Best Friends Forever

A friend recently asked me to blog about something very simple but so very true – girls who assume they are your best friend or you are their best friend, when it’s not quite true or you don’t feel the same way.

BFF – best friends forever. I think Paris Hilton coined this term but I am not sure though. I just remember her as one of the early people who started throwing the term about (in relation to Nicole Richie).

Women like to belong, we like to be part of someone. We just like to feel special. We like to feel that we have a unique bond with someone. Whether it is a romantic relationship or a friendship, we like to know or feel that to one person, we’re not like everyone else, we’re more, much more. It’s innate to us. We want the title! There are big titles we typically strive for and spend most of our lives obsessing over: WIFE, MOTHER, and GIRLFRIEND. But there is another title that may not be as critical, but we want all the same, and that can often bring the same level of confusion, hurt and drama: BEST FRIEND.

Best friend is a heavy title, a big title and I think some people just don’t see how important it is. It’s like how some people ‘just want to get married’ without thinking too deeply about what that means, and the expectations and responsibility that comes with that. Some people simply want to belong or feel special without acting according to the title they crave so much.

As such I think there are some basic misconceptions about what a best friend is.

  1. A best friend isn’t just someone you talk to a lot. Frequency of communication doesn’t make you a best friend. Some girls tend to quickly label someone their best friend because they talk every day.
  2. Frequency of time spent together also isn’t a definite for best friend status. Just because you’ve seen someone five times in one week doesn’t make them your absolute bestie.
  3. A best friend also isn’t just someone you’ve known since you were a child. Some people assume that someone they’ve known and been friends with since they were in diapers is automatically their best friend.
  4. A best friend isn’t just someone you tell your deepest darkest secret to. We sometimes feel like since we’ve shared some inner most secret with someone, they are our bestest friend. Great, you shared a secret with me, I appreciate that you trust me, but it doesn’t make you my best friend.
  5. A best friend also isn’t someone that you have a lot in common with and start to hang out with. This happens so often – you meet someone relatively new, and because of your changed social circle, you start to talk to someone more, hang out, club together, gossip together, and then a few weeks or months into the social whirlwind you start to think of them as your best friend. Your ‘clubbing partner’ isn’t necessarily your best friend.

So I have said what a best friend automatically isn’t. And that is the key word – automatic – frequency of conversation, length of friendship, secret sharing and social compatibility doesn’t AUTOMATICALLY make someone your best friend.

So what makes someone your best friend?

In my opinion, it’s all about behaviors and shared expectations.

1. Behaviors: If you google ‘best friend behaviors or qualities’ you’ll find a whole list of behaviors, including:

  • Trustworthy – someone you trust completely and fully with your inner most thoughts and ideas
  • Reliable – someone you can always depend on no matter what
  • Respectful – someone who respects you for the person you are and the person you are striving to be
  • Supportive – someone who is fully supportive of your dreams and ambitions
  • Loving – I think the biggest of these is LOVE, someone who really loves you, sincerely and genuinely loves you

2. Shared expectations: As much as the behaviors are important, having a common understanding and set of expectations is even more critical. Basically, you need to be on the same page. Sometimes friends do hurtful things to each other, and one of the most frequent excuses is – we were not that close anyways. Really? And other times, a best friend hooks up with your man, and their excuse is – but I thought you were over him, or, I thought you guys weren’t official. That is the problem. In your mind, you may have a set of behaviors that you regard as important for true friendship, but it doesn’t mean the person you call your best friend shares the same mentality. You may expect that your best friend will never, ever date your ‘man’ even if it is someone you simply crushed on; but your best friend may think a crush is fair game.

You need to share similar ideals, values and principles; and you need to place the same level of importance to those behaviors you treasure. This isn’t a prescriptive process of sitting down and listing behaviors and validating them together. If you are truly open and honest (and I mean truly) with your best friend, these are behaviors you will discuss on a regular basis.

Just as a girl needs to clarify the status of her romantic relationship, i.e. confirm if it is official and if she has the title, I think it doesn’t hurt for girls to confirm the status of their friendships. It’s a weird thing to clarify, I know. Do you just call the person you regard as your bestie and say – hey I think of you as my best friend, do you feel the same?  Most likely, they will say yeah, kinda, even if it is not true. At that point, keep probing, keep checking, and don’t stop asking. No matter how awkward the conversation is, if you’re going to call someone your best friend, be sure they consider you the same. Do a status check.

Titles are nice. It’s sweet to know you have a very special relationship with someone, but the relationship really shouldn’t be forced. The same way I don’t believe in getting married for marriage sake, I don’t believe in assigning titles for titles sake. Based on my tumultuous past experience with friends, I decided a while ago not to assign the ‘best friend’ title to anyone. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe not. I feel I have reached a point in my life where the quality of the relationship is much more important than mere titles.

And to be honest, you can have great quality friendships without necessarily having a best friend. It really isn’t a must that we have ‘best friends forever.’