I caught myself the other day lamenting how a girl I really like wants, so far, to be “just friends.” Is friendship really just a “just?” Society tends to drive home a false rank to friends and “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Friends are somehow inferior to the heralded “boy/girl” friend status. But really what separates them? A romantic relationship just has a sexual element that friendship lacks. It also has an element of exclusivity. That’s it. In many, if not most, romantic relationships the couple are not even best friends. They simply feel sexual attraction and lack shared interests or views.
Romantic relationships are often inferior to friendship. What happens when someone is dumped? They turn to their buddies for comfort. Who do the lovers turn when they are having a spat? Most certainly don’t talk it through with each other. No, they talk to their friends. Friendship must be the basis of romance. The couple needs to turn to each other when arguing and comfort each other as outside friends. If friendship lacks in a romance, it will fail. There are no maybes. There are no perhaps. Without friendship first romantic relationships will fail.
We must be cautioned, however. There are different types of friendships. Some friendships will last throughout life. No amount of distance or disconnect can sever these friendships. Other friendships are just seasonal. They last a few years and slowly fade. These relationships are still true friendships; they are often life changing. A boulder can change the course of a stream, but the stream’s head waters will never encounter that boulder again. Some people have a series of seasonal friendships. Most people will only have one or two lifelong friends. The stickler, though, is we cannot know what type of friendship we have until after we look back upon it. However, there is a third type of friendship.
The final type is a working friendship. These friendships are a combination of seasonal and lifelong. They last for life as long as they are worked on. They require daily communication and work to maintain. Granted, the work is small: listening, being compassionate, selflessness, and patience. A lifelong friend is one who will take any beating and stick around. A seasonal friendship will hurt when it ends in time. A working friendship is one who will taking any beating but will walk away when the abuse is too much. Working friendships are actually superior to the other type types; they require consistent effort. This allows the partners to develop a sense of appreciation for each other that often lacks from lifelong friendships. Seasonal friendships sense of loss reinforces the desire to work to sustain a working friendship with its possibility of end. Working relationships must have similar (but not completely identical) interests, views, morality, and general likes. People who do not differ in views at any time have no room for mutual growth; they wither and break apart. People with too drastic differences have little common ground to share; they lack roots and are tossed by the wind.
Marriage is just an expression of dedicated friendship. Romance based upon lifelong friendships leads to quiet nights apart watching television and both taking each other for granted. A seasonal friendship will end in a break up. A working friendship can lead to continual appreciation, attraction, and love throughout the partner’s lifetimes as long as they daily work at the relationship. The work, again, isn’t difficult. Just place the interest of your partner above your own. Do little things to brighten their day. If you are dating or married: drop a note in their lunch; clean the dishes in the sink; draw a bath after a stressful day. Simply be considerate. If your partner has a pet peeve don’t kick it.
“Just friends” insults the importance of friendship. Romantic relationships are rarely superior to real friends despite what television wants people to think. Without friendship dating is just a day. Without friendship a marriage isn’t a marriage. Many times best friends are more married than two people who said the words.
Next time you are talking about relationships be sure to say “just a girl/boy friend” instead of “just friends.”
A few more ideas to help with a working relationship:
- Give a massage
- Visit during a work break
- For guys: Send her a cute animal picture on a bad day
- For girls: Take him to a game or sports shop or show
- Randomly buy a favorite treat
- Do a few of their chores
- Hug and express appreciation
- Be playful
- Be considerate and selfless