How Best Friends Prepare You for Romantic Relationships
Having great friends makes you healthier, happier, and even helps you live longer. But most importantly, surrounding yourself with amazing people makes the borderline-traumatic experience of high school far easier. Despite what Taylor Swift and her posse might lead us to believe, we don’t need a squad—just one or two friends who really get you is all you need to get by. Knowing that someone always has your back is a mutual benefit for both sides of the friendship, but there’s another, often-overlooked perk: having a (male or female) BFF helps prepare you for a romantic relationship (with a guy or a girl) later in life.
Just take it from Spinster author Kate Bolick, who realized this when her college bestie got married. “The friendships that you have in high school, and the way that you’re learning to be close with your friends (girls and guys) is really important and informative,” she said. “I never thought of this myself until my college roommate told me just before her wedding: ‘Because of our relationship, I feel ready to be married.’” Kate chalks this up to the fact that friendship requires openness in order to work. You’ve got to be willing to share your darkest and most embarrassing secrets with your best friend—otherwise, what’s the point? Being vulnerable is also a quality that’s required in romance (both before and after that dreaded DTR talk).
“We were so close, and she really learned how to open herself up and talk to someone and be totally vulnerable,” Kate said of her longtime friend. “It doesn’t matter who it is that you’re open with growing up; just as long as they’re a good presence in your life and a good influence is all that matters.” New York-based relationship therapist Laura Young agrees. The way you behave with your friends affects how you’ll behave with your boyfriend, especially in arguments—because just like friendships, romantic relationships aren’t perfect. “How you navigate disagreements with your best girlfriend in middle or high school can provide a mirror for future challenges with a boyfriend,” she said. “Can you talk to your friend? Do you yell? Do you tend to be overly apologetic or, conversely, never take any responsibility?”
Whether you happen to be single right now or not, the most important thing is making yourself the number one. As Kate remembers, “I was never really invested in my friendships the way other people were in high school. It made me feel a little lonely, and it also meant that I had to learn to have close girl friendships later.” Laura echoes this, saying, “Shame can really take hold at this age and allowing for more thoughtfulness and mindfulness and, sometimes, choosing yourself rather than the boyfriend can be empowering.”
Surrounding yourself with rad people isn’t just great for right now, it’ll also help you in the future. “So even if you don't have a boyfriend, you’re still moving forward with yourself,” Kate adds. And to that, we'll add: You do you.