My mom told me the most relatable dating story last night. When she was around my age, her best friend Robin was dating a guy named Dave. After a few months Dave and Robin broke up, but belonged to the same friend group, so they stayed friends. A few months after that, during a big group hangout, Dave asked my mother on a date and she accepted. They had a wonderful date: a movie and dinner filled with laughs.  As Dave stopped in front of her house after the date, they went in for the kiss. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) it took all they had just to stop laughing. After a handful of unsuccessful kiss attempts, my mom was cracking up and Dave was crying from laughing so hard. Needless to say, they did not continue going out on dates. Instead of forcing a romantic relationship doomed from the start, the two remained friends, but stayed with the rest of the group.

My mother’s experience with Dave describes so many of my experiences with men. Some of my best friends and closest confidants are men, but with zero romantic implications. People tell me constantly that men and women can’t be “just friends”: one of them must be attracted to the other, then it gets complicated. I beg to differ.

I met one of my closest guy friends in middle school, leading to a 10+ year friendship full of ups and downs, laughs and tears, celebrations and failures. Never during that time did I ever want to date, or even kiss him. Honestly, I was surprised when I heard he was dating someone. Luckily, I am also blessed to be friends with his fiancée, and can’t wait to attend their wedding.

Another friend I’ve started talking to since moving back home, despite knowing him half of my life. We can talk about absolutely anything, including our current romantic interests. We understand each other on an intellectual level, so conversing about complex philosophical topics comes easily. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of laughter involved in a kiss between us. But regardless, it’s such a wonderful thing to have a friend with whom you can talk about anything on your mind.

All of this comes back to an article I read last week about love. The author describes a type of love that makes you feel tingly inside, as though you’ve died and gone to heaven, even just for a moment. I couldn’t agree with her more- I fall in love a few times a year. I meet a guy who makes me challenge myself, think about things a new way, laugh until I cry, and I fall in love. Does that mean it’s a lasting love? No. Does that mean he is “The One”? No. It means we have a meaningful connection with some physical attraction thrown in. Unfortunately, this infatuated type of love doesn’t last- it fades and eventually we lose touch, the flame flickering out. My current flame- I hope that doesn’t happen, but all I can do is take things as they come.

So to my closest guy friends, I love you to death. Not the infatuated love, the love you have for the people who keep you afloat during the everyday struggles, the love that acknowledges imperfections and doesn’t require change, the love that lasts a lifetime without asking for a thing in return. Thanks for being there though all the other “loves.” You win my heart.

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