I love my closest friends just as much, if not more than I love Jeni’s ice cream, “Lovesick Girls” by Blackpink, sashaying away from mediocre white men, “Feel Special” by Twice, and celebrating the joy and empowerment of femme people of color combined. Thus, I feel annoyed when I see social media posts like this one:
On one hand, I get it. I do have friends, who I care about and respect and appreciate, who I see or talk with on an infrequent basis, maybe once a month, every few months, or a year. These friends share similar values to me in relation to social justice and compassion for other people. I like the flexibility of checking in with them on a nonrigid timeline, and I recognize the benefits of having casual, yet still meaningful social support in addition to my relationship with myself and my relationships with my two best friends.
At the same time, I feel angry and sad about the notion that we should never have expectations of our friends, especially our closer friends. I feel like this lack of expectation serves to perpetuate amatonormativity and heteronormativity by positioning romantic love as superior and more worthwhile of intentional investment. Imagine if the above Facebook post said something like, “I’ll never understand when my friends complain that their boyfriends don’t text them back for over a month when they’ve been busy. If I’m really in love with a guy idc if he doesn’t respond to me for a YEAR, I’d still date him and treat him like the person I want to spend my life with forever. Ppl feel so entitled to ur time nowadays (#BuyLovesickGirlsOniTunes).”
I am not suggesting that with every friend you have, you talk with them multiple times a week or engage in rigorous conversation about your standards. However, I do think that we should feel comfortable to have those serious talks and expectations with close friends if we want to. I talk with both of my best friends about twice a week each, and with one of them we text throughout the day on most of days of the week too. With my bffs, we listen to one another and have explicit check ins about the status of our friendship, and we feel committed to working through conflict if it ever arises. This level of intensity and intentionality factors into how I have always felt happy and content without a romantic partner. My bffs, as well as my relationship with myself, provide me with all the emotional support a m*n could give me anyway.
If one of these two friends randomly ghosted me for a year, I would feel upset and I would feel justified in feeling upset. I suspect that these two friends would feel the same way if I ghosted them. This anticipated negative emotion does not indicate a deficit in the friendship, rather, it highlights the deep love and care that we feel for one another. When a close person in your life hurts you through action or inaction, it makes sense to feel something – that means you invested yourself in the relationship, that you gave a part of yourself that matters.
The other day I gently rejected this guy who came across as at least somewhat into me
though he was definitely into me physically based on the [REDACTED] of him [REDACTED] that I have on my phone, anyway. For about half an hour I felt confused about my decision to reject him: he identified as a queer man of color, he worked in a helping profession, and he communicated his feelings with me in a direct and mature way. To resolve this confusion, I created a little table in my mind where I compared him to my two best friends. I realized that he lacked the dynamic conversational style both of my bffs possess, that aligns with their general creative spirits and quick wits. While I do not expect a future romantic partner to be perfect, just as I do not expect perfection from my friends nor myself, I so appreciate my best friends for helping me set the bar high so I do not settle for someone that would hurt me or bore me.
Over the past several weeks I have worked on finalizing my applications for internship, the final year of my PhD program which basically acts as the psychologist equivalent of med school residency. While I feel excited about potentially moving to another part of the United States, I also experience some apprehension about maybe leaving behind the area I have lived in for the past four going on five years. At the same time, I feel so comforted knowing that wherever I go, I can still expect to bask in the love of my bffs, just a FaceTime, Skype call, or plane ride away.
Okay it has been awhile since I have posted! I’ve been preoccupied with my internship/residency applications, clinical work and a bunch of research projects, however I want to ensure my blog continues to thrive so here I am. What are your thoughts on friendship and how to prioritize it if you want to? I will say that it’s taken me awhile to find the bffs who invest in friendship to a similar extent as me, as I def have had friends where I thought they’d prioritize friendship more and then didn’t, however I learned from those experiences too. General reactions to this post? Until the next one!