in: Dating & Relationships

My Husband Isn’t My Best Friend (& I’m Happy He’s Not)

Elli Purtell

Should your partner be your BFF? Elli Purtell boldly argues “no way” as she proclaims to the world “my husband isn’t my best friend.”


After a day of seeing a particularly maddening number of Facebook statuses proclaiming how someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse was their “best friend,” I had had enough.

“I’m sorry, but you’re not my best friend,” I told my husband as we sat down to dinner.

“It’s ok,” he responded. “You’re not my best friend, either.”

I think I loved him more in that moment than ever before.

Though it may seem unnecessarily negative to admit my husband isn’t my best friend, I don’t see the crime in it. Why do we feel the need to claim this? Why are we afraid of not claiming this?

I’m certainly not saying couples shouldn’t be friends. Friendship must be at the heart of every good relationship. I’m also not saying it’s impossible for married couples to be best friends. I know many couples who are, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. What I’m saying is that it’s unlikely that every couple is honestly married to the one person they consider their greatest friend of all time—and that is OK.

In an effort to show people how in love we are and prove that we won’t be a part of the 50 percent divorce rate, we seem to keep upping the ante on describing our relationship’s amazingness. Where people used to call their partners soulmates, now we’re calling them best friends. Referring to them in this way, especially on social media, supposedly validates our relationship and assures the world we’ve got something special.

We do have something special, but in a different kind of way than with best friends.

It’s time to start embracing exactly the kind of bond we have with our spouses/partners—whether that is a best friendship or not. Here are four reasons I actually prefer having a husband who’s not my best friend. Perhaps some of you can relate.

He is an addition to my friend group, not a replacement.

To me, a best friend is a person with whom you have an irreplaceable bond formed over many years. By the time my husband and I met, we both had decades-long friendships. He met one of his best friends after getting in a skirmish on the middle-school playground. I met one of mine after shyly sneaking her an extra treat during a book report in fourth grade. These two had already supported us through years of ups and downs, saw us at our best and worst, and helped shape us into the people we were when we met. There’s no way, no matter how strong of a bond my husband and I felt after some time together, we were going to consider each other on that level.

I acknowledge how fortunate we are to have such long-lasting bonds in our life, and I know not everyone shares in that experience. I also acknowledge that some married couples were friends for many years before becoming a couple, which puts them squarely in both categories. For those in a similar situation as my husband and me, however, consider what best friendship means to you and whether you truly feel your partner meets that criteria.

He is not my catch-all support system.

There are different people in my life for different reasons. When I need to complain about work, I’d rather vent to a coworker who shares the same experiences. When I want to cry my eyes out because I miss home, I feel better calling my sister. And, most importantly, when an issue comes up that a woman would understand best, I naturally want to talk to my girlfriends. Sure, I can (and very often do) discuss all these issues with my husband. But he’s not the only one I turn to, and he certainly doesn’t have the perfect solution to my every problem.

By nature, a committed relationship places you at the center of each other’s lives. It’s all too easy to become entirely dependent on each other for your every need. It’s all too easy to replace time with your friends and family with that of your significant other. Therefore, finding balance among the important people in your life (and with yourself) requires active effort. By not viewing or categorizing my husband as my best friend, I remember to access and nurture the entire network of support I have in my life. I remember to count on myself, too.

We haven’t lost any zest.

I dated a guy for a number of years, and we became best friends. We did everything together, we talked on the phone every night, we discussed absolutely every topic and emotion under the sun, we were attached at the hip. And we didn’t work out for that very reason.

What started as a wonderful companionship quickly turned too comfortable. Why make out when we could eat pizza and watch a movie? Why dress to impress when we could wear sweatpants instead? Why challenge each other’s ideas when we agreed on everything? Although these things aren’t inherently bad, they become detrimental when they overshadow or replace other aspects essential to a successful relationship, such as sexual attraction. Before either of us knew it, my boyfriend and I had formed an extremely close but devastatingly platonic bond.

To me, a best friendship feels more like someone you want to hug, not someone you want to get physical with. That’s certainly not the only way to view a best friendship, of course, but if you’re like me, you may want and need something different.

I value my husband’s unique role in my life.

I think the most confusing part about calling a spouse a best friend is just…why? This person already has a title (boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse) that speaks volumes about the kind of closeness you share and love you feel; why do they need another one tacked on top of it? I’ve heard people say, “I don’t want a mom who’s a best friend. I want a mom who’s a mom.” In the same way, I don’t want a husband who’s a best friend. I want a husband who is a husband. There’s much to appreciate about certain roles in life.

To me, my husband is the person who will build a life with me, sharing goals and dreams and sorrows at a deep level. He is someone I love whom I’m also attracted to. He is someone who will, if we’re lucky enough, be the father of my children. He does and will continue to fulfill a part of my life that no other person possibly can.

I think the best way to honor your spouse/partner is to appreciate their unique role in your life. Revel in this special and sacred relationship instead of trying to make it something else, and keep your best friends just as close.

[image: via shutterstock]

About the Author:

Elli Purtell Elli Purtell

Hi! My name is Elli Purtell. I’m a writer and editor living in Chicago. I love sports (most intensely the Green Bay Packers), my book club, white wine, running, South Africa, and writing about relationships and love. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and although I adore almost everything about the state, I do not like cheese. I know, it’s a sin.

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