“Momma, you are my best friend.” My daughter sprinkles these words as she entered the room last week. She loves saying this phrase, but I know for certain that she is not clear about the gravity of this statement. Her announcement pushed me to consider various friendships and how my definition of a good friend has evolved over time.
For many years, I believed in the “best” friend concept. The best friend phenomena starts early with the broken heart necklaces that you see hanging in the aisle of Claire’s Boutique. Little girls run home, saying so and so is my first best friend and this girl is my second best friend. As easy it is to wear these heart necklaces, they also can manage to unfasten with just as much ease. My daughter will sometimes say, “I had a mini-fight with ______. She is not my best friend anymore.” I caution her to take a step back and ask what her happened, but her mind moves on to the next something. Often, though, kids demonstrate their propensity to move on. The very next day, I learn, my daughter said they talked, and they are best friends again.
Of course, as adults, the word friendship becomes more complicated. An innocent argument can lead to silence for years. Bad feelings can cause a permanent break.
I’ve changed my stance on the concept of a “best” friend. Labeling a particular person a “best” friend, almost ensures a failure. It is a difficult expectation to meet in my opinion because friendship can often be tenuous, especially when conflicts or disappointments arise. By adding the extra pressure of “best,” you almost guarantee that at a certain point of time you will not measure up. What defines a good friendship?
1) You can be yourself. You can reveal your fears, insecurities, and concerns without judgment. You don’t have to hide. Those friendships are the best because there is a freedom in vulnerability.
2) Conflict does not necessarily signify the end of the friendship. You can argue, discuss, and then have the ability to move forward. These are the friendships that allow you to evolve and grow. I love my friends who aren’t afraid to disagree with me. Those are the relationships in which I’ve experienced the most growth.
3) I know this a cliché, but it is an important truth. You share the good times as well as the bad times. When crisis hits, you need friends. Some people are comfortable in showing up, others might use your sorrow as a way to end the friendship. It took me a long time to learn that this wasn’t personal, just that these people weren’t equipped to handle my battle.
4) Laughter is the hallmark of a good friendship. Humor and those belly laughs make everything better.
5) You have to accept some friends are there for that particular time period in your life. Some may be permanent fixtures in your life, but others may move in and out. It is just the natural evolution of the friendship. Not every friend will always stay in your life. Nor do you have to be friends with everyone you intersect with.
6) A good friend uplifts. If you feel worse after intersecting with someone, they are people who should remain on the periphery.
6) Some friendships only revolve around small talk. Your personal tribe cannot include everyone. There are only a few native speakers that truly understand who you are. It may take a lifetime to find out who they are, but when you do discover them, you will know it.
How do you define a good friendship?
This is very timely for me, Rudri, as I have been thinking a good deal about friendship the past few days, and some very honest advice from someone I’m close to. I think that sort of communication is so vital to friendship, true friendship. The trust that comes from someone knowing our most important stories – maybe even living through some of them with us – and being there, through all of it.
You certainly raise a fundamental point in friendship. Both parties must be on an equal playing field – both must feel comfortable in exchanging thoughts with openness and authenticity. If the level of communication is one-sided, the friendship may eventually fizzle.
So thankful to have you as my friend!
I am glad we are friends. Remote, but history carries weight with it. Keep writing!
Thanks, Scott! Your words mean so much. I agree, history does carry so much weight. Hope you, Nicole, and the family are doing great!
Great post. I have many acquaintances and friends but very few “good friends”. I no longer label anyone as my “best” friend, except perhaps the hubby. And even though I trust him on an entirely different level than my good friends, he still isn’t able to give what a female friend does. I guess that’s why we need all sorts of friends in this life just as we were are many of the different types of friend to various people.
You raise a good point about how different friends fulfill certain roles. I think it is integral to understand that not all friends can be everything. Once you accept this maxim, friendship becomes a little easier to navigate.
Great question which I’m not even sure how to answer but I agree with all the points you have – I think my view of friendship has morphed from what it was when I was a youth since I recently cut all connections with my old friends and I think one of them just wanted an excuse to end it – and I’m OK with it now realizing that. It just didn’t make sense in the beginning. This has inspired me to write something so thank you I was hitting a wall lately with writing. Happy Spring Rudri! Take Care -Iva
Glad my post could serve as some inspiration. Friendships evolve and sometimes we gasp at how some relationships end, but it is the natural progression of things. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this topic. Thanks!
I think this is an amazing post, Rudri. I have been thinking about this a lot in recent years as well as I have met a friend who has really opened my eyes to what true friendship is, leading me to question my assumptions all these years. You have hit it on the nail here. And I love your use of “native speakers” in the friendship context. I feel inspired to explore my own feelings about this in a post…thanks so much, Rudri!
I am glad my words resonated. Friendship is a subject that is fascinating for me. I’ve experienced some wonderful and fulfilling times with good friends, but also struggled with certain relationships.There are many layers where friendship is concerned and I’ve realized that limiting my circle to those who truly want to understand me paves the way for the most enjoyable friendships.
I look forward to reading your insights in your post.
My best friend is on the other side of the planet. We’ve been friends for 41 years and even though most of the years we have been apart we are always a phone call away . We talk all the time and I can tell her anything and she will never judge me. We are blessed .
It is a great comfort in knowing that you have a friend that accepts you without any reservations. That is the most satisfying kind of friendship.
All very well made points. I think that a true friend does not judge. I as a friend try my hardest not to judge and only offer an opinion when asked. I uplift and support. I am there when you need me, and when you don’t I don’t bother you…. I listen, I listen……
Thanks for sharing….
Not judging is a key component in any relationship. Listening means that you are present for your friends and I am certain they find comfort in your company.
I think you’re right — we are complex people and it’s impossible to expect one person (even our spouse!) to completely fulfill that “best friend” role. I have a small handful of girlfriends that I consider my best friends… and some of them have never met each other! (I should probably do something about that. I assume they would all have fun together.) For me right now, the most important quality in a friend is someone who is a good listener and is supportive and encouraging.
You are absolutely right. True friends are not easy to find. But when you do it’s so worth it!