Why friendships are often more rewarding than relationships
“Who was that guy you went out with back in sixth form?” My friend asks, not looking up from her phone.
“Which one?” I ask, shamelessly.
She pauses, frowning. “I don’t know. The guy with the stupid fringe.”
That didn’t narrow it down. After a good thirty minutes trying to remember, we gave up.
It’s not that romantic relationships aren’t important to me, it’s just that they tend to be less long lasting, meaningful and productive than many of my friendships. Sure, there are relationships that I will always remember (the time I cried so much on my boyfriend that he had to wash mascara out of his shirt, the time I was allergic to my first girlfriend’s lipgloss) but equally, I’ve had great moments with people I haven’t kissed. Sure, I’m young, I’ve still got to experience at least 3 more heartbreaks, but I really don’t get all this fuss about relationships meaning more than friendships.
I’ve had friends from when I was sixteen or seventeen that have lasted long after various boyfriends and girlfriends have come and gone. In many ways, the guys who haven’t got off with me have stayed in my life much, much longer. And to be honest, they mean more to me for that.
It’s a common scenario for me:
I am opposite a FRIEND at a dinner/cinema/ice skating/football occasion and he takes a deep gulp and looks at me like I’m interrogating him. I squirm awkwardly for fifteen minutes until he gets up the courage to stutteringly tell me he ‘wants to take things to the next level’. I try, very awkwardly, to laugh it off and say that I prefer my FRIEND as a FRIEND.
Invariably, they take this as meaning that I think they are a troll, hideous and undateable. Because in some weird Hollywood world, the guy who gets turned down is a complete failure and loser. Newsflash:
I’ve turned down guys who, quite frankly, I should have been flattered they knew I existed. If I like you enough to hang out with you, ask your opinion on the DUP and buy you a coffee, I definitely do not think you are a freak. It’s simply that, more often than not, I just don’t want you to get in my knickers.
There could be hundreds of reasons for this but if I’m very general that is simply down to chemistry. Friendship chemistry and sexual chemistry are different things. I might love your taste in music, but really not enjoy your beard. I might desperately want to make out with you, but the idea of discussing Jeremy Corbyn with you horrifies me. Different people connect in different ways. And I’m a pretty platonic person. I enjoy the not-so-sexy parts of human interaction a lot.
In fact, if I value you enough to be more than a fling or a stupidly short term 20-something relationship, you are important to me. I don’t think less of you or even want a less close, comfortable friendship. Anyone who knows me well knows I recoil from any touchy feely interaction anyway, so you aren’t missing much. And I’m a terrible girlfriend. I get anxious. And I am a terrible cook. I think documentaries are fun.
So please, please please please don’t feel that you mean less to me because you are my friend. You aren’t JUST a friend. You are a friend. And chances are you are going to be around a lot longer than anyone I decide I’m going to marry at 21.