Dynamic

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.

Lol so I presented some of my research at a conference a couple of weeks ago and someone from the audience literally brought up my Goodreads profile. I appreciate both of my bffs for finding humor in this incident with me, and here’s a text convo with one of them! Yay friendship.

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!

8 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

8 responses to “Dynamic

  1. You’re so busy! Hope the PhD plans work and the move isn’t too hard. I don’t have expectations of my friends but then it’s like what I said when Claire was driving me to the ER yesterday after I fell during our run – don’t wait for me there, after all my parents left me at the ER when I was 15 that time so I don’t have high expectations (she wasn’t allowed in because of Covid but she came to the door with me, arranged for her partner to bring Matthew up there with some stuff for me, and they all waited till I’d given an update, then took him home and was cross with me when I got the bus home) but that’s my issue, I think! I don’t have conversations about our friendships with my friends but I think that’s mainly because we’re British to be honest … But I admire your intentionality and care and I’m glad you have good people around you. Sorry for guy who didn’t communicate like them, though – remember, you will have a kind of shorthand with them a new person might not have?

    • Thanks so much for admiring my intentionality and care with my friends, that means a lot! I hope you are doing okay after your stint in the ER after your run, that sounds potentially painful. In terms of the shorthand, def see that point, though I think I can detect pretty easily within 10 to 15 minutes whether a man (or anyone) possesses a similar level of passion, intelligence, empathy, etc. (:

      • Re the ER, well, I didn’t break my hand but I nearly did and it’s jarred me enough psychologically to stop me running or even wanting to, which is a bit of a shock and something I’m going to have to deal with.

        Re the 10-15 minute thing, we all say that. I will just add in that I met Matthew as a friend and slowly fell for him, and at least one good friend I have and one person I am in an organisation with I misjudged at first and they’ve turned out a solid, good friend (who I actually do discuss our friendship with!!) and a decent person, so you never quite know … But it’s your choice how you choose people to continue to interact with, of course!

  2. Thanks for introducing me to the word amatonormativity, even though I will probably never use it hehehe, because I love that sense of “discovering” a concept has been encapsulated in a term when, previously, it was just a pattern of behaviour that one has observed playing out. It’s sad that that individual hasn’t had the kind of friendships that would allow them to understand how rewarding regular and meaningful chats and check-ins (even when they’re short) can be between people. And it’s hard to imagine how they would ever have that kind of experience, because anyone looking for a reciprocal relationship, with substantial give-and-take, will probably get frustrated with that idea that relationships don’t need tending. Offer-and-receive, receive-and-offer…it’s not hard. But, as you’ve observed, it’s not common either. Glad to hear that your applications are complete; I didn’t realize/understand how that would compare to medical internships, but that makes sense. I hope, wherever you end up moving, you find a way to make it a home, while you’re there.

    • Yes I also love the concept of finding a word or a series of words that helps illustrate a concept you’ve noticed yet have not named explicitly for yourself. Totally agree with everything you write about the importance of give-and-take. I feel like the notion that give-and-take only occurs in a romantic relationship is so problematic and predisposes people to only invest in that relationship, occasionally or often with people who aren’t worthy of it. Thank you for your kind words about my applications, and I will keep folks updated here about where I am moving. (:

  3. priya

    i’m really glad you have bffs where you know where you stand with them and can have fun with while being mature and caring about each other. interesting to see how you check in with your best friends at least once a week! this is very different for me -i only talk to my best friends every month or so but talk to other friends several times a day, mainly about uni work.

    hope your move goes well and your friendships remain solid throughout ❤

    also, hilarious to see you asterisking m*n HAHAHA

    • Awww yes thank you for your support re: my bffs! Means a lot. And appreciate you sharing about how much contact you have with bffs and work friends, as I think more awareness and general conversation about friendship frequency, vibes, styles, etc. can be helpful in a society that does not spend enough time focusing on friendship.

      Grateful for your warm wishes re: my move and friendships, and haha yes asterisking m*n is what m*n deserve tbh (:

  4. Oh gosh… my apologies for being late here.

    You have such wonderful and loving bffs! I checked in with my cousin (who’s really more of a very good friend) yesterday after many months. We quickly caught up and had a good texting session. A few weeks ago, a friend from university surprised me by showing up in town. I wasn’t able to meet up with him but we had a nice long chat over the phone. I haven’t spoken to him in a couple of years. I’m trying to be better at keeping in touch with my friends. It’s so easy to lose a friendship.

    I like that you prioritize your friendships despite the very busy schedule that you have.

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