According to the Greeks, Philia, love for your friends, is the highest form of love there is.
Thus, in my October love series, I have saved the most important type of love for last-tribal love. Many of us have been cheated by romance. Others have never experienced love in their family of origin. And some do not choose to be parents themselves, so will not personally experience the hurricane of motherly love.
Does this mean some people will never experience deep love? Will they live a passionless life and die alone with 11 cats? Of course not. We are ALL humans. We are destined for love. We can all CREATE love. With people WE CHOOSE. We can create our own family. And we can find romance with our friends.
BLOOD VS. WATER
The quote “Blood is thicker than water” is often misquoted. It does NOT mean that family ties are stronger than friendships. In fact, it actually means that bloodshed on the battlefield (comradeship) creates stronger ties than the water of the womb does (family ties).
This means that the bonds you choose for yourself can mean much more than the ones you don’t have much say in.
Lucky for me I still “choose” my family of origin. We’ve shared blood and water. But not everyone has such a tight knit family so they must create their own through deep shared experiences, support and stories.
REMEMBER SEX AND THE CITY?
Think about the relationships between the women in the show Sex and The City. Families of origin were absent, romantic partners came and went, and only one woman really wanted a child. But the four (Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte) stayed strong through every trial of life. This mirrors the relationships that women have with one another in real life, and likely why the show was so successful. Someone finally got it. We don’t need a prince to save us from life’s mishaps, we need friends to laugh with about all the life mishaps.
“Maybe we can be each other’s soulmates and men be these great nice guys to have fun with.”
― Charlotte, Sex and the City, Season 4, Episode 1
This sort of love isn’t reserved for women. If you watched Game of Thrones you can see the bonds between male warriors, banding together, fighting together to save each other’s lives with a passion. This mirrors real life. On real battlefields, men have fought and died for each other, not really for some ideology, but for the bonds they created, and generals knew this. Remember, “the blood shed on the battlefield is thicker than the water of the womb…”
TRIBAL LOVE MEANS NO JUDGEMENT
There are just a handful of people that understand everything about me and love me fiercely without judgement. They know things about me that I could never write about. They won’t ever blackmail me of course, because I have an equal amount of dirt on them.
One of my friends called these types of friendships, “The people you turn to when you need to bury a dead body.”
Even though my girlfriends are spread across the United States and Europe I would call them in a heartbeat if I had a body to bury or grief to overcome or just someone to share a cat video with on a lonely night. We may not see each other often, but I never feel alone. Perhaps they are my 11 cats that I’ll die with.
When I had a really bad breakup in my 20s two college girlfriends flew down to help me pack and move on with my life (and literally out of his house). When I had a bad breakup in my 30s, another friend promised to meet me anywhere in the world for an ocean getaway. She THEN promised to do whatever it took to capture flattering photos of me in a swimsuit to show Instagram how I had moved on. (Not an easy task-we went through 32 photos that day…)
Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.- Jane Austen
When I felt an old job was a disaster and my boss made me cry, another friend let me sob in her presence and then promptly made me a “Networking To Do” list to find a new, better job.
My friends are there in times of need and in times of celebration. And tons of research has been done to prove that having a strong social connection is linked to mental health wellbeing as well as longevity.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR TRUE LOVE TRIBE
Bonds occur through shared experiences (i.e. work, war, and vacations), similar deep emotions (i.e. romance and family), and common viewpoints (i.e. political and religious).
Still feel you don’t have one yet? Reach out and nurture existing relationships. Your neighbor that you see every day but don’t talk to much. The barista you frequent but yet don’t know fully. The college friend you let slip away. The distant cousin you’ve been meaning to call. Do it. You can bond through laughter and you can bond through pain. One of my best friends was created because we were both going through breakups at the same time. Another was because we worked in the same crazy high pressure job and would pass by each other in the office late at night. “Uh, wanna maybe grab a late dinner tonight?” she first propositioned me. 15 years later we’re still grabbing dinners.
These bonds will give you the love you crave when everything else lets you down And in return you will be the love that someone else craves. Love thy neighbor, right? And remember, good friendship, true friendship, can outlive ANYTHING.
It’s not that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but it’s your best friends who are your diamonds.- Gina Barreca