Friends watching the sunset

Just Friends

Have you ever said, or been told, “Let’s just be friends”? This phrase carries some implicit disappointment, as though the blind date you had pinned all your hopes on turns out to be a cousin. While we may enjoy the evening, we know the relationship can’t go anywhere. We want our relationships to go somewhere. If we can’t see it going where we want a special relationship to go, we become “just friends.”

What we mean by “let’s just be friends” is that we don’t want to deepen and develop the relationship toward a particular end. Instead we want to go off in search of someone else with whom we can be more than friends. We won’t really give our all to the friend. We want to save that for that special relationship, in which we will travel together toward a particular end. We save ourselves.

I think we are missing the boat. There is nothing more precious and beautiful than a true friend. I received a card today from a true friend. She wrote Thank you for all that you are and have been to me this year. I loved. I laughed. I learned and I grew. You are important to me.

I don’t know where my relationship with this true friend “will go,” but wherever it goes or doesn’t go, I will be thrilled with love, laughter, learning and growth as the basis of the friendship. Wouldn’t you? In fact, about how many of the relationships you thought were “going somewhere” can you say were a communion of love, laughter, learning and growth? Most are about the strain and tension and subtle coercion of trying to steer it in the direction of “somewhere.”

We spend a lot of our time in these relationships working on the relationship, helping it to go somewhere. We constantly evaluate the relationship and estimate the progress towards “somewhere.” When things don’t go the way we had hoped, we’ll call up one of our friends and invite them out for lunch. Then we talk with them for hours about our “relationship.”

We can often more easily share love and laughter, learning and growth with our friends. Of course, these friendships aren’t going anywhere, are they? Then, if our relationship doesn’t go where we want it to, we’ll say to that person, who had formerly been a person with whom we were going to go somewhere, that we want to just be friends.

Is there something wrong with this picture?

I know most of us long for a special companion with whom we can share life’s adventures. We do want to open ourselves and be intimate and revealing, without fear of rejection or criticism. We may want a mate with whom we can have a family. But can we go shopping for such a person? Has it worked for you?

Personally, I’d rather embrace another as a friend, and if I can do so, if the bond between us is natural and mutual and of love and laughter and learning and growth, I will be infinitely blessed and grateful. I don’t want to hold anything of myself in reserve. I want to give all I have to my true friendships: they are rare enough. I don’t know when another will come along.

I certainly don’t know when a “special” person will appear, but I won’t want them to be anything less or different than a true friend. We may share certain experiences, like living together and having a family. This will happen naturally and by mutual consent. We won’t have to make it go anywhere. The relationships we try to make go somewhere, don’t.

I think we will enrich our lives tremendously by seeing the beauty of a true friendship. We ought to give everything we are to our friends. These people are gifts with whom we can share and deepen the most noble and uplifting of qualities: love, laughter, learning, and growth. I think that these friendships are the road to our own enlightenment, to the recognition of our most perfect and truest self.

Sometimes, life reveals an extraordinary facet of itself and of our place in it. This moment may come as we peer into the transition we call death; it may come in a stunning and secret moment of self-transcendence. What is revealed is wordlessly precise: life itself asks nothing but that we love, laugh, learn and grow. This is life itself. These are the mark on the target. This is how we are to live. We need not pursue anything else because this is the all.

Whenever we can experience with another this essence of life, we ought to go into it without pretense or fear or withholding. These are the sacred relationships. They will have different shapes and dimensions and experiences, but the underlying bond is of life itself. These rare people are those with whom we find the truest fulfillment, in love and laughter and learning and growth.

If a true friendship is a means by which my life is enriched with enlightenment, I’ll settle for that. I don’t want it to go anywhere else. That place will be fine enough for me. Whenever a friend appears in my life, I will try to give my all, to be worthy of that person’s love, to love them back with everything I am. I will cherish that beautiful gift. I will hope to become my most perfect self through friendship, and I will hold my friends as their perfect selves, radiant and abundant and full, now. There is no need to go anywhere else.

May everyone be at peace, in love, and know their most perfect Self.

Robert Rabbin is an author, speaker, and advisor. He can be reached via e-mail at, or by writing: 2629 Manhattan Ave., Ste. 192, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. His new book, The Sacred Hub (The Crossing Press, ISBN: 0-89594-837-0), is available in bookstores or from the publisher at (800) 777-1048.

“Echoes in Silence” is a bi-weekly column by Robert Rabbin–author, speaker, and advisor–who has spend thirty years using self-inquiry as a means to explore the true nature of self, mind, reality, and consciousness.

His new book, The Sacred Hub (The Crossing Press, ISBN: 0-89594-837-0), is available through the bookstores nationwide.

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Written by Robert Rabbin

Explore Wellness in 2021