you wanna be my main squeeze, baby
We've all seen it - and many of us have probably even said it...
"I'm so lucky to have fallen in love with my best friend"
"I can't wait to marry my best friend"
"In the best relationships, your lover is also your best friend"
Sorry not sorry, but this makes me cringe. Every time. Let me tell you why...
IMO, giving the "best friend" title to your boo is inherently insulting to your ACTUAL best friend. You know, the one that was there before you ever met the love of your life. And to be completely frank, the one that will still be there if you guys break up. They were the one that was there potentially since childhood - has seen you through your awkward years and hung around with you anyways. The one who watched you date a ton of fuckfaces before finding "the one." The one that the boo was nervous to meet, because boo knew they needed the bestie's approval. They have seen you ugly cry when someone has broken your heart in the past - and if they're anything like my best friend drank copious amounts of wine with you to cope. They were probably the one who held your hair after too many tequila shots on your 21st birthday. They didn't just come into your family drama, they've been with you through the ride. They know your history more comprehensively than your lover ever could - because they were there for it, not just hearing your recount of it. When you're fighting with your boo, your best friend is who you call for support, or as a more objective party to tell you that you're being a selfish brat (this clearly is NOT a personal anecdote, lol). In short, they have put in serious WORK into your friendship. Likely just as much, if not more, than your lover. It's not fair that loverface comes into your life and automatically gets to take over that title - no matter how great they are.
This may sound counterintuitive, but I think there are secrets you should keep from your lover. Eek! Per usual, however, I want to explain...
I do NOT mean that you should be going out for a girls night when you're supposed to be at a baby shower, or hiding that lingering credit card debt from your boo, but there is this belief that in order to have a strong romantic relationship we need to be complete open books with our lover - and I don't think that's the case.
When you enter into a relationship, that relationship almost becomes a separate entity than just you or your partner individually. Similar to a business partnership - there may be two owners, but the business itself is also its own entity. In my head, I think of it like a Venn diagram where you and your boo are the circles, and the section in which you two overlap is your relationship. When we think of "secrets" (and I'm using quotes here because it may not be the most accurate word...privacy or boundaries to describe the concept), it's important to consider which of the three entities would be harmed or benefit from the keeping of or disclosure of a secret.
For instance, let's consider the baby shower and credit card debt I mentioned above. In both of those situations, keeping the secret would benefit the individual, as they would be able to avoid conflict, discomfort, shame, etc. by not being honest and transparent. Further, it would be harmful to the relationship and their partner, potentially leading to insecurity, betrayal and resentment.
On the other hand, do I really need to know every detail of my boo's sexual history? If it could affect me (such as risk for STD's), sure. If not, not really! Do I need (or even want) to know about everything that happened on guys' night? Ew, gross. Absolutely not. Do I need to know every dollar of his own money that he spends? No. He's an adult. As long as he's fulfilling any financial obligations to our relationship based on what we have agreed upon, he is free to make his own decisions. And DO I NEED TO TELL HIM ABOUT THE $50 I SPENT AT OLD NAVY ON BLACK FRIDAY?! NO! No I don't! Weeeee!
it's about mutual respect, trust, and kindness. what is the intention of our concealment or disclosure? what impact would it have on the relationship?
So, if we're being mindful of the information we share with our lover, considering its benefit on our relationship, who do we get to word vomit ALL OF THE THINGS to? You guessed it - our bff! They're the one that probably knows more of your secrets than your lover - anything from the deep down relationship fears that feel too vulnerable to tell your relationship partner, or as trivial as the McDonald's french fries you binge ate in the car last night before coming in the house (totes not me! swearsies!) They are a more constructive recipient of your low-level frustrations, because let's be real, it might not be the most helpful for your romantic relationship to constantly complain that you're the only one to ever empty the dishwasher (remember - how does the disclosure benefit or harm the relationship?), but you and the bestie can talk on the phone for hours complaining and venting and joking in a safe, comfortable, less-relationship-impactful space.
"We have a romantic ideal, in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs. To be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal..."
CRIPES THAT'S A LOT OF PRESSURE! Amirite? When I think of having to fulfill ALL THOSE NEEDS for my boo, I feel overwhelmed. And like I'm set up for failure. And also like I wouldn't want to impose the pressure on him to fulfill all those needs, either. Because you know what? He would fail. And so would I. And then both of us would be disappointed and feel unsatisfied with our relationship. And that would suck.
So, maybe instead of presuming that our lover will be ALL OF THESE THINGS, perhaps we can reframe our expectations. Assign two or three roles for them to fulfill, and then delegate the rest to other awesome people in your life. Nurture that relationship with your best friend (or sibling, parent, etc.) the same way you did before you fell in love. Keep them as a confidant, someone you can turn to for support, advice and secret-keeping. Network with colleagues or coworkers or others in your field to foster your professional intellect. Take up hobbies that don't involve your love, and build relationships with others who enjoy those things. Taking the pressure off of your partner to be EVERYTHING in your life will make it less likely that you will be (unintentionally) let down by them, and will therefore lead to higher relationship satisfaction. WIN!
What do you all think of this? I'd especially love to hear from you all that are totally gung ho on the "my boo is my bestie" movement!
P.S. Shoutout to my bestie, my ride or die - the one who laughs at all the same stupid shit that I do, even when the boo doesn't think it's funny. xox