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It’s that time of year again where corporations make surpluses of products in pink and red, candy stores begin looking like a Black Friday sale and people panic over the status of their dating lives even more than usual. When the entire world turns into a heart-shaped advertisement for romantic love, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype and forget that love comes in many forms apart from romance. So this Valentine’s Day, I’m writing a love letter to platonic love.
For several years, the phrase “more than friends” has deeply confused me. It suggests that romance is something inherently greater than friendship and that romantic love is the deepest connection that two people can share. As someone who enjoys building strong, meaningful relationships, I longed to find a partner because I couldn’t wait to experience that once-in-a-lifetime chemistry. Romance was the highest rung on the ladder of intimacy, and I couldn’t wait to find that ultimate kind of love.
However, I’ve recently realized that friendships can be some of the most intimate relationships of all. Since arriving at Lawrence, I’ve been fortunate to develop several close friendships with amazing, fascinating people. From the members of my diversity organization that adopted me like a little sister in my first year at Lawrence to the coworkers who became my most trusted confidantes to the girls who never stopped believing in me through the nerve-racking LUCC election process, I am truly blessed to be surrounded by so many incredible folks.
When I think about the time I’ve spent with these people, the first word that comes to mind is love. I love how they fill the room with joy simply by existing. I love watching their eyes sparkle as they describe all the interesting things they enjoy doing. I love the simple comfort of being in their presence without saying a word. For me, this is love in its truest, purest form.
The word “soulmate” conjures up the idea that while we may care for many people in our lifetimes, our souls have only one perfect match – a lover. Although the bond between romantic partners is uniquely special, I personally have multiple friends with whom I share soul-deep connections. The phrase “more than friends” sounds wrong to me because I genuinely have no idea how anything could be worth more than a good friendship.
While I value close friendships, some of my happiest memories from college have been with casual friends or acquaintances. Even though we might not see each other every day or share our deepest secrets with each other, these people have shaped my experience at college for the better. The classmate who always chatted with me while I was working at the commons. The girl who ordered me chicken nuggets and a milkshake after a school dance. The guy who helped me figure out how to use the washing machines in Kohler Hall during my first week. The person who played cards with me on the first-year orientation trip to High Cliff State Park. Sometimes even the smallest interactions can leave a lasting impact.
I still do believe in romantic love, and I even hope it might happen to me when the time is right. There have been thousands of poems, songs and novels dedicated to this glorious phenomenon. But my first love will always be my beautiful, brilliant friends, and this Valentine’s Day, I hope they know how much their presence has brightened my life.