By: Patricia Bubash, Ed.S., LPC
“He is my best friend.” Not an unusual comment, but typically, we would surmise spoken by a woman, maybe even a man or even a relative. These words came from the lips of a wife.
It isn’t the first time I have heard a wife say this about her other half, but it is the first time that I “really” thought about the impact of a “best friend” relationship to a marriage- and even more impacting, on a remarriage.
Statistics show that most divorced men and women are still desirous of finding a lifelong partner. More than half of first time divorced spouses choose to walk down the aisle again. We really don’t need to read the statistics; observation is enough. The overwhelming number of dating sites, divorce support groups, friends trying to “set” single friends up, convinces us to believe the statisticians’ numbers. Research will show we indeed live in a “couples” society. The need to have a partner, a companion, a person to share interests, socialization, good and bad situations: a soul mate.
Finding that someone special is a desire shared among the single. We are inundated via all modes of communication: television, radio, written word, personal conversations with the necessity of being “in love.” Unhappily, for the love seeker many of their hopes for the real thing are relationships founded “in lust” rather than “in love.”
An author friend, Pam Evans, is an expert on finding love. Her problem wasn’t finding love, but keeping it! As a self- proclaimed multiple marrier she is familiar with the search for a soul mate, a replacement for a previous spouse. In her book, Ring Ex-Change, Pam shares her misdirected view of what was important in a relationship. It was this perception that led to her four failed marriages. A good thing for the readers of her book, she didn’t give up easily.
A lesson from Pam’s book coincides with my premise to find a best friend first. If the new love meets her criteria, then, chances are high that a soul mate will follow. Pam’s words of personal relevancy provide these words of wisdom, “When two individuals approach a relationship first in the spirit of friendship, then true bonding leading to the deepest unconditional love, where affection, respect, compassion, sensuality and kindness join together, can develop.” I reread this lengthy quote several times to really “get” the depth of it. But, once I did I heartily, agreed with Pam’s “friendship first.”
We know, typically, a physical attraction is usually the “first’ connector for two people looking for a serious, long term relationship with the end result being marriage. Through our own personal experiences, or those of friends, we know that physical attraction is short lived. Beyond attractiveness and good looks, the qualities that Pam assures us are so important, tend to not exist. No matter how gorgeous, how handsome, if our choice is based on exterior, not on best friend qualities, our relationship that’s based on physical attraction will soon end and our new search will begin again.
A close friend who has a PhD. in counseling with many years of private practice, and, one of the divorced who is “searching” shared some personal and professional insights. “In the past, I found myself trying to be who my date wanted me to be. I found myself trying to please, to make him happy. In doing that I wasn’t making me happy and I was being dishonest.” I think in our anticipation of making up for the loss of our marriage, the need for finding love again, a replacement for that lost love; we aren’t always true to “me.” First, I believe it is essential to be a best friend to yourself. Then find that “best friend” who will be a true friend.
Returning to this “best friend” first, then love theory (according to Pat the counselor) ask yourself this question: “What qualities, virtues do I need in deciding that someone has achieved best friend status with me?” For me, it is the following:
- Be supportive and honest.I don’t want someone to agree with me, because disagreeing might hurt my feelings.
- Be willing to listen to me without giving advice. My view of advice: “Fools never heed it, and wise men don’t need it.” So skip the advice, just listen.
- Let me know about the spinach between my teeth!
- Encourage me in my goals.
When you find that someone who fills these four (my best friend) criteria, I believe you have found someone who has the potential of “replacing” – positively, a former relationship. Worth thinking about: don’t rush- best friends tend to evolve over time, but once in place, last forever. One day you will be repeating the words of the woman whom I interviewed, “He is my best friend!”
Patricia Bubash received her M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Working with students and families has been her true calling for over thirty years. For more than twenty years she has presented workshops at the community college on a variety of topics relating to parenting issues, self-esteem and issues relative to divorce. Patricia is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri and, a Stephen Minister. She submits a variety of articles related to relationships, marriage and divorce to several internet sites, and, frequently, is interviewed on internet radio stations. Volunteerism, writing and family are most significant in her life. Patricia writes for DivorceSupportCenter.com, HopeAfterDivorce.org, CupidPulse.com, and FamilyShare.com.