Relationship advice, at some point, seemed to always go back to one point: your partner should be your best friend. Among pretty Pinterest quotes and “signs your boyfriend/husband is also your best friend”, you find a growing number of discordant voices, but the consensus used to be that the recipe for happiness is that your partner should be your best friend (and I’m in the 22% against 40% who answered my partner isn’t my best friend in a Metro survey). And if that’s the case for you, and you are happy that way, that’s great, good for you. But, personally, I think it’s a dangerous blanket statement that should be evaluated case by case. Every couple is best positioned to know whether it works for them.
The justifications as to why you must are a number, but a common one is that you would be betraying intimacy if you opened up to someone outside the couple about problems. Yet, someone you trust can offer a fresh and more objective perspective, because they are not inside the situation. There are some hard decisions I would rather take to a friend willing to give me an ultimatum, than a loving partner who would “support me whatever I choose”. Because I need my partner to support me whatever I choose, but it doesn’t help my decision-making process (which relies on letting things out to someone else and back and forth until the picture becomes clearer). It’s true that my boyfriend has acted as a sounding board for things that I would rather discuss with him alone, but I had to basically force him to pick a side and give me some boundaries like a friend for the time being.
It would also be really weird to get engaged and have no one to run excitedly to, asking to be my maid of honour. The maid of honour is the closest to the bride after the mother of the bride, what do you do when you are getting married but your best friend is the person who cannot see you the night before the wedding? The maid of honour will be there when you’re getting dressed, and will be in charge of a lot of things you need someone you’re intimate with, and extremely trustworthy. Unless you have a sister, and one you are on good terms with while at that, it will be among your circle of friends that you will find this person. Growing older, I have become more intentional about cultivating female friendships, especially in the context of my faith journey. I wouldn’t trade that for a soundbite that sounds really romantic if I’m giving a speech.
I was the person who told my late grandmother’s best friend the news of her passing, and it still haunts me. They were two widows, and once one was gone, the other had no one left. It was the most heart-breaking thing I have done in my life. It was even worse than my grandmother dying itself. Maybe some people lose their best friends before they lose their partners, but it’s still good to have one or the other to fall back on. It’s also a strange thing to think that your partner is your best friend: unless you ended up with your best friend, what happened to the person who was your best friend when single? It makes me sad to think some people may have never experience the kind of friendship that is thicker than blood if their best friend is so easily discarded from the title, as soon as a relationship begins.
Lastly, I think that the idea of our partner as our best friend cheapens what marriage means. In fact, I think some of this applies to people who are dating (or courting, if you are the “dating is not Biblical” type) or engaged too. Being with someone is a great deal more than just friendship. Of course friendship is necessary, and I would consider my boyfriend one of my best friends also because he was a friend before he became a boyfriend. Still, the idea of my partner as my best friend sounds not only like I am diminishing his role in my life, but also like I am diminishing my life to being someone’s partner. My life didn’t start when a man put a ring on it, which actually was a sapphire necklace; when he decided that he wanted to be with me, he also took on my friends as if we were a buy one get 3 offer.
Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2018 on the subject “Friendship”. Find the rest of the series here.