I have heard the phrase “People come and go, but family is forever” my entire life. ‘People’ refers to anyone that doesn’t share your DNA. Eventually, I learned that friends can become your family even if your blood-related peers aren’t in the picture. Thus, I live by a mantra that dropped into my heart one day: “We have family by blood. They’re called ‘relatives.’ Then, we have family by choice. They’re called ‘friends.’” You would think it stops there, but at one point, it occurred to me that family members can be friends, too. Combined, everyone makes a beautiful ‘framily.’
Think of your life as a beehive. You are at the center of it, the queen (or king) bee. Think of honey as your precious time and the pockets of the hive as every separate component of your life—school, work, sports, and so on. The more pockets there are, the more your honey must be distributed among them. If you’re not careful, the pocket for romantic relationships may take precedence too often, leaving other pockets neglected and dried out.
Time with your framily may not necessarily face obsoleteness, but it can dwindle the more you facilitate your romantic relationship. If you want a well-rounded, high-functioning hive, you have to intentionally curate pockets by paying attention to the amount of honey you have and where it’s going.
All of this may seem like a random rabbit trail, but these epiphanies have proved useful many times. These relationships are more crucial than we sometimes give them credit for. If I’m honest, I neglected them too often while I was in a relationship. That is why I want to share something I find vital to my existence. Whether they are all there for you at one time or on separate occasions, framily helps make life exciting and bearable.
Playing with dolls and dressing up were highlights of my childhood. My imagination was through the roof. Framily members would indulge my desire to travel to the living room to see the Eiffel Tower or give a background story to every Barbie I owned. Then there was the karaoke machine. Not a day went by that I didn’t sing my guts out. It always tickled me when other people joined in. At school, I was made fun of for my outstanding creativity. Classmates saw me as weird; the framily knew I was brilliant and vibrant.
Then, there was a period I wanted to play soccer so badly because my big brother played. My parents decided to let me try it out, and all the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins cheered me on almost every Saturday despite my fear of the ball—I had gotten hit in the face a lot, okay? Was it a waste to let me be a part of the YMCA team due to the fact I barely touched the rolling terror? Maybe. But my relatives encouraged me to take chances anyway.
During my pre-teen and teenage years, my family experienced turmoil. Every family goes through things, and mine is no exception. If there was fighting in the house or finances were tight, my friends had my back. They understood my situation and chose to cart me around wherever I had to go—fellow drama team members would willingly pick me up anywhere from 6:30a-7:00a on Sundays to greet people coming to church—and pay for my food as necessary. Someone was always looking after me.
When I entered into my long-term relationship in 2010 (as discussed in the other Single Isn’t Scary pieces), I slowly started falling away from my framily. My then-boyfriend came around often in the beginning. My family was (and still is) loud. Family game nights were rambunctious, and he grew quieter around them. He was also a bit more reserved around my friends. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t act differently around his friends and family, too. It could be intimidating. I was no longer in my own territory, so it took some getting used to.
The further into the relationship, the more often we started doing our own thing instead. When my framily would pry about where we were or what we were doing all the time, I started getting defensive.
“Why does it matter?” A question I had snapped back more than once.
It ended up leaving a sort of void in my heart that I was all too thankful to repatch in my singleness.
What My Experiences Taught Me
These snippets from my timeline tell me at least one solid thing: Framily has been there since the beginning. Just like my passions and hobbies, they have served as an external beacon of identity, dreams, and purpose time and time again. Even now, they are still intricate pieces of my day-to-day. They pour into me, affirm me, teach me (to cook), grace my home with their presence (and even gifts, too), and remind me of God’s goodness. Additionally, they have served as honest reminders of my worth so that I never forget it.
How it Applies to You
One day, you will have a serious relationship that will turn into an engagement that will lead to “I Dos.” In the process, it’s extremely important for your significant other to get along with your framily and vice versa, each encouraging one another to spend time continuing to build those relationships. If you are feeling a gap in your life or have a suspicion that your significant other might be, take time to discuss it.
Healthy boundaries and expectations are a must for any couple to thrive, especially concerning other people. It’s crucial that there is a consistent bond with these framily members for many of lifes ups and downs. They serve as safe places, accountability, and encouragement along the way. And like icing on the cake, they make for some pretty awesome double-date companions.
Featured Image by Ben Duchac