Without knowing it, my best friend has changed the way I’ll love when I get married. She and I met freshman year of college, and we’ve been joint at the hip ever since despite our differences. I was Black, shy upon first glance, and in a relationship — and she was Dominican, single, and a party girl with strong opinions, never holding back. She was adamant we were supposed to be friends. We were an odd pair to everyone that lived on our dormitory floor, and yet somehow our friendship flourished. Monday through Friday, we studied together and laughed about our crazy childhoods, and on weekends I’d leave her my sexy outfits I was too self-conscious to wear, and headed home to visit my then-boyfriend.
Those moments where we turned out countless English papers over Malta beers and receiving my mom’s soul food care packages are etched into my brain. They’re also what helped build our decade of friendship to be what it is. Many things have changed about our lives since then. She’s now a social worker, mom, and happily married to her high school sweetheart; and I’m single, the polar opposite of shy, and I own a wellness company. But with life’s contrasts, we’re still supporting each other.
I won’t sugarcoat anything and say things aren’t different; we can’t randomly hang out as we once did. Between the summers where my nephew visits his family in the Dominican Republic and the downtime I experience when work slows down, we still make room for those nights when it feels like it’s only the two of us. Just as curious about life as we were when we first met. Having a front-row seat to seeing my best friend become this supermom and wife I admire has been a beautiful journey, but at one point, I was afraid that I too couldn’t be that one day as well. If I’m honest, I gave too much in my last relationship. So post-breakup I became selfish, but it was necessary to build my business and a life that I could be proud of. However, losing my friend wasn’t an option. As I learned to be better, I realized this process taught me how to be one of the things I desire most, a wife.
Throughout our friendship, I’ve learned relationships platonic or romantic are forever evolving. You have to prepare for the reality that the person you love the most, might change drastically without so much as a heads up.
Our friendship has shown me that when you love someone, you’re also signing up to love the person they’re growing into, as well as who they are. We’ve encouraged each other as we’ve navigated our careers, and relationships as she rekindled with her high school boyfriend, while I walked away from mine. In tandem with that, we embarked on weight loss journeys together. It was difficult, and at times I’m sure we both felt we were becoming people that neither one of us could recognize and as happy as we were for each other, there was a massive distance amidst all the newness in our lives.
As we prepared for the arrival of her baby, we spent time together almost daily. The following summer while she settled into family life, I traveled the world, and there was so much tension between us. We were furious with each other, and it took months to realize we weren’t truly angry with each other, instead we were frustrated that the simplicity of our relationship was now non-existent. We had to work hard at being there for each other.
Even if you don’t have the answers, show up.
One moment that stands out is waking up at 3 a.m., hungover wrapped in a blanket on my best friend’s couch, wondering how the hell I got there?! I was newly single, and she was struggling to breastfeed her newborn, but that night, she made it clear to me I still mattered. Watching her get up, and adjust her glasses as she nursed her son and calmed us both, set a precedent for our friendship. There was nothing we couldn’t get through together, and she’d always have room for me even when it was hard.
Multitasking is a skill I had to learn, so I didn’t know how to be there for us like she did, and our relationship suffered because of it. It took years for me to realize it was never about what I could offer; instead, she just wanted to feel my presence as a reminder that she wasn’t alone. Now, whether it’s buying a last-minute ticket to a concert so we can feel nineteen again, or checking in before we start our workday, I make sure I’m communicating with her in ways that make her feel seen. It’s a priority.
Relationships aren’t always about what you want.
It amazes me how much energy married women have when they finally have a night out! Last year, we went to the club to celebrate her birthday, and she danced until the early morning. Changes aside, the majority of the time, I’m still not a party person. I was lowkey over it after the first few hours. Coupled with that, I had to speak on a panel the next morning in the city. Although that didn’t matter as much because I hadn’t seen her smile that wide in years, I could have quickly told her I needed to leave and lamented the fact I’d get no sleep, but the grateful text she sent the next day gave me the energy and confirmation I needed. Staying and being present in that moment was the best decision for both of us and for our friendship.
Establish healthy boundaries.
When she rekindled with her now-husband, Sundays were their weekly family day. Before their son was even conceived, that was the day they took to be, and though I missed our random Target runs, I respected their boundaries. While I don’t have a family, my business takes up a lot of my time, but I’ve learned to communicate that and give her a heads up of those moments when I go MIA so that she doesn’t assume I’m ignoring her.
Learn to pivot.
At 19 years old, our girls’ nights looked like our favorite foods and a rom-com. As we approach our 30s, those nights have turned into morning hikes chugging alkaline water like the shots we used to take back in the day. Starbucks has become our new meeting place vs. the mall, but the laughs we share are just as full and loud.
For years, I wondered if I would be a good partner because my last relationship ended so poorly. I didn’t know if I had enough reference as to what a healthy relationship would look like, and if I’d do a good job at learning to love someone. In hindsight, I’ve realized that learning what my best friend needed from me, despite my busy schedule, was preparing me to achieve a sense of balance in all aspects of my life by showing up for the people you love, whether it is your soulmate or your best friend.
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