Recently I was at my mom’s house and, for whatever reason, I felt the need to look through my old yearbooks. It’s so funny to see how many people, some of whom I don’t even remember, signed their names with the abbreviations BFF or LYLAS (Best Friends Forever and Love Ya Like a Sister for those who don’t know). That got me thinking about the idea of a “best friend.”
You go to any elementary school classroom, maybe even preschool classrooms, and you will hear children talking about who their best friend is. Sometimes you will even hear the phrase “bestest best friend.” The concept of a best friend is one that seems to be innate in all children and, what’s more, something that is coveted and longed for. Everyone wants to be someone’s best friend. It is a title, a badge of honor.
Show of hands – how many of you had a “Best Friends” necklace you shared with someone (or whatever the male equivalent was)? You know the ones I am talking about. The ones that split up so one person has “Be Fri” and the other has “st ends.” I know I had a few of those as a kid.
So what is it about a friend that makes them “best” and why do we crave that specific kind of friendship from such an early age?
Over the course of my life I have had a lot of friends. Some have stayed with me for years and some have fallen by the wayside. I have also had a lot of different friends that I have considered my best friend at some time or other. Right now I have two (not including my husband – to me, the friendship of a significant other, no matter how great, is different from the friendship I am talking about).
Adina has been my friend since middle school, but somewhere towards the end of high school our friendship shifted into best friend territory and has only grown stronger in the 10 years since then. My other best friend is much newer. Coty and I haven’t even known each other for a year, but somehow we just clicked from the get go and neither one of us can imagine a future in which we are not best friends.
With such different histories it is not hard to believe that my relationships with Adina and Coty are very different, but there are a few key factors that are the same. It is these similarities that I believe are what create the difference between a friend, even a really good friend, and a true best friend.
It is okay to be silent as long as you are together. Sometimes you don’t feel like talking, but you don’t want to be alone either. Best friends are okay with this. When you are with a best friend sitting in silence is not awkward or uncomfortable. Both of you know that the silence isn’t from a lack of things to say, but from a need to just be.
You can tell each other anything without fear of judgement. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I do stupid things and sometimes stupid things go through my head. I cannot even begin to explain the comfort I have from the knowledge that I can go to Adina or Coty with anything and they will not judge me for it or love me any less. That is a rare and beautiful thing that should be treated with care and respect.
You can tell each other when one of you is in the wrong. Just as I know that neither Adina nor Coty will judge me for something, I know that if I am in the wrong in a situation they will tell me. This is a quality that only works between best friends. If someone who is not really a best friend tries to do this the other person is likely to get offended and not pay any attention to the censure. But when you know the person telling you that you are wrong is someone who loves you and only wants the best for you, someone you trust enough to know that their motive in telling you is in no way selfish, then you will listen. And only a best friend knows and trusts that they can tell you this kind of thing without fear of losing your love.
You are both confident in the knowledge that the other person loves, trusts, and respects you. This, I believe, is the cornerstone that everything else is built on and why the best friend relationship is so special. It is incredibly difficult to know deep down in your core that someone loves, trusts, and respects you. If you don’t know that, then there will always be that moment before opening up a new part of yourself to someone where you weigh how it will be received and decide whether or not you should show it. The only way that any of the other things I mentioned can is exist is because this does. I know that Adina and Coty love, trust, and respect me and no one could ever convince me otherwise. If I did not have this certain knowledge, I would not be able to confide in them the way that I do or be as honest with them as I am. To me, this knowledge is worth more than anything in the world. It is priceless.
What about you? What do you think the things are that separate a good friend from a best friend? Do you agree with the things that I have listed out? What would you add or take away? Let me know in the comments.