Every time we hear the saying “blood is thicker than water,” we are reminded that familial ties are stronger than any other connections we make such as friendships or romantic relationships. We are expected to seek refuge in our families especially whenever faced with difficulties because, at the end of the day, people say that they are the ones who care for us the most and could help us in their most selfless way possible.

But the reality of life tells us that it’s not always the case. For some people, especially those who have been exposed to toxic family cultures, sometimes the circles they choose to build mean more than the family that they are born from.

This reality made more sense to me recently, when I discovered that the proverb from which the above-mentioned phrase was derived has been misused or misinterpreted through time. The original saying goes “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” which actually meant the opposite of what we used to know.

A covenant is a deal, a contract, that people make between or among each other. Especially during medieval times, covenants are made through a blood-pact which signifies the intention of both parties to agree on important accords.

In this interpretation, the bonds we make by choice through the blood of the covenant may actually have more bearing than the people we are bound to by means of the womb.

There were so many instances in my life where I was more comfortable asking for help from my friends – the family I choose – because I am confident that they would be more understanding and non-judging towards me. Being a student, I spend more time with them rather than with my family and relatives. That’s why it’s easier for me to open up my concerns to them because I feel like they know me better than any of my relatives. Oftentimes, based on personal experiences, some friends are more present in our struggles compared to relatives who only show up during our successes.

We cannot blame people for preferring peers or friends over other ties, because sometimes these relationships provide healthier environments for them to improve and grow as individuals. It’s essential that we are careful and wise in choosing the bonds we delve into and that we may find these people our home and comfort especially in cases when our own family cannot provide it for us in these challenging times.