A million years ago I read this article entitled Your Boyfriend is Not Your Friend, and I was livid. At the time, I had just started to date my person, but I was already offended by the idea that I couldn’t consider him a friend. In fact friendship was essentially how our relationship began. As time wore on, I even dared to hope that we would be the bestest of friends throughout our lives. I understand the central thesis of the article was relatively reasonable. You should have friends outside your significant other and you can’t expect to get everything from a single person.
If you do rely on one person for everything, you’ll be in a pretty rough spot if/when the relationship ends. Plus, who are you going to complain to when he’s being a complete...guy? He’s certainly not going to get why your impression of his inability to remove his disgusting dishes from the bedroom is so hilarious. And, of course, there’s something to be said for maintaining outside interests so you don’t become predictable and one note.
On the flipside, you need to be able to speak more bluntly with your beloved than you ever would with a pal. She doesn’t need you telling her to get her finances together, so you can afford to send your unconceived children to that ridiculous private school.
All this being established, I think it’s dangerous to suggest your boyfriend/husband/manperson isn’t your friend. Okay dangerous for some. My Dudething is one of my favorite people in the world. Whether it’s on the couch watching Community for the 18th round or pretending to be people who enjoy biking or actually being people who enjoy a tipple, I prefer to have him next to me more than anyone else. Yes I realize that is gross and almost unnervingly codependent.
But, on the other side of it I see couples who seldom do anything together, and it bums me out. I know that’s hardly fair. Some people work incredibly well living parallel lives that intersect at exactly enough moments to maintain a healthy, interesting and connected relationship. Naturally, there are some people who simply can’t stand being around each other longer than the 8 hours they spend dozing in the same bed, but I don’t think leaving your spouse at home every time you go out necessarily means something is rotten in Denver.
I more or less just hate the idea that I wouldn’t be able to share experiences with my Person. Even when he drives me nuts because he keeps interrupting this blog writing to tell me about how conch shells are iconic only because they were used to kill Piggie and can he please share his analysis around what that means for sea life as a whole. Because who the hell am I going to vent about these moments with if he isn’t next to me feeling just as 30 as I am?
Yeah we need separate guy time/girl time or what have you, but he’s always invited to hang out with my friends and vice versa. I only play the guy night/girl night card when I don’t wanna hang out with his dopey friends, because they bug me. Even that’s a rare occurrence because, for the most part, we mutually enjoy the people we’ve made space for in our lives.
There’s one passage in particular within the aforementioned article that left me feeling particularly disagreeable:
Suddenly, I find myself talking about something at work that frustrated me. This is serious. My gentleman-friend listens carefully, hugs me genuinely then blows things off with a joke. If this were my best girl friend, she would have validated my emotions and then added to them with her own story. Then we would have laughed and felt stronger for having talked it out.
Six words pop into my head: “Your boyfriend is not your friend.”
Are we seriously suggesting that we can’t expect the men in our life to validate our feelings? To take us seriously and not dismiss trials and tribulations with a joke? To act like an adult and talk about emotions and frustrations in a way that strengthens our relationships? That’s asinine.
Part of being in a healthy relationship for me is that the man I chose to be with for the remainder of my life will be a friend throughout that life. He will take care to not just listen to what I’m feeling, but actually probe into where even the most bullshit of my emotions come from and help me come to some sort of resolution. Even if that resolution is those people are nonsense and we are Team Green forever.
Anything less than that and I’d start to feel like I’d have to be a separate person with my spouse than I am with my friends, and I loathe having to silo who I am in my most intimate of relationships. When I can be who I am completely, fully, unabashedly, those are the relationships that recharge me. Coming home to someone who recharges me is at the very least efficient and, honestly, kind of necessary for someone as neurotic as I am.