Posted on Jan 9, 2017 in Thoughts

I look at my younger self and I look at my present self — from some angles I don’t see that I’ve changed at all, and from others, I’m unrecognizably different. Many of the strides I’ve made have come on the training tracks that have been my romantic relationships.

For a period of time I believed that personal growth happened solely while in isolation. I believed that getting closer to God would mean spending more and more time alone. Partly in this pursuit I turned quite reclusive for many years, operating without a steady friend-group, let alone a boyfriend. I gained a lot through this experiment, and also see in retrospect that, I did become quite imbalanced. In the end, I was to some extent, hiding from the world.

I do hold time alone as important for personal development, however I’ve also now come to realize the value an intimate partner has in this regard. They…

  • Act as a mirror. All attitudes and behaviors we observe in others also reside in ourselves. It is what we find most bothersome to be around that can point to what we are most ashamed of in our own personalities. A partner’s proximity and consistency will make it hard to escape these traits that we have yet to confront. However, if we seek to live in harmony and to work past what triggers us in another, these must be addressed. Ultimately, we can learn to see ourselves more clearly in the beam of a partner’s reflection.
  • Expose you to new perspectives. There are other ways to think about oneself, other ways to approach problems and other ways to behave in the world than what you’ve come to learn. With a partner you get an intimate exhibition of what these might be. As a result, you may develop a more efficient way of doing things, or, their contrast may help to solidify a current process of yours. What a fantastic education!
  • Provide opportunities to practice personal growth skills, like giving & receiving; and being vulnerable & trusting. They also challenge you both to stretch your patience and to assert your boundaries. In these ways you’re able to work on your flexibly and strength.
  • Keep you accountable. In spending significant time with another, the room to hide diminishes more and more. What you can no longer conceal from someone else, you can no longer conceal from yourself.

marriage couple friend love

As a child, many of my days off school were spent in my family’s living room. Nestled in the household favorite chair, draped in our token, ugly crochet blanket, and hugging my teddybear, I’d derive most of my sustenance from day-time TV. TLC ran a series documenting people during particular landmark moments in their lives. Does anyone remember A Makeover Story, Dating Story, A Wedding Story and A Baby Story?

Fascinated by this adult world I remember hearing a common sentiment while watching A Wedding Story. “I’m marrying my best friend!… I’m so in love and it’s just wonderful that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.”

By that time I had had best friends and I had had friends who were boys, but never any best friends who were boys. And I certainly couldn’t imagine being as vulnerable as one is with a best friend, with any boy I knew.

“What a concept!” I thought.

love married friend couple relationship

Many years later, right as Youtube was emerging, I found myself in a friend’s basement, caught in a black hole of viral video entertainment. One clip featured a woman who, as gross as it sounds, was popping her giant zit while her boyfriend recorded — the both of them shrieking in disgust and laughing at the absurdity.

I know it might sound like a joke to say “#relationshipgoals,” but that was truly my response. Up until that point I’d always made an effort to keep myself just-so around my boyfriends. My outfit had to be flattering, my hair blown-out and my make-up just right. I only wanted them to see the best of me. I couldn’t imagine in a million years how I might privy them to a pimple, let alone an emotional blemish. The idea of sharing my vulnerability with a boyfriend was far beyond me at the time and I came away with the thought that, “I’d like a boyfriend whom I can pop pimples with.” More deeply – I don’t want to censor myself around my partner. I want to share all parts of me, even those I deem as unattractive, and to be met with acceptance. I want someone with whom I can share fully with in all the agonies and amusements of life.

couple relationship grooming married friend

So sometimes now my partner refers to me as his best friend. When this happens I feel my heart just melt. I receive it as one of the highest honors and see it as one of the best things for our relationship.

For all the ways in which we refer to each other, I don’t believe there are any definitions it’s possible to have a consensus on. We each have our own associations and so we each make our own meaning.

To me, many of these labels have never fit quite right. They’re either too foreign or too trite.

  • “Boy/girlfriend” seems kind of juvenile, and is certainly too conventional to be personal.
  • “Lover” sounds fleeting and solely pheromone driven.
  • “Husband/wife” sounds too institutional to represent the magic that is the union of two souls.

“Best friend” though, is something I can more easily grasp.

I do also enjoy “partner” or “soul mate” — and there are times when these feel appropriate — However, there is a simplicity and a sweetness to “best friend” that makes sense, all of the time.

love married friend couple relationship

A best friend is…

  • A choice that is harvested today, but that is rooted in history.
  • Whom to find comfort with and seek honesty from.
  • Where there’ll be as much fluidity as stability — as much playfulness as reliability.

A best friend is…

  • Whom you find joy in both conversing with and sitting in silence with.
  • Whom you want to explore inner and outer worlds with.
  • Whom you can imagine doing nothing with and everything with.

They’re who you want to be with when you want to be with someone.


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  1. Hi Kate I’ve been dealing with an eating disorder since I was 12 I’m currently 25 I lived up the supplement drink called boost for 25 years as of January of last year I started not feeling well and then I started eating I got really sick and ended up getting really depressed because I fat my goal weight was to be 80 pounds and wanted to live off fruits and vegetables I started abusing laxatives and stuff I ended up winning 63 pounds I want to fast I want it that’s the tabletI’m wondering if you can help meI do not want to end up with the bins disorder or I don’t want to get fat please help me

    • Hi Andrea,
      I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. That all sounds really really difficult. What kind of help are you looking for?

      • What do you do you stay so thin on this lifestyle you give me some pointers