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Valuing Friendships Outside Romance

As Valentine’s Day brings love into the spotlight once again, it is important that we question where we place platonic love?

Romantic relationships are portrayed as the peak of relationships. Friendships and familial relationships almost come second place to romantic ones despite being arguably more important.This is evident in the pressure placed on women, in movies and pop culture, to find and fall in love and to marry. In the United States alone, romance films have gained over $2 billion (£1.5 billion) in box office revenue in the last ten years.

A romantic relationship is a close relationship to another person that involves deep friendship as well as physical intimacy and sex, and even love. A platonic relationship is a relationship between friends, and while these relationships can be loving, they are not always physically intimate. While the nurturing of the idea of romantic and marital relationships as highly valued, they are no longer a societal requirement, especially for women. Despite this, our society still tries to define future success by romantic status, we see unmarried women differently.

Healthy relationships are imperative for our emotional well-being and they can be a source of stability in our lives. There are other types of relationships other than romantic ones; familial relationships, friendships, even acquaintanceships.

The family is the first unit of socialisation and the dynamics of a family relationship can have a lasting impact on the members of that family. Children especially imbibe the values of their parents and those around them in their formative years. Familial relationships can and do exist outside of the traditional (that is, imposed by patriarchy) family unit made up of the father, mother and children. Extended families and people’s chosen families can provide the love, care and support that families should provide to their members.

Achieving emotional development is crucial to having a successful romantic relationship, so it’s important to work on developing these skills through friendship and platonic relationships.

Also, the glorification of two-parent families is alienating to single-parent families and the latter is every bit as valid a family as the former. Family members should support, uplift and love and look after one another. However, unfortunately for some people, family is the foremost trigger of their anxieties. When family refuses to love and accept a person, it can be a traumatic experience. Luckily, that’s where friendship comes in.

Friendship is when you form a relationship with someone and they love and care for you because they choose to, not because they are obligated to. Friendships offer the purest form of love and support and can be a pillar of stability and joy in a person’s life. Friends can serve as an unwavering support system in the face of shifting dynamics in other forms of relationships. It is important to tend to friendships as one would a romantic relationship, with concerted effort.

Immersing oneself in friendships can also help with displacing romantic relationships as the primary source of companionship and support. Not only do platonic relationships last longer than most romantic relationships but strong platonic relationships lead to social support.

Relationships may bring light into our lives, sure. However, other forms of relationships can be as synergetic and enriching as (if not more than) romantic relationships.

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