Do you remember when you were a kid and you kind of picked a best friend (or they picked you)? You did everything together. Talked for hours on the phone, were always together at recess, had sleepovers at each other’s homes and they knew all your most intimate secrets. Essentially, they were the one that knew you the best. 

As time went on and you entered high school, there was an opportunity to connect with more kids. I remember I really liked a girl that didn’t go to the same grade school as me. As I look back on this I remember that I really wanted to be best friends with her but I thought I couldn’t because I already had a best friend. Jealousy would surely ensue. So, we became really, really good friends instead.

When I googled the term best friend, Dictionary.com defines it as;

the one friend who is closest to you

But, I feel I have a better definition;

best friends have your complete trust and are there through the good, the bad, the ugly, with such a strong bond not even distance nor non-communication can break

As we age we make friends during different stages in our lives. Some ‘stick’ and continue to be part of our lives, no matter what we do or where we are. Those are the ones I define as my best friends. 

Initially, I was confused about this whole best friend thing. I soon started defining them. This one is my childhood best friend. This one is my university friend. This one is my daughter's friend’s mom, etc. I had a hard time calling them a best friend when mentioning them to another best friend of mine.

My best friend from childhood asked me once, “How many best friends do you have and why do you call them all your best friends?” I felt that whole jealousy thing again but I knew that each of these women I classify as BFFs are truly that! I told my childhood friend that she has known me the longest. It is fun to reminisce with her. She is the one I go to when I question my path, since she has been witnessed to my whole journey. My university best friend is the one I laugh with the most. We can be outrageous together and without apology. My best friend in California, is one of my son’s best friend’s mother. She is such a positive person, with an incredible sense of humor, that I adore being in her company. She is so well read and interesting I just enjoy talking with her (over a glass [or two] of wine). My yogi best friend keeps me healthy. My 30-something best friend keeps me young. I have a group of best friends that I used to work with over (gulp) 25 years ago. We still get together at least once a year and we always drink too much but never laugh enough. One of my best friend’s passed away years ago and I still think I feel her spirit around me. She was such an inspiration to me. I could go on but you get the idea.

All of these women know different essences of the same me. All complete me in different ways. One thing that I can say for all of my friends, however, is that they all make me laugh, cry, think and challenge me. I simply like who I am with them. They are accepting, nonjudgemental and are all fun to be with. Plus, I know that if I needed them, for whatever reason, they would all come running! 

I think of other women that I have just recently met, who I hope I will, at some point, call them best friends also. Years ago, one of my friend’s told me that she read an article (probably in People magazine) that said if a friendship lasts for at least four years it will have a good chance of being a lifetime friendship. I feel there is some merit in this. It takes time to nurture a friendship. Some, purely by circumstances, will never make it to the next level. I have really tried to ‘work’ at some friendships and they just became too hard to maintain, even though I still classify some of them as girlfriends. All of my best friends naturally moved to the next level and once they did our friendships were cemented.

With technology I feel we are gravitating towards having virtual Bffs. Kind of like PenPals (remember those?) on steroids. I know I have a significant amount of girlfriends that I have met once or twice in real life and some I have never met in person, however, these group of girlfriends I ‘talk’ to almost everyday. We ‘nurture’ these friendships by reading each other’s Facebook status, commenting and supporting one another. None, thus far, would I call my best friend (yet) but social media has clearly made it easier to connect with like-minded women.  

I see my young daughters now developing their own strong friendship ties. I hear them use the term BFF quite frequently and I wonder if having more than one childhood best friend is now the norm. I am excited to see that they already see the value of having close girlfriends to trust with their most intimate thoughts. 

I can’t imagine my life without any one of my best friends. And for me, I have to get over the idea of any of them being jealous of each other. That is so grade school!

 

Audrey van Petegem is an independent blogger that has been published on a variety of online magazine and blogs such as, Huffington Post, BlogHer, Elephant Journal and Midlife Boulevard. She describes herself as a book reviewer, midlifer and ponderer. As a baby boomer, she will be the first to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about this stage of life. Follow her on Twitter @Audreyvp.