#Friendship is a mutual intimate bond between two people. Depending on the emotional intensity and trust as well as the variance across times and cultures, friendship is categorized and separated in different degrees. They take on further significance and intensity at times of transition, particularly where people are located on the boundaries of heteronormativity.
For example, single mother friendships contain possibilities for intimacy and identities beyond the heteronormative couple-based family. A landscape of intimacy is understood as shifting through emotional closeness, mutual disclosure proximity and provision of practical support and care.
Building on notions of families of choice, the heterosexual love relationship has become increasingly decentred within individual life narratives. Therefore, there is more experimentation beyond heteronormative conjugality, with increasing importance placed on friendship.
Close friendships, especially those formed with other single mothers, were highly valued and given prominence. Moreover, these friendships could be seen to replace romantic couple-centred family life.
A narrative approach enabled Dr Charlotte Morris, 2019 to capture complexity in single mothers’ intimate lives and the way in which they see themselves as intimate beings within their specific contexts.
It was shown that becoming a single mother expands possibilities and opportunities for intimacies beyond the couple. Moving away from couple relationships, which sometimes are experienced as insular and limiting, can offer an expansion of ‘personal communities’, a movement from the given ties towards chosen ties.
Sometimes, the anticipated trajectories for single mothers, such as meeting a romantic partner, getting married or cohabiting in a permanent, committed relationship are not followed due to foregrounds such as friendships. Drawing on friendships in narrating intimate lives offers a socially acceptable identity for those in non-normative intimate situations, especially pertinent in the case of single mothers at risk of being linked to stigmatising representations.
Friendships between single mothers can provide reciprocal practical and emotional support alongside acceptance. Whereas, if prior ties lack understanding or are judgemental, there is some reorientation of single mothers towards friends who are more accepting.
As a result, friendships, function as supportive platforms between single mothers and help them manage the challenges and difficulties they face.
Source: The significance of friendship in UK single mothers’ intimate lives.
Dr Charlotte Morris 2019