We Don't Place Enough Emphasis on Friendship

Friendship and loyalty have always been one of the most valued areas of my life. I grew up as an only child and lived in a different state from the majority of my extended family, thus, friends were an essential aspect to the way I grew to understand the world. This experience, paired with my voracious appetite for fantasy books that stressed the power of love and friendship, (love you always, Harry Potter!) have ensured that I place being a good and loyal friend above almost anything else. Despite having been fortunate to have a life full of friends who share my view on the importance of friendship, growing up taught me that these values are not nearly as universal as I once thought.

This article is by no means meant to be some kind of holier-than-thou sermon on friendship. However, I do think it is important to examine the way friendship is viewed in our society. Although friendship is undoubtedly valued in modern American society, it too often takes a backseat to romantic relationships. The importance of finding “The One” is constantly being pushed on us from all sides. This message, which tries to make us believe that we are incomplete without an S.O., frames platonic relationships in a poor light. After all, what is the purpose of friends in a world where loneliness can only be staved off by a romantic partner? The word “love” has largely been removed from the context of friendship and restricted to either familial or romantic spheres. Even if it’s true, how often do you actually tell your close friends how much they mean to you and that you genuinely love and appreciate them as a person? Probably not as much as you said it to that douche bag you dated for six months. I think it’s time to remove the notion that “love” exists exclusively for blood relatives and romantic partners.

Though very few people legitimately believe that having an S.O. is the only important aspect of life, the way being in a relationship has been placed on a pedestal is actually harmful to both romantic and platonic relationships. There is the common (and toxic) impression that a significant other should single-handedly fulfill all of their partner’s emotional needs. That’s a lot of pressure to put on any one person, particularly if the relationship is new. As with anything in life, it is important to maintain a healthy balance within your relationships.

Though maintaining friendships as an adult can often become complicated through increasing commitments and distance, I promise you will not regret making time for friends. In an era where self-reported loneliness has been increasing and where social media can create the feeling of being an outsider looking into someone’s life (rather than being actively involved), it is becoming more important than ever to foster and nurture meaningful platonic relationships. Embrace your close friendships with the same fervor that you did with your childhood BFFL. Now go tell your friends just how special they are!

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