Time and time again we find ourselves reading compilations of circulated love-life jargon. We read countless stories regarding the search for fulfillment in our relationships, while the theme of friendship takes a bit of a backseat. I thinks it is safe to assume that the rom coms we so often watch have us looking for love or at least awaiting its arrival, whether we are actively seeking it or not.

However, through a series of unforecasted events I have developed a special appreciation for relationships. That of the special relationships and fulfillment of not love interests, but  genuine friendships.

According to a statistic from The New York Times, “Today [only] 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are married, compared with nearly 60 percent in 1960.”

With marriage becoming more of a distant future idea versus something happening sooner than later, it makes me wonder if people can genuinely be just as happy in the meantime as they would be if they were spending the time with the love of their lives. I guess I have always been a bit of a romantic whether I’m in a relationship or not. The idea of achieving that soulful satisfaction a spouse provides has always been an idea I fancied.

However, with the social norms changing, and marriages tending to happen later in life it separates people into two other categories. Those who find solace in being alone and those who find impassioned completeness from friendships.

With more of us entering adulthood unmarried, we begin to mold into the people we will evidently be the rest of our lives not based off companionship of a romance, but instead apace with friends. I began to find affinity with those made from a similar mold as I; As I stepped into “adulthood” it appeared it was more enjoyable to do so accompanied by genuine friends.

Upon taking a recent trip to Nebraska to visit my best friend for her 21st birthday and a much needed mental health trip on my part, I came to discover it wasn’t romance nor a self-indulged trip of self-love that began to mold me into the person I hoped I would be. It was instead the friendships I chose to invest in. I came to the conclusion that friendships provided me with many enrichments I sought out in early adulthood — intellectual connection, similar moral values, enjoyed company, a support system and character builders.

When visiting my best friend Lexi, I for the first time acknowledged a constant in my life. The presence of Lexi and all my other best friends. Despite all of the poor relationship choices I made or the lows I faced in any self-conflicting battle I faced, my friends weren’t far from my side.

My good friends challenged my political stances, pushed me to be a better person, provided me with mental stimulation and enriched me with substance filled conversation. I realized the genuine friends I surrounded myself with pushed me in positive directions and made my aspirations I yearned for seemed more attainable.

Friendships, if catered to with care provide something relationships don’t. They provide a simplistic satisfaction romantic entanglements might not. They stimulate us emotionally whether it be accompanying us during  Netflix Benders, consoling us after detrimental blows life throws our way or just embarking on everyday adventures with us.

I think we seek fulfillment in romantic relationships when completeness is right in front of our faces. We can all carry the mentality of G Eazy’s new top-40 hit, “Oh, it’s just me, myself and I Solo ride until I die ‘Cause I got me for life.” Save it. Having a sense of self-empowerment and independence is great. You’re a romantic like myself? great.

However, connections as special as friendships seem to take a wayside because there is no ceremonial tying of the knot. As marriages become a thing that occur later on in life people assume roles of self-indulgence when they could instead invest themselves in genuine friendships that could provide just as great fulfillment as any romantic interest.

There may not be any ceremonies to make friendships official. Marriage becomes more distant and that means friends may become more of our primary life partners. So invest the same time you would in friends as you would in love interests. Don’t waste your time having small-minded conversations or subpar adventures with friends while awaiting a fairy-tale romance. Because truth be told, friendships can provide just as much fulfillment, if not more if you open your heart to friendships as you would to romance.

  Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at alexandraschultz@unr.edu and on Twitter @AliSchultzzz