A few nights ago, while spooning my boyfriend, he asked me if he was my best friend. Without much hesitation, I replied, "No." I'm almost positive that "no" was not the response he was looking for. I immediately felt a pang of guilt and began to explain myself.
He is one of my best friends. We have a friendship that our relationship is rooted in. However, my best friend Zoe and I are closer. Friendships and romantic relationships are very different and aren't really comparable, in my opinion.
While I do love my boyfriend, I've loved my best friend longer.
My best friend and I have been friends for 11 years. We grew up together. We graduated high school together and were roommates in college. She was there when I graduated college, after I lost my virginity, and for everything else that life has thrown at us while growing up and navigating life. We have been there for each other, and she knows me better than anyone else. We even have matching tattoos that almost no one knows about. If that's not an indication of a close friendship, then I don't know what is.
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half. Just like most people who fall in love, we know each other well, tell each other everything, and make each other laugh. While we certainly have developed a friendship, we're more than friends. He's my boyfriend, my lover, and my partner.
I just don't think that you can compare the relationship you have with your female friends to your romantic relationships. Especially when you're in your early 20s like I am. I would never discount the relationship that my boyfriend and I have, but I also wouldn't say that he has taken the place of my BFF.
Here's the thing: Statistically speaking, half of all marriages in the U.S. fail. Before most people even get to marriage, they date several people. According to a 2014 study, an average woman will kiss 15 men, have two long-term relationships, have one live-in partner, and experience heartbreak twice before finding the mythical "one." With this knowledge, why would we put relationships on a pedestal when they are more likely to fail? When your relationship ends in shambles, your best friend is there to pick up the pieces even though she told you months ago that she didn't feel like he was quite right for you. There's a time to put your romantic relationship before your friends, but most of the time they are two separate, non-competing parts of your life.
I think men and romantic relationships are definitely more significant than just people to have fun with, but the sentiment makes sense. There are things that women bond over that you just can't with your boyfriend. I can't get my nails done and watch trashy reality TV with my boyfriend. He can't understand why I constantly cry over cute Facebook videos or my deep love for Ryan Gosling. Only a best friend can do that.
Romantic relationships are made wonderful and complicated by sex and promises. Friendships come without a timeline, expectations, or pressure. When we enter a romantic relationship, there is an expectation that it will last forever or it will end. There's not much of an in between. Sure, we could somehow be friends with our exes, but, again, it's tainted by the past. There's no pressure from my best friend to define our relationship, meet the parents, make time for intimacy and date nights, or any of the other things that make relationships difficult. We just are. If we don't talk for a few days, it's cool. Our friendship is easy.
When Zoe and I were in seventh grade, we saw the movie Click. Remember that Adam Sandler gem of a film? In this movie, Adam Sandler's character and his wife would say "forever and ever, babe" as some sort of cutesy greeting. I'm not sure exactly how we adapted it, but knowing us, it was probably a snarky joke turned earnest saying. No matter how it happened, it's become our thing over the years. We aren't very sentimental, but when we are, that's what we say. I can say with complete certainty that we will be best friends forever, which is not something I can say about almost anyone else in my life.
Close friends and family constantly question if we are actually in a relationship. We're invited to parties as a pair like a couple would be. We've had several jobs together and have lived together, and we hang out regularly. Most people just don't "get" our friendship because most people don't have a friend like us. I probably couldn't do life without her. Words are often ruined by people who don't use them correctly, which is why "best friend" doesn't feel like it covers what we are to each other. Our friendship really is like soul mates. She's family, which is why I say that we're closer than my boyfriend and I are.
To be clear, none of this is to say that I don't have a good relationship or do not love my boyfriend. I am in love and continue to grow my relationship with my boyfriend, but he just isn't my best friend. That spot is taken.