I Promise: Vows for my Dearest Friends

My wife and I wrote our own vows, heartfelt and specific expressions of our particular love. A mix of aspiration and realism, they were promises of who we hoped to be for each other while recognizing our own limitations. Writing them was an exploration of the type of person I wanted to be in this relationship. I felt honored to share mine with my wife and to be the recipient of hers on our wedding day. 

I've been thinking a lot about friends lately and what makes a good friendship, a friendship that lasts. I've known some of my closest friends for almost half my life, more than double the amount of time I've known my wife. And there are newer friends that I'll likely know and adore for another half my life. They've talked me through breakups, cried with me over losses, and rubbed my back when I'd had too much to drink. They've partied with me and called me when times were rough. These friendships have sustained me. 

In romantic relationships, at least the ones that choose the traditional route of marriage, the couple makes promises to each other about what the rest of their relationship will look like. Here's what you can expect from me. And even in those long-term relationships without marriage, I think there are conversations about what one partner can (or can't) promise to the other.

Perhaps other friendships are different, but in my experience, even the best of friends don't have those conversations. I've made promises to my friends, of course - I'll keep it a secret, I'll be there for you after you break it off, etc. But I've never set it out in full. I've never said you're so important to me, that I sat down and thought about who I want to be and who I can be in this relationship.

So here goes. These vows that are both aspirational and realistic, promises of who I hope to be for my dearest friends while recognizing my own limitations. 

Dearest Friends,

I promise to always remember your birthday except when I don't, in which case I promise to wake up panicked in the middle of the night and send you a verbose belated birthday text that includes a substantial number of exclamation points and emojis.

I promise to verbally (or in writing) agree with you about how horrible your boss/significant other/roommate/parent/sibling is behaving, but I also promise to offer gentle, sensitive questions if I think you're going to extremes (which of course would never happen, but just in case).

I promise to dance with you at trashy clubs and in kitchens and living rooms and grocery stores and on sidewalks and create more ridiculous memories. 

I promise to read emails from you and respond to them promptly except when I don't, in which case I promise to feel terrible about it and think about the email every single moment that I am away from a device with a screen.

I promise to tell you if you have something in your teeth, mascara smudges, or a wardrobe malfunction. 

I promise never to post a bad picture of you on social media, even if it includes the best picture of me that's ever been taken.

I promise to celebrate your joys and grieve your sadnesses, and I promise to share my joys and sadnesses with you.

I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt and to tell you if I'm feeling hurt by you or angry with you in a way that is compromising our friendship.

I promise to listen and try to understand your point of view when we disagree.

I promise to carry you in my heart for the rest of my days.  

p.s. Blue Moon.

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