From the moment we are able to consciously absorb information into our tiny growing brains, we are flooded with fairytales, media, and real-life social situations that constantly reinforce one idea: your significant other is the most important relationship in your life, and always will be.
The goal is simple: to find that perfect person who completes you, and spend happily ever after getting any and everything you want and need out of that one relationship and person. (After all, are they really “the one” if they can’t make you the happiest you’ve ever been all the time? Unclear.) Even as cultures progress into modernization and those relationships have evolved to be more inclusive of a wider array of people and lifestyles, we somehow still cling to the idea that the significant other should be able to fill any and every hole in our lives, even if it means we miss out on unknown opportunities.
Here’s a few arguments for supporting not quite the opposite, but a more balanced approach to relationships. We should all be spending a little more time and energy on our platonic pals, as well as being compassionate compadres ourselves, and here’s why:
Growing relationships outside of the sphere of romance allows for your world to sustain infinite growth; there’s no limit to how many experiences, encounters, and incredible opportunities can arise when we invest in people and all they have to offer. Friends, mentors, family members, colleagues, and many more have so much value to add to your life that can’t be found from focusing all your efforts on just one person.
Taking the pressure off romantic relationships
When you put love, care, and affection into relationships that aren’t leading down a winding romantic road, you’ll find some needs are met that your partner can’t satisfy, relieving the pressure on that partnership to exist in too many dimensions. Plus, as you grow and learn from your other friendships (and hopefully your partner does too), you bring all that new knowledge and opportunity back into your relationship, enhancing the experience for you both.
Security in singledom
When that intense four-year college relationship comes crashing down a few months after graduation, you’re going to need some good peeps to rely on in the depths of the breakup blues. If that now-ex-S.O. was the only person you shared your problems with, who do you then depend on in the aftermath of relationship implosion? Strong connections are built by being there in the hard times,
Building a support network
Outside of just being there when the fit hits the shan, platonic friends are also great sources of encouragement for reaching your goals and ambitions. Cultivating supportive friendships leads to growth in other areas of life, like careers and creative pursuits, health and wellbeing, and even religious and spiritual.
Valuing people for more than their romantic potential
Romance is just one slice of life, not the whole pie, and to view another person through this single lens is infantilizing and degrading. When we shed the assumption of affectionate interest, it’s easier to see the glimmering multitudes that we all contain. You have far more to offer the world than one romantic relationship, and so does everybody else.