Whether it be movies, television shows or books, when we think of relationships, we have the tendency to default to romantic relationships. Romantic relationships have been dissected, pulled and prodded, broken down to understand all aspects of it from ways to attract our crush to dealing with the loss of a lover. Friendships, which are usually second in the duration of relationships we have with other people, are never centered to that level. Understanding what leads to a friendship, what sustains it and why sometimes they break.
“Love gets all the big headlines, but friendship is where the action is, especially if you consider that it is really a lack of friendship that makes an unhappy marriage. Fundamentally, it’s the art of friendship that warms you in the various winters of your discontent, and when you’re in trouble you don’t want 1,000 people, but just one. ‘Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain,’ the late Muhammad Ali is thought to have said. ‘It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.’”
– Andrew O’Hagan
No one has a choice in the family you come into, but the friends you make are all up to you. Relationships occur from a single event or from months of conversations leading to the “aha” moment of “hey, you might be my person”. As the saying goes, we have friends that are there for a lifetime, others for a season and some for life lessons, but they all have an impact. Understanding their roles in our lives serves to fill out our lives and support us in developing our individual backbones as we attempt to make it through the everyday. Loyalty and commitment are aspects that are not declared in these relationships, but each person is very much aware that they are there. No formal contract is needed to cement this, just actions and words.
“A friendship is a relationship without ceremony. Unlike marriage, friends don’t announce their commitment to each other before an assembly of loved ones. If a friendship ends, it’s likely to do so unceremoniously. Friends may never even directly discuss the painful decision to extract themselves from the other’s life, let alone fight for the relationship to survive. They can simply explain to themselves and others, ‘We grew apart.’”
– Rhaina Cohen
The focus on friendships has been highlighted through a variety of mediums. From the Best Friends podcast hosted by Comediennes Nicole Byer (Nailed It, Girl Code) and Sasheer Zamata (SNL, Woke) where they delve into their connection and their everyday musings along with interviewing others on their close friendships. There’s also the recently released book Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close (of which I am currently reading), where Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman share with the world the makings of their relationship, the bumps in the road and how they maintain it. As friends of different backgrounds, Sow and Friedman also go into the impact of race in a friendship, a new subject matter as most of us have seen interracial romantic relationships centered and dissected.
The ability to cherish the moments with our friends as we go through this world together is something a lot of us have to be reminded of. When we hit a rough patch and times get hard it is our family but also for majority of us our friends (chosen relationships) that tend to be there for us.
“Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, such as marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure…Still, survey upon survey upon survey shows how important people’s friends are to their happiness.”
– Julie Beck
 Andrew O’Hagan, “Reflections on True Friendship,” The New York Times, November 23, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/t-magazine/friendships-social-media.html.
 Rhaina Cohen, “A friendship ‘too big to fail’,” The Washington Post, August 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/a-friendship-too-big-to-fail/2020/08/12/b5453a9e-af13-11ea-856d-5054296735e5_story.html.
 Julie Beck, “How Friendship Change in Adulthood,” The Atlantic, October 22, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/.