Why my best friend is more important to me than a significant other

HBO

At the end of the final season of Sex and the City, I was left with this profound sense of calm. Despite seasons upon seasons of four women consistently talking about relationships and S.O.s (and let’s face it, who among us does not?), the overarching theme of later seasons is that your best friends are your soulmates just as much as — if not more than — your significant others are. They’re the ones who have seen you at your worst and have cradled your head through years and years of mistakes, heartbreak, and nights full of wine. And while all of us want to find a partner to spend our lives with, and that relationship may end up being your first priority, the relationships we have with our best friends can be even more important — because our best friends are entirely selfless when it comes to our well-being.

There’s an instantaneous, effortless understanding between us.

With my best friend, I don’t have to explain why I’m upset, or even why I’m sublimely happy. She knows me well enough to be aware of how I feel and react to situations more intuitively than my boyfriend might. There’s no struggling for words to make my point known, no possibility of offense or misunderstanding. It’s easy and effortless with my best friend, and she’s always on hand to listen.

She sticks up for me when I lose perspective.

I always think of my best friend as my second brain, and maybe even my second heart. When I’m having trouble with a boyfriend or something at work, she’s the one to remind me of my worth and how I deserve to be treated. Even if I am inclined to make excuses for poor behavior or to compromise my own happiness for my boyfriend’s, she’s the one to remind me that I should stick up for myself the same way I would stick up for her if she were in my shoes. At the end of the day, she’s the one I turn to when a significant other falls short. Without her to support me, I would be much worse off.

There are zero expectations; all I have to do is have fun and be myself.

Best friends have that established friendship that even a long-term relationship can’t always quite match. Relationships always carry expectations of the other person — expectations about your future together, what your life will look like, how to handle the ghosts of your past, etc., but a best friend can be the escape from all the big questions of relationship life. My best friend comes to me to handle what she and her boyfriend are going through, from where they’ll live to how many kids they’ll have. She and her boyfriend have been together six years and are total soul mates and BFFs — but sometimes, you need a friend more than you need your partner.

There are no strains on your relationship. There’s no tension, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.

There’s history there.

My best friend and I met in sophomore year of high school, and we sat near each other in half of our classes, copied each other’s homework, gossiped about the same people, and were friends before boys were even a consideration. In my life, a partner is a main priority, but as far as I’m concerned, my best friend is the person who will always know where I came from, because she was there for it all.

I always remember that Sex and the City quote: “Maybe we can be each other’s soul mates and then we can let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.”

I don’t entirely agree with that quote, but there’s some truth in it. Ideally, any romantic relationship should be between two people who consider the other friends, but if you’re in a new relationship or any relationship, a lot of us tend to sideline our best friends. We throw all of our energy into sustaining and nurturing our relationships, so much so that we can sometimes forget that our best friend can also be our soul mates, just in a different way. We need to remember that our friendships should be prioritized in our lives, because we need them just as much.

I also keep in mind that my best friend is a blueprint for any relationships in my life. I know that when I meet guys, I go for the ones who instantly make me feel like I do with my best friends. It should be comfortable, honest, open, and free. No relationship should be without effort, but it’s that sense of effortlessness that I always crave — that I have enjoyed with my closest friends.

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