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Opinion: An evaluation of hierarchies in relationships

Kay Bruley  | Photo Editor

Valentine’s Day is here finally, and love is in the air. It’s not just one day really though; all month you will see pink and red decorating the world. For many though, it seems like all year, with romance feeling like a constant celebration surrounding American culture.

You’d have difficulty finding a storyline in any popular film, TV show or book that doesn’t feature a prominent romantic narrative. Children from a young age will interact with each other and adults will assume there must be some undertone of a crush. And don’t think of mentioning an event occurring with the opposite gender unless you’re prepared for the suggestive comments — double win for a romance-centered AND heteronormative society.

The result of such oversaturation of romance in media and real life is the current mindset of it being the most important thing to happen in a person’s life. You think of important milestones and what comes to mind is “find the love of your life, get married, have kids” — in that order. Young people are force fed this narrative and treat it as the highest priority, creating shame in virginity and lack of dating experience. You’ll often hear reluctance in admitting to being single and people in their 20s will frequently worry about being ‘off track’ on the schedule of life.

With all of this, what’s become of platonic relationships? Too often, friends are viewed as backup relationships, side characters or people you hang out with when you aren’t with a significant other — or don’t yet have one. Romance represented in the media and real life supports the unimportance of friendships, which is a cultural flaw. Have you ever been close with someone and then after they find a partner, you stop hanging out as much? Experiences like these only further the mindset of friends being second class relationships. It’s a cycle of culture supporting unfulfillment in platonic relationships, which leads people to undervalue them, which then makes them unfulfilling.

The prompt here is to re-evaluate your priorities when it comes to the relationships in your life. Maybe even redistribute the value you place on each of these relationships. Keep questioning why we think about these things the way we do. Why do we pity the 40 year old that’s single? Why do we insist that deep connections must be inherently romantic? Why do we believe friends can never be enough for someone to be happy?


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