We Should Re-think the Term “Best Friends”

Why term just isn’t so hot

It’s not a title I enjoy using — “best friends”. It denotes that one or two of my friends is the be all end all, cut above the rest of the other beautiful people I have in my life. Friendships are a fluid beast — sometimes people are closer and sometimes they orbit farther away. Life and circumstances will often dictate both.

This is something I wish we were taught as children, or maybe as teenagers. People will come and go and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean someone necessarily did anything wrong, but we go about it as if we have. I don’t know about you, but I used to beat myself up over “lost” friendships as if pieces of me were no longer wanted so I must learn how to fix those pieces of Self to become a better, less “throwaway” kind of friend.

In reality, that’s just not true. We see friendships as these black and white entities, all or nothing. How does that help anyone in the long run? How does that aid in creating stable relationships down the line or even a stable relationship with who you are and what you have to offer?

I’m not talking about throwing people away all willy nilly, or even that a person doesn’t have things to work on within themselves to be better, but more the organic ebb and flow of how life operates. It’s inevitable that we will lose some of our best friends. We all operate in different stages of life and sometimes those stages just don’t line up. How many times have you had a friend where they, or you, experienced a huge life event like having a child, entering into a new relationship, or even experiencing the death of a loved one, and one or the other party felt “disconnected” from the other? It wasn’t anything you did, or they did, or didn’t do, but life has a way of… happening.

I have friends that use the term “best friend” for just about every friend they have. Doesn’t that devalue it? I have nothing against it, really, and you do you if that’s your jam, but I think instead of leaving people out we can reframe the way we think about friendships entirely.

That’s why I now use “nearest and dearest” to describe someone who may be the closest to me at any given point and time.

A hierarchy of friendships doesn’t help anyone feel good. It often leaves people out, especially people who may have looked to a person as their best friend and if they aren’t referred to that back, it could be very hurtful.

There was a time when I took those types of things personally. How dare someone not hold me as close as how I feel about them!

But it has nothing to do with me, or them. We weave in and out of people’s lives. Sometimes it’s personal, oftentimes it’s not. Sometimes, that person has hurt us and we don’t know how to properly state that to them. Maybe we don’t want to hurt them by expressing how they hurt us. Sometimes we need boundaries and we don’t have the language skills to convey them, or we don’t feel that what we have to say in regards to that will be well received, so we back off. We disengage from someone’s orbit or they disengage from ours.

It’s all fluid and permeable and as humans we are each fallible in some way shape and form at any given time. You are the hero in your story, but you may end up being the villain in someone else’s — even your best friend’s.

Writer. Actor. Poet. Human. Contact: bethnintzel@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store