Finding friendship in love and love in friendship

With inspiration from this month’s proposed theme in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of some realizations about love and friendship I have accumulated through my experiences.

Romantic love stands out as unique because of the special and distinct attrtibute of sexual attraction. And yet, as I am sure all of us have experienced, sexual attraction can undergo ups and downs, diminish, and even completely disappear. The reverse is also true – it can suddenly and unexpectedly appear in what otherwise seems entirely Platonic. So in either case, what remains as the foundation even in a romantic relationship is … friendship. I have heard it said by many experts that although chemistry and attraction are very important in a romantic relationship, the underlying friendship (or lack thereof) can make or break it. In the recent critical dialogue that my boyfriend and I have been undertaking (Big Questions, Little Answers), friendship in love has never been more important. At the end of the day, mutual caring, respect, communication, love and humor, which are the attributes of any healthy and happy friendship, have contributed much more to our dialogue than has the chemistry that brought us together.

While romantic love tends to get much attention in most cultures, my loving friends have always been the greatest treasure of all. I have never understood the term “just friends” – it seems so diminutive, to describe something that can be invaluable, priceless. Just a friend? My many friends – from all around the world – have moved mountains to be by my side – repeatedly and without fail. In fact I wonder about why, when we try to communicate how precious a friend is to us, we often say something like, “She’s such a close friend she’s just like a sister to me!” Isn’t it interesting that we tend to describe the strength of friendships with a measure that references blood ties? I have found that while blood ties can be immensely important and wonderful, friendships are almost transcendental because unlike relatives, they are entirely and freely chosen. They require deeper commitment, greater energy and a higher love, because they are not mandatory. So to me, when we can say the reverse – “My mother is so wonderful, she’s just like a great friend,” we demonstrate that we have moved beyond the obligations and demands of blood ties into the realm of true, intentional, choice-ful caring that qualifies friendship. And any time someone tells me that blood ties are superior, I remind them gently that their life-partner, who walks the biggest share of life by their side, has no blood ties with them whatsoever.

So, this post is to all of my dearest friends, who have chosen to walk various life-moments with me. Who have loved me unconditionally and unfailingly. My little sister, who has chosen to be one of my best and lifelong friends, but not just because I am her sibling. My friend and mentor who shaped me in every way when I was a turbulent 16, growing up in India. My American friend and mirror-soul, who inspired me to find myself and choose the road less traveled in 2004, at my next turbulent milestone of 30. His best friends, now my best friends, who took me in to their home and their hearts when I eventually moved out of my marriage. My roommate from graduate school who called me every day for 2 years when I was going through the painful separation and divorce. My best friend from high school who traveled the seven seas on her Indian salary to take a spirit-lifting adventure with me after I was done (we drove from Seattle to Los Angeles along the Pacific coast in July 2006!) My other close friend from high school whom I can still call in the middle of the night. My very first American friend from graduate school who taught me to explore and understand America, and ten years later still shows up at the drop of a hat from across the country to travel together (he has visited India with me twice!). Those childhood friends whom I have known since I was 7 and still regularly inquire after me. My cousin and friend who reads all my fictional works between her mom duties and keeps my spirit alive. My friends here in Seattle – my friends in music, my indispensable Pakistani Yoni ki Baat co-star now partner in performing arts journeys, my English friend who lost her leg in an accident in her 50s and is a single parent but never misses an important moment in my life, my client turned friend who is now posted in Shanghai but calls to see me every time she’s visiting the US, my Serbian friend whose spirit and love encourage me every day to live my dreams, my American colleague and yoga enthusiast who inspired me to try Vipassana meditation and do my best design work ever, my massage therapist who is also my spiritual friend and guide, my Indian-couple friends whose home is open until 2 am for endless metaphysical explorations, my American rakhi-brother who gave me the honor of officiating his wedding, my Fijian aesthetician turned friend who brought me food and a pain-relieving massage only last week when I was plagued by a debilitating migraine…

To all those friends, and to all you friends on Bloggermoms undertaking this shared journey, a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta


  1. sarmila.basu

    appreciate your writing,, very nice!

  2. Indrani

    Your piece moved me, actually brought tears in my eyes. You write from your heart and that’s one of the many things I love about your posts. I must say you are very blessed to have so many Friends who truly know the meaning of the word Friendship. May God bless you, your friends and your Friendships.

  3. Khushi

    Very moving and beautiful piece. Thank you!

  4. Yasmin Talgeri

    Lovely post, as always.
    A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

  5. joysree

    .very matured thought.

  6. Tana

    Thank you Sarmila, Indrani, Khushi, Yasmin and Joysree. See, just here there are so many new friends!

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