I’m going to be very upfront and state from the beginning that this is an opinion piece, and I am of the opinion that having a BFF (best friend forever) past the age of 20 (and I’m being generous here) is a bit odd. I do find it bit odd, and dare say, a tad juvenile too.
Perhaps I hold this position because I actually don’t have a best friend—that one other gal who above each and every other gal friend, is the tops. She’d have been the one who signed my organ donor card, held my bouquet at my wedding, and is tasked with accepting any communication from me (email, call or text) and immediately responding with love, support and appropriate doses of reality.
Instead, I have a group of women whom I turn to in moments of need, boredom and utterly classless amusement. One did hold the bouquet at my wedding, another actually signed my organ donor card, and all of them are on speed dial. I think I’ve got the right formula down for optimizing my joy and feelings of belongingness, spreading them around, never fully depleting or overextending one, but instead extracting new ideas, deep support and all forms of laughter from a host of terrific and varied sources.
However, I’ve certainly heard from enough women about their best friendships and all the associated endearments, that I’m open to the possibility that I may, in fact, really missing out on a good (great) thing that one-on-one, committed-friendness delivers.
Follow me as I argue pro et contra having one “bestie” as an adult.
The Pros of Having a Best Friend
I’m one of those people who orders the exact same thing for lunch each day—egg salad with munster cheese on sourdough bread. Why? Because I like it, it is a safe bet, and because it is one less decision that I need to make each day. In short, it meets almost all of my needs, and thus it lowers my stress. I liken the comfort I get from the egg salad to the security one must feel with a best friend (work with me here).
Having a best friend, knowing there is someone out there who likes you better than anyone else, who relies on you, trusts you, thinks you are weird in a cool kind of way, and would absolutely take down anyone who in any manner harmed you, well that just got to feel good. I’m betting it feels good, it feels safe, it makes one feel important, and that is completely the point. Best friends are anchors—a place you know you can retreat when the waters get too choppy. And like egg salad, I’m betting that best friends are too, always a safe bet, something that we know we can always count on, something we’re always going to like super comforting, and that regardless of the situation, our choice, without even thinking about it, is always going to be the egg … I mean, the best friend. No-brainer, total comfort.
When we have a best friend it reinforces and reminds us that someone cares about us, unfailingly … always … 100%.
These feelings of safety aren’t merely friendly fancy, researchers have shown that when in the company of our “best friends” and not just any old friend, but a best friends, our stress levels lower, as do the stress hormone cortisol. And while our anxiety and worries are relaxing, our confidence and feelings of self-worth are able to soar.
So best friends = lower stress, higher self worth, feelings of comfort and safety, and simple reliance. Score 1 for best friendships.
The Cons of Besties
Having just provided a list of wonderful attributes of the bonds of bestiehood, it is sorta hard to make an intelligent argument against having a best friend. Except when you think about the benefits of any friendship. I mean, aren’t the benefits of a best friend, the same that are found in all good friendships? And if these benefits aren’t present, then do you really have a friendship?
I think my problem with adult BFF status comes in when grown women use the best friend label to give supposed weight to the importance of their friendship. It feels similar to the way some women imply elevated rank because of their marital status, or the fact that they are mothers or employed (all you SAH moms who have faced the “you don’t really work” putdown can relate). As if having one single best friend somehow makes you better at being a friend, and that your friendship is better than the friendships between women who don’t labeled theirs “the best.” One thing is for sure, it certainly tells all your other friends that their relationship is “less than” in regard to your best friend.
And this may be my biggest objection to claiming a BFF, that you may indeed be cutting yourself off from forming deep, intimate bonds with other gals. Once you’ve put all your eggs in one best pal basket, is there room for eggs from other women (which sounds gross now that I’ve written it, but you know what I mean).
Just as the non-married don’t want to date the married (well, most anyway), do wise women really want to go “all in” with a gal who is already spoken for? At best, you’ll be a friend “poacher ;” at worst, you’ll be the third wheel.
As families become smaller and more dispersed, and romantic relationships start later in life and are no longer cemented in “foreverness”, more and more people are turning to their friendships to fulfill their need for close emotional ties. And this makes perfect sense, AND makes for a healthy life.
But the reality is that just as marriages aren’t lasting (indeed, now 51% of marriages end), friendships don’t always last either (sadly). In fact, studies show that over the course of 7 years, the average person turns-over 1/3 of their social circle. This shedding occurs due to moves, matrimony, and sometimes money, but mostly due to a simple change of priorities and interests. And so the typical woman is constantly in need of replenishing her herd (which is all the more reason to try online friendship networks such as SocialJane.com).
Which brings us to our original question, it is better to have one very close and dearest friend, or is it better to spread your friendliness around, relying on a group of favored and trusted women to support you?
In the end, I’ve determined that the only thing that really matters is that you do truly have a support system to turn to in times of need and nothingness. Whether that support comes from one or several, who really cares? Call them your bestie, BFF, dearest or oldest friend; it honestly doesn’t matter. But do call them, and then sit back and enjoy all the loyalty, trust, and warmth they provide. Your life will never be the same.