With Valentine’s Day having just passed we think it’s important to reflect upon love in general. Just as the world, humanity, and society have, love has shifted dramatically in recent years and we think it’s worth discussing. Love has become far more than just a feeling, it has become a goal, a measure of self-worth, an end game, an object of desire, and an idea that, in my opinion, is getting a little out of hand. This is not to say that loving, romantic partnerships are not to be celebrated because they absolutely are! Reciprocal, mutually-beneficial loving relationships are truly one of the most special things in life.
The problem does not lie within love itself, it lies within the notions surround it. First and foremost, there is not just one type of love. Love is within is, love is all around us yet somehow we choose to see love as one, reductive, romantic type of relationship and we often place a great deal of our focus on these types of loving endeavors.
We understand we all fall into this pit of believing love to be a destination, too. We are consistently bombarded with images of successful relationships, cute couples, gifts from “bae,” and so much more on social media, how are we to avoid reflecting upon our current situations? The thing is, we’d like to challenge you to place focus on the love in your life that may not be as glamorize or instagrammable and that is non-romantic love.
Non-romantic love can be a number of things, it can be a love between friends, a love between family members, self-love, a larger love shared within a community, and the list goes on. Non-romantic love can bread a closeness and intimacy that is special beyond compare, but we often let these relationships slip through the cracks or get taken for granted in the pursuit of romantic love. So, we’d like to challenge you to celebrate your non-romantic relationships this week, month, and forever. After all, think of how amazing this love truly feels! In fact, friendship and family bonds alone have a wildly positive effect on the psyche:
“A 2009 study from the Journal of the National Medical Association surveyed 300 men and women at a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York. They found that respondents with insufficient perceived social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.”
Without further adieu, here are some ways in which non-romantic relationships are the absolute best and why you should definitely put your love, time, and effort into those special soulmates in your life.
Have you ever been loved unconditionally? If you have, you can testify to the fact that there is truly nothing better. It gives you room to be yourself to the fullest extent, uncovering your own intricacies and being unapologetically you. The thing is when it comes to romantic relationships (to no fault of the individuals), there are often conditions, or at least it can feel that way from time to time. When the romance is removed, a number of layers in which things could get complicated are removed and you are free to just give and receive love in whatever capacity you are able.
Let’s Not Talk About The Future
If you met a friend and absolutely loved them and they said “I’m moving away in 6 months” you probably wouldn’t say “well f**k off then, I don’t want to have a great time with you just to have you leave” you’d probably say “we’ll then let’s get to hanging out, already!” and though you would obviously miss them, you would be more inclined to enjoy the time you had rather than get your mind all tangled up in the future. When it comes to romantic relationships, the future is often the name of the game. Stress and speculation about the future creeps up almost immediately when pursuing romantic partnerships. We can’t help it, our mind falls into a cycle of planning and sorting out if relationships will work long-term, but just because we can’t help it doesn’t mean that it’s always healthy. What we’re trying to say is, bask in the beautiful, loving, non-romantic relationships that are surrounding you if you are in need of some decision-making about your future, this way you can receive love and support without influence and fear about the future.
Fluidity: Go With the Flow, Baby
The wonderful thing about non-romantic relationships (I’ll reference friendships in this case), is that you can choose (either consciously or unconsciously) to exist within them in a more fluid manner. Meaning, some friends suit different stages of your life better than others, sometimes schedule-wise, sometimes geographically, sometimes in terms of interests and passions, and sometimes it’s for a collection of reasons. When it comes to friendship, it doesn’t require the deceleration of a breakup or a break in order to gain some space or take a moment apart, it simply requires openness, respect, and empathy. It is beautiful how special friends float in and out of your life at the most amazing times, so embrace it! Live and let live, and know that it’s never goodbye with those twin flame friendships, you always find your way back into one another’s lives in some way, shape, or form; and that’s a pretty special thing to believe. Think of that one friend that you talk to almost never but if you ever called them and said “I need to move in with you tomorrow” they’d be like “cool, how can I help?” THAT’S LOVE.
Say Goodbye to Landmarks
Sometimes making new friends can feel a lot like dating: you want to be cool, you don’t want to come on too strong (unless you’re me, then there’s truly no other way), you want to start with a chill group hang and move to one-on-ones; it can be a little tricky at first. But once you’re in, you’re in, and damn does it feel good to confidently be like “I just made I new friend!” am I right, or am I right? The great thing is, once you’ve navigated past the initial stages and embarked upon a new friendship, there is no rulebook on how you need to proceed. No one is going to dictate when you’re allowed to tell a friend you love them, no one can tell you it’s too soon for them to meet your parents, hell, move in together if you like! Friendships are yours and yours alone, maybe the outside world thinks you’re weird (such is the case in all of my friendships), but that literally could not matter less. Fire each other up, love the hell out of each other, make your own rules, that’s love!
Sex is great, there’s no arguing that, but non-sexual intimacy holds a lot of power, as well. Intimacy doesn’t always mean nudity or sexual instances, it can be any form of vulnerability such as crying in front of someone, sharing physical touch, sleeping in the same bed, cooking together, basically anything that lets you put your guard down and show your raw, authentic self. When sexuality is removed from the mix, these intimate instances may come easier. For example, being naked in front of someone is very intimate, but if there is no sexualizing gaze involved it can be really comforting, empowering, and freeing. Think of those special, intimate moments you’ve shared with a non-romantic love, did you wish you were sharing them with a romantic partner? Or were you able to embrace them and share them with that equally special person by your side? We collect moments and experiences to form a self, so remember, no matter who you share them with, they are still yours, and they are still you. You don’t always have to build your story as a couple because the stories of both pieces of a partnership are what make it unique.
It’s Not Personal
In romantic relationships, we tend to take things pretty personally, even when we’re trying as hard as we can not to. If someone doesn’t text back or doesn’t want to come to an event with us, it really makes us feel terrible. Or, if someone is doing something that we don’t like or making poor decisions, we tend to look at how it affects both us as individuals and us as a couple. Within non-romantic relationships, it is easier to look at things more objectively and remove ourselves from the situations. Obviously, if our sibling wants to go to clown college we might be like “have you looked into any alternative career paths?” but we won’t think oh no, I’m marrying a clown. Know what I’m saying? Non-romantic relationships give us more freedom to love and support one another without projecting ourselves and our emotions onto them, their actions, and their decisions, and vice versa!
ALL love should be celebrated, today and every day. Tell the people in your life that you love them, tell them why, and put a little piece of your heart into all of the special, loving relationships in your life, not just the one that involves romance. We love YOU so much. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your love today and every day.