Friends are so, so important. There is nothing, not even the relationship between siblings, as close as a best friend, someone you’ll tell all your darkest and deepest secrets to. With siblings, it’s not really a choice. I would take a bullet for my sister & brother without question. But I chose my best friends. I chose to say that they were worth that insane act. It’s something incredible, to choose a person to love that dearly. There are things that I’ve told my best friends that not a single other person in the world knows.
And yet, I feel like we see friendships portrayed in books rarely. There’s almost always going to be a romantic element, and we’re starting to see more familial relationships, but friendships are still something I really have to search for. And yeah, I’m sure that there are probably a bunch of contemporaries that have really strong friendships, but I want to see them everywhere. I want to see best friends inside of fantasy novels. I want see best friends wielding magic together. I want to see best friends fighting back to back. You can keep your romances. I want friendships.
The relationship between friends is so damn complex. Honestly, romantic relationships are pretty normal and uninteresting when compared to friendships. Because there’s a level of intimacy between friends that you’re never going to experience between two people in love. Which seems crazy, right, but there are experiences and stories that I’ve shared with my best friends that I would never, in a million years, share with a romantic partner. There’s such a vulnerability between friends, something that says yes you I want to share my soul with you that you don’t get anywhere else. And you really can’t argue me on this point. This is just straight fact. No matter how much you’ve shared with your partner, there is something buried deep that you’ve only shared with your best friend.
So why are we not exploring the insanely complex circles of friendship? Why are we instead focusing so much on romance instead of on this beautiful sharing of hearts? And I’m not here to call for an end to romance. Trust me, I love reading about people falling in love. I just also want to see friendships right alongside romance. Because, truthfully, to have people falling in love without also consulting their best friends about their new love interest is just not realistic. If you don’t think every single person who has ever been interested in someone hasn’t immediately turned around and dissected every minor detail about that interest with their best friend? Folks, I’ve got some spoilers for you. It really doesn’t matter who you are, we’ve all done this.
And it’s not just about talking about crushes or romantic interests. There is so much more rooted into a friendship. My friends hear all of my mundane things. If I messed up a bread, I tell them about it. If I’m dreaming about a character several days in a row, they know. If I’ve had to pause my movie to scream about how good it is, they’re the ones I’m screaming to. If my cat looks especially cute today (every day), they’re getting the pictures. They are the first to know everything, often times before my family. They’re the ones I turn to when I’m feeling happy or sad. They’re who I look to when I need to be uplifted, empowered, or told to sit the heck down.
Because that’s the other amazing thing about friends. They’re always going to be honest with you. If you’re being a jerk, they’re going to tell you. Sometimes, it’ll be in a really kind way. Sometimes, they’ll just be straight with you like listen cut the shit. But, no matter what, they’re not going to sugar coat it. And when you’re being a badass, they’re also going to tell you. As I was writing this post, I had to swing over and remind one of my friends how amazing she was and how lucky I am to have her in my life because damn. I get to have the coolest person ever as my best friend, and that’s pretty fantastic.
Friendships, much like siblings, are also a great way to sneak in some easy character development. Feel like your love interests don’t know each other well enough yet to really work on developing them individually, or together, as characters? WELL GUESS WHAT. Friends are so weird, even if we’ve only known each other for a few months, we’re already spilling our hearts out. You can just tell when a new friend is going to be more than just someone you chat with occasionally. If I’ve got the vibe with you, you probably know the same things that friends I’ve had for years do. And that, right there, is just A++++++ character development possibility.
Also, friend scenes are just the best? There’s no awkward sexual tension, no ulterior motive of “okay how can I move their relationship forward with this scene”, nothing but just pure, unadulterated, beautiful friendship. Want your characters to giggle whisper under the stars, but don’t feel the draw romantically between them? FRIENDS. Want your characters to be really vulnerable with each other, but don’t think it’s necessary for them to kiss after? FRIENDS. Want your characters to hold hands and hug all the time and occasionally feel like snuggling up in bed together, but feel like most people are going to assume there’s something else going on? I DON’T CARE, FRIENDS.
Basically, friends do everything romantic relationships do, but better.
Now, a quick reminder. I’ve only mentioned gender when talking about my personal experience because all of my best friends are women. But when I say I want to see more friendships in books, I mean for everyone. I don’t just want women friendships. I want to see them across the spectrum. Give me LITERALLY EVERYTHING. Stop at nothing. Give me every form of friendship you can think of, and I will applaud you. (Given that they’re healthy, of course.) I talk about friendships between women so much because we often just see women breaking each other down in literature, and that’s a whole other discussion in itself, but I want EVERY friendship. I want them all. Overload the entire publishing industry with them. I’m not saying get rid of romance, but hell, add friendship into every damn story that’s already got romance in it. Friendships everywhere. Think it’s got enough? You’re wrong, add more. I don’t care if your lovers are also friends, give them friends on top of that.
ALL THE FRIENDS!
If this post does nothing but make you scramble to go scream at your friends about how much you love them, then I’ve succeeded. And even if it doesn’t, do it anyway. Your friends deserve to be reminded of how great they are, and how blessed you are to have them.