If you’re in your twenties, you probably have three rounds of friends.
Begin with your childhood friends. Your childhood friends are the ones that knew you when you were a chubby, pre-pubescent nerd who was exceptionally obsessed with Pokémon (not the app, the cards). You played sports together, had your first Four Loko together, took the SAT together, and every Christmas you get together and get drunk at the same bars you snuck into with a fake ID when you were 17.
Next, your college friends. Your college friends know deplorable things about you, the kind of things that would seriously hinder a career in politics, the kind of things you pray to God they’ll leave out of your wedding speech. Everything with your college friends was extreme, from library study sessions fueled by Adderall to nights out fueled by… well, Adderall.
Finally, your post-grad friends. Your post-grad friends are your newest friends. They’re the ones you met through work, or a mutual friend, or in one of those community sports leagues. They’re the ones you awkwardly asked on a first friend-date, the friend you opened up to slowly and over many drinks, careful to gently ease them into your crazy. It’s hardest making these friends because your parents aren’t PTA buddies nor are they your sorority sisters, so there’s no predetermined obligation to like each other.
You and your post-grad friends have real things in common, they understand the trials and tribulations of the corporate grind, and you actually choose to hang out in spite of your increasingly limited free time. These people, over the past two, five, or even seven years have been a major player in your adult life. You’ve gone on trips or double dates together, you text about weird Suzie from the office, and hell, you even do things together that don’t involve alcohol, like hike or go to a museum. Then, of course, after the museum, you get a drink (but it’s a drink at an actual mahogany bar, not a dorm room floor or glitter stained party bus). These people have come to mean more to you than you ever thought possible.
Here’s the thing, though. If you’re like me, you’ve never really told them that you love them and you don’t really know how.
You met your post-grad friend when you were adults (not wild kids) so there’s a level of seriousness to the relationship that just isn’t the same as your childhood or college friends. The friendship is void of the silliness that is giddy Christmas break shenanigans or spring break trips to Cabo. This person has become a pillar of your new life and, finally, you’re realizing that – goddammit – you love them.
I think it’s time we start telling our post-grad friends we fucking love them.
Sure, it’s going to be awkward, but life is short and this person has picked you up from both the airport and hospital in the span of six months. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
Platonic love is massively important. It is something we often overlook as we prioritize careers and romantic love. But without platonic love, life would not only be lonely and isolating, it would be fantastically boring. Platonic love is there when romantic love skewers your heart with an ice shiv. It’s there to take shots when you believe you’re incapable of professional success, destined to a life of part-time cat sitting, and it’s there when your parents mercilessly remove you from the phone plan. They understand slow data like your college friends never will.
Recently, I started shouting from the hilltops that I love my post-grad friends. I’ll be honest, it was far easier with my female friends than with my male friends, but none the less worth it. One night, Chrissy and I went shopping for an event I was invited to. I wanted to look “sensual in a not-escort kind of way” and she, the shopping aficionado, dragged my anti-shopping ass to every store in the mall to find a suitable ensemble. “I love you!” I said as I gave her a hug goodbye. At first, she paused. Then, she smiled. “Thanks,” she replied. “I love you too!”
I think sometimes we forget that it’s nice to feel loved. Chrissy is a good friend, she deserves to know that I care for her deeply.
I told my friend Laura next. Laura works with me, she’s a little bit older and quiet. “Love you, thanks for everything!” I said as she dropped me at home after we met for happy hour to review my resume. “You’re the best,” she replied.
I wasn’t upset she didn’t say it back. Her “I love yous” are hers to give. I just wanted her to know she has one of mine.
Finally, one night as my newest friend Ryan was leaving my house, I gave him a kind of lingering hug. “I love you,” I said, holding him at arm’s length. “You’re a really good friend.”
At first, the awkwardness was palpable. Ryan’s eyes widened, his eyebrows shooting upwards towards his hairline. “What?” he laughed.
“I mean. I just love you, I’m so glad we’re friends, you’re a really good guy.”
“Oh…like friend love?” he replied. “Oh yeah, yeah, of course. Hey. Well, fuck, I love you too,” he finally responded clumsily.
Then, he hugged me again. It was a little rushed and awkward, but he stood there for a second just holding me. “Thanks, friend,” he said before he left my house.
My point is that it’s about time we’re liberal with our love. To love and be loved is a human desire even the most cynical bastard can understand.
I wonder, do you have a friend you love but have never told? What’s the point of that? Love rocks. Love is vulnerable. Love is fucking awesome. And these days, in this insane world we live in, I think we could all use a little extra love.
We so often equate love to romance, probably because romantic love is something we strive to attain. It is something that has hurt us and inspired us and made us utterly crazy. But platonic love, that shit sneaks up on you. It’s the kind of love that is stable and honest and warm in your belly like whiskey.
Romantic love is in your heart and platonic love is in your gut. So, I say go for it. Listen to your gut and tell your post-grad friends you love them. It’s been long enough. .