FRIEND-ZONING.

As the perceived importance of romantic relationships has begun to deteriorate, the importance of friendships has steadily advanced, almost soared. I wondered for a second if it’s Taylor Swift’s squad-y witchcraft sucking me under the spell of its #goals, but no, it’s an actual feeling of satisfaction, content and, hello corny, unconditional love. Friendships are rewarding and challenging, straight up.

Romantic relationships and friendships are interchangeable, they develop parallel to each other, non-identical-twins style. Both have beginnings filled with cramming in as much information about yourselves as possible, hours and hours passed aimlessly in unstoppable confessions and no-barrs-held anecdotes, breathless admiration for the other’s edges which, of course, are really just hidden perfections. If it turns out you share an interest? Well… You start to believe in God, because how else would you have found the person so unquestionably right for you? You follow each other on social media quicker than you can ask that question.

Enter phase 2, where everything is calmer and you take each other for granted, although in friendship it feels like a good thing. It becomes a steady given that your friend is simply…there – there when you need them, there when you don’t. Like in romantic relationships, you’re free to call each other out on the bullsh-t you eventually see in one another, which is the best, because you should be so lucky to have a friend who will not be afraid to let you know when you’ve been an asshole. Unlike in romantic relationships, hard convos don’t feel loaded.

Should phase 3, the breakup phase, enter as well, you are equally f-cked. I have had friendship breakups, they are TOUGH, their aftermath is messy, healing can be either short or long, depending on the level of connection previously shared. In accordance with the spirit of the times, the end truly comes when you “unfollow” each other and everyone else “for sure, for sure” can see that you are done. By then, the mourning is almost over.

I have been raised in the family and society where your romantic partner, your “other half”, is presumed to forever remain an unwavering number one in the relationship. I have come to believe this view is flawed because it is rigid. If I was ever to find myself in a romantic relationship again, which I don’t plan to do, I can’t see me prioritising a boyfriend/husband over my friends and I don’t think anyone should be expected to. At the very least, it’s 50-50. As for the spectacularly aptly named “friend-zoning” phenomenon, unless you are about to die from how intensely you want to be romantically involved with your date, accept the offer, take the friend-zone proposal and don’t look back. Side-tracking to a new friendship can be a gift, don’t be silly.

My daughter Sofia (who has been acting so dumb recently) has organised a “Cool Girls’ Club” during recess at school where, yes, only “cool” girls are admitted, which she made sure of by appointing herself the Club’s president (boss!). I found out the day after that her own BFF did not pass the cool test. First of all, bloody hell, Sofia, this is bullying. Second of all, I took my sweet-ass time to walk her thorough how vital her relationship with her friend must remain, how, outside her parents, there is no one closer and more cherished than a friend (sometimes not even siblings?), how without her friend she would inevitably wither and how friends must be treated with pure love. I pray to Beyonce she never forgets.

I had my own best friend, Kelly, come over for the weekend. She lives in Belgium and, although we’re in touch daily, we don’t often get to physically hang. It was the most satisfying, most glorious two days of galleries (Basquiat!), movies (of course we saw Call Me By Your Name, you can totally start calling me Kelly now and her – Marina) and verbal diarrhea – I’m about this unicorn life.