Whoever came up with the phrase “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” was clearly never asked if they were in a relationship.
I find this question so insufferable not because 95% of the time I consider myself single, but because it flaunts exactly how much we prioritize romantic and sexual love over platonic love.
It’s borderline impossible to make it through High School without finding yourself or your friend stumbling into The Relationship Cave. We quickly learn to think it’s normal that people enter romantic relationships and become less available. We accept the role of second best when our friends enter relationships, but also feel like it’s our responsibility to come to the rescue when their non-platonic partner falls off his or her or their precarious pedestal.
I get that there are few things more consuming than falling in love, but I think the root of our friendship neglect is also a society problem.
The stigma of being alone, often acutely targeted at (gasp!) women, is too powerful to ignore.
With a great partner comes great stability. Allegedly. Perks of being in a relationship include financial benefits, tangible proof of our desirability, safety, the promise of not being alone, and freedom from stigmas that want to label women as frigid bitches, ugly, or career obsessed.
Charmed, I’m sure.
Homophobia also plays a part in our devaluation of friendships. Because friendships are often between people of the same sex, people can be reluctant to seem too intimate or affectionate with friends.
Need proof? “Bromance”. Ugh. Better throw in a “no homo!” for good measure. How terrifying would it be if someone speculated that you and your bro were more than friends?
Just as troubling in a heteronormative world are friendships between men and women. The idea that men and women can engage in a platonic friendship is constantly challenged, leading both parties to partake in the incessant “just friends” battle cry.
Putting such a large emphasis on romantic and sexual relationships is problematic for a lot of different reasons. Expecting everything from one person puts an unnecessary strain on both partners and your friends will inevitably feel less valued.
As obvious as it sounds, we need to acknowledge that friendships are relationships – often really meaningful and fulfilling relationships that don’t deserve to be tossed to the side when someone we’re more sexually attracted to comes along.
One of the best things about the last guy I was sleeping with was his genuine interest in my friends. After asking me about my work/weekend/whatever, he would always ask how my best friends were doing. He recognized how important they were to me and would try to stay up-to-date on people he hadn’t even met.
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.