Whenever the word “friend” is mentioned in dating scenarios, I saw it as falling into one of three categories:
- friend with benefits
- being friend-zoned
- loving someone who is also your best friend
The first category is – in my view – a much maligned one. If you are able to separate sex from love, then having a respectful arrangement for the scratching of that itch can be most useful. Where it can prove dangerous is if you’re liable to persuade yourself it then has the possibility to become something more. So potentially useful, but handle with care.
Is friend-zoning a construct of rom-coms (When Harry met Sally I’m looking at you)? To me, friendship and physical attraction are two separate boxes. I’m not denying that some people choose to conflate them but, like everything else I can’t control, I choose to give it no intellectual or emotional energy.
My primary focus here is on the third category – should your romantic partner also be your best friend? Let’s start with what you expect from your best friend. Go on, write it down. Then compare it with that list you wrote about what you want from your future life. That could help you to decide if you want your life partner to also be your best friend, or whether you want different things from each.
It always seemed unreasonable that you’d expect to get everything you need from one person, or that you should be expected to be everything for one person but, Covid-19 and its multiple periods of lockdown confirmed my view that you are undoubtedly better placed to handle life’s challenges if you do get your important needs met in one person. If those aspects which they don’t meet are a priority to you, then there is likely to be trouble ahead. Let me give you a couple of examples:
I met a gorgeous woman who believed her marriage was a good one until, while going through treatment for cancer, her husband turned cold on her. Why? Because after radiation therapy, he complained she smelled odd and refused to share a bed with her. I’m happy to report she’s now (genuinely) happily married to someone else.
While dating, I met a newly divorced man who appeared to be ticking all my boxes, and was clearly well liked in my social circle. Then a trusted friend told me he’d initiated divorce proceedings when his wife was diagnosed with a limiting medical condition. I didn’t judge him for that decision, but I wouldn’t proceed for I knew I, too, had medical challenges.
These experiences meant I put certain personal qualities higher up my list than previously – those of trust and loyalty. It meant I changed my focus to finding someone I could trust to mind my back in the trenches. I trust – completely – that my partner would not behave the way either of those men. So, is he my best friend? I wouldn’t have said so at the outset, but he absolutely is now.
Is what you expect from a best friend the same or different to what you expect from a life partner? Is it ideal for them to be the same person?
© 2022, Debs Carey