Love is a water that provides your soul with nourishment. This water comes from many sources, just as different rivers and streams feed into the ocean. And this water also replenishes itself through change: rising back up into the heavens to empty itself out onto the Earth, nurture the soil, and start its journey to the ocean all over again. All love, like all water, is the same. It might involve different minerals, but it nourishes you the same. The reason why platonic love is important is the same reason why we need more than one source of water.
What do you do if the stream dries up? Where do you go if the source you're tapping from is polluted? Do you keep drinking from the same source, or do you find new avenues to replenish yourself?
It's important to treat your friends as lovers and vice versa. Being with both teaches you how to love the parts of yourself that you feel have been passed over. Although nobody can ever know you completely, you learn more about yourself from the different relationships — romantic and non-romantic — you have throughout the course of your life.
Treating your friends like lovers teaches you how to nourish another person when sex isn't involved. So much of the way in which we express tenderness gets caught up in sex. We neglect to explore the many ways in which love can manifest. We start to think of love in terms of what we are receiving, rather than what we can give. Love doesn't need to involve sex, marriage, or any other form of mature partnership in order to be any more real. There isn't any end or purpose or point to love. There's simply love itself.
Friendship teaches us the reality of love's lessons. It teaches us that the more open we are with our generosity, the more kindness we receive in turn. We pick up tabs when our friends are short a paycheck. We offer our couch when they need a place to crash. We help them move. Particularly when you are single, your friends become the partners you rely on, the people who physically show up for you. Having strong friendships where love is expressed freely shows you the truth of love, without you having to worry about making the other person stay. Friends teach us that when love is right, we don't always need to do anything to make it stick around. If we are open, generous, kind, and express love to all, love wants to be around us.
And when you treat your lover as a friend, it opens up new dimensions of emotion within your bond. A lasting love is a bit like being two children in a garden. You get to play and explore with one another, with plenty of room for humor and laughter, and even the occasional fight. Sex is only one side of the equation. On the other is a garden of earthly delights for the two of you to cultivate however you please.
Our friendships teach us what it is like to explore with another person. They teach us about conflict. We can tell the truth to our friends and feel like we are being heard and valued. We also know that it is OK if we don't get along all of the time, as long as we treat one another with respect and honor. And these values that we learn with our friendships help us to love even more deeply elsewhere.
You can't have love without a willingness to engage in conflict; you can't have friendship without a willingness to offer one another reciprocal care. Both forms of relationships and love are extremely valuable, and offer a certain amount of fluidity in your interactions. And both, when well taken care of, can nourish you with sustainable sources of intimacy and love. Treat your friends as lovers and your lovers as friends, and you'll never feel like you are without love, so long as you are on Earth.
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