One of my best friends is Cory Copeland. (And he probably thinks this post is all about him now…)
“How can you be best friends with someone you’ve never met?” you may be asking (my parents and sisters wonder this constantly). Well, when you’re awesome and attached to your iPhone like some sort of sick lifeline, it’s not that hard. Our friendship is based on a love of writing, inappropriate comments, and mutual respect. And I know that if ever I need anything, even someone to break me out of prison and smuggle me out of the country, he’d do it. (He just can’t put up bail money. “Starving artist” and all that.)
Cory listens to my wine-induced random musings and laughs at the Pinterest photos I text him, and I tolerate his constant music suggestions and random descents into Southern colloquialisms. (Poor man is Texan. And has an accent no matter what he says.)
But one of my favorite things about our friendship is that Cory is…a guy. And not because I have some secret dream that one day our friendship will turn into some romantic monstrosity reminiscent of a Nicholas Sparks novel. (We’re both cringing.) No, I like that I can get a male perspective on things (I like to ask him embarrassing relationship questions). I like that he sees things in a way that I don’t, has experienced things I haven’t and couldn’t. And I like that he’s relatively drama free. (Relatively being the key word.)
I’ve had people tell me that our friendship won’t last because men and women can’t be friends. That it just doesn’t work because it either ends up in a broken disaster due to unrequited love, or because they try out the romance and crash and burn, or because one of them inevitably ends up dating someone else and awkwardness and/or jealousy ensues. (Cory and I actually wrote a post together about this.)
And I’ve had people say that we should just date because obviously we’re perfect for each other! We are rather similar in a freaky sort of way, so if the friendship works out so well, why not take it to the next level? Why not move into a dating relationship? Why not get married?! (Cory just fainted.)
Why not, why not, why not…
I think that we have a tendency to look at friendships as secondary to romantic relationships. We look at the men or women we are friends with and see the potential for something more. And when you choose to be friends with someone, you are acknowledging, in a small way, that there are parts of this person that you like, that you find appealing. You connect, and that connection can be intoxicating.
And soon we begin to look for more; always more. We see friendships with the opposite sex as leading to something. Friendship is simply a stepping stone to something better. Why else befriend a man or woman if not for the possibility of romance? What other purpose does a friendship with the opposite sex hold? Why go through all the hassle if not for some sort of benefit? (Not those kind of benefits, people.)
When did friendships become such a horrible thing, I wonder. When did the idea of a man only wanting friendship from me become some sort of insult? An affront to my womanhood? I understand the horror of the dreaded friend zone, believe me. I’ve been there many a time. Sometimes those feelings are deep and the rejection can hurt. But I feel as if we’ve romanticized romantic relationships. We’ve made them into this amazing, perfect, wonderful thing. Nothing is better than romance, than a chance at a fairytale happily ever after.
Why settle for friendship when we can have more?
To me, friendships can be better than love, more than romance, and absolutely beautiful. Not that they supersede romance, but perhaps they can offer something different yet wonderful in that particular time in your life. There is something freeing in befriending a person who understands you and cares about you for you, not for the romantic potential they see in you. They see your worth as a person without putting pressure on you to be anything more than that.
Not every man or woman you meet will be a person you end up dating. But to say that they have no place in your life because there is no potential for romance is to deny yourself the chance to grow. Every person we meet has something unique they can teach us. Imagine what we miss out on by cutting ourselves off from the opposite sex? That is half the population, ladies and gentlemen; so many missed opportunities.
It also can lead to a sort of objectification of the opposite sex. They are only good for one thing. And that seems unhealthy to me. Because men and women do not merely offer each other the potential for physical intimacy or romantic love. We are so much more than that, we can connect on so many other levels. We can offer so much more to each other.
Maybe not all male/female friendships can last. But then again, not all female/female or male/male friendships work out either. Certain people come into your life at just the time you need them. And maybe that is only for a short while. Or maybe it’s a lasting friendship meant to go the distance. As we grow and change as people, the relationships we have will evolve as well. And maybe in this moment, having a guy for a best friend or a girl for a best friend is just the friendship you need. Don’t discount a friendship because it isn’t moving towards romance or because everyone says men and women aren’t meant to be friends.
So, befriend people who challenge you, support you, and love you for your past and encourage you in the present. Befriend people who care for you and respect you. Befriend people who see you for the wonderful person you are and not for the things they imagine you can be. But really, pursue friendships with people that you can do life with. Surround yourself with friends who make you happy, because that is the most important thing.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.