“Just a Friend” – An Unjust Phrase

The other day I ran into a schoolmate at the grocery store. I was chatting with a gentleman before she came along and halfway through the conversation she asked whether this man was ‘him’ [supposedly meaning my boyfriend]. I responded in the negative so she proceeded, “So he’s just a friend then?” In that moment I realised all the things about that phrase, ‘just a friend’, that peeved me so I quickly changed the subject.

In this post, I will try to explain why I never use nor acknowledge the phrase ‘just a friend’. I believe friendship is at the highest level of human relationships. A friend is someone you know and embrace in all their glory and obscurity. You are happy with the person and want nothing but the best for them. You love them, regardless of differences that may arise. In your mind, their efforts are akin to yours and you would bare your very soul before them.

The man in question was not my friend, so to respond affirmatively to this would be lying and if I denied, I would be rousing questions that require extensive explanations. This man was, at best, an acquaintance. We knew each other’s names, had mutual acquaintances and other things in common but we had no close association or any sort of intimacy. We didn’t truly know each other and the relationship we had was, essentially, without consequence. He was disposable, quite unlike a friend.

While sex is not to be regarded as unimportant, it doesn’t necessarily improve upon what was a friendship nor is it a requirement for a fulfilling relationship; plus you can always DIY. To me, a lover/sex partner is not more than a friend. Humans are capable of forming long or short term sexual relationships with people they barely know. To many, sex gives an illusion of intimacy and mutual fancy. Being ‘more than friends’ with someone you are merely having sex with is a terrible illusion – in most instances one doesn’t even have to be friends with a person to sustain a sexual relationship with them. I would imagine that a solid friendship should be worth more to us than a rickety marriage or any relationship that happens to involve sexual contact.

It is the sad reality that we are not usually romantically attracted to our friends; when this attraction exists it is not usually mutual although I must admit I have heard people say they married their best friend, which should be an ideal situation. Certainly, it is desirable to find both a friend and ‘lover’ in the same individual. The mutual respect, trust and concern that exist in a true friendship will enhance any sexual or romantic relationship as the terms would be derived with great care and the knowledge and openness you have of and with each other would likely diminish instances of hurt and secrecy.

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8 Comments

  1. Sixx
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Often times I heard persons using the term “associates” instead of “friend” when introducing one another. Nice composition btw

  2. Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    I agree that friendship is the highest level of human relationship. The difference is that is is also your choose to pick your friends unlike your family that you have no control over. I feel that having friendship in a marriage or relationship only allows you to have more respect for each other because you will not want to mess up the friendship.. Great Post !!!

  3. danique
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    i do agree with u. the term ‘friend’ is used for everything nowadays that ppl start making up words to use instead.

  4. Camille
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    I love it. I was in the same situation and I do agree. Friendship is most important before a relationship even start. Any person I would get into a relationship with has to be my best friend where communication would be the foundation of our relationship. Normally people rush into relationships without getting to know each other first. We pick and choose our friends. My friends are considered a part of my family and I would do anything for them other people refer to their friends as associates which still bothers me. How do they arrive at such conclusion?

  5. Ray
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    Great & insightful opinion article Karee. Looking forward to more from you.

  6. saida
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    a friend is a valuable person to me and for that i use the term “Associates” instead.
    when someone say “just a friend” merely meaning that u have no sexual relationship with them….interesting insight….i like it.- looking forward for more.

  7. Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    Just got the change to read it…..good points. However, my situation with this lies in areas where it seems as if ur saying friendship is superior to all other human interactions…..Well, it ur opinion…..well written but i agree with like 75% of this and what i think is my opinion and ur opinions are evident in the piece!

  8. Jalna
    Posted January 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    People have this notion that men and women can not be friends and you and your partners relationship is only based in romantic love. Every person that I have had a relationship with, few though they may be, was and is a friend, some are closer than others, however the basis has always been friendship. Good piece.

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