As February 14th rolls around, we are bombarded with ads about the perfect Valentines’ gift and how to spend the perfect day with our significant others. Love is in the air, as pink, white, and red candy, chips, and cereal boxes fill grocery store shelves.
As someone who will be decidedly single on Valentine’s day, I want to discuss the quiet, undetected love: love between friends. Scientists, researchers, philosophers, and poets have all greatly scrutinized the many dimensions of romantic and familial love. However, the culture at large often forgets about the powerful bond of friendship.
When we were younger, it was much easier to find and spend time with friends due to the proximity of people our age and social backgrounds in schools. In university, we have to find and maintain new friendships while balancing a slew of other responsibilities. Especially during the isolation of the pandemic, it has become easier to forget to cultivate old and new friendships while worrying about school, work, family, romantic relationships, and the sad state of the world around us.
Science Journalist Lydia Denworth explains in her book “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond,” how maintaining healthy friendships is as important a habit as meditation, exercise, or a healthy diet. Denworth asserts that most people, as they get older, tend to sacrifice spending time with their friends for work or family.
We start to view hanging out with friends as indulgent when in reality the intimacy, emotional connection, and support we find in friends is invaluable.
So if we should prioritize reaching out to and hanging out with them, then why is there such silence in the media about the love between friends?
One such reason could be attributed to the inherent silent nature of friendship. As one of the most accessible types of relationships, friendship lets everyone involved maintain their individuality. The gift of companionship is a uniquely equal relationship in which both individuals choose to be together without having any romantic or familial pressures.
It is linked by silent reciprocity that is neither loud nor demanding. Instead, my friends are my net when I fall from the tightrope of deadlines and stress. They are the sweaters I cry my eyes out on when everything goes wrong. They are my soft, warm blanket on a cold, cold night.
While romantic love is sometimes crazy and sudden, familial love sometimes heavy and demanding, you will always have the steady and comforting love between friends to fall back on. Steady and comforting may not be the most glamorous of descriptors but those late-night conversations, bitter ranting sessions, and moments of glorious mutual respect and intellectual agreement are what keep us trudging forward on the path of life.
Sir. Francis Bacon once said “that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends; without which the world is a wilderness…I have given a rule…if he does not have a friend, he may quit the stage.” Without my friends, the world would be a wilderness I would not know how to navigate.
So here’s to the quiet, beautiful love between friends. Go tell your friends you love and value them, and be sure to tag @hercampusjsu.