Sparks! with April Beyer

You are closer than you think.

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Someone Who Knows All About You and Still Loves You

Is there someone who knows your actual beauty secret is to sleep with your make-up on, or to have a cupcake for breakfast sometimes? That your ongoing argument with your sister is more than half your fault? Or that you harbor a secret desire to be a partner in your firm someday, though you haven’t acted on that yet in any way?

We usually talk about romantic relationships, but today I’d like to shift gears and talk about a different kind of connection: friendship. What is the greatest boost you’ve gotten from a friend? It’s easy to take our friendships for granted, letting romantic pursuits eclipse the wonderful gifts and opportunities that quality time with a true friend can offer.

Perhaps that’s only natural. Unlike sexual relationships, friendships serve no clear purpose, at least not from an evolutionary standpoint. To quote C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art … it has no survival value.” Of course, just like philosophy and art, friendship is, he says, “one of those things which give value to survival.”

The fact is, we become more confident, radiant, and engaged with the world when we feel connected―and that’s what friendship is all about.

In many ways, friendships provide us with self-esteem boosts, a phenomenon proven in a study covered in Psychology Today. In the study, participants were asked to stand in front of a hill, either alone or alongside a friend, and guess how steep it was. When accompanied by a friend, participants said the hill was less steep. The same effect occurred when participants merely thought of a friend while gauging the slope; the challenge became less daunting.

So, in addition to the obvious benefits of having our best gal pal with us to talk us down from the ledges when work gets crazy, laugh with us about our tragicomic adventures in the dating pool, and affectionately tell us when to lay off the boxed wine, there’s something about simply knowing we’re not alone that encourages us to push into parts of ourselves that might otherwise go untapped.

A reward in and of itself, this self-discovery, confidence and engagement with the world also paves the way for fulfilling, wholehearted relationships of the romantic sort. And the circle of life continues.

I’d love to hear what you consider to be the greatest gifts you’ve received from your friendships. Have you found that maintaining close bonds with your gal pals enhances your romantic relationships, providing you with new energy and perspective to bring to your partner? Or is maintaining friendships something that typically falls by the wayside when you enter a relationship? Please share your stories below in the comments!

Your friend in love,
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