“Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learned from my long-term friendships with women.” This quote may sound familiar to you because of a recent TikTok trend circling around the app. Picture and video compilations of people being themselves with their friends have crowded my For You page, and I must confess that I have a carefully-crafted TikTok of the same nature sitting in my drafts. The quote, however, was not originally made known to me through the trend.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I learned from Dolly Alderton’s strikingly vulnerable memoir. “Everything I Know About Love” talks all things adulthood: love, loss, life, friends. Alderton finds a job, gets dumped and makes mistakes, all with her female friends by her side. Nearly everything Alderton knows about love, she claims to have learned from her female friendships. Above anything, that was my most valuable takeaway from her memoir.
“Nearly everything I know about love” is tainted. The modern-day perception of love has been twisted to mean so many different things and mean so little all at the same time. The effects of hookup culture and dating apps have led us to forget the genuine beauty and profound emotionality that characterizes true love. In a world where expressing feelings has become embarrassing and “Hi, how are you”s have turned into “WYD”s, raw, real connections are scarce. The image of romantic love I have created in my mind as a result of compulsively romanticizing media has effectively been tarnished by the modern devaluation of authentic connection.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from listening to Olivia Rodrigo and Gracie Abrams, reading romance novels and watching inhuman amounts of romcoms. I long tortured myself to believe that love is pain, and that the type of love I see in the media is unattainable. The resulting constant yearning for a true soulmate leave me, and many others, disappointed in romance time and again, making sad girl playlists. I’ve tried to convince myself that I want the type of romantic connection I read about and see on the screen too much, which is why it has been so reluctant to enter my life. To fill that void, I unconsciously devoted my attention to nurturing my female and platonic friendships. I thus resorted to understanding love from the lens of my platonic relationships. This piece accordingly features lessons on love that I’ve learned from those relationships, attributing a specifically obscure color to each friend, reflecting the hue with which they have forever tinged my life.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Olive. Olive is my fraternal twin, especially fraternal when it comes to love, though we’ve even been told we look alike. I’d always sought a friend with whom I could relate on every level. I found exactly that in Olive. She’s the type of friend you call whenever you think you’re insane and need someone to justify your delusions. The type to hold you when you’re crying for as long as is needed until you’re OK, to text you three times a day just to see how you’re doing, to just be there. To put it simply, Olive understands me, and I like to think I understand her. She’s the eternal ray of sunshine in my life. She’s the Molly Davidson to my Amy Antsler. Whenever I need support in any way, I know that Olive is just a call away.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Amber. Amber is, quite literally, the least romantic person I know. If a reality TV show was a person, it would be Amber. Instead of feeding my delusions, Amber shoots them down the minute I start sharing them. She keeps me grounded and is the most honest person I know. Amber is there whenever I need real advice. She never hides anything in a fear of hurting my feelings. She never shies away from the truth, even when it seems a little scary. She’s the Captain Holt to my Jake Peralta. She keeps things simple and real, and for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Violet. Violet is a hopeless romantic but, curiously, a cynic at the same time. She’s the friend who simultaneously relates to you and gives you the best advice. She’s in touch with her emotions, but in a mature way, contributing to her down-to-earth nature. Violet and I are connected. If I cry, she cries. If I laugh, she laughs. If I’m thinking something, she’s thinking the exact same thing. She has seen me in my most vulnerable states and has never held that against me. She is my safe. I know that anything I do or say around her is safe; it’s not leaving the confines of the friendship we share. Violet is proof that family isn’t always blood. She’s the Ryan Atwood to my Seth Cohen. She’s the family I found, and the family I know I’ll keep for the rest of my life.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Scarlet. Scarlet is the big sister I never had but always needed. She’s almost a foot taller than I am, and looks at least three years older than me. Even so, the sisterly connection I feel with Scarlet comes from the way her presence looms over my life. Scarlet and I don’t talk every day, but I know she’s always there. We constantly send each other the occasional “Hi, I love you” text and let each other know whenever something reminds us of each other. But it’s the hour-long conversations that solidify my relationship with Scarlet. Scarlet and I can sit on the same couch for three hours without moving, talking about life, love, the newest Netflix release, an upcoming novel and what we’re finally going to major in, all in a single conversation. She’s my “dorothea.” Scarlet embodies a well-rounded friend and I know that, wherever life takes us, she’ll always be there.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Clementine. Clementine is my most youthful friend. We’ve been best friends since the third grade. When I spend time with Clementine, it feels like healing my inner child. I don’t think anyone else has ever matched my energy as well as she has. No one makes me laugh as hard as she does. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to clear my mind, she’s there to keep me company on my journey. Clementine is my childhood best friend, the Ron Weasley to my Harry Potter. I’m pretty sure she’ll keep me young for the rest of my life.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Rose. Rose is the girl next door. Literally — we’re neighbors. Rose cries a lot, but she laughs a lot too. She’s a chronic overthinker in a most empathetic way. Rose is always caught up on all the happenings in all her friends’ lives. She puts everyone before herself and reassures you that your problems, no matter how small, are never insignificant. I send her a text saying that I’m feeling sad, and, within seconds, she call to ask how she can help. She’s the Lane Kim to my Rory Gilmore. Rose has taught me that empathy is the most selfless expression of love, and that helping others is life’s most rewarding endeavor.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Lilac. Lilac is a force to be reckoned with. She’s the most confident, extroverted and animated person I know. She’s the inextinguishable fire most people need in their life. Our relationship brings me perpetual light. She’s the Phoebe Buffay to my Monica Geller. Our connection has somewhat withered over the years, but I know she’ll always be there to bring a smile to my face when I need it most.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Orchid. Orchid is my friend version of a long-distance relationship. We met at sleepaway camp in the summer of 2016. We were 12. Six years later, we still stay in constant touch. Since we don’t have many people in common, our relationship has been gossip-free, allowing us to create a very individual connection within our own little world. She has expanded my romantic and cultural horizons, teaching me things I never thought I’d know. She’s the Cece Parekh to my Jessica Day, my polar opposite and my twin flame simultaneously. Orchid is my teacher, continuously challenging and inspiring me.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Hazel. Hazel is a mix of perspectives that, together, make the loveliest expression of platonic love. The color hazel, a perfect blend of shades of brown and green, reflects my friendship with Hazel. They’ve been the best thing to happen to me since I started college. If I show you a picture of us together, I don’t think you’d believe we’re as close as we are. Our interests are very different, and so are our pasts. But our differences have brought us together. Whenever I’m feeling too overwhelmed with college “adulting,” I find solace in Hazel. We eat, we laugh, we talk, we study, we sleep, we repeat. Together, we’re a bit like the Spice Girls. Though my friendship with Hazel is new, I know it will last a lifetime.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” I’ve learned from Indigo. Indigo is my most unexpected friendship. They’re my connection to home. Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I search for them. We can spend hours talking about the most random things and never get bored. They have made my college years feel unexpected and exciting. Even though we’ve shared a “friend group” for a little over a semester, they’ve seen me at my most fragile, and, even if they don’t exactly know how to handle me yet, they’ve never made me feel uncomfortable being vulnerable. They keep me on my toes. They’re always down for a good time. Sometimes I feel like we resemble the Scooby Gang. They keep college, and life, fun.
“Nearly everything I know about love,” particularly romantic love, is complex. It’s messy and it’s weird and it’s hard to explain most of the time. But amid a distorted perception of love, the beauty of platonic love reminds me why I love in the first place. Platonic friendships are the most endearing blessings I’ve ever been entrusted with. I protect and preserve them at all costs. It doesn’t get much better than them. The best part? Most of the time, platonic friendships are here to stay.
Olive, Amber, Violet, Scarlet, Clementine, Rose, Lilac, Orchid, Hazel and Indigo, this is my love letter to you.
Daily Arts Writer Graciela Batlle Cestero can be reached at email@example.com.