It has been more than a couple of years since I attended high school. The above phrase was code for describing a person who was likeable but not someone for whom you had a romantic interest. My guess is that code still exists—at least I know I have overheard my kids using it. Today, as I look at that phrase I regret ever using the adverb “just,” meaning “no more than,” when describing a friend. A friend, especially a friend you can trust, is one of life’s greatest treasures.

In much of the world’s classic literature, story after story tells of those who were willing to die for a friend. The word friend meant a great deal. I hope it still does, although today a friend could also be a name in a long list of friends on your Facebook site—some you know, some you don’t. Last time I checked, I had several friends I didn’t know I even had!

While interviewing people for my book “An Eight-Cow Woman Deserves an Eight-Cow Man” I spoke with many people who beamed that they were married to their best friend. They spoke of the trust and companionship they shared almost with a sense of pride.

But getting back to high school . . . what about the romance? Many talked about their spouse as if they describing a comfortable old shoe. Mr. Reliable—always there—totally honest—willing to tell me which dress makes me look fat. Are you kidding me? I have to have romance. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the Confidant Cow or trusted friendship is important to have in a relationship but it should never be a consolation prize for lack of romance and intimacy—The Cuddle Cow.

I actually have lots of friends. Many I would trust with my life. I hope some trust me with theirs. A few are true confidants. I can pour out my soul to them without fear. However, there is only one person I am willing to share everything with—and he had better be more than “just a friend.” I want to be wooed and won, spoiled and pampered, adored and cuddled, caressed and loved. I am glad I can trust him, but right now, I am not looking for a friend, I want a lover! I want mystery and passion—not every minute of the day—but often and for the rest of my life, with him and only him.

I have encountered people who have had romance in their life as I described above. It is heaven on earth. If your lover is a trusted friend, your romance has a chance to last a lifetime. Without trust and friendship, your romance can be like a shooting star that eventually burns itself out. In our surveys, The Confidant Cow or Trusted Friend Cow beat out the Cuddle Cow or Romance and Intimacy Cow in perceived order of importance. However, the happiest relationships we evaluated had both cows (actually all eight).

When a person in a close relationship truly understands the value and importance of each and every cow he or she will do anything and everything necessary to keep the Cuddle Cow thriving and well—because in a fulfilling, happy relationship, one of the last things you should want to be is “just a friend.”

Tracy Lyn Cutler