As we’re approaching another February 14th and everyone’s telling us to celebrate romantic love, what I really want to shout from the rooftops is how much I love the ladies in my life.
As we get older, “love” takes many different forms. It used to be that we loved our parents and we loved the boy next door with the crooked smile. Expanding my definition of love and who I love has led me to reflect on how important my girlfriends are.
Men are great for lots of things but really, where would I be without you, girlfriend?
For starters, I’d be an emotional disaster because it’s you who’ll drop everything to hear what a jerk my kid is being or how I just binge-ate a bag of Oreos because I’m worried about my job. I share things with you I don’t share with anyone else. You know my history, my insecurities, my quirks. There’s an exhilarating freedom that comes from being your friend, from being seen so clearly, warts and all.
And for that, I thank you.
In romance, we often reveal ourselves slowly, in increments, sometimes taking years to let someone all the way in. But you and I got to the good stuff right away, confiding our deepest fears and intimate details faster than you could say “overshare.” What frustrates many men is the same thing that powers our friendship because when I ask you what you’re thinking, you don’t clam up, sigh audibly or tell me what I want to hear. You pull up a chair, pour me a glass and we get into it.
Women are biologically programmed to provide comfort and closeness. We are known as the softer sex, the nurturers, which is probably why female friendships are such an important part of our lives: we know what each other needs and we’re equipped to give it. But closeness doesn’t just come from knowing and sharing all, it also comes from saying nothing; from sharing space and silence without needing to fill it. I love how we can transition from finishing each other’s sentences to not speaking for days without anything between us changing.
Friendships require time and effort, and sometimes we’re out of sync. Sometimes you give more, sometimes I give more. But I know you’ll be there when I need you. You’re the first one to tell me I deserve that promotion, cookie or new pair of shoes and you’re the last person to judge me.
Some days I could teach a master class on life and some days I’m a raging dumpster fire that cannot be reasoned with. Either way, you’re there for it. You have my back for the big moments and the day-to-day stuff. You’re my sounding board and my compass.
Falling in love is a drug like no other but the trade-off between romantic and platonic relationships is what happens when we become sexually intimate with another person and start overthinking and over-analyzing our words and interactions. Not so with us, girlfriend. I don’t worry how you’ll react or what you’ll think because we’re not trying to build a life together or navigate the minefields of cohabitation and child-rearing. We’re simply living our own lives, side by side, choosing to share and relate to each other. (And the fact I don’t have to scrape your globs of blue toothpaste off the sink or clean up after you helps a bunch too.)
Society says romantic partners are supposed to complete us, but at the risk of sounding like a 1996 rom-com, you complete me in many ways too.
There’s comfort in trusting you with a certainty I can’t always muster for the person who sees me naked. Kick-ass friendships, I think, make us less likely to settle in our romantic lives too, because we’ve seen the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; we KNOW what fulfillment and connection feels like, which makes it tough to settle for anything less.
So here’s to you, girlfriend: the one who completes me; the one who makes me laugh and lets me vent. Here’s to the one who pretends to like my cats and genuinely likes my kids; who knows exactly what inappropriate text to send at exactly the right time.
Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you.