Young people studying in a group

All other Relationships Thrive on Your Friendships

Young people studying in a group
Young people studying in a group, by BlueOlive

Dear Son,

In life we are often required to prioritize our relationships.  When friends and family both ask for your time, nobody will blame you for putting family first.  And if it were a call between spending time with you and spending time with my friends, then I would obviously much prefer spending time with you.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking that balancing relationships is a zero sum game.

You need a variety of different kinds of relationships to be happy and healthy.  You look to your spouse for love, affection, and sexual fulfillment.  You look to your kids (should you choose to be a father) for purpose, grounding, and a little immortality. You look to friends to excite, inspire, and share your doubts with.  These relationships need boundaries as well; you cannot be a friend to your children and still also raise them as well as you couldYou cannot expect your lover or spouse to be comfortable hearing about every little frustration and still feel safe in their relationship with you.  Every relationship is a negotiation, the exact roles of lover, wife, father, etc., are going to be different for everyone, but there are some hard rules, and once you have established the bounds of a relationship, be sure to respect them. If you let those different types of relationships bleed over too much, the relationships can become confusing and toxic.

Accordingly you need all of those relationships to support one another.  Time spent with friends makes it possible for you to be the brave and supportive man that you need to be to your lovers.  Time spent romancing your lover makes you more focused and devoted to raising your children.  Time spent raising your children makes you a wiser friend. Time spent with your children makes you closer to your lover.  Time spent with your lover also makes you appreciate your friends more.  Time spent with your friends reminds you what it is to be a child… and so on.  Every relationship you have makes you better at every other relationship.

And thus, you cannot afford to neglect any of your relationships.  Be especially careful of your friendships; it is easy to lose track of your friends when you have particularly young children or are in the honeymoon phase with a new lover, but it is your friendships outside of those relationships that will make those relationships strong. Your friendships uphold all of your other relationships. Keep them strong.

Love,

Dad

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