I am celebrating by talking about internet love on Al Jazeera and then sharing some early-bird ramen with my best friend in DC before I hop on a train back to New York. In other words, I’m in love, and I’m livin’ today like it’s Galentine’s Day:
For all its punny charms, though, Galentine’s Day leaves me a little cold. Sure, I love the idea of eating frittatas (or guzzling whiskey and catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race) with a bunch of ladyfriends. But I don’t see friendship as an alternative or runner-up to romantic love and partnership. It’s not a February 13 amuse-bouche for “real love” (or the hope thereof) on the 14th. Friendship is the main event. Let’s run through the style-section trends, shall we? People are marrying later. Women are settling. (Or refusing to settle.) The divorce rate remains pretty damn high. In practice, the lifelong romantic partnership, like the lifelong employer, has become passe. William Deresiewicz calls friendship “modernity’s central relationship.” It’s time we start acknowledging it as such, and calling it love.
Like romantic love, friendship is a source of joy. It provides sustenance when things get tough, and encouragement to aim higher, think bigger, love harder. In “The Age of Girlfriends,” an essay about Sheila Heti’s book How Should a Person Be and (what else?) HBO’s Girls, Anna Holmes wrote, “It is other women, not men, Dunham and Heti seem to be saying, who most impact the evolution of girls into women. Other women, not men, who provide the opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. Other women, not men, who bear witness to the triumphs and tragedies of young womanhood. Other women, not men, in whom we both find and lose ourselves.”
Ideally, then, Galentine’s Day — like other designated “forget boys, this is for my girls” moments — is not about splitting a bottle of rosé and a pint of Haagen-Dazs to take emotional refuge from a holiday dedicated to narrowly defined romantic couplehood. It’s about acknowledging in a true and independent way that our female friends are fundamental to our personal development. Today and every day.