Just good friends?
Katie Margaret Hall explores the grey area between friendship and romance
A couple of years ago I caught myself defending a friendship to my girlfriend of the time. I boldly claimed: “We’re just good friends!” in response to an assumption on my girlfriend’s part that something romantic or sexual must be going on. She needed to find a way to account for the intimacy that my friend and I had together, which she felt excluded from.
As I said those words, I could feel myself cringing. Questions raced through my mind. “Why am I describing this friendship as ‘just’ anything and demeaning it to less importance than the relationship? Why am I having to justify the nourishment that this friendship offers me?”
I realised that rather than qualify my friendships with the caveat of “just”, I wanted to celebrate everything they stood for. There is power in these magical friendships between women that transcends the individual, that is transformative, and that has the power to heal our wounds and make us better, and make the world better.
The problem, it became clear, was that whilst my friend and I understood and accepted the dynamics, boundaries and values of our friendship, my girlfriend did not. The friendship was full of love, intimacy and support... but nothing physical. It hadn’t occurred to me that this would be something I’d need to explain. Everyone understands that friendships are important, don’t they? I’d expected implicit trust from my girlfriend. But I hadn’t sought to clarify a shared understanding of these boundaries, leading to a tricky situation. My knee-jerk reaction was to reject her discomfort and dismiss her worries without offering an explanation. But it gave me food for thought. I started to examine all of my female friendships and wanted to understand why I invested in them, and how they invested in me.
Read the rest of this article in the February issue of DIVA, available to buy in print or digitally here.
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