“It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
Most people are familiar with this phrase, but what does it really mean? And what, essentially, is love?
Love is an abstract concept that comes in many forms:
love for a significant other
love for family
love for God/one’s spirituality
love for pets
love for mankind
love for country
love for nature, hobbies, etc.
love for friends
. . . and all of these feel so different from one another: Love for your spouse feels different from love for your children, which feels different from love for God, love for your pets, love for mankind, country, nature . . . and of course, love for friends.
Grasping these can be difficult. Explaining them, even more so.
I’d like to touch upon one: love for friends.
To me, love for friends means caring about them—concern for their well-being, their lives; sharing in their experiences, good or bad; being there when they need someone; sticking by them, come what may.
Sounds great, right?
Well . . . as a woman, I face one enormous difficulty: Guys are my main friends. And I like it that way, for various reasons.
At face value, this doesn’t seem too bad. Friends are friends, regardless of gender, correct? Societally speaking, however, this throws girls/women a crappy curve ball that I’ve been fighting with for many years.
So often I hear: “Men and women can’t be friends.” Reasons? One or the other will eventually want something more out of the relationship, consequently breaking hearts; or something might happen between them that will destroy the friendship or throw a monkey wrench into their primary relationships.
Honestly, I say: Not necessarily true.
Have I been attracted to guys I’ve been friends with? Of course. I’m not dead, and neither are they. Being of opposite genders, sure, sexual tension within men-women friendships is inevitable. Sometimes.
But! . . . it really all comes down to how you handle it.
You see, I value the platonic nature of my friendships with guys, respect them and their significant others—and my husband’s own feelings!—so much more than I’m willing to cave into any base drives I might possess.
Maybe it comes with maturity. Maybe it come with the types of guys I hang out with. Maybe I just want to kick that damn-stupid phrase square in the teeth, with a scoff and a sneer and a “screw you” attitude.
Point is, I’m a woman who likes being friends with guys. Which puts me in the position of loving them . . . as friends.
Love for friends—again, personally—means truly caring about them, and whereas society shrieks: “Oh, my God! There must be something going on between them! They hang out too much, talk too much, spend too much time together!! Shit, I mean, did you see them buy coffee for one another?! There’s got to be something going on—in secret!!” . . .
. . . I say: “Mind your own damn business. Have you not cared for those you’ve grown close to? Wanted to share with them your experiences, your thoughts, your ideas? Wanted to buy them coffee just because they were your friend and you appreciated their help/companionship/friendship? Liked them because of who they were—their personality, their mindset, their intrinsic nature, their intelligence—not because of what gender they were?”
To truly love a friend is to truly care about them, and to ultimately truly want what’s best for them.
Not for you. For them.
And love teaches you this.
Love makes you feel. Helps you grow. Allows you to understand it’s all right to form special bonds—with acceptable boundaries—in the face of contrary opinion . . . and that it’s all right to let them go.
So this phrase: “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,” speaks volumes.
Forming a platonic bond, and then losing that bond—completely or partially—is a rich teaching experience.
Yes, I’d bonded, loved, felt, experienced, shared my various thoughts with another I’d grown close to and had considered one of my best friends . . . and all of without this, I never would have built memories with him that I’ll treasure for a lifetime.
Indeed, platonic love for friends has taught me that I’m alive.
And being alive is a good thing.