My 10-year-old daughter said something very mature to me recently. After asking me if a particular person was my best friend, I replied that even though I really felt close to this person, she already had a best friend. Virginia’s response then caught me off guard. She said she did not think anyone should call a person their best friend, because it alienates other friends or implies they aren’t as good as one particular person. Wow. I must say she has a good point. Our conversation has made me ponder the psychological culture of adult friendships.
What exactly is a best friend? As a kid, that was easy to define. It may be the person you spent most of your time with or shared the most in common with. As an adult, a relationship like that may still exist, but as people become more migratory and move from location to location, do such bonds really still exist with the exception of a romantic relationship?
Maybe I’m confused on the subject because I’ve moved so much that I haven’t had a “best friend” probably since high school. I have had many close friends. I may have even considered some of these friends my “best friend” without actually saying the words. But I know I haven’t used the phrase in a while. The recent moments where I have thought about using the phrase, it felt weird when the very person I would have referred to as being my best friend would refer to another person as their best friend in conversation. Awkward. It’s even stranger feeling when you spend a great deal of time with that person and they refer to someone that lives in another state that they haven’t seen in a few years as their best friend. How exactly does that work? I also have one close friend who considers all of her really good friends as best friends. How does that work? Doesn’t it go against the definition of a best friend?
I guess my 10-year-old has a very smart outlook on friendships. Using the term best friend works great for kids, and may make a pair of adults feel closer; but in reality the phrase opens up the possibility of making another person feel excluded. Why can’t we have numerous close friends without one being labeled as better than another? Maybe my friend with her several best friends is on to something, but then why use the phrase at all?