Life Partners

Several years ago, I met a woman in college who I will call P. P told me about how her boyfriend, K, once scheduled a virtual call to catch up with one of his best friends. His best friend did not show up to the call and did not let K know in advance. When I asked P if K intended to let his best friend know how this failure to attend the call affected K’s feelings, P shrugged and said that K did not have that type of relationship with this best friend. When P told me this, I thought to myself, no wonder K relies so much on P for his emotional support, if he does not even bring up with his best friends when they hurt his feelings.

This behavior reminds me of people who devalue friendship and prioritize their romantic partners. Earlier in my 20’s I would get more upset about this, and though I still do detest amatonormativity I think my feelings have softened. I suspect this softening has occurred because of how close I feel with my two best friends, both of whom I have had stable deep bonds with for several years now. I love both of my bffs for many reasons, including though not limited to their humor, kindness, intelligence, communicativeness, and orientation toward social justice. We talk multiple times a week and text often. Because of them, I do not consider myself “single,” only “romantically single.” Because of them, if I do ever date a m*n which I feel is less likely than “Hype Boy” by NewJeans not being the best song ever released on this planet I will refer to him as my “romantic partner” and not just my “partner,” because I already have life partners in my best friends.

At the same time, I recognize that not all friendships need this level of depth. “Friendship” as a concept can feel complicated because the term can refer to relationships of so many varying intensities – as a con, that may make friendships easier to devalue, though as a pro that means you can construct for yourself what type of friendships you want. For example, I made friends in the D.C. area during graduate school who I catch up with less frequently than my bffs, though I still care about and appreciate these friends a lot and how we show up for each other. I also have friends who I met earlier in life who I catch up with every few months or so and I look forward to those calls too.

As I approach my 30’s omfg I can’t believe I wrote that I literally started this blog when I was 15 omfg I’ve basically put my whole life on the internet well better than dating a mediocre man so and reflect on what makes strong friendships, in this moment I think of two things. First, I think about to what extent someone invests in friendships generally. How much emotional labor and accountability will someone actually give to a relationship outside of the heteronormative nuclear family or romantic/wedding industrial complex? Second, I consider shared chemistry – to what extent do two people have compatible personalities and hobbies? When I consider my two best friends, I cherish our shared love for reading and writing, humor, cultivating self-worth outside of romantic relationships and work, social justice, and talking about our thoughts and feelings. Not everyone enjoys those same things and that’s okay!

When I rewatched Fleabag a little while ago, I loved how it portrayed the lasting impact of grief over losing a best friend. I think the show took friendship seriously, how it has the power to shape our attachment styles for worse and for better if we invest in it. I know at some point my best friendships will end, whether because of death or some other cruel circumstance. Now, though, one of my best friends just started a cool writing-related 9 to 5 job she’s enjoying and finding purpose in, and my other best friend wrote some kickass short stories that I’m so excited for the world to someday see. They’re both visiting me in September and I’m looking forward to showing them around town. When I go on my little jogs and walks while listening to “Hype Boy,” with the song’s frenetic synths, pumping bass, and dreamy atmosphere – I think of my relationship with myself, and I think of my relationships with them.

A week and a half ago I walked into the lobby of my apartment building and saw this box, walked past it, then thought “wait a second…”
… and I soon discovered that one of my bffs had bought me several tubs of Jeni’s! As a sweet congrats to progressing through residency, applying to jobs, thriving as an empowered gaysian, the whole deal. When I saw that box in the apartment hallway I was like, what are the chances someone else in this random Cambridge apartment received a box of Jeni’s ice cream lolol.

How do you feel about how friendships and relationships generally are going in your life? What motivates you to invest in certain relationships more or less than others? General reactions to this post? Omg I’ve had this post written for probably around a week and a half and just made time to write it up now, whew time flies when you’re on the academic job market and still making room for hobbies and such. BlackPink’s new song “Pink Venom” comes out this Friday I’m sooo excited wheeee anyway until next post!

6 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

6 responses to “Life Partners

  1. Well, I told my husband yesterday that I don’t really have time and emotional energy available to help him with his CBT homework because of my own CBT homework (we are on different programmes with the same organisation; I have web-based modules with oversight from a therapist; he has a group-based weekly zoom) but mainly because I am investing a lot of emotional energy in BF Em (trying to find a house she can bear to live in with room for her children to come back to after university having been forced to sell the family home by the ex-husband who followed his dick to Australia), Good friend L (just out of hospital to help her lungs settle after Covid affected her lung condition; has severe enduring eating disorder, had to be tube-fed in there, thought we were going to lose her; still do), and Good Friend A (rheumatoid arthritis flare so bad that Monday when I was meant to just pop up to collect a key she told me not to come because she was in a state, I jumped in an uber and did her breakfast and popped out her pills so she could have her breakfast and take her pills, saw her box of painkillers and made her promise again that she wouldn’t get so low she used them in a damaging way). Other less-close friends are variously in hospital with Covid but got antivirals because she has metastasized breast cancer; unable to run after getting injured training to be a running coach; about to go on potentially very side-effecty drugs for a horrible condition and panicking about it. I do invest positive energy in having nice times with friends, too, but they definitely come, well, it seems first and I should really check in with husband …!

    • Wow so much is going on in your life and the lives of your friends! Thank you for sharing with this specific level of detail it helps everything you and your loved ones are going through feel vivid for sure. I hope that everyone you care about, including yourself, can find themselves in less troubling times soon. I appreciate all you’re doing for yourself and your friends and your husband. Sending much warmth and strength!

  2. I continue to admire the deep friendships you’ve created and nurtured over the years with your bffs. I don’t think there are a lot of people with the type of friends you have. I also like the term romantic partner rather than partner and how you’re breaking conventional thinking.

    You and your ice cream! That’s just sweet of your bff to get it for you. Do the delivery people just leave things in the lobby? Or is it with a security guard?

    Take care and enjoy the ice cream.

    • Aw thank you for this encouragement Matt! Yes I am so appreciative of my bffs and that we can breakthrough conventional thinking surrounding relationships.

      Yes the delivery people left it in my lobby! No security guard. So far that hasn’t been an issue though we’ll see. I’ve eaten a bunch of the ice cream already it’s been fab. Hope this week is going well for you!

  3. *Hype Boy playing in background*
    What a great song, and you’ve described it perfectly. I think I’ve always enjoyed your song rec’s (at least, I can’t think of one that I didn’t like) but this is my favourite so far.
    You make a lot of great points about relationships and I appreciate how carefully you’ve expressed different ways of feeling about the other relationships in your life that aren’t as intense as these two, but are still meaningful in their own way. As time passes, it’s hard to predict, just how some of those might evolve into different kinds of connections, more pivotal as life unfolds and “stuff happens”.
    It’s good to hear that you’re adjusting well (and have ice cream) in your new setting!

    • Yesss Hype Boy is a high-quality song for sure! Thank you yes I did my best to honor what different types of relationships bring to my life aside from the intense love I have with my two best friends. I agree too with the importance of being open to how time and situations either change or do not change the shape and flavor of our relationships. Appreciate you taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment!

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