friendI recently got sucked into the love saga that is Giuliana & Bill on Netflix, and I have to admit that I was begrudgingly jealous of their seemingly steadfast and perfect union. Pretty much every scene seems to center in on them doing some sort of couples' activity together, hands clasped and staring adoringly into each other's eyes. "You're my best friend," Giuliana said in one scene, playfully bumping Bill's shoulder as they flirted on-camera. Their relationship is cute and inspirational, seeing them through the trials of infertility and cancer, but watching it unfold via my phone on my elliptical every night, I couldn't help but wonder - is it normal or even healthy for your spouse to be your best friend?
Absolutely not, says Dr. Rachel Needle, a psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida.
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"In our society we are taught (mostly through movies), that our partner should be our best friend," says Dr. Needle. "The truth is that your partner plays a lot of roles in your life - so why do they have to be your best friend too?"
It does seem like a lot of pressure to place on one person - partner, lover, professional does-this-outfit-make-me-look-fat-opinion-giver.
And although I do know of some couples who do absolutely everything together, from working together, to eating every meal together, to exercising together, I have to admit, I'm not sure I could take that level of 24/7 togetherness. My husband and I do like to spend time apart from each other. We both have rather introverted tendencies and need that alone time to recharge our personal batteries.
But when it comes right down to it, I do consider my husband to be my best friend. There is simply no other person in this entire world that I would rather be with or have a conversation with. This is a man who has watched me give birth, bathed me when I was delirious with fever, even helped me to breastfeed our baby when I was too weak. In short, we have been through everything together and there is no one that I feel more comfortable - or more like myself - with. I really do think he is my best friend.
That being said, however, my husband simply can not fulfill all the roles in my life. I couldn't survive without my different sets of friends - my girlfriends, my "mom friends," my writing friends, my blogging buds, even my Facebook friends. They all represent different sides of me and I am fully aware that my husband can't be all of those things, nor would I want him to be.
And as Dr. Needle points out, in many instances, couples meet later in life, coming together with established friends already, so it's important to respect those relationships.
"Both partners were living separate lives before they met, and it's important to still have maintain some friendships and some space between the couple," she explains. She also warns that getting too comfortable with your spouse as your BFF might put a damper on things in the bedroom.
"There should definitely be a foundation of a great friendship in a romantic relationship," she says. "But being 'best friends' might also impact your sexual desire for your partner."
So if you happen to be unlike me and have a BFF who is not your spouse, Dr. Needle claims that you're on the best track. "Every couple is different of course," she claims. "But in general, it is good to maintain close friendships and a "best" friend outside of just your spouse!"
-By Krishann Briscoe
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