I have issues with relationships these days. People (particularly men) separate the idea of a relationship from the idea of a friendship. With that, I have my own thoughts and opinions on the concept of men and women being able to be ‘just friends’ with each other with no tension or desire for something more. But, that is a different conversation.
Whether or not men and women can be just friends should not separate the two concepts altogether. You don’t need to choose if you are going to be friends or lovers, you can (and should be), both.
Women usually have a far easier time deciding who they want to be just friends with and who they would pursue a romantic relationship with, but men tend to group all women together on the ‘potentially romantic’ side, and then just decide their order of desirability. For this reason, I also believe men try to actually avoid building a friendship with a woman because he doesn’t want to find himself plunging into the dreaded friend zone, and suddenly be seen more as a brother than a potential boyfriend.
Friends see (and accept) all sides of each other.
When dating, we typically only want to show someone our best self. We are always well put together, well behaved, and well mannered. Of course, we should consistently try to be these things as often as humanly possible, but the fact of the matter is that we are all going to have bad days. We get stressed, we get sick, we face challenges. Life throws us curveballs – and expecting a shining exterior every second of every day is not only unrealistic, but it is also dishonest.
It doesn’t matter when you roll over in bed with no makeup on, a fever, and swollen eyes – a true friend will love and take care of you just the same. Someone who is just in it for the sex or as a fling, will not.
Friends have fun together no matter what.
You’re getting together with your best friend this weekend – oh no! What are you going to do? Where are you going to go to dinner? What movie are you going to see? How are you going to survive your 4-hour drive in the car together? These questions are never concerns when it comes to spending time with a friend, because it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are together when you do it.
Friends are comfortable around each other.
Comfort is a tricky concept, because we cannot allow ourselves to get too comfortable in any relationship, no matter how long we are together. If this happens, eventually we transition over into complacency, and that is territory which is void of energy, romance, or excitement. We cannot fall into this trap, but there is also a good kind of comfort. The kind that comes with friendship.
The good kind of comfort is essential to being honest and open with each other. We need this to reveal secrets. Dreams. Desires. Fears and insecurities. We need this type of comfort to just be able to sit with each other in silence and not feel a nagging urge to say or do something to break the silence. This type of comfort only exists when a friendship is built, not when we spend our time trying to impress each other and not showing him or her who we really are.
Friendship can last a lifetime.
Have you ever had a friend who you can go weeks, months, or even years without seeing – but when you do finally get together again it’s like nothing has changed? Imagine that kind of closeness, that kind of understanding, that kind of comfort, with someone who you are also in love with.
It goes without saying that you obviously won’t be going weeks, months, or years without seeing your significant other – but the understood, mutually felt longevity of your relationship provides you both with a secure, solid feeling that provides the comfort of knowing he or she is in it for the long haul.
A friend will stand by you no matter what.
When you are friends with someone, you are not only friends with them when things are great. You stand by them when they need you for support as they do for you in return. This is the type of unwavering love a relationship needs in order to thrive in the long term as well. Laying the bricks of friendship as a foundation is a great way to ensure this person will be there for you when the waters get rough.
You can have a friendship without a relationship, but you can’t have a relationship without a friendship. Think about it.