex and the other doesn’t… and that’s why the friendship has to end… forever… and they completely cut me off… sometimes blaming me or insulting me in the process… that’s what really stumps me.
And the reason I am writing about this is because it has happened to me MULTIPLE times. Like, the same exact thing. It makes me want to write all my friends and say, “You and I will never ever date – still want to be friends?” and see who sticks around. It makes me want to use a disclaimer every time I meet someone new. It makes me want to wear a sign on my shirt that says: “Friendship only, no dating, no relationship!” But of course I can’t do this, because I do want a relationship someday, and you never really know who it might be with no matter what you think you’re looking for at the time. And it’s not like I’m keeping people around just in case maybe someday we could be “more than friends”. No, I’m keeping them around because they are my friends and that’s what friends do! If you’re committed to friendship, then you know that will be there regardless of whatever else may (or may not) happen between you. I wish that was more important to people.
So please, let’s be friends.