Hello dear reader. If you came here looking for romantic advice, I’m sorry but you have come to absolutely the wrong place. I’m not the best person to ask those kinds of questions. And I would say that I’m sorry to have used a clickbait title to get you here but it wouldn’t be true, so I won’t. I am going to tell you how to fall in love.
What I’m talking about is how to fall in love with your friends. We live in a society that places a lot of focus and value on romantic relationships. We’re frequently told (either outright or through subtle nudges) that you haven’t met all of the requirements for success until you meet that special someone and get married and have the house and the dog and the 2.5 kids. The pressure is daunting and super unnecessary. Are romantic relationships great? Of course they are. Am I saying you shouldn’t have one? Certainly not. All I’m saying is that friendships require exactly the same (if not more, to be honest) time and effort to cultivate and nurture as romantic relationships do. And as a result with our overly saturated romantic relationship culture, sometimes our friendships fall by the wayside as we expect to get everything we need from that one person we love. This is not to say that your spouse/partner/permanent roommate can’t be a good or even best friend; I think that’s the best way to form a lasting romantic relationship.
One of the problems with English is that there’s only one word for “love”, despite there being five different types of love (Eros, Philios, Storge, Agape, Mania), and so we are wary of using the word because of the possibility of our intent being misunderstood. We don’t say it enough to people we love. We don’t talk about what it’s like to be in friend-love with a person you’re really close with, despite feelings of intense kindredness we feel towards them; that kind of thing is reserved for romantic interactions, and so renders friend-love to the sidelines. I think this is BS. I know it is because I am so head over heels about my friends. There are moments when I have to take a step back and think, “Wow. I really really love them.” I think we need to start talking about being in love with our friends, or being in Philios (sibling-like, or friendship love) with them. We need to tell our friends that we love them. We need to go out of our way to meet their needs the way we do with our romantic partners. We gotta start bragging about our friends’ accomplishments the way we do with our significant others’. It needs to be okay for friends to live together.
“So, Emma, what exactly is the best way to go about this?” you say, looking at me very skeptically. And I’m so glad you asked. I’ve got some ideas. So bear with me while I try to sort all of this out.
I honestly really like this method of understanding feelings. It makes meeting someone where they are so much easier than if you had no idea how to best express your love to them, so that they would be able to understand and receive it. Unless you’re telepathic, in which case, lucky you.
There’s five different Love Languages: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Giving of Gifts. We’re all a mix of the five, we just find some more meaningful than others. And there could be a difference between when you’re expressing and receiving love. HERE is a link to a great (and quick!) quiz to help you find out what your love languages are. My primary love language is Words of Affirmation, which means that I derive the most satisfaction from encouragement and being told by someone that they love or care about me. This is a way that I like to both give and receive love.
Once you know yours, you know which ways you like to have love expressed to you. And if you find that your needs are not being met, you’re more readily armed with information about how to let people know how to love you. And now, you can ask people you love about how they need to have their needs met in your friendship. This is something we really need to start communicating about, in every relational aspect of life. But especially in friendships, where we may not be as comfortable talking about our “””feelings””” as we might be in other relationships.
Do things with your Friends that will Strengthen your Relationship
Once you know the best ways to let your friends know that you love them, you’ll be able to work toward positive growth in the relationship. I know that a great way to do this is to actually spend time with them, when you can. Life can get so busy, and sometimes we lose focus about things outside of our direct radar. This can be even more true while being in a romantic relationship, trying to maintain friendships parallel.
So how do we combat this? My suggestion is to set time aside specifically for spending time with friends. I mean, DUH right? But this is something that’s really hard to actually do. Just do your best. Just be with your friends. Try new things. Cross items off your bucket list. Eat too much icecream and pizza. Do nothing at all. Cruise the internet silently sitting next to each other. Watch movies on a pile of pillows and blankets on the livingroom floor. Do something that you both/all enjoy. Let one friend pick something that they love doing, and all participate together. Listen to everyone’s suggestions. Make sure everyone is comfortable, even while pushing the envelope. My Dad has always said that relationships are made up of shared experiences; no shared experiences, no relationship. Have experiences together. Fall in love, dang it!
Communicate to the Best of Your Ability
Be honest. Be kind. Listen. Give advice when asked. Receive advice with grace when it’s given. Apologize and ask for forgiveness when you mess up. Forgive when you are asked, in a real, humble, honest way. Encourage them. Tell them you love them. Let them know it’s okay to vent. Let them know that you’re a safe place for them. Listen. Listen. LiStEn. lIsTeN. LISTEN.
Support their Endeavours
Does your friend run a business? Promote the heck out of it. BUY THINGS when you can. Does your friend write a blog? Read it when you can, and tell them what you liked about it! Does your friend like to take photos? Like all of their Instagram posts. Same goes for artists. Does your friend like to write poetry? Tell them you’re thankful that they shared it with you. Do they play in a band? Do your best to make it out to a show. Are they into YouTube? Like and share their vids when you can. Seeing someone you love doing something they love, and having success at something they love, will only make you love them more.
It’s usually assumed that as an adult, if you’re going to live with someone longterm or purchase a home, that that person will be your spouse/romantic partner. I don’t think this has to be the case. Got three friends you love deeply, and would love to see everyday? Buy a house. Make it your own. Be a family. Be a support system. Let your friends be the people you come home to at the end of the day with a bottle of wine or 3 litres of icecream, and they’ll know. Let your friends be the people who see you at your worst and love you anyway. Let your friends be the ones who are your biggest fans, and let them take care of you. Take care of them. Why the heck not? Y’all probably have student debt and might not be able to afford a home on your own. And humans were made to be together. We were made to be in communities and relationships. The Nuclear Family that was the monolith left by the wars doesn’t always fit in with the way the world is now. You don’t need to work towards that. You don’t even need to want it. You can do family your own way. And why not do that with three people that you love, that are your friends? Do it. And ignore people who try to tell you that you have to do things the way they’ve always been done.
I am not an expert, by any stretch. I’m just a 20something trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing. Loving my friends the way they deserve to be loved is something I am still working on in my own life, every single day. I just read a statistic that said we reach our friendship peak at 25. You don’t meet your love quota at age 25. You don’t suddenly just get everything you need to be fulfilled and challenged at 25, and then continue on with only one person receiving all of that love energy. Fall in love with your friends. Fall in love with them over and over for the rest of your life.