We often hear people refer to their friends as “just friends,” or their significant other as that “special” someone. It is considered a given in many communities that once someone has found a romantic and sexual partner, time spent with friends and family will fall far down the list of priorities. Many who are single and dating fear that if and when their friends get into romantic partnerships, their friendship will inevitably change and will no longer be important and take priority.
While falling in love and having a romantic and sexual relationship is often a beautiful and exhilarating experience, is it really more important than the other significant relationships in our lives? We can choose to value our friendships as much as we value our romantic and sexual relationships. We can choose to stay engaged with family members and our larger communities, even as we move into committed partnerships and have children. And if we decide not to be in a romantic partnership, we can still have just as much intimacy and closeness with people as those who are in committed relationships.
Marcia Baczynski (www.askingforwhatyouwant.com) and I spoke in June at the Open SF Conference about Chosen Family, Non-Sexual Partnerships, and Romantic Friendships. We talked about the complexity of making space and finding language for these relationships in our lives, when much of the larger culture doesn’t understand what they are or how they work. Truth is, for most of history we haven’t been expected to have a life partner who was our soul mate, romantic love, co-parent, best friend, companion, and caretaker — rather, we had large, extended communities of families and friends, and got our needs met in many different ways, by many different people. Expectations of marriage and life partnerships have shifted considerably in the last century in the US. I believe that healthy intimacy and healthy relating do not happen in a vacuum, and our intimacy needs are too big to be met by only one person.
Marcia and I will be presenting again on the topic at Good Vibrations Polk Street in San Francisco on September 18th from 6:30-8:30.
I will leave you with thoughts from the brilliant Wendy O’Matik! (www.wendyomatik.com)