To the friends who teach us how to love

Sometimes my parents make jokes about my relationship with my best friend, usually of the lesbihonest variety. I laugh with them, because it’s understandable. The way I talk about Sam is often more loving than the way I hear people discuss their significant others. Don’t even get me started on the frequency – I’ve blogged about my deep love for her several times, excluding today, and will probably do many more in the future.

The reason is simple: She is the love of my life. We are just two heterosexuals who found our soulmate in each other, and it’s a beautiful thing. I know that this sounds strange, but if you’ve experienced it, you understand.

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Yeah I know we’re the cutest best friends on the planet DEAL WITH IT

I’ve talked at length about how we met, how our relationship grew, why she’s the greatest human, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to focus on something else. Sam is the one who taught me what it really means to love another person.

Naturally, I have a family that I’m close with, but that kind of love is different. I was born to love those people. Most of them didn’t give me a reason to doubt their love so mine was inherently returned. To love someone you have no obligation to is another, more challenging issue.

I wish I could remember every detail of how we went from last-minute roommates to the pair we are today. Living with her was a strange experience from day one; when I arrived and she told me she thought someone was going to break in and murder her, but it was only a can of Diet Coke exploding in the fridge (instead of investigating she simply stayed still in bed).

Maybe it was our sheer proximity that caused us to become so close (and the fact that we deliberately created the same class schedules), or maybe it was our recognition of needing each other. Or maybe just the fact that I needed her. She is one of the few people in this world I actually need in my life.

It’s been almost a decade since we first meant, and almost nine years since our first hangout. This is mind-blowing to me. It feels as if we’ve known each other forever because of our closeness, but mentally I still think it’s only been a few years.

Over the years, being her friend allowed me to have a relationship worth fighting for. When I think about what it means to be loved completely, I think of Jesus and Sam. She knows everything about me. There is so much trust between us that I know I can tell her my truly awful thoughts and there will never be judgment. I can tell her my ever changing dreams and she will offer all of her support.

She has shown me what it feels like to be secure in a relationship. I never have to question where I stand with her. If she’s tagged in a photo with another friend, I’m not worried about being replaced.

The example she set taught me how to love. Granted, I’m not nearly as good at it as she is. I’ve learned that being so close to someone is challenging, especially when they can interpret your true motivations. There will be fights and tears and thoughts of is this worth it? But it always is. That’s the best gift she’s given me. I’ve learned that to experience something real and rare, you have to understand that it takes work. As comfortable as we are with each other, it still takes work. Her refusal to give up or let our relationship stay the same taught me how to love.

Sometimes we date people and they teach us what it means to be with someone else, but sometimes the best relationships we learn from are our friends, the ones who never leave. The ones who enter our lives right on time and become so important you can’t imagine a time without them. The ones who see us at our worst and best and love us at every single stage in between. Unconditional love is a powerful gift.

I think sometimes we can forget that this is what love should feel like, and compromise that pureness for something broken. Perhaps we are desperately trying to find a best friend and attempt to fit people into molds where they don’t belong. Sometimes we meet someone and it feels so good to be dating that we let it slide when their love feels forced, or maybe even conditional.

As humans, I don’t believe we deserve anything in life, but I do know we need to remember what real love feels like, and get rid of anyone who makes that feeling a little more broken. Love may break your heart, but it shouldn’t before you’ve even started.

Waiting for something is challenging, believe me I know, but remember what you do have. The people who love you and our God who loves you so much He created you just as you are. Don’t compromise for what you know isn’t right.

Personally, I’ve wanted some big, romantic relationship. I’ve hoped every guy I’ve met would turn into this dreamboat, but so far I’m still here and single. Maybe someday I’ll get it, maybe I won’t. Or maybe God only has one epic love story for me, and if that’s my Sam, I can’t imagine anything better.

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