When is the following declaration the saddest, bitterest thing you've ever heard? "I will always be your friend."
Sweet words, most of the time. Real friendship is precious. But most of us have felt that terrible sting--the word "friend" when it comes out of the mouth of someone with whom we are in love in a romantic, mating way. Being downgraded to "friend" means rejection. Something upon which we have staked a big piece of our lives is taken away. We know it and our lover knows it too.
True friendship is a rare and wonderful thing; I don't mean to belittle it. We share interests; we celebrate each other's victories and commiserate in failure and pain. We share values and assumptions. Unspoken understandings abound. Like good jazz players, we even interrupt each other at exactly the right, comfortable moments. You can feel that kind of friendship instantly. You meet someone at a party and there's an instantaneous sense of being on the same page. Everything a friend does is all right.