Today’s Solutions: January 28, 2023

We live in a world that gives top priority to finding a partner and being in a monogamous marriage. It’s the “happily ever after” to our fairy tales, for better or worse. However, this narrative overlooks the rich relationships that round out a fulfilling life that have nothing to do with romance.  This is true for those who are “single” just as much as for those in committed partnerships. Connection and love are the vital components of deeply satisfying lives, and one of the most powerful of all human types of affection is friendship.

Imagine a world where friendship was idolized the same way marriage was. How would it look? This story of platonic love will give you a peek into that reality.

Introducing Kami and Kate

Kami West and Kate Tillotson are two friends/soul mates that have rebelled against our world’s marriage-centered narrative. “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1,” West told The Atlantic. “Our worlds are backward.”

By placing friendship at the center of their lives, they mirror what romantic couples’ lives normally look like, just without the physical aspect. They live in a house they purchased together, help raise each other’s children, share credit cards, and hold each other’s medical and legal power of attorney.

Their intimate friendship defies “normal” categories of relationships, summing up their connection as “having a life partner, and you just don’t want to kiss them.” Both of these women still pursue romantic partners, though they know that their best friend comes first. Tillotson described her romantic partner as “the cherry on the cake”, though explaining that she and West were “the cake.”

As with any long-lasting relationship, their friendship has its positives and negatives, though Tillotson believes her life has been enriched by her arrangement with West. Their romantic connections appreciate that the emotional load is lessened thanks to the tight friendship, and their commitments to other friends and volunteering have been amplified through mutual effort.

Historic “romantic friendships”

They explain that most people just don’t get it, and they get quite a lot of judgment about their lifestyle and how they raise their families.

However, intimate friendships like this have not always been sources of confusion and judgment. Between the 18th to early 20th centuries, devoted same-sex friendships were common in society, being termed “romantic friendships.”  While many of these pairings may have been actual couples, the role of friendship in prior eras held a special place that often had nothing to do with sex.

Widening the Circle

Kate and Kami are not the only people exploring a platonic co-parenting form of family. There are websites like Modamily, Coparents, and Family by Design that help even strangers find co-parenting partners. Jenny Yip, Psy.D., the Executive Director of the Renewed Freedom Center of Los Angeles, explained in a parenting blog that “Many people are choosing platonic parenting because it still allows you to have a child without having to worry about a committed partner.” Co-parenting, whether within a traditional monogamous relationship, among separated parents, or with platonic co-parents will always go better if the partners treat each other like friends.

The bottom line though is that having a wider network of close personal connections is good for health, connected to longevity, and can shore up our lives with more people we like and trust.

For more stories about friendship, check out these Solutions articles: 

4 tips that will help you be a better friend

How to keep friends with different political views

What vampire bats teach us about friendship

5 ways to bring people together with food

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