For Us By Us: Platonic Love Matters Too

exploring the contours of love in Black female friendships.

Growing up, there was a recurring feeling of anxiety I felt when I found myself putting too much value on friendships. I loved the idea of having a tight knit group of friends, thanks in no small part to shows such as ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ and longed for one when I got older. A group of friends that did everything together, friends that were closer than family–yet my reality never seemed to quite match up to the on-screen friendships I grew up watching.

Most other media in the early 2000s however, tended to present friendships as something to be used as a placeholder, before one grows up and settles down. In many a romantic comedy, there is the depiction of a friend in usually only exists to give romantic advice, make snappy comments and give the romantic lead the final push to go after the one they love, before losing importance once that objective is reached.

In February, especially, there are many jokes endlessly circulating about how tragic it is to be single on Valentine’s Day, regardless of the people you already have in your life. For older single people especially, this is often a source of anxiety as they are made to look at where they are in their lives in comparison to where they are told they should be.

For many young adults, and particularly Nigerians, there are certain priority shifts that are expected to happen as people mature and grow older. You are supposed to move on from the stereotypical wild party twenty-something years with friends, towards a life that is more focused on your children, your spouse and your career, sometimes even in that order.

So where does that leave people who get married later than their peers, or decide to never get married at all?

The 2014 film ‘Life Partners’ deals with that very question as it chronicles the strain on an extremely close friendship between the characters Paige and Sasha that begins once Paige gets a boyfriend. In a climactic argument, Paige tells Sasha that after you begin dating seriously, “you don’t talk to your friends till two in the morning anymore. You stop needing that.” The issues that the two characters face is unfortunately one that is familiar to many young adults.

Many articles have been written about people losing touch with their friends after they enter serious relationships, especially after they enter their marital home. Friends are often seen as the fallback, the temporary placeholders used until you can move on to greener pastures, a mentality that doesn’t serve people without a romantic relationship that they see as the centre of their world. This isn’t to say that the Paige’s of this world are inherently misguided however. There is certainly nothing wrong with treating a significant other as the most important person in your life. Most people choose their partners because they genuinely enjoy spending most of their time around them. Finding a relationship like this would make a change in priorities inevitable. Having a change in lifestyle from single friends also makes it understandable when people simply drift apart, no matter how much they love each other.


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It’s the assumption that growing apart from your friends as you get older is to be expected but that doesn’t make the pill any less difficult to swallow. It makes it sad to see so many friends drift when their relationships could otherwise flourish. In recent years however, there have been changes to how people view friendships. More people have been getting married later in their lives, with the number of people getting married in their sixties going up in the past decade, lengthening the ‘free single years’ that is often spent with friends.

Likely because of these sorts of changes, there has been more emphasis on how much value people put on their platonic relationships, with the term ‘platonic life partner’ making the rounds on social media. A good example is shown through the viral Tiktok life partners Renee and April. They live together, consider each other their number one priority and have stated that if they wanted children, they would adopt and raise them together. April, one half of the duo, has also shared: “We wanted to spend the mundane moments together because we made the mundane magical.”

It seemed strange to many that these two people would want to commit so deeply to each other without a romantic or sexual element, questioning what would happen if one of them gets married, but the two women are confident in their dedication to one another. Many commentators on the duos videos have been pleasantly surprised that this was even an option. People like Renee and April are showing a new kind of companionship that many young people could choose.

There has also been emphasis put on friendships that don’t have a financial aspect to hem. Galentine’s Day, a term coined by Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec, has been used as a day for women to celebrate their love for their friends. Palentine’s Day is also used as a more gender neutral term for people who want to celebrate their friendships with the same affection that is often reserved for romantic relationships.

More films and TV shows have also been centering friendships as the great loves. The 2019 film ‘Booksmart’ focuses on two best friends saying a heartfelt goodbye, instead of focusing on their respective love interests. Friendships have been some of the most meaningful parts of my life. It makes me happy, and a little nostalgic, that there is more focus on and celebration of people who are often with you during the messiest, most heart breaking and most joyful life experiences.

Young people now have an alternative version of companionship to dream about, especially for those who don’t want to daydream about marriage. This lessened pressure to marry can even let people choose their spouses more carefully, if they aren’t seen as a necessity to experience great love and commitment.

Your friends can be your epic loves and not just a fallback. Philia, the Greek term for friendship, often translated to mean ‘the highest form of love’. In my own personal experiences, I find that to be completely accurate.

Featured image credits/NATIVE