There are so many different types of love. I feel like as a society we priori- tize romantic love over platonic love. Sometimes we prioritize what some would consider unconditional love even if your chosen family has treated you better.
I receive platonic love from my friends. I used to feel so weird about telling my friends who really mean a lot to me that I love them. Growing up I thought you only told the people who were blood relatives that you love them, or someone you were dat- ing. This also meant that in my head the love I received from my friends wasn’t as important as the other type of love in my life. I was talking about this with my friend Brin the other day. Brin is my best friend and someone who I really do love. Now that I know this, I know that when Brin is mad at me or has had a little too much of my “Kelly energy,” they don’t hate me. This also means that if Brin has other best friends it doesn’t mean that they don’t love me any less.
Having felt that you could only have one best friend made it hard for me to consider newer friends as spe- cial. I’ve learned I can have more than one best friend. I’m still so awkward about it though. When talking with my friend Annika recently, we went back and forth about what makes a best friend. It went something along the lines of someone who’s there for you when you’ re crying or struggling, someone who you might go to the grocery store with and someone who you maybe don’t have to say sorry to as much when it’s not that big of a deal. At the end of this conversation An- nika and I both looked at each other and agreed “So we are best friends, right?” And after a hard laugh and a long sigh or relief, I felt more seen.
Then there is the love you have for yourself. There can be love for who you are, love of your body, love for how it’s supported you through everything. for a very long time I thought that this was the hardest love. Especially as someone who was socialized as a woman. If you’re aware of all the Billboards and ads that are constant- ly telling you that you are not good enough then it feels like you can’t es- cape them no matter how many times you put an ad blocker on. It is relent- less and everywhere. All of these things tell us we are not good enough in the body that has supported us to the point where self-hate just rolls off the tongue. Some of it might seem like little things like “I’ m stupid” or “I’ m so dumb.” Well you’re not dumb and you’ re not stupid you’ re just human and it is hard to love something that may feel so flawed. Sometimes Being flawed can be the best part, because it means you can be anything that you want. As time is going on I’ve learned to realize some of the quirky things that I may have considered stu- pid I now think are cute. Like when I’m handwriting really fast and I spell the word “with,” I end up adding an E at the end of it so it’s some mash up of with and the. I like when I get really excited about something and the volume of my voice gets loud or I do a little happy dance. I used to sing in choir and sometimes I will make little vocal noises because it feels good to use those muscles again. I like that I don’t hate my body for just plain ex- isting anymore. I’m sad my body has been through so much but I love that I kept going.
Overtime I’ve had to redefine what I think love is. Growing up having ex- amples of love that is not really love was very confusing. Even hearing things like “oh you fight like an old married couple.” Well, why are they fighting so much if they love each other? Some of that for me turned into “if you’ re fighting with someone then that must mean you really care.” Hav- ing seen countless relationships fail in front of my eyes, whether it was my siblings or my parents, I’ve learned a lot about what love isn’t. This is so important and so helpful to me be- cause when I see it I know that that’s not what love is. Sometimes it’s see- ing what love is in person, like with my friends. I know that if my friends treat me the way I want to be treated and I love them, then why can’t all my loving relationships be like that?
Well they can be. Building relationships with others takes time, ef- fort and energy. It is not always easy because everyone is different and you won’t always get along with someone. Its learning in those moments that you don’t agree with someone to still take the time to stop and consider how they might feel that is so important. Words hold weight and have meaning. You cannot take back the words that come out of your mouth. You can apologize, rephrase, explain your meaning, but they can still hurt. Even small com- ments about weight, or saying “you sound so sarcastic” can have an im- pact when you are not giving these comments much thought.
Ultimately loving someone should feel good. It shouldn’t feel like a bur- den or an interrogation. You shouldn’t be getting a better night’s sleep on the couch. You shouldn’t be afraid of being yourself around the other per- son. Not wanting to do a K-pop dance in front of them is fine but don’t be afraid to have fun. If someone loves you they don’t judge you for doing something that you feel is right. Ulti- mately the person that loves you will support you in whatever you decide to do. My stipulation with that is as long as you’re not hurting yourself or others go for it.