Let’s Talk: “Just Friends”

There’s nothing I hate more, actually this is probably a lie but go with it, the phrase and the tone of voice that comes with the phrase that has the words “just friends” in it. What I mean is it’s usually used in a phrase similar to “they aren’t ~just friends~” (I hope you read that in the same tone of voice that I was thinking it in) or “we are just friends”. The phrase or even just the two words themselves give me a negative vibe towards platonic relationships. It’s as if the person saying them is saying “oh no they aren’t friends, they are something better, something more.” It’s a phrase that implies that friendships are lesser than romantic relationships.

Saying two people (usually two cisgendered, heterosexual, heteroromantic and white) aren’t “just friends” or that they’re “more than friends” not only has an arophobic undertone to it but is also used to force heteronormativity. This is because people, mostly the older generations, see two people who they think are male and female who are most likely have a platonic relationship but they view it as something romantic, because of their views on what they think is “opposite gender”, when in fact there’s more than two genders and no opposite gender, and how they have probably been taught or have “learnt” that being straight is the “default sexuality”, which again isn’t true because there is no default sexuality. Due to this they’ll always see two people they perceive as male and female as something other than platonic. Because girls and boys can’t “just be friends”.

Not only does this phrase belittle and invalidate most friendships but it also usually invalidates people’s sexualities and genders. I know many of you reading this could be thinking that I’m reaching here. But as someone who is constantly misgendered and perceived as female and straight I have a little experience. Because whenever I had a guy friends, which was always platonic, people always said or thought there was “something more” between us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this term used when two girls are friends, or two boys are friends. Why? Homophobia/Biphobia/Panphobia etc and heteronormativity.

As an aromantic person who values their friendships a lot, calling them something “lesser than” romantic relationship offends me and belittles the importance of my friendships to me. For one person their romantic partner may be the most important person in that person’s life. But for me it’s my friends. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my friends, even the ones I’m no longer friends with. Platonic relationships are so important and you shouldn’t undermine the value of them. No matter what you’ll always have you friends, they may come and go but they are some of the most important people in your life. Value them. Value them as much as you would value someone who is your romantic partner. Because your romantic partner hasn’t always been there like your friends have.

Here’s a list of the phrases that are similar to “just friends” that really need to go:

  • “They are more than just friends”
  • “They aren’t just friends.”
  • “There’s something more between them.”

There’s probably a dozen more that I’ve forgotten but you’ve gotten the idea of what I’m trying to say.

It’s 2017 can we stop belittling friendships and stop saying that romantic relationships are something more than platonic relationships. They aren’t. End of story.