As I live with a member of the opposite sex, a question I’m often asked is “are you a couple, or are you just friends?” but it’s not something I’m new too. As someone with quite a lot of friends of the opposite sex, it’s a question I’ve been asked regularly for the past decade – probably literally hundreds of times and with regard to just about every female friend I have. And it always annoys me.
Having said that, it’s not people wanting to know the nature of my relationships which annoys me. It’s fair enough. People are curious and want to know more about my life. What annoys me is when people ask if I am ‘just’ friends with them, because it suggests that there is some inherent inferiority in friendship. That romantic relationships are the real, valuable ones and friendship is ‘just’ that. Through my eyes, the two things are different, but equal.
There are friends who are very dear to me. Friends who I’d done anything for. Friends who I love to an enormous extent. Friends whose wellbeing is just as important to me as my own, because as friends our hearts are entwined and if they’re distressed I feel it too and I won’t be able to relax until I know they’re feeling better. To what extent would these relationships be anymore valuable to me if they included a few of the aspects of romantic relationships? I daresay I care a great deal more for some of my friends than certain people do for their romantic partners.
So when people ask me “Are you a couple, or just friends?” I usually answer “We’re not a couple, no, but we’re not just friends. We’re very, very good friends indeed.” Because to describe any of these deep relationships as “just” friendship is to do them a disservice. To make a comparison, if you tell someone the sun was beautiful the previous day, they don’t say “Oh did you see it at sunrise? Or was it just at sunset?” because they’re both equally wonderful and amazing things.