As an undergrad, I remember visiting home towards the end of summer after my sophomore year. My dad was asking about my friends and we got on the subject of “best friends.” During my childhood, I am sure that I called some people my best friends. But even then, like now, I’ve never had one single best friend; not really anyway. I am not really big on the notion of having a best friend. My dad teases, somewhat truthfully, that it’s because I feel there is a sense of someone possessing me. And well, I’ve never been too keen on feeling like someone’s possession.
I understand that being a best friend doesn’t have to mean that a person is being possessed by someone else. I have some good friends — really, really, good friends; the kind that would go to the end of the earth with and for me if they had to. I’ve been lucky like that or maybe it isn’t luck. Excuse my moment of self-flattery but I’ve always believed I’ve managed to have good friends because I know how to be a good one too. (I’m not perfect but parts of me are pretty awesome…) I distinctly remember my parents reiterating, “If you want good friends, you have to be a good friend first.”
But being someone’s best friend or having a best friend is something that I don’t fully understand. I just don’t get the point of it. What does having a best friend constitute? Do I owe this person the kind of commitment I would owe a boyfriend, with the exception of romanticism? What makes a best friend so special and separate from having good friends, or even just one good friend? When I think of some of my close friends, four or five people usually come to mind. And the truth is I could never single out any of them as my “best friend.” I have wonderful, but very different relationships with each of them.
To me, the notion of being someone’s best friend seems to stipulate a commitment to being everything to that person. I unequivocally retreat from the idea of being everything to someone. Furthermore, it seems to come with an obligation to be more devoted to that one person than any other friends I have. And I don’t like that. And I don’t want it for myself. I suppose the only best friend I would ever want is a man who I would be legally bound to – till death do us part. And they already have a term for that: husband.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m weird. (Okay, that’s really not a maybe.) And maybe I just don’t want what I view as a demanding responsibility to one person in the context of friendship. I call my close friends, just that — close. And this indicates how I feel towards them – a feeling that they’re always right by my side. Language is a funny thing — a funny but important thing. And to me, “best friend” insinuates that the friendship is some sort of competition and that the prize of winning is owning someone and being owned by someone. And while I love my friends, especially the ones I call my close friends, I have no desire to either own them or be owned by them.