When you hear the phrase “in a relationship,” do you automatically assume it refers to two people who are riding the Relationship Escalator together? Or who at least share a sexual and/or romantic connection? Do you consider “friends” and “lovers” to be mutually exclusive categories?
If so, don’t sweat it. That view is incredibly common, and it’s not necessarily wrong. You get to define what “a relationship” means to you. In doing so, you might want to consider this:
There’s a broad spectrum of relationships in which people share some level of emotional or physical intimacy. Friendships can be an important, yet generally underestimated, type of relationship which can involve their own style of intimacy. People often love their friends, feel a strong sense of commitment to their friendships, or feel safe being emotionally vulnerable with their friends.
Some people even share sex or romance with friends. (Yes, for many people, the “friends” part of friends with benefits is quite genuine.)
My forthcoming book, Off the Relationship Escalator, features lots of quotes from nearly 1500 responses to my survey about unconventional intimate relationships. Here’s one quote that gets to the heart of this matter:
There’s a perceived dichotomy between “friendship” and “relationship” — and if you go outside of friendship, you’re supposed to go all the way to “relationship.” The stuff “between” should be valued too. Same for the stuff between nonsexual and sexual touch.
— Rilian, asexual
Do you consider your friendships to be significant relationships? Why, or why not? What kinds of intimacy do you share with your friends? Do you prioritize relationships that involve sex or romance over those which do not?
I’d love to hear your perspective on this. Please comment below.