I don’t know about you, but I am deeply, truly and madly in love with my best friends. This may sound as though I am just stating the obvious truth for everyone, but I am starting to believe that the way my friends and I feel about each other, may not be the same as for most people.
I have met many people that don’t actually have a sizable group of friends that they adore, love, know everything about and spend almost all of their free time with. In fact, some of them don’t even have one friend that they can spend every evening, chatting, laughing, and adoring. Their “best friends” seem more like distant acquaintances when compared against the relationships I have with mine.
So why do some of us demand extreme levels of intimacy from our friends and accept nothing less? And why is it that some are perfectly happy to live out their lives seeing their “best friend” every other Thursday for a quick dinner and one glass of wine? [This kind of isolated lifestyle would be my personal hell by the way.] I believe that the answer lies in what we most value about life. For people like me, life’s most enjoyable gift is the gift of gad, and I can’t live without it. If I stopped being social with the people I love, I would wilt, and cease to exist altogether. If this is also true for you, dear reader, then you most likely will have identified with what I’ve been saying so far.
Most however, would be quick to write off this distinction of behavior as nothing more than a product of being an extrovert or an introvert. I on the other hand believe that this is far too general of an explanation, and as with most things, there is more to it than meets the eye. Just being a highly social soul isn’t the only factor shaping the reliance of friendship among certain groups of people. It is also caused by the endless process of self-actualization we all travel through. As we grow older, we continue to discover things we like and don’t like about the world around us and everyone in it. Thus, our tolerance for things we don’t like becomes weaker. This leaves us demanding less ambiguity from our friends, and more resolute opinions. Moreover, the need for those opinions to match our own becomes ever more vital. During this process of growth, it’s the level of trust and intimacy among friends that may mean the difference between growing closer or further apart, as a result.
My father once said to me when I was younger “It gets harder and harder to make new friends as you get older.” When I asked him why, he told me that the older he gets, the more he finds himself fundamentally at odds with the opinions and actions displayed by those around him. He has ultimately lost many close friends in his life. Over the past five years I too have seen this process begin in myself. But there is a key factor that makes my story’s trajectory ultimately unique from that of my father’s. My friends and I are not married, engaged or even living with a serious domestic partner. And it doesn’t look like we will anytime in the near future. This is crucial because as we know, intimacy is necessary for survival, and if we can’t get it from our lovers, we need it from friends.
To that end, the more we polish our individuality and grow our idiosyncrasies, the more we demand the same from others. This makes it harder to find an acceptable mate, and causes us to grow closer to the friends we’ve had all along. Now, more than ever before, I believe that my friends really get me. I know that they find me smart, right, and love me more because of it. I of-course, return the sentiment two-fold. We need each other to survive in this world. The social normative opinion that regards the need for two-way validation and worships among friends is shifting from a negative to a more positive light. Most people still believe that only they can define themselves as individuals, and not because of their friends. And while I don’t let my friends literally define who I am, it is the rich and ever-changing relationship we collectively have, that continues to define my individuality and what I believe in. As cliché as it may sound, the truth is, without them, I wouldn’t be me.