The Other Significant Others Book Summary - The Other Significant Others Book explained in key points
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The Other Significant Others summary

Rhaina Cohen

Reimagining Life with Friendship at the Center

3.9 (94 ratings)
19 mins
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    The Other Significant Others
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    Beyond friendship

    Have you ever had a friendship that felt as intense and committed as a romantic partnership? A bond so meaningful that “best friend” didn't seem to capture its depth? Well, such profound platonic relationships aren’t actually unusual, particularly when we look back in history.

    For centuries, intimate same-sex friendships, even “wedded” or sworn brotherhood, were common and publicly celebrated. Passionate language, cohabitation, shared finances, and lifelong devotion were normal features of such friendships. 

    Marriage, in turn, served as an answer to more practical needs. This often meant that friends, as opposed to spouses, were people's primary source of emotional connection. Only in recent decades, have we come to expect spouses to meet our every need – from best friend to lover to life coach. 

    This leaves far less room for friendships and puts immense pressure on marriages. And while some couples may find marriage deeply fulfilling in all the important areas of their life, still many others find it falls short of their hopes, expectations, and needs.

    Meanwhile, having a diverse “relationship portfolio” may lead to greater happiness and less stress. But modern society lacks the rituals, language, and understanding for platonic partnerships that transcend typical friendships. 

    Take the example of Andrew and Toly, two close friends who have built their lives around each other. They’re roommates, intellectual sparring partners, and collaborate on academic and activist projects. They approach major decisions – from daily routines to career moves – with the other in mind, much like a married couple would. As a result, people often assume they must be romantically involved. 

    Assuming that commitment must always equal sexual attraction limits our understanding of such deep relationships. It’s time to widen our frame of reference and appreciate the roles that love, commitment, and intimacy play when it comes to friendships that exist outside of sex and romance. 

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    What is The Other Significant Others about?

    The Other Significant Others (2024) challenges conventional relationship wisdom by inviting us to imagine a life centered around friendship rather than romance. Through compelling stories of platonic partners who have built lives together, this thought-provoking work invites us to re-examine our assumptions about love, commitment, and family.

    The Other Significant Others Review

    The Other Significant Others (2022) explores the roles of our loved ones beyond romantic partners, shedding light on the complexity and richness of modern relationships. Here's why this book is a worthwhile read:

    • Delving into the dynamics of friendships, colleagueships, and platonic bonds, it offers a refreshing perspective on the various forms of important connections in our lives.
    • Through personal stories, research findings, and expert insights, the book provides a deeper understanding of the significance of non-romantic relationships.
    • Its exploration of emotional support, mentorship, and chosen families ensures that every page is filled with intriguing narratives that challenge societal norms and enrich our relational horizons.

    Who should read The Other Significant Others?

    • Readers seeking alternative perspectives on relationships and family structures
    • Friends who want to build a life together
    • Single, widowed, or divorced people searching for meaning, love, and connection

    About the Author

    Rhaina Cohen is an NPR producer and editor, known for her award-winning work on the documentary podcast Embedded. A prolific writer and journalist, Cohen's pieces on social connection have been featured in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and various prominent podcasts and radio shows. She lives with her husband, friends, and her friends’ children.

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    The Other Significant Others FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Other Significant Others?

    The main message of The Other Significant Others is the impact of relationships on our lives.

    How long does it take to read The Other Significant Others?

    Reading time varies. For a brief overview, the Blinkist summary can be read in a short time.

    Is The Other Significant Others a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Other Significant Others is worth reading for its insightful exploration of relationships.

    Who is the author of The Other Significant Others?

    Rhaina Cohen is the author of The Other Significant Others.

    What to read after The Other Significant Others?

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