Relationships are made up of many elements including trust, attraction, understanding, compassion, quality time, shared memories, feeling special, having someone who has your back, someone to laugh with, someone to share your deepest fears with.
These are all elements that can be found in both relationships with a romantic partner and with a friend. You may question being attracted to your friend but in an energy or spirit sense, you are. They draw you to want to spend your time with them, share your secrets and confide your fears.
In the past men and women have tended to do friendship very differently. Men tend to bond with friends via participation in activities whereas women tend to bond over experience and feelings. However, this is changing as “Womances” and “Bromances” are becoming, for some, as important as traditional romances. With this being a time of more single people in the world than ever before some are looking to their friendships to fill the gap that a partner previously might of.
I believe that soul mates come in the guise of both friends and lovers and that they come into our lives for a season or a reason and sometimes for a lifetime. Some are blessed with friendships for life where many others see an array of different friends pass through their lives. We tend to attract friends based on where we are at the time, whereas our romantic partner choices tend to come from our thoughts of where we want to be in the future ie a parent, married, living abroad, growing old together.
In our 20’s we may have friends that we go partying with, in our 30’s friends may well be other parents and those with families. In our 40’s we can find that we attract others that have been through similar circumstances like divorce and in our 50’s we may attract people with similar interests ie fitness, sports, animals etc. Of course, during this time we may well also have lifetime friendships that party with us, grow our children up together, hold our hands through our divorce and who we hope to grow old with.
Friendship and acquaintances are two different things. Many times those in your outer circle are acquaintances who you catch up with on a night out or via a mutual interest. But for those in the inner circle of trust and love the expectations of friendship can sometimes be as high as that of a partner.
Often the bond of friendship can feel as sacred as that of marriage. The exchange of secrets that you have never told anyone else, their holding back your hair on a night out when sick and the knowledge of exactly when you need cheering up or time out. Girl code and Bro code are in theory a set of unwritten and often unsaid friendship vows.
Just like romance friendships will come and go. One minute you are close and they are your go-to person and the next you are out in the cold. The season has ended or the reason (lesson) is over. Breaking up with a friend is often as difficult and painful as breaking up with a lover. The feelings of loss that you will miss them or that uncertainty of would life be as good without them, is as real as that of losing a partner. If a friend betrays your trust it can hurt as much as if it were a significant other.
However, there is a major difference that often goes overlooked when it comes to love in friendships. With a partner, the majority of people look for monogamous relationships, one on one trust, dream building, and memory sharing. The expectation is that the other’s happiness is as important as their own. Finances and commitments are often shared and common goals agreed and worked towards. This then includes a set of expectations that you are one in the journey of life.
The polygamous nature of friendships, however, mean that your time, love and energy are shared with a number of people and you therefore often have to juggle each other’s needs. As you are not planning your future together your dreams are not joint so you are likely at some point to travel different roads and get off at different stops.
When we start to confuse the love and expectations we have for friends with that we have for a potential life partner we can set ourselves up for heartache. Expect friendships to end at some point and you won’t be disappointed. If they don’t then that’s a bonus. Allow friends to leave your journey when they arrive at their stop and thank them for your time spent together. They may rejoin you later but it is likely that a new friend is waiting to get on at the next stop and this friendship may need the energy that you spent on the last person.
As the saying goes love is a journey. The journey is to peace and happiness surrounded by those that are meant to be in your life at any given time. You will know when it is time to part (or possibly move into the outer circle) as the friendship will no longer feel the same. It may be hard to accept that it is nearly time for your friend to move on but you will know the pain of staying in a friendship when it is over because it will begin to feel toxic. You may doubt if they have your best interests at heart and may even wonder if they even like you. The friendship season with this person is over. Let it, and them, go. We will all have to part at some time. Grieve the ending of the friendship just as you might for the letting go of a lover but know that the end of your journey together is not a reflection of your worth or theirs.
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Articles that TJ writes for The Love Coach cover all steps in the cycle of love and include tips and advice for many dating or relationship issues. Her experience as a Love Therapist, Love Coach and Life Coach bring a real-life approach to everyday situations.
Remember life is for loving – that includes yourself!