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.