Friends: the best school to learn love

Before starting looking for a life-long partner, make sure you have real friends in your life and know what true friendship is.

We, the LGBT+ people, suffered from homophobia since we were kids. This caused remarkable damages to our relationships with others since we had no real chance to be ourselves and relate to others with authenticity.

Straight teenagers never feel ashamed or in need to hide their sexual orientation. We do instead, or at least we did in the past. Especially those born before 2000 did not have an easy life during puberty and adolescence. Back then, socialising and relating to others was crucial for our own healthy, correct emotional and psychological development. But somehow, we screwed it up.

Most of us (LGBT+) were forced to pretend to be what we were not. At home, at school, pretty much everywhere we couldn’t really express ourselves genuinely. We made up personas thinking people might like them more than our true selves. As young as teenagers, we were so concerned about our “secret” that we focused on how to conceal what we were. We lived a lie that made us grow uncomfortable in our own skin and unable to build real and authentic relationships with ourselves and others.

We were so scared to be rejected that, even today, we find it hard to understand who’s behind the personas we show and those we meet. Some of us still panic when it comes to telling people we are not straight.

For this reason, friends are the gym where we train to love and practice social bonding skills. With our friends, we are supposed to feel and train empathy, trustworthiness, and generosity. The more friends we have, the better we become at love. Plus, a shared joy makes us happier as well as a shared pain makes it lighter to bear.

We learn what love is thanks to the friends we share intimacy with. Friendship is love. Nonetheless, love comes and goes, while friends are forever. Wait. Are they really forever? Some are lucky enough to have the same old friends for a lifetime as if they were sisters. Others find it hard to keep steady, healthy friendships. Many find a boyfriend who becomes their best friend but, once the relationship is over, they lose both their lover and friend. Solitude and loneliness replace it all, again.

This is why cultivating healthy and authentic friendships is so important. Finding a boyfriend can be hard; finding a good friend can be even harder. I suggest that you focus on the latter. The more people you meet and start interacting with, the more chances you have to find both a lovely boyfriend and a loyal friend. Needless to say, virtual contacts on social media and apps do not count as real friends. Real human bonds happen in real life, not on smartphones or computers.

Alessandro Cozzolino, LGBT+ coach

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