I am not sure when it occurred to me that I didn’t want a “best friend” as a grown woman, but most certainly, I did not want a “BFF.” This term would have seemed nauseating to me even in high school, and already in high school, the “best friend” friendships I encountered were fraught with possessiveness, jealousy, competition, insecurity, control and power issues and often felt really, truly suffocating.
When I stopped being a teenager (which made me very happy) it occurred to me that not only did I not want a “best friend,” but also I was not required to have one! It was so liberating, so freeing; it meant I could like lots of people: men and women, gay and straight and bisexual, animal loving vegans and meat eating hunters, hippies and Republicans, PhD’s and hairdressers alike. There was no limit, no control over who I became friends with and why, and they didn’t have to get along or even know each other. It was great.
I have felt enormous pressure though, as a woman, to have a close circle of friends or at least a group of women that I can call my posse. The difficulty with this scenario is that while I love the company of my friends, I also have tremendous responsibilities at home. My husband, children, animals, and my house itself takes time, energy and care. The effort I put into my relationships becomes really focused on my family life and the needs of my closest loved ones, while friendships flicker and the flame grows higher and lower at various points – but is never, ever, really roaring.
I love to be a grown woman without a best friend. It’s almost like being single, if you’re not too lonely; you’re free, calm, and beholden to no one. You may have deeply nurturing times and connections with people but the sense of obligation or entrapment that so often accompanies these friendships is not present. You can go to dinner or you can be busy that night – it’s not as serious a relationship.