Friday, February 21, 2014

Is Best Always Better?

How do you feel about BFFs? Most people I know have a "best friend" that they talk to and about. I am excluding spouses for consideration of best friend title for the purposes of this post, but I hope that if you have a spouse, you do think of them as your best friend.

I don't have one best friend, but we moved frequently as I was growing up, and we have moved a few times since we got married. Because of the many relocations, I had many times that I had to start over and make all new friends. I am glad that I am not introverted because it would have been even harder for me to make friends. I usually had a lot of friends wherever I lived, and I am grateful for that. 

One thing I did notice, in my many attempts to make new friends, was that it was always harder to be friends with people who already had a "best friend". They usually didn't feel like they needed more friends, and they rarely made efforts to befriend new people. I have seen this situation occur at every stage of life. I also felt more intimidated trying to befriend people when I knew they already had a best friend. I knew I wouldn't be their very best friend because they already had one, so I didn't try as hard. And I knew I would have to impress both people to be friends with even one of them. They usually come as a package deal. I have found it to be even more difficult in these situations as an adult.

Because of these past experiences, I have developed a strong opinion about labeling someone as a best friend. I think that the label can be a little bit dangerous. When we publicly label someone as a best friend, it can cause difficulties for either "best friend" to make as many new friends or to develop stronger friendships. And when we label someone as a best friend, even in our minds, we can limit our desires to develop more friendships. 

So I guess it's not having the best friend that causes problems but the label. And labels of any kind can cause problems. We hear about the dangers of labeling people, but we don't often talk about the dangers of even good labels. I have a friend whose children always seem to behave perfectly. Everyone labels them as perfect, and because of that label, people don't expect her to ever have problems with her children. She doesn't receive the understanding that should be given to everyone, the understanding that nobody is perfect. (I don't have this problem because my kids are universally known to have their problems, fist fights during the calm Nativity scene, etc.)

We all need friends, and we need to feel like other people like us. We don't want to feel that the other person doesn't fully value us, that they will always have another person that they like more. And we don't want to limit ourselves. We want to keep ourselves open to new friendship opportunities......don't  we? Am I the only person who feels this way?


  1. I agree with you Melissa. I've always hesitated to call someone my best friend because once I do it automatically feels like I'm excluding everyone else. Now I say "one of my closest friends, etc." When I was a kid it was so common for other kids to talk about having a best friend like everyone needed a best friend. I was always looking for a best friend because that was what everyone else was doing.
    In jr. high I decided that two girls were my very best friends and I began excluding my other friends. Pretty soon these two best friends joined together and decided to exclude me. Because I had excluded everyone else I was left without any close friends and it was a lonely time.

    My kids have had a hard time over the years when a new year of school starts and classmates are shifted to a new class. Their old friends want to be friends with their new classmates and not with them anymore. I feel sad that they can't still be friends. Some of that is natural I think, but it can be a hard and confusing time.
    As an adult I've struggled with making new close friends because there's a fear that there's no time or room for too many friends. While it's true that most of my time goes to my family I have been able to make time for new friends while staying in touch with the old. I've made friends with someone over the past year who I never imagined would be the person that she is. Though we have lead such opposite lives I've come to know how similar we are. She is such a great person and I never would have known that had I not pursued the friendship.
    At the same time there is something really fun about having a very close friend. You can always count on them, you usually have a lot in common, and they are usually good listeners.You can really laugh together. So I say nurture good friendships, but always keep the door open for new ones. It sure makes life interesting.

  2. I just call everyone my best friend and Randy is my #1. I am lonely, looney, and still learning. I miss women's conversation. When I first moved to Perry, I hung out basically with two people, and we went to the Temple in Ogden every week. It was lovely to feel like I fit in somewhere. Then I was wayward, and one divorced...and that all stopped. Now I think I am just too neurotic to have close friends anymore. But it is all good. I love and admire the young moms in the ward and am grateful they even include me. I guess in the next life it will be better. Maybe it is a good thing, because I complain a lot! Love you Melissa!

  3. I have a hard time calling anyone my best friend because I have a friend here that's my very good friend, the best friend I have here, but she has her own best friend from college and I don't want to attempt to usurp that place. I have another friend that lives way far away that calls me her best friend but we haven't seen each other in four years. Then there's Michelle, my best friend from high school, that I will forever call my best friend even though we don't talk or see each other hardly ever...because she's the best friend I've ever had. We shared more in four years than I've shared with another person besides my husband. So best friend? It's all relative.