We have acquaintances, good friends, and great friends, but few capture the title of “best friend”. I refuse to call more than one person at a time my best friend. I believe this title can be passed from person to person throughout the ages but the bond is so unique that the term rarely applies to more than one person simultaneously. As we age, not only do we grow up but we also grow apart from the friends closest to us. I’ve had three “best friends” over the course of my 31 years but they never overlapped. They were all in my life during different periods and knew me best at the time.
I met my current best friend during eighth grade (her seventh grade year). We’ve been friends for ages now, but we grew exponentially closer when I went out of state for college. I don’t recall the exact moment I considered her my “best” but I do know that many, many years have passed since we were simply “friends”.
What makes this relationship unique is that on the surface we are polar opposites. She dances tango. I run. She stays awake until the sun comes up. I’m starting the day when she’s just going to bed. She’s a conservative Catholic. I’m extremely liberal with religion. She attends weekend dance conferences. I run races four days in a row. She’s outgoing and talks to everybody. I ignore strangers while out in public. She jams to music with a beat. I turn up the country.
Digging deeper though, we have similar values. We’re pretty positive people who want to make a difference in the world. We both believe in working to keep our friendship strong. We understand the need for independence. We enjoy trekking the world and aspire to see it all. We find humor in the same movies, quotes, and scenarios. We don’t need to speak often to keep the bond alive. We read each other’s thoughts. We speak the brutal truth to each other when we know it needs to be said. We find it important to invite the other person to join in on an activity even if it’s not her cup of tea. The thought of inclusion counts most.
We understand the importance of compromise. I can be a pretty selfish person. I normally won’t do anything I don’t want to do, but in our friendship compromising is key. We both do things outside of the norm to support the other. I’ll go to church and Lisa will come to my art show. I’ll go out to a club and she will come snowboarding. I’ll hang out with her friends and she will spend quality time with mine.
We also support independence. When we travel, we understand that we don’t have to be together 24/7. On our spring break cruise in college, I went to lie by the pool while Lisa did a little studying in the cabin. She feels comfortable going to a Milonga (tango event) alone while I stay home to sleep because she knows I’ll be up to go running before she awakes the next day.
A best friend should be someone who knows you better than anyone else. She accepts you in your entirety – flaws, quirks and all. She does not try to change you but adapts to you. She will be your partner in crime, sitting in the jail cell next to you, not the one bailing you out. She finds contentment doing literally anything with you, even running errands, as long as you are together. She knows the choices you will make before you make them. She’s seen you in your worst and done your makeup to help you look your best. She doesn’t protest when you decide to act stupid in public. She joins in the fun.
I have numerous people I consider “great” friends but only one “best”. I apologize if you refer to me as one of your best friends. I just can’t reciprocate. It’s like a marriage. I believe in best friend monogamy. And my current best friendship does not have an expiration date.