real life

Does anyone have a "best friend" anymore?

Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. BFFL

I reckon if you make one great friend in each phase of your life, you’re doing well. If there’s a keeper from school, uni, each job, mothers’ group, swimming club …  your friendship circle keeps going round. And it keeps growing. I’ve had lots of best friends and I’ve lost some too. That hurts, but that’s life.

The definition of a ‘best friend’ is can vary wildly from person to person. Is she the person you’ve been friends with the longest? Who saw you through the worst of times? Danced with you through the best? Is it the person who, as my friend Bec says so eloquently, gets you?

Here’s a gallery of famous BFFs to peruse as you ponder this.

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It’s hard to believe one single person can fulfil that role for years and years and years. Holy hell, what a responsibility! Maybe that’s why some UK schools are implementing a ‘No Best Friends Rule.’

Columnist Julie Burchill wrote about it in the Mail Online:

“Earlier this month it was revealed that head teachers are encouraging children to play in large groups instead of forming close-knit bonds to save them the trauma of falling out with a close pal.

I agree. Having ‘best friends’ is — at least for me — as outdated and small-minded a concept as the idea of ‘Sunday best clothes’.

When I hear people say, ‘I’ve only got three friends and that’s all I need,’ I find myself speculating about them being serial killers. To me it’s just not natural.

To believe that one, or even three, mates can supply all the things one needs from one’s friends is as stupid as believing married couples must do everything together.

As I have got older, I have found myself making friends with the ease and swiftness that other people pick up fuzzballs on their jumpers. And I believe it is probably my lack of longing for ‘The One’ that makes me so popular.

As with romance, neediness is never good when looking to make new pals.
It wasn’t always this way. I was an only child, which I loved even though it made me very keen on my own company.

My strongest memories of primary school are weekends spent lurking in my bedroom, begging my mother to tell whichever pre-teen was at the door asking me to go and ‘play’ (shudder!) that I was indisposed. Real girls struck me as wet — nothing like the gutsy heroines of the books I read.

In secondary school, no longer able to avoid socialising, I discovered a talent for ‘stirring’ — and found girls vying to be my ‘bezzie’ (I came to hate this word with a passion) as I took them to one side and imparted thrilling lies about our contemporaries.

My castle of cards eventually came tumbling down, of course, when I was off school for six weeks with laryngitis and came back to discover my victims had all compared notes, leaving me friendless.

But rather than being distraught, I was delighted! Now I didn’t have to be bored and they didn’t have to be mauled by my spiteful nature.

Needless to say, I was hardly likely to bag a Miss Congeniality award.

I still have a friend from my home town (the one exception to the madding teenage crowds), who is called Karen and is as close to me as a sister. But as I only see her once every five years I wouldn’t dream of calling her a best friend.

And I have Facebook friends whom I have never met but rush to make contact with each morning, even before I drink my coffee, because they’re the only people I’ve ever met who are smarter than me.

It’s safety in numbers. Truth be told (and you may have guessed this already), I am not the best friend in the world, and this being so, maybe I just don’t suit having a Best Friend.

I am fun, kind and generous — but loyalty never has been and never will be my strong suit.

And there’s a bigger reason why I don’t need a best friend, though it embarrasses me to admit it. I cringe when I hear women say the words, ‘My husband is my best friend,’ but, looking back — even through the red mist of marriages gone bad — I can see this has always been true of me.

Not in a cheesy, teddy-bear-sending, matching-jumpers kind of way — but in bad-kids-in-the-back-row-of-the-school-bus way.

With this position filled, the pickings left for any ‘best friend’ are obviously going to be somewhat second-best.

When I fall out with a friend a part of me feels pleased because now there’s a vacancy for a new one. But if I were to fall out with my husband I’d be extremely sad, and I can’t think of any advantages it would bring.

So to any sorrowful school kid missing their ‘bezzie’, I’d say just grow up and get over it.

Because friends come and go. And while friendship might be great fun — it’s a very runtish runner-up to love.”

How about you? Do you believe in best friends?

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