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The other day I got tricked by a highway sign. It all started somewhere around Baltimore when I had a sudden urge for coffee (which happens more often than I care to admit). So when I saw a sign saying I’d find a Starbucks at the next exit, I darted across four lanes of the highway like a mad woman, definitely showing my Jersey colors. You can imagine my frustration when the Starbucks wasn’t conveniently located just off the exit as had been implied. I had to drive forever to find it, weave through a complicated series of lefts and rights, and drop breadcrumbs in hopes of finding my way back to the highway. While waiting at one of several lights on my quest for a tall-decaf-one-pump-sugar-free-vanilla-with-whip-latte (diva alert!), I noticed the cross street was called Constant Friendship Boulevard.

I smiled.

How sweet is that? This road, leading to a Target SuperCenter and a Chick-Fil-A, was probably paved by two old friends in the construction business. I can picture them now in matching bulldozers and hard hats, laughing and having a great time. (Note: Had it not been the Sabbath, my craving might have been swayed by the close proximity of a Chick-Fil-A — not because of any inherent holiness on my part, but simply because they’re closed on Sundays.)

Once I had my coffee in hand, my heart palpitations ceased and I got to thinking about friendship. As a singleton, I’m often asked what I look for in a boyfriend or husband. I usually respond with jokes, because — let’s face it — that’s how I deflect embarrassment and discomfort. (Yes, I’m fully aware I need therapy and lots of it.)

“I’m looking for a guy who’s 6’5″, filthy rich, owns a yacht, enjoys romantic comedies…”

But the truth is, when the joking is over and done with, I always land on one answer: I’m looking for my best friend.

As I think back to my accidental journey across Constant Friendship Boulevard, I think of the friends I do have in my life now. They’ve all been constant, to say the least. Tamara, Christy, Brooke, Martin, Michelle, Benny — all of whom I can proudly say I’ve been friends with for 13 years or more. I’m well aware that not many people can say that. I am blessed. And on top of these solid friendships, I’ve got an enormous, loving family to boot. I am really blessed.

But I wonder if — because I’m so blessed in the friendship department — I don’t feel ย as strong a need for a relationship as other guys and gals I know. Clearly, I feel the need or I wouldn’t have a blog dedicated to the topic. But I’ve never been that girl — the girl who needs to constantly be in a relationship to feel secure, needed, loved, whole. To a great extent, I feel those things already, due in large part to my relationship with God, but also due to my friendships with others.

When I need a good laugh about the insanity of online dating, I chat with Christy.

When I need relationship advice, I call Tamara.

When I need to talk reality TV, I text Michelle.

When I need a good cop story about the dangers of fighting crime, I call Benny.

When I need confirmation that the motherhood I crave isn’t all roses and butterflies, I chat with Brooke.

When I need to talk about matters of faith and church politics, I talk to Martin.

So when I say that I want to find a man who is my “best friend,” I wonder if I even need that. Do I even have room for that in my life? And worse yet, how could he ever measure up to the friends I already have and hold dear?

You might say there’s more to a relationship, that it’s not just a friendship. There’s the romance, the mystery, the companionship, the… gulp… love. For as far as I can understand these foreign topics, I get it. I understand.

And yet, my answer has not changed. What am I looking for in my future boyfriend, the man I will marry and start a family with? I’m looking for my best friend. Someone with whom I will laugh, talk, dream, live. Someone who gets me, knows me, and still loves me.

So today, I am thankful for the friends who have taken the journey with me down life’s Constant Friendship Boulevard. I will always have these friends. And I don’t mean always in a yearbook signature, teenage love kind of way. I mean always as in forever.

But today I also blame these same friends for setting the bar way too high, for being the kind of people to me that I hope my future husband will be. You’ve made the whole idea of dating less of a cute, fun treasure hunt and more of an all-out Navy SEALs secret reconnaissance mission!

Now that I’ve processed these thoughts in writing today’s blog post (the kind of therapy I can afford), I do believe there just might be room for one more. A different kind of friendship — a little deeper, a little stronger, with a lot more kissing and snuggling involved. (Oh, andย s-e-x, too.)

As for me, when I think of my future mate, the friendship factor definitely comes into play. Does it matter to you? Or do you think other factors should weigh more heavily in this decision?