Updated: Feb 26
Relationships aren't easy. Bill and Frank show us what it takes to have one.
Meet Bill and Frank
The Last of Us is a critically acclaimed video game turned television series known for its engaging story and endearing characters. There is a lot of hype surrounding the series, especially episode 3 where we meet Bill and Frank. Two of the most intriguing characters, their primary role in the series is to provide aid and supplies to Joel and Ellie, but they also serve as an excellent example of what a healthy relationship can look like with good communication, mutual respect, and trust.
Bill and Frank look like any other couple, they fight, they disagree, and their personalities are distinct from one another. Their relationship is hard, not counting the fact that they live in a post-apocalyptic world, but they have established a solid on foundation which to build their relationship every day.
Communication: Bill and Frank's Partnership
In their fortified town, Bill and Frank work as a team to scavenge, build, and protect themselves from the dangers of the world. Their relationship is founded on clear communication, trust, and mutual respect. They listen to each other's opinions, share their thoughts and feelings, and make decisions together.
What's also great about their communication is how human it is. They argue, they yell, they get upset with each other, but in the end, they are honest with one another and listen to the other person. When we think of good communication in relationships, we think it has to be perfect and look a certain way, but it doesn't. Bill and Frank demonstrate how messy it actually appears.
Bill was adamantly opposed to Frank's plans to renovate the town. They fought and were clearly frustrated with each other. They were honest without ever calling each other names or being mean to each other. They were able to work out their differences, repair their relationship, and reach an agreement.
For Bill and Frank, in a post-apocalyptic world, where resources are scarce, and every decision can have life or death consequences, clear communication is essential.
For us, clear communication is essential in our relationships because it allows us to express ourselves without fear of being judged. It also helps to build trust and allows for better decision-making. Without it, important issues are not discussed, arguments are not resolved, and assumptions are made about the other person. While it may not be life or death, it is essential to keeping the relationship alive and functioning. Otherwise, overtime, without communication, we find ourselves unable to repair while the relationship slowly deteriorates. With clear communication, a relationship can survive anything, even a global pandemic caused by mass fungal infection.
Mutual Respect: Bill and Frank's Acceptance of Differences
One of the reasons Bill and Frank can openly communicate is because of the mutual respect they have for one another. Bill and Frank come from different backgrounds and have different personalities, but they accept and respect each other's differences. While Frank is more open, Bill is more reserved and guarded. Despite their differences, they treat each other with respect and support each other when they need it.
Frank is frustrated with Bill for his past (and current) beliefs of the government, finding him to be more paranoid and closed-off. While Frank does not agree with Bill, he does not disrespect or dismiss him. He recognizes that Bill's opinions do not sum him up as a whole. He still admires him, sees that Bill’s underlying intentions are good, and respects his outlook on life.
It is critical that we admire and hold our partners in high regard. Otherwise, we end up speaking negatively to and about our partners. We grow to dislike them, and as a result of our resentment, we become hostile and untrusting of our partner's opinions and actions. That is not a pleasant relationship. Mutual respect is essential because it encourages us to accept each other's differences and promotes a sense of equality in the relationship.
There will be many opinions our partners hold that we will disagree with, ranging from the direction of the toilet paper to their stance on a political topic. It does not mean we have to question the relationship (this obviously depends on the opinion). It simply means we need to become more curious about them in order to better understand them.
The stakes are high for Frank and Bill, and resources are limited. It was all too easy for them to become competitive or aggressive with one another. However, out of mutual respect and admiration, Bill and Frank work together and support each other.
Trust: Bill and Frank's Dependability
Bill and Frank's partnership is built on trust. They rely on one another to survive in a dangerous world, and they do not betray each other's trust. They are dependable and devoted to one another. This is critical for a long-term relationship.
In the episode, Bill and Frank rely on each other in a variety of ways. When raiders attack, Frank believes Bill's ability to secure the town will keep them safe and Bill is able to put his trust in Frank to care for him after he is shot. They trust each other to keep their word, as evidenced by their final day together, when Bill kept his word to Frank by allowing him to have his final day. Danger was always lurking around the corner for Bill and Frank, but they felt safe knowing they could rely on each other.
Trust is important because it fosters a sense of safety and security in our relationships. It lets us know that we can count on our partner in times of joy, adversity, and grief, and that they will be there for us.
Bill and Frank have essential components of any healthy relationship. By prioritizing healthy relationships, we can improve our overall well-being and quality of life. We can also create a stronger, more supportive community that can help us navigate the challenges of the world around us.
If you find it difficult to communicate with your partner, respect them, or depend on them, it is not the end of the world. This is something you can work on by looking underneath these symptoms to see what is happening in the relationship.
Sarah Rafik Botrus, LMFT
I help couples work through issues of feeling disconnected and numbness in order to create a well-intentioned life.