January 8, 2014

friendships versus relationships.

"You can never just enjoy something and move on," a friend once told me. "You have to learn all about something, love it completely, and then share it with everyone you know."

Ah, so true. I laughed when she said it, thinking of all the books and movies and bands I've come across, and — smitten as ever — researched as if I was preparing for a thesis. If I like a song, I find myself stalking the band, listening to everything they've ever put out, reading all their interviews, and then forcing all my friends to do the same. What can I say? Sharing is caring, right?

Over the holidays, I finally got around to seeing Drinking Buddies, the movie with New Girl's Jake Johnson (my favorite) and Olivia Wilde (another favorite.) It's set in Chicago's craft-beer world, which means it basically had me at hello, but the film was almost entirely improvised, too, and the actress in me couldn't wait to see how that turned out. I did enjoy the movie, if only because it felt raw and truthful in a way that's almost uncomfortable. Do you know what I mean? It scratches at something very real and relatable, and by the end, I wasn't sure if I liked it or if I was just intrigued.

As usual, though, I did go into research overdrive, moving through pages and pages of the Internet to read and watch all the interviews from the cast — including this POPSUGAR gem from my co-worker Lindsay, of course. In my thesis-level studying, I also came across Olivia Wilde's interview with Collider, and I was so struck by something she said that I read it over and over again before eventually writing it down and (you guessed it) sharing it with friends I suspected might appreciate it, too.

In the interview, she's talking about friendship and love between men and women, and what can happen when those lines are blurred. She explains two people can be very close, the best of friends, and feel as if they'll make a great couple, too — only to realize that there's some sort of missing link. 

Here's what she said: "... But the difference between romantic love and friendship love is that romantic love involves a lot of compromise. It is a very giving type of love. With friendship, you can be a little bit more autonomous. You are not expected to compromise, in the same way. Maybe that's why friendships tend to last longer. I don't know."

As someone whose friendships crossed over into (unsuccessful) romantic relationships a few times in the past, I'm sort of fascinated by what creates a strong friendship versus a strong relationship. I think she's right: It's a matter of expectations, effort, and a natural, inevitable willingness on both ends to go all-in. Compromise, though, and a very selfless, giving love — that does seem to be the crux of it.

It's the When Harry Met Sally conundrum, isn't it? What do you think?


s said... [Reply to comment]

i couldn't say. my friendships always end or drift away in some form or another, but i know he never will.

Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I'll be thinking about this for a day or so at least, but after a few years of marriage, enough to give me an idea of what that kind of relationship means but not nearly enough to make me an expert or authority, here's my initial impression: I think that a little spillover from friendship-love, with a little autonomy but without losing that compromise of romance-love, is part of what makes a great couple. I think the relationships that have too much of one or the other (autonomy or compromise) are the ones with that sort of missing link.

Anna V said... [Reply to comment]

Ahhh so glad you didn't give it away because I watched half of it on the plane last week but then ran out of time to finish it!

I've crossed that line a few too many times & also resisted it recently because of past experiences. It's a tough call to make!