With Or Without A Man, Thank Goodness for Best Friends
“My boss called me in. I assumed it was about a promotion or at least a raise. I was flabbergasted when he fired me! Practically stumbling out of the office, I drove straight home and immediately called Doug. I wanted sympathy, but his first reaction was “file a grievance.” I started to explain that I didn’t want advice or a suggestion, but he said it wasn’t a good time to talk; he’d be over after work and we could talk then.”
Eva was outraged as she recounted this story in my office. “I know he loves me, but I was furious. I had just been fired, and this was the best he could do! So I called my best friend, Patty. She said she’d rearrange her afternoon appointments and meet me in two hours. Now, that’s true love!”
Are you so focused on romantic love that you overlook the love you get from your close friends? Have you considered that the way you receive love from your close friends may, at times, be more satisfying than what you receive from your lover?
Men and women want to love and be loved. They want to be appreciated and valued. They want to feel special. These are the qualities you want in a lover, but they are also the qualities you want in a best friend. It’s true; best friends offer much of what you want in a lover.
One reason best friends are so valuable is that by virtue of being the same sex, they have similar styles of expressing love. Typically, males and females have different styles of expressing their love. Males do for others, they offer suggestions; they like being together without talking, or talking but not directly about feelings. While women express their love in some of these same ways, they pay more attention to emotions, intuition, and shared feelings.
This means that your style of giving and receiving love may be more compatible with your same sex best friend than with your lover. If you expect your partner to demonstrate love the same way you do, you may constantly be disappointed, angry, or feeling unloved. If you aren’t attuned to the fact that male and female styles of expressing love are different, your expectations for your lover may breed dissatisfaction. At the same time, you may not be attuned to how important is the love you get from your best friend.
Fortunately, Eva quickly figured out she needed her best friend. She was upset that Doug responded with advice – file a grievance – not sympathy. She wanted him to respond as she would have if he had been fired, as Patty did: get together and talk about her feelings. Doug had offered male style love; she needed female style love.
If the situation had been reversed, Doug might have felt annoyed or patronized if Eva left work to be with him, or if she offered him verbal sympathy. If he called his best friend, Paul might have suggested filing a grievance. Paul might have delayed coming over until the evening, sparing Doug from exposing his shame while it was fresh. Later, they might have worked on Doug’s car or watched television, shot basketballs, gone for a drink. They probably would not have talked much about Doug’s feelings. Doug would have felt Paul’s caring. That’s male style love.
Best friend love is not second place to sexual love; it’s different, and how it is different is what makes it so special: with your best friend you can express and receive love in your own style.
If you have questions or comments or want more information, contact me at:
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis
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