I can say it with complete conviction today, having been through it all - trials and errors, tears and despair - the strongest long-term relationship is the one that is based on friendship. A true, genuine friend is the best partner you could ever have.
The mysterious partner, the knight in shining armour, the lost babe in the woods…is a load of nonsense popular culture has fed us. The perfect partner does not exist and you are inviting disappointment if you think you are blessed enough to find one.
I married for love once and it was a huge mistake. It was long distance and when we finally did get married, we were strangers. Sure we both tried, but somewhere the expectations of what a partner should be like, never let either of us drop the mask. Better sense prevailed and we parted.
It was a difficult time and friends were my solace, my warm space. I am so lucky to have a great set of friends. We have lost parents, jobs, dealt with failed marriages but this gang of friends is rock solid. We love each other, judge prospective partners but finally support each other’s decisions. It made me think that if I ever get into something serious, it will have to be with someone who is a friend.
And so, my friend became my husband five years ago.
He was my friend who never judged me; a pal I spoke to everyday; who did not agree with everything I said, but could agree to disagree rather well. Both of us had had failed marriages, so we were not ready to rush into anything. We were going with the flow and became best buddies.
As you grow older, more independent and more your own person, it’s tougher having a new friend. Like a new old friend! We tried and it worked because we worked at it.
We had fewer complications because we were not colleagues, our families didn’t know each other, and neither of us was looking for a free meal ticket. We hung out together as good friends who liked being together. It did not mean that we were joined at the hip or didn’t hang out with other friends without each other. We just liked talking to each other before, during and after an evening with other people! Not romantic mush, but about something we saw, heard, ate or smelt…it couldn’t wait till after the evening ended. What is surprising is that even after so many years of being together and being married we still like sharing.
When you are genuine friends, somehow, the expectations drop. I don’t have to cook because I am the wife, he doesn’t have to always pick up the tab because he is the husband. There are no ‘this is how it “should” be because that is how others do it’. Of course we fight, but then, don’t friends fight? The clingy, demanding vibe is what we run miles from.
We are together because we want it that way. We have each other’s backs and that gives us the confidence to take on anything in the world. We have evenings we barely talk to each other because one of us is listening to music, while the other could be working; but then we could also spend the entire night talking and singing because that’s what feels right. Being with someone where you do not need to be on your guard, politically correct or impeccably dressed is quite something.
It’s of paramount importance to enjoy and cherish the friendship. Romance is not just about candle light dinners, it’s also about helping each other cope with a parent’s ill health. It’s about watching comedies in your pyjamas all Sunday, it’s about going for a walk by yourself to clear your head and coming home to a hug and hot chocolate…and a barrage of questions peppered with lame jokes.
When you’re in it for a long haul with your best friend, you’d love a weekend at a friend’s empty pad as much as a five-star holiday; you treasure a hand written poem as much as a solitaire ring… It’s about the two of you and not what people want.
So if you find someone who can wink at you across a crowded room and make you want to run out into the rain with them...you are one hell of a lucky person. That friendship is precious.