Friends to lovers have always been a go-to when it comes to romantic movies. There seems to be something romantic in watching friends who obviously like each other end up together. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t absolutely love this troupe, but it shouldn’t be applied to every situation.

I’m a big supporter of having a mixed friends group. Especially when it comes to relationships, I always end up going to my guy friends for advice. The advice is always useful and they are always up for knocking sense into me when I need it!

I think it also helps me become more grounded; too many people who have only ever been surrounded by one gender struggle to socially interact with the other. Especially when it comes to relationships and marriage, you need to be able to see red flags. I don’t think that’s possible without a mixed friendship group.

What really grinds my gears is when someone completely misreads a friendship and starts to make feelings that aren’t there. One of my closest friends I always refer to as ‘the big brother I never asked for but I’m glad I have’. He has my back, especially when it comes to relationships and advice.

However, thinking of him as anything but platonic makes my stomach turn and makes me feel ill. The justification behind this was that we talk almost every day and send each other memes (ah yes, the love language of 2020).

But there were no ‘feelings’ when it came to my female friends who I treat the exact same way.

Of course, some romantic relationships do evolve from friendships, but we shouldn’t expect every relationship to do so. People shouldn’t have to second guess going out for drinks with a friend because a third person who has no part in this relationship thinks they should date.

Not to mention when a person in the friendship is in a relationship it’s disrespectful to everyone involved. It makes the whole thing toxic when there is no need for it to be.

The double standards are startling. Why is it that when it comes to boys the narrative suddenly shifts and you have to be in love with them? It makes the friendship weird and suddenly you’re questioning every message you send. If someone doesn’t ask your opinion on a relationship keep your opinions to yourself.

Platonic relationships are some of the most rewarding relationships you can have. When I think of the most important times in my life, my friends have always been constant. Sibling-type friendships are definitely one of the best because they feel like you’ve known a person forever no matter how long it has been.

When other people try and put a label on an innocent friendship it can get really awkward but you have to be honest with yourself. When a third person is involved (as in if one of you is in a relationship) it’s important that you respect their boundaries because guaranteed this is not fun for them!

For me, it was a boundary issue, I felt that so many people I called my friends were violating this boundary, and made me feel uncomfortable about an innocent friendship so in a lot of cases I drifted away from them. The friends I have now don’t bat an eyelid when I mention another friend regardless of gender and it’s such nice relief!

It’s so heteronormative to think that every girl is in love with her male friends and vice versa.

Building healthy relationships with people should be seen as normal regardless of gender.

If you can’t see that, maybe you need to stop looking at things from a romance novel and come into the real world.

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Aafiyah Shaikh

By Aafiyah Shaikh

Digital Product Manager