My daughter was lamenting last night that her lack of a “best” best friend which was defined by her as “someone you automatically hangout with, end up each others houses, call everyday, that sort of thing.” I think we all crave that kind of closeness.
I pointed out that she has good friends and has had these relationships in the past, but I suspect her dissatisfaction stems from duration. All around her are kids who have been fast friends since birth or kindergarten, and I can see how it might be difficult to make room for a “newcomer”.
Her best friend in preschool lasted three years. Her best friend in elementary school didn’t survive her switch to a new school in 4th grade and her summertime best friend is only around six or eight weeks of a year. Its sort of a non-problem problem in that you can’t force that kind of closeness. So I lend a sympathetic ear.
But I know what she means.
A similar dynamic happens in adult friendships too. Everyone is so busy that making new friends, or moving from acquaintances to friends, takes effort and seems like a major commitment. A friend recently said to me “I only have so much time, I’m not going to waste it on someone I don’t know!” which, instead of feeling like the compliment she intended, made me feel like I had a somewhat tenuous membership in a privileged circle.
I am lucky enough to have one old “warts and all” good friend, and I am usually cautious about leaning too heavily on other friendships. Most people already have a “best” best friend and don’t have room for anyone else (and God forbid I should appear needy). Which brings me back at my daughters dilemma, how do you get a “best” best friend if you aren’t lucky enough to have one through longevity?
During the same conversation someone else remarked, “Who needs more friends? You only need one or two” and it went through my head – ‘Who doesn’t need more friends?’ I started thinking about my friend categories – friends I lunch with, friends I see movies with and friends I shop with. Then there are the different levels of socializing with friends who are couples and friends who have children. Some friends have the high-res retina display view of my life and others the 140 character thumbnail depending on the space they have available in their lives.
Could I call any of them in any kind of emergency? Many of them, without a doubt. Would I feel comfortable calling any of them just to chat or share something funny? No, just the one.
By a 13-year olds definition that must be my “best” best friend. I am lucky indeed.