“What if we treated our lovers more like friends? We saw in Chapter 3 that the privileging of love puts pressure on love relationships. Think about starting a new relationship: this person hasn’t spent as much time with you as some of your oldest friends and you haven’t yet told them about all the major events of your life but, somehow, because you’ve had sex, you expect them to telepathically know how you’re feeling and to respond perfectly to every situation in which you find yourselves. Also, we can handle our friend having opposing attitudes to us on some of the things we hold dear, but a lover can disagree with us on something as simple as whether its okay to miss the movie trailers and it is a major issue. It is easy to take lovers for granted. We may not be as grateful when a lover puts themselves out for us as we would if a friend did the same. We might not be as appreciative when they give up their evening to comfort us when we’re low. We might take out our irritations and frustrations out on them by being snappy, unfriendly, or quiet without explanation in a way we’d never do with a friend. Perhaps we should take a few moments, each time we’re being irritable with a lover, to ask ourselves, ‘How would I treat a friend in this situation?’

What if we were to treat our friends more like our lovers? Might it be good to put a bit more romance into our friendships? With lovers, we often celebrate by making a big thing of anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, or by spoiling them on their birthdays. We show our appreciation for them with little gifts and cards. We leave them a note when we depart in the morning after an enjoyable night together. We make time for them. Many of these things could be incorporated into friendships. We could send a friend a homemade CD when we hear they’ve been low. We could schedule in a regular lunch date. We could send a bunch of flowers to an old friend to let them know we’re thinking about them even though we haven’t seen each other in a while. We could arrange, each year, a day with a friend to specifically focus on our friendship, perhaps going away for a weekend together doing something we both enjoy, maybe acknowledging the day we met or cemented our friendship in some way. Perhaps friendships could also benefit from some of the ‘state of the relationship’ discussions we may have with overs. It may be easier to let friendships drift or to avoid talking about a problem because we’re not generally expected to reflect on, or work at, our friend relationships.”

— Meg John Barker, Rewriting the Rules

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