To be able to trust everything, to enjoy a strong bond, to live in osmosis … Some consider their partner as their best friend. Is this a sign of solidity, of the couple’s lifetime? Can we show everything? tell everyone?
Calling your partner a best friend has become commonplace. You just have to feel the osmosis of certain couples or hear the latest tributes from some celebrities like Omar Sy or Michelle Obama to their #BFF. We would almost see in it a proof of good love health. But should the best and boyfriend necessarily be confused? Is friendship an asset or a burden in the shoes of intimacy? Elements of answers with the philosopher Marie Robert (1) and the psychoanalyst Florence Lautrédou (2).
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Madame Figaro.fr.– The perfect osmosis, the strong complicity that one can feel with a partner, is this the holy grail in a relationship?
Florence Lautredrou.- Not always. It happens that interaction is stronger with a true friend, but it is not he who will be chosen as a partner. It all depends on what is expected of the romantic relationship. We can hope for something as merging and sweet as a friendship, or on the contrary something where erotic tension dominates, where two unknown territories meet and enter into a pact. And you can choose a mixture of the two.
Marie Robert.- What is meant by “perfect osmosis”? According to Plato’s philosophy, love is characterized by two inseparable notions:Eros which corresponds to the erotic passion and the Philia, the friendly bond. The latter is crucial for the couple, but unlike true friendship, this attachment is not based on the similarity between two personalities, but on the complementarity between two soulmates. Everything must fit together: we are enriched by the other’s gaze and from there a bond is born. And it is only when we manage to listen to this partner, to enter into dialogue with him in spite of our differences, to mutually enrich each other to find common ground and build common values, that we reach the Holy Grail of all relationships.
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In the collective imagination, this label of “best friend” often testifies to the solidity of the couple and therefore to its solidity …
SIR- The friendly link does not usually show up right away. It all starts with a “crush”, a thunder, and we are more satisfied with the carnal dimension. When things fall into place when we get into the construction and the couple’s daily life, the bond of friendship becomes very relevant and makes it possible to consider the couple’s durability. Behind the phrase “best friend” there is also an unconditional emotional security. Which can translate into a person who will be there no matter what, in sorrows as in successes. Faced with a fragile society where everything is consumed and consumed, this brand reminds us that we can weather the storm together and support each other.
FL- Let us not forget that we rarely hear a young couple use the term best friend. If the desire brought them together in the beginning, it is the meeting, the confrontation of two views and the other’s commitment over several years that makes the relationship can be part of the long term. The couple thus goes from a period of two to three years governed essentially by the sexual instinct and then enters a period more centered on communication and exchange. Then a fear remains: that the other may leave and be attracted to another. Betrayal does not exist in friendship. By calling your partner “best friend”, you also sanctify the romantic commitment. It is an almost confident reflex.
A US study published in 2014 by National Bureau of Economic Researchreported that men who considered their wives their best friends had twice as likely to be very happy with their livese. To explain this, the researchers put forward the following thesis: the male sex tends to have fewer friends. Does this notion of “spouse-friend” depend on the number of friendly interactions between one or the other?
SIR- I do not think it comes down to numbers, but the quality of friendships can have an impact. Our society is very anxious. In this context, we will look for everything that creates connection through reassuring conditions. Except that if you do not find a reassuring relationship with your family or friends, you will necessarily look a little more for it in the couple. Men are more concerned because women, for a variety of historical and sociological reasons, are accustomed to forging deep, complicit, supportive, and very unconditional bonds between themselves. And it shows in popular culture, never before have we heard so much about sisterhood today.
By calling your partner “best friend”, you sanctify the romantic commitment. It is an almost confident reflex
Florence Lautrédou, psychoanalyst and couples therapist
FL- We often observe a phenomenon of withdrawal in the couple at the beginning of the relationship, which may be motivated by the desire to form a family with the other. In humans, since the first amorous impregnations in the mother’s womb, there is a very strong relationship with the mother figure. From then on, some reproduce this pattern with the partner, raising her very high as a best friend to feel complete again. However, the impact of the pandemic and the inclusions on this configuration should not be overlooked. For many couples, the fact that they have been confronted with the other in a closed space and without social interaction has caused them to relativize enormously at this level. At the end of the crisis, on the contrary, many wanted to expand their circle of friends rather than focus on their love story again.
Can this “good friend” cap not be a danger to the couple? Can we fear an impact on desire?
FL- Of course. The other is as captivating as a landscape, but from the moment it enters into an absolute and constant familiarity – as that of friends – where it becomes predictable, where it does not have its own universe, we want it less. Online dating has favored these encounters halfway between friendship and love, based on this principle: “who looks better gets better together.” Corn ultimatelyif this concept establishes reasonably compatible relationships in everyday life, it lacks the magic of meeting the other and the fascination that springs from it.
SIR- The literary tradition and its romantic works, which The beauty of the Lord by Albert Cohen, helped to convey the idea that romantic relationships should be thwarted, that desire arises from a form of distance and mystery. This model seems outdated to me now because it has shown its limits. A couple only stimulated byEros will find it difficult to enter into dialogue and thus overcome the complex situations that accompany the development of their relationship. The bond of friendship gives us confidence in the individual, and the closeness it brings allows for a much more open speech. It is an asset to preserve the couple.
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But can you really say everything, show everything to your partner?
SIR- Not necessarily. In love as in friendship, I do not believe in transparency, in “telling everything”. The contents of a “secret garden” depend on each person. The most important thing is to respect both what the partner wants to show and what he wants to hide.
FL- If friendship seems imperishable and able to overcome everything, the bond of love can be damaged in physical, behavioral and verbal carelessness. One wants to take more precautions when talking to one’s partner rather than to a friend because love systematically evokes a desire to take care of the person. In terms of knowing what you can say or not … Between what you have to offer and what to express, you need to find the right balance to protect and beautify your relationship. Some things belong to us and deserve to be worked on first with ourselves before extending to the couple.
I have a hard time imagining a couple holding out without some kind of friendship. What other bond do we build without it?
Marie Robert, philosopher
Does not considering your partner as your best friend mean that it is not the right one?
SIR- I do not know if you should worry about it, I do not think there should be imperatives in romantic relationships. However, this calls into question the long-term. I have a hard time imagining a couple who hold out without a kind of friendship where one does not feel connected as an individual without going through sexuality alone. What other bond do we build without it? This deserves to be questioned.
FL- We are all looking for the ideal person who will be both the best friend and the lover. It’s a fair search that sometimes comes true. In fact, I would recommend being clear and asking yourself what the relationship actually brings us: am I happier than dissatisfied with this person? According to individuals, emotional security is a key like any other to fulfillment, just like attachment. On the other hand, I am convinced that before looking for a best friend, you need to start by finding it in yourself. By respecting each other, by treating each other better. By daring to have the courage to start unexpected projects, we promote positive experiences. Sometimes to the point that it causes an unexpected friendly approach to the partner or to move towards a new, more appropriate relationship.
(1) Marie Robert is the author of It possible roads(Ed. Flammarion), 272 pages, 19 €.
(2) Florence Lautrédou is the author of Love, the real thing(Edited by Odile Jacob), 245 pages, € 22.90.