Boy + Girl

You know the formula.

It must have been the movies we keep watching, the songs we keep listening to, or the books we so often read. For whatever reason, we always imagine that some random couple would eventually end up together. We make ourselves believe that a certain chemistry exists between two people, fantasizing their relationship together, and always assuming that it’s got to be love. We even imagine this for ourselves, thinking that every boy we meet is an opportunity to find love. This is how I thought so myself. It’s like you imagine everything to be a fairy tale, and by some whisper of chance the boy of your dreams could be walking through that very door, could be someone you knew all this time but never noticed, could be a whirlwind romance on an unexpected trip. We misinterpret every little thing: a text message, a Twitter retweet, a Facebook tag, an Instagram like, a small gift, a cup of coffee made for you. You’re just so sure that all these signs point to love. Boy + Girl = Love.

But then, I met men in my life who taught me otherwise. Admittedly though, some, if not most of these guys started out as happy crushes of mine, with the attraction being the catalyst for me to get to know them. Eventually though, attractions wane and crushes change, but I get some of the best of friends from these humble beginnings. I began realizing how I would never have these men in my life any other way. I would not want them to propose to me one day, or send me my favorite blue roses, or serenade me with love songs. I love them just the way they are – a love far from romantic illusions, but one that  I would treasure for the rest of my life.

A boy and a girl, no matter how unbelievably compatible or incredibly close, don’t necessarily end up in a relationship. It doesn’t matter what compatibility experts or zodiac signs tell us, and frankly it’s none of our business to make it that way. This kind of friendship, this kind of love is devoid of the fuzziness of the little gifts, the telltale signs that someone’s into you, or the anticipation of holding hands, embracing, or kissing in the moonlight. Instead, it’s fully enveloped and protected in faith, trust and care for each other. I understand that these elements do exist in romance as well, but that doesn’t mean it requires romantic love to exist. It’s amazing how I can be so close to some guys, know the deepest crevices of their heart but never ever imagine it blossoming into love, not even hoping that one day we might get married.

I have several male best friends, but I have one special male best friend who practically epitomizes the genuine, unconditional, but purely platonic love I’ve learned to cultivate. We’ve known each other since high school, were introduced through mutual friendships, and somehow managed to talk to each other online. Everything else escalated from those moments. Through high school, we always had each other’s backs through the good times, and most remarkably during the lowest moments of both our lives. College made its way to separate us physically, but we never stopped talking online, never stopped updating each other, and never stopped sharing that friendship. While I could only imagine the new experiences and the new friends he often talks about, I still feel that I am part of his life, and I always will be. To this day, we maintain that closeness, so casually close that we can eat out, watch a movie, and buy each other gifts without the slightest tinge of malice. All the so-called signs would say we’re in love with each other, and maybe we are, but not in a way most would imagine.

We’ve each had our share of romantic love and have been each other’s romantic adviser, but we never reached a point of falling for each other. In contrast, we can’t even stand the thought. We know each other well enough to agree that we’re just not right for each other, not that way, ever. At the same time, we know how we’ll always be together, always be friends and always be there for each other. It’s not even the cheesy, high-expectation kind of friendship. I don’t expect him to greet me first on my birthday, but I always know he’s wishing me the best. He doesn’t expect me to always reply to his messages, but he always loves it when I do. We talk for the sake of talking, and though we never really achieve anything concrete when we do, we always feel better after, like we just needed someone to let us rant all we want, to listen to our stories and facilitate our thinking.

You may think I’m joking, that I’m just blind to how perfect we are together and that I’d one day eat my own words, but no, I mean every word and I’m glad I do. I will forever thank this guy for teaching me that the Boy + Girl formula isn’t absolute. Because of him I’ve formed even more friendships with the opposite sex without any other motive than to be friends.

This pretty much illustrates how it is to feel this way:

http://www.sadiemagazine.com/issue-no-11/arts-letters/comic/i-think-i-am-in-friend-love-with-you

As Yumi Sakugawa would put it:

I think I am in friend-love with you. I don’t want to date you or even make out with you, because that would be weird. I just so desperately want for you to think that I am this super-awesome person because I think you are a super awesome person and I want to spend a lot of time hanging out with you

I’m not saying friendships like these never end up in love, because many stories would show that they do, but our stories will all be different, and there are no textbook instructions on how it all turns out. Sure, the movies make it look so easy and so magical, but we don’t get to read the scripts of our lives, much less our love lives. The formula could result to anything, from this you could find a loyal friend, a strong business partner, an amazing life coach, and even a treacherous enemy. It doesn’t always have to be romance. Love will come at its own time, often not in a pre-meditated manner. It would be wiser to invest in the relationships you already have: with God, your family, your friends, your classmates, your colleagues, your neighbors, the people you meet and pass by every day.

Let’s stop expecting some imagined formula to give us an imaginary love. There are so many ways to fall in love, without it ever having to be love at all.

Happy Valentines!

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