Love In Friendship*

Good Friends, by Hermann Kern. Public Domain

Today is Monday, so it should be Quotables Day, but I am writing a longer post because I’ve been MIA for about three weeks now. Nice to be back, by the way!

While I was travelling, I came to the realization that friendship love doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Sure, people go on and on about ‘the power of friendship,’ or insist they love their friends, but when push comes to shove, it is romantic love that is clearly talked about more, written about more, and sung about more. Name one song about friendship (“Thank You For Being A Friend,” maybe), and you can probably come up with five hundred more gushing about how great romantic love is. Romance novels are a complete genre of their own. Friendship novels–sure, many novels are about friendship, but they don’t have a whole genre all by themselves!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. During this last trip I took, that worked both ways. I realized how much I value the friends I have in Canada, who support and encourage me, and I discovered how much I’d missed my friends in Brazil (and how much I will miss them again, until I see them again someday!) It felt weird to say that I loved any of them, conditioned as I am to think of love as referring to romance, but maybe love is the right word. Somehow the word friendship is not quite strong enough to cover this feeling by itself.  There are many people I like, and enjoy being with. But there has to be something more, something that describes this strong feeling of connection between people, and desire for the other person’s happiness. I can’t really put this into words, and I’ve always been bad at talking about emotions or letting others know when I care about them. But I know what the pull in my heart feels like.

Love is such a strong word, and almost everyone immediately jumps to the conclusion that it is romantic love you mean when they hear it. Sure, everyone will admit more than one type of love exists–love in families, love in friendship–but the focus is all on the romantic. To the point that every time a novel presents two friends of the opposite gender as friends, readers insist they HAVE to be in love. (Okay, okay, whether guys and girls truly can be just friends or not is a whole other topic, and I’m just going to say here that I think it’s possible but different than same gender friendships). Remember the outrage over the fact that Harry Potter did not fall in love with his friend Hermione by the end of the series? The possibility of romantic love overshadowed the real, genuine love of friendship they had for each other. I think sometimes when we insist on searching for the thrill of romance in everything around us, we miss out on what’s actually there (and yes, I’m guilty of this at times too).

Because friendship love is the kind of love that spills over to many people, can be shared between many people, can be enjoyed by many people. It can grow as the years go by. You can always find room in your heart for more of it. I’d never say romantic love isn’t important, or that we should ignore it completely. In fact, romantic love is probably better if the two of you share friendship love too. I just mean it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we had more books, songs, films and honest conversations about how joyful it is to have friends you love.

*Not to be confused with Jane Austen’s delightful work, Love and Freindship (intentionally misspelled)

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