What Happens When You Realize Your Friends Are The Great Loves Of Your Life

by Zara Barrie

I know a girl who is so completely obsessed with finding "the one." Her entire existence is centered around a finding a man who will wrap her up in his arms and sweep her away to the blissful island of love.

She doesn't go to parties on the weekend unless eligible men will be there. And she doesn't hang out with her friends very often because she works full time. But she does makes sure to go on at least three dates per week.

"I just want to fall in love. My greatest fear is that I will never find love. Oh, will I find love? Ugh, probably never," she once said to me at a rooftop party. Her beautiful, topaz eyes were glassy with desperation.

She melodramatically lit her cigarette and gazed longingly into the smoky city distance, as if she were starring in a movie about a broken millennial starved from the magic of love.

I stayed silent because I like to let a girl indulge in her own sorrow, especially when she's buzzed at a stupid party. I let her have her moment and walked away. Plus, I got it.

You have to let a girl indulge in her own sorrow, especially when she's buzzed at stupid party.

I used to have the same fear. After so many complicated breakups, terrible dates at shitty bars and disconnected, empty sex, I used to find myself with sudden bouts of "I'll never find love" anxiety.

"I will die alone," I would whisper to myself, as I struggled to find my underwear on the dirty floor after a one-night stand deep in Brooklyn.

"I will die alone," I would think to myself, as I watched two gorgeous lesbians drunkenly make out on a midnight subway ride.

"I will die alone," I would scream inside, as I sat across from a bleach-blonde account executive who ordered a basic California roll at the best sushi restaurant in New York.

But one day, it hit me. I will not die alone. Screw this obsession with finding "the one." My friends are the great loves of my life.

Screw this obsession with finding 'the one.' My friends are the great loves of my life.

When I realized this, I was at a little gay dive bar on the gulf coast of Florida, drinking overpriced mini champagne bottles. My best friend Eduardo had his skinny, distressed-denim legs sprawled on my lap.

We were in a heated conversation about false eyelashes. I could see my darling friend Eric ordering a drink in the distance. My blue-eyed friend Matty was sitting to my right, putting blush on my cheek. His hair was primly slicked back, shamelessly rocking his chic little bowtie at the dirty dive bar.

He nervously shook his leg, waiting for his new boyfriend to arrive.

Suddenly, my heart felt so full of love, I thought it was going to explode out of my chest. My insides were as glittery as the drag queen's (who was doing a heartfelt rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework") sparkly mermaid costume.

"This is what abundance feels like," I thought to myself, feeling all warm, tingly and pretty inside.

I felt more full than I ever had with any lover ever.

"I don't think I care about finding 'the one' anymore. I think my friends are the great loves of my life," I slurred out of nowhere.

We were drunk, and it was the holiday season, so rather than being the bitchy gays we usually are and responding with a snarky comment, we cheered. We clumsily clanked our champagne glasses together and toasted to never needing a lover because we loved each other so much.

I don't think I care about finding 'the one' anymore. I think my friends are the great loves of my life.

I immediately thought about the girl who's obsessed with finding love. She doesn't have many close friendships, and she focuses all of her energy on finding a boy, so she's got no room for anyone else. It made me feel sad for her.

The truth is, our romantic partners can leave us at anytime. You can think it's forever, but in all honesty, forever is rare. People grow in different directions.

People lie. People cheat. People become addicted to toxic substances. People fall out of love. People have affairs and get caught. And suddenly, we don't recognize them anymore.

I've seen couples I never thought would break up in a million years suddenly divorce.

But luckily for us, our friends are a constant.

We have a different kind of dynamic with our friends than we do with our partners — one that I would argue is more pure and honest than romance.

I don't try to be anything for my friends except myself. My friends have seen me blacked out, crying in the corner of the club. And they were the ones who picked me up off the floor, took me home and showed me nothing but empathy — no judgment.

I tell my friends when I'm feeling fat, ugly and hopeless. I tell my friends when I'm feeling hot, fabulous and unstoppable.

I'm in it with these punks until the day I die, for better or for worse. It's such a wonderful, low-pressure dynamic because I don't demand the same perfectionism from them like I do with my partners.

I'm with them simply because I love them — all of them – with every piece of my soul.

I don't care about trying to make them want to fuck me. I don't care about being "girlfriend material" (whatever the hell that stupid trope even means) to my friends.

We have a different kind of dynamic with our friends that I would argue is more honest than romance.

Most of my closest friends have been in my life for 15 years, which is over a decade longer than any relationship I've ever been in. We need to nurture the relationships we have with the people in our lives who have been there from the jump.

But instead, we often prioritize some rando we met on Tinder who we've casually dated for three weeks.

I'm not saying there isn't a place for romantic love. I love and believe in the beauty of romantic love, the power of it, the magic of it and the sexual thrills and chills of it, too.

But I also think love is fluid. I can totally meet someone and think, "Wow! This woman is the person I want to lay roots with and even marry one day." But I'm real enough with myself to know even the most amazing woman in the world could change. I could change, too. It might not be forever, and that's actually OK.

Because I know I have a few friends that will be forever (unless — God forbid — one of us dies).

If we dare shift our thinking this way, I think our love lives would actually be more positive overall.

When you're so desperate to find "the one," you settle for less than you deserve. And you're not a fully-realized person when you're spending all your time looking for a lover to complete you.

When you're so desperate to find the one, you settle for less than you deserve.

You're a full-realized, interesting person when you have loads of friends, hobbies and interests. And when you're fully-realized, you become whole.

And I believe you have to be whole to find real love. Otherwise, all you have is this twisted, convoluted love that's only about filling voids, codependency and desperation.

The beauty of realizing your friends are the great loves of your life boils down to this: You are free to take more risks in your dating life when you realize you've already found "the one" in your best friends.

You know you won't die of heartbreak because you already have these amazing people who will be in your life forever.

You know that no matter who comes into your life and shatters it, you have these kickass friends who will help you pick up the pieces.

Then, we won't go for the "safe" person who will never break our hearts. Instead, we will go for the people we really, truly love.

Because we know if that asshole were to ever break our heart, our friends would be there to kick their asses and remind us that we don't need to cry our eyes out because we have so much love in our lives already.

And as long as they're around, we always will.