In Praise of Not Having a Best Friend

In Praise of Not Having a Best Friend

Last week we celebrated Best Friends Day. Well some people did. I can honestly say that before this year I’d never heard of such a celebration. But we seem to have a day/week for everything from gin to bicycles these days, so why not best friends?

I would hazard a guess that this particular celebration originated in the US but even some of us Brits got involved on social media. People posted selfies with their best friends along with a suitable caption about how long they’d known each other and what their best friend means to them.

I smiled at some and cringed at others (social media brings the cynic out in me sometimes). Then I noticed a few people posting a photograph with their best friend, only to post another one hours later with a different ‘best friend’. Is that possible? The word ‘best’ suggests that they are the one and only, surely?

“Who’s your best friend?”

Ever since the tender age of 5, I have felt under pressure to have a best friend. I remember being asked by well-meaning grown ups: “So tell me, who’s your best friend?

The thing is, I don’t ever remember really having just one special friend; not in childhood nor in adulthood. But I do remember feeling as though I should have one and sometimes, like on ‘Best Friends Day’, I still feel that way.

My history with friendships

I have always had a handful of really close friends. They don’t necessarily know one another and aren’t part of the same group but every one of them has something in common: I could call them at 3am and I know that they would drop everything to be there.

The make-up of that handful might have changed over the years (due to a shift in circumstances, the odd ‘rift’ or a move away) but the principle remains the same: they are a crucial part of my life and I value each one of them deeply. 

Beyond that I have a lot of other friends (my husband would say way too many!) who I want to make time for, but sometimes struggle to keep up with. Despite the irregularity in our contact, they are still friends and I often feel guilty that I’m not investing more time in them.

I’ll admit to having occasionally considered paring down the number of people I consider to be friends. Friendship shouldn’t incite guilt, should it? Of course when I’m in my right mind, I realise that makes me sound like a ridiculous narcissist, so instead I opt to be intentional about spending time with each friend when I can, remembering that friendship is a two way street (if you get my drift).

It’s not you, it’s me

I think there are a number of reasons why I choose not to single any of my dear friends out as ‘best’:

  1. It would put too much pressure on the relationship
  2. Even at almost 47 years of age, I’m not ready for that level of exclusivity
  3. I’m a little bit greedy

You see I don’t want to pick just one, because this way I have everything: the friend who makes me laugh ’til my belly hurts; the one who is always up for a glass of Prosecco; the one who listens without judgment; the one with a wise word in every situation; the one who laughs at my stories although she’s probably heard them a thousand times before; the one who reminds me who I am when life is battering me on all sides; the one who respects my values and beliefs even though she doesn’t share them; the one who totally ‘gets’ all the stresses and strains of life with teenage daughters; and the one who understands my insecurities, mainly because she struggles with them too.

It’s probably for this reason that I’ve never felt as though I was lacking in the friendship department. Why do I need one best friend when I’ve got all of this?

Do you have a best friend or do you prefer to keep your options open like me?

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11 Comments

  1. Sue
    June 12, 2018 / 9:30 am

    As an adult I have a lot of friends, all very different, some of them know each other, others not. I love all of them in different ways as they are so different. I am still friends with my best friend from school, we’ve been friends since we were 11, 52 years! We know each other so well, know everything about each other, don’t need to explain anything and when we get together we go back to being those 11 year old girls! With other friends I am the person I am now.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      June 16, 2018 / 10:19 pm

      I have quite a few friends who I’ve known for decades and I totally agree – the years melt away! It’s lovely isn’t it? I do feel blessed.

  2. June 13, 2018 / 10:15 am

    I have to admit that I have a pretty tiny circle of close friends outside of family. Things seem to change after you have kids and it’s never possible to keep up with them as much as you would like. But the friends I do have I feel will be there forever. I think my attitude to friendship must be down to my Scorpio nature and my introverted side! xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      June 21, 2018 / 11:23 am

      I definitely agree that things change after having kids and also that life ebbs and flows. I have a tendency to one to try to hang on to people but naturally, we can’t hang on to everyone! xx

  3. June 13, 2018 / 12:35 pm

    I read this yesterday and I’m a bit torn. I do agree with you that there’s no need to have one person who is the be all and end all. But I’m different to you in that I have a relatively small number of friends but they are all ‘practical’ friends rather than emotional friends. People I’ll go swimming / running / walking with or have lunch with but nobody who I talk to about stuff that matters. And if that’s what a best friend is for, I think there would be benefits to having one.
    Nat.x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      June 21, 2018 / 11:24 am

      I have a few close friends who I talk to about stuff that matters, most of whom I’ve found at church but a few outside as well. These friendships are really important to me but then I love talking about stuff! xx

  4. June 13, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    It sounds like you don’t need one best friend because you have several! I don’t have a best friend either, but the difference is I don’t really have any close friends right now. I only see my ‘old’ best friend three or four times a year and, although we always get on well, our lives are in different places. I made a new friend a couple of years ago who felt like she could be a best friend, but now she has got a job and our kida are at different schools, I never see her. So I’d be happy with one best friend or a few good friends, but instead I just have the friends in my phone!

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      June 21, 2018 / 11:25 am

      There’s definitely something to be said for the friends in your phone! But I also think face to face is important. I understand though cos family life is so fast paced and full on it’s difficult to maintain friendships isn’t it? x

  5. June 16, 2018 / 10:21 am

    BFF is a pretty full on tile but if I’m honest I don’t necessarily give that tile exclusively to one person, I think you can have more than one best friend. I don’t see it like a marriage situation and think of my close friends like family. I totally get what you’re saying but sometimes a title or label can be just that and not really worth anything. You know how you feel about people and (for me) that’s enough xxx

  6. June 18, 2018 / 9:42 am

    I have a close knit circle of friends, one or two I would class as the term ‘best’ or the closest I would prefer. Ones that I feel I can turn to if I need them or to talk something through. Like Heledd I think BFF is quite a full on term and in some respects my husband has that place. x

  7. July 8, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I do have a best friend and she is quite wonderful. It’s funny because I always had such a huge amount of friends when I was younger but now I have just a few and sometimes this stresses me out . I worry where have they all gone? Should I have more? But I know it generally down to time or lack of it and I guess that’s life. Xx

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