No, You Don’t Want to Marry Your Best Friend
At least, not if you want romance and passion.
You’ve heard it before as the reason cited for a successful marriage.
“I married my best friend.”
As a lifelong student of human behavior, however, I can’t help but notice that most marriages in which “best friendship” is the leading theme are desperately lacking in the romance department. While my friends and acquaintances who bemoan the lack of romance in their marriages can no longer be spared from their fate, hopefully these insights will help provide clarity to those who are currently on the fence.
Yes, marrying your best friend may make you laugh, feel exceedingly comfortable in your home, and provide the sense of stability and constancy that you crave. Nevertheless, if what you actually desire is physical and emotional passion, deeply thoughtful romance, and a dance of constantly unfolding mystery and discovery, it’s time to rethink the old, cliched strategy of “marrying your best friend.”
No mystery, no romance.
Friendship is characterized by “letting your guard down.” Comfort, ease, familiarity, and all of the qualities that foster bonds of stability are the opposites of those that breed romance and passion.
Romance and passion are fueled by mystery—the desire and need to discover one another; a pull that is both magnetic and irresistible. Mystery is nurtured by a lifestyle in which each partner possesses a life that is largely separate from one another in terms of personal power, meaning that the two individuals do not rely on each other for validation, approval, or self-actualization. Great examples of this occur when two partners each have their own set of hobbies, careers, interests, and extra-curricular pursuits, all of which replenish their unique perspectives and experiences and keep them in a state of perpetual growth.
Typically, friendships are built around validation-exchange dynamics. Two individuals enjoy each others’ company and build a safe relationship through mutual validation. Over time, these two individuals begin to meld into one, and as they become more and more similar, there is less and less to discover. While there is nothing inherently “wrong” with this dynamic (it is often the preference of those who yearn for stability) it is not a dynamic that is conducive to romance and passion.
Passion and romance are a dance — friendship is a stroll.
What makes a dance, a dance? The movements may be synchronized—they may be swift, gentle, sensual, or playful—but the body is in constant, intentional motion.
Dance is energy expressed through intentional movement, and like dance, passion and romance require the intentional movement of energy. It is impossible for stagnation and passion to share space, but stagnation, routine, and habituation are hallmark characteristics of friendship.
A stroll is routine, calm, and pleasant. This movement is over familiar ground, serves as a practical mode of transportation, and does not occur in a way that makes it risky or particularly vulnerable. A stroll is an act of comfort.
A dance is an act of vibrant expression which necessitates risk, vulnerability, change, and growth. To be in a constant state of dance is to devote real, intentional energy to every movement, every choice, and every occasion. It is an art form and in some cases, a spiritual practice.
For romance and passion, marry your lover.
If you’re seeking romance and passion from your union, don’t marry your best friend. Marry your lover.
Your lover is the individual who you find after you’ve worked out your parental issues in therapy. It’s the person who understands what needs you want met in a romantic relationship and knows how to meet them.
Your lover isn’t the one who you bring all of your problems home to, nor the person that you seek out for reassurance. Your lover isn’t your bestie, your therapist, your counselor, your mother/father figure, your roommate, your friend with benefits, your drinking and smoking buddy, your master, or any of the other old and unfortunate roles that married partners slip into.
Your lover is the person who is carefully selected precisely because of your mutual depth of respect, fascination, and intrigue toward one another. This is the person who you aspire to become more like, whose values you deeply cherish and esteem, and whose growth at least matches or exceeds your own.
Your lover is the partner who can follow and lead in equal and appropriate measure, who is less interested in the mundane and superficial than they are the workings of your mind and soul, and who prioritizes your mutual well-being above all.
Your lover is the person with whom passion and romance are merely a vehicle to higher realms of thought, evolution, and growth.
What if romance and passion aren’t your relationship priority?
Ah, the question of the hour—and the most important question you can ask yourself if you are considering marriage.
Why are you getting married, and what is your relationship priority? (P.S. “Because I love them” is not an answer.)
Truth be told, marriage is not required for mind, body and soul-expanding love. In fact, it would be my personal recommendation that you spare your romance-based union from the convention of marriage unless you are both seeking certain legal benefits.
If, however, you plan to marry with the intention of starting a family, or simply because you do not want to grow old alone, then marrying your “best friend” may be your best bet. Such a dynamic is built to withstand the doldrums of familiarity, given that stability and consistency are its mainstay. As long as you enter into such a relationship with a clear understanding of what to expect in the long-run, then this can be very rewarding.
In short, know your “why.”
As with everything in life, intention creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are hoping for passion, romance, and excitement, marrying your best friend is unlikely to fulfill this desire. I cannot overstate the value of crystallizing your intention before entering into any relationship, particularly if it is going to be consecrated in marriage.
If, however, like millions of people around the world you simply desire someone to go through life with—a warm body to wake up next to in the morning and laughter to amuse you throughout the days—then marrying your best friend may be the best thing that could ever happen to you.