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Do You Tell Your Friends That You Love Them?

Do You Tell Your Friends That You Love Them?

Do you tell your friends that you love them? For me, it depends.

My high school friends and I are planning our “girls’ weekend” in July -we have been friends for decades and have officially entered middle life together. We are a mixed group, with half of us (myself, Betsy, Jackie, and Jenna) more reserved in expressing our feelings, while the other half of us (Heather, Melissa, Di, and Peri) is more openly “loving.” As I scrolled through our (latest) conversation(s) via text, I became overwhelmed by the love we now express to each other.

I have to say that this [open love] is probably made possible by Heather, who is our group’s “love marshmallow.” Yes, she has the accomplishment of single-handedly transforming all of us, even those of us that were the die-hard no-feelings-feelers, into warm and tender mush-balls.

She grew up that way – I still remember when we were young – I would be at her house, and whenever she would leave, she and her parents would always part with, “I love you.”

It was the strangest thing to me -I grew up very differently. Of course, there was love, and I felt it from my dad, even though it was difficult for him to express it. For my mother and I, love was a much more difficult level of understanding.

That is probably why I gravitated to Heather; perhaps that kind of outward love was something I was subconsciously seeking.

Psychologist Emma Kenny says that sharing the words “I love you” in a non-intimate relationship may seem weird and daunting. However, she encourages people to own their feelings and have confidence that they can express their feelings and know that you may not receive that verbal confirmation from someone, yet they will show you in other ways, such as loyalty and presence. She reminds us that we don’t always get to tell someone we love them as we are never guaranteed tomorrow. She offers that to help temper any nerves by simply saying the words everyone needs to hear.

I never realized it until later, but I am selective of “my people.” I have many friends yet, few friendships: but I would do almost anything for these women who form these bonds in my life.

Yet with other friends, even though they fill my heart, telling them I love them is more difficult. We are close; they know aspects of my life and understand me in ways I may never know of myself, and I adore them. However, our vibe differs, and we tend to other ways of showing affection.

“The quality of friendships matters, especially as we age. However, even casual friendships can be helpful throughout our lives. Casual friendships, which we often have at work, are still helpful for broadening mentorship and information, while robust friendships form our deepest ties with other humans,” says Saida Heshmati, a psychologist at Claremont Graduate University.

Regardless of the depth of our friendship(s), many of these women have walked with me through many life events.

From the movie Ya Ya Sisterhood:

“Friends are supposed to act like harbor boats—let you know if you’re off course. But it ain’t always possible…Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.  You know how some people, when they're together, they somehow make you feel more hopeful? Make you feel like the world is not the insane place it really is?" 

Per psychologist Marisa Franco, “It takes an entire community for us to feel whole.” She says it is important to shower your friends with affection, help them with whatever skills and talents you may have, and spill your struggles, joys, and guilty pleasures with them. They are your (chosen) tribe.

Do you tell your friends you love them? Or are you the no-feelings-feeler type? I tend to fall somewhere in between. I have both types in my tribe(s), and I adore them all. How about you?

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