A Love Letter to Friendship

Written By Lorie Simonian

I’ve got a bone to pick with the whole wide world.

It’s no small one, either. I’m going straight for the wishbone. As Valentine’s Day is creeping ever closer, of course it has to do with the soul of the season—love, in all of its iterations. I’m here to argue that romantic love is egregiously overrated. As I’ve grown older and experienced that particular mounting young-adult pressure to date more, it’s dawned on me just how misguided I find the world’s obsession with romantic relationships to be. Or rather, I find the message that romantic relationships are the end-all-be-all goal of a worthwhile life to be ridiculous and silly. This is, in no small part, due to the fact that in glorifying romantic love, we constantly minimize another, equally fierce and tender love: that of the life-long friendship.

They’re there for the whole ride; your inner circle, those friends who see you through every phase, each breathless win, and every aching low. The ones you trust without question, who you never need to impress, who can practically read your mind as it runs. They’re the first ones you text, whether because you got the dream job or because you just read about the craziest celebrity drama on Twitter. You share the deepest laughs with them and live the wildest tales. You seek them by instinct. So why do we treat our dearest friendships as if they matter less than the elusive significant other? Doesn’t it feel like our society treats friends almost as stepping stones, interim companions that fill the gap between single and shiningly, victoriously taken? Is there truly some special magic that having a partner provides, with which friends couldn’t hope to compare?

For me, the answer is a hard no. In truth, my closest friends are the undoubted loves of my life. In the years I’ve known them, I’ve found myself lacking nothing—not company nor affection, encouragement or big joy. So much time and love have been poured into those relationships that they couldn’t help but bloom so rich and well-deep that I’ve had no time to ache for any other love. In fact, I think it has hindered my dating success because such friends set an insanely high standard for personhood, and so few others can compare. Time and time again, I have caught myself wishing I was with my friends, rather than on a boring date with Mr. Who-Cares, who is never interesting or funny or bright enough to meet my expectation of a good time.

I genuinely believe that if everybody sought passionate, devoted friendship with the same fervor we are constantly encouraged to seek romantic love, romance wouldn’t be half as complicated or messy. Why? Because so often, we reach for love simply as a way to fill the empty spaces life leaves behind.  But for what reason do we assume that friendship lacks the power to flood these gaps with love just as wholly as we expect romance to? To have a close friend—to be seen so clearly, held onto so tightly, all without any pressure of a “next step,” because the next step is a long life happily side-by-side; in what world could you ask for more?

All of this is not to say that romantic love is without its own beautiful, wonderful, life-changing, world-shaping attributes. I just think it’s high time we devoted more of ourselves to appreciating love in other forms, most especially when in the shape of dear friends. So, this Valentine’s Day, I encourage anybody reading this to take an extra moment and remind your friends what they mean to you and how much brighter your world is with them in it.