Not too long ago, I had a phone chat with a friend that I hadn’t spoken to in some time. She and I were always close, but life gets busy and we don’t get to talk often . . . yet we always pick up right where we left off. As we were hanging up, I said, “Love you!” She paused for a (very long) minute, and said, “you too!”
As I shut off my phone, I suddenly felt awkward. I hoped I didn’t freak her out. And that made me realize that I don’t tell my friends often enough that I love them. Which made me think, why the hell not?
On a daily basis, we all say we “love” things as a matter of habit: I loved that movie! I love that restaurant! I loved that book! We say it and mean it in a limited context, but we all know, somewhere deep down, that we don’t love our eyeliner in the same way we love our spouses, partners, and kids – or our friends.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder why we don’t tell our friends more often that we love them.
Because the friends in our life – the real ones – are the family we choose.
They are the ones who support us through life’s changes, pick our kids up from school when we’re running late, give us a glass of wine when we just can’t take it anymore, comfort us through loss, celebrate with us during happy times, and talk us off the edge when we need a reality check. Our girlfriends laugh with us, cry with us, shop with us, and tell us the truth when nobody else will. They know us in ways our spouses and children don’t.
So why don’t we say “I love you” more often to each other? I think, to some extent, we are afraid of showing too much emotion – perhaps seeming weak and needy – or worse, that we fear rejection. We are socially programmed to be close, but not-that-close, and saying those three magic words undoubtedly changes the depth of a relationship, platonic or not.
But the truth is our friends – our true, real friends– are already connected to us on a much deeper level than any of us may be willing to consider or even admit. Back in elementary and high school, we are so busy finding ourselves and trying to just be accepted, that it’s often hard to develop deep, long-lasting friendships. It eventually does happen, though, and as we mature into adulthood, those friendships that survive (and those we develop along the way) truly deepen and grow.
There is beauty and strength in that.
Women can be friends, true friends, and love each other in a way that is both comforting and strong.
We can disagree, we can give unsolicited advice, and we can laugh together. I believe it is critical for my daughter to see that women can love and support each other, in the midst of the chaos that is life, bringing joy and comfort – and empowerment – through it all. I know it will give her hope during her teenage years to see that friendships are more than how many Instagram likes you can obtain, and that women can experience authentic, nurturing friendships that last a lifetime.
Although actions speak louder than words, sometimes, words can be beautiful, too. Saying “I love you” – and meaning it – can be reaffirming, grounding, and uplifting all at the same time. And who doesn’t want to hear they’re loved?
So the next time you think to yourself that you want to tell your friend you love them, do it. Friendship-love is a real thing, and we should say it and celebrate it whenever we can.