Best Friend - what does it mean?



Lately I've found myself having an issue with the label "best friend" and what it implies. I'm sure we all have faces that spring to mind when we hear those words, childhood memories even, or inside jokes - all of the associations that go with your "best friend" are happy, for the most part, right?

To me, calling someone my best friend means so much. It's a commitment to the idea that, out of everyone I've met in my life, that person is the one that I have picked out as being the most caring and most loyal person I know. I have a great affection for them, and I know in turn that that affection is completely matched on their side. The connection is effortless and it will always be that way, even though all friendships require effort (even more so when you have a group of best friends, Sex and the City style).

What's bothering me though, is how the words "you're one of my best friends" drunkenly said in a bathroom at some party", or "my best friend in (insert some country)" said to you by someone who has referred to you as their best friend in the recent past, are being thrown around like they mean nothing. Instead of symbolising commitment and loyalty, they have become a way of staying "I have a great deal of affection for you, or some other person right at this moment." 

People seem to have become uncomfortable with just saying what they mean: that they care about someone a lot, as if their own words hold no gravity and no conviction. They have to use the extreme of what they are trying to say to make their point. Apparently saying "you're a really great friend" is meaningless, the only way to convey your meaning is to exaggerate and use "best friend". Similarly to when someone has a headache and they say "I have the world's worst headache". I mean, it isn't the world's worst, is it? Scientists would be descending on you to study this ground-breaking, monumental headache if that were the case. But headaches carry no weight with emotional ties, so if you exaggerate their severity, what does it matter? Naming someone the best friend you have? That matters.

These days, referring to someone as a best friend can sometimes seem to be all about reputation. I've been hearing those two words being chucked around a lot during the Olympics. Phrases such as "my hypoallergenic hedgehog's nanny's chiropodist know's Usain Bolt's mother's house cleaner's milkman's BEST FRIEND." That person can't just have a casual (if extremely distant) connection to this celebrity, the "best friend" bit on the end seals the deal, makes the association more serious. And to me, when used in a story like this (which I obviously just made up), I usually believe that the label best friend is meaningless - it's only being used to make a point - which I immediately distrust.

Another circumstance where I find people using the label of best friend, similar to my last point actually, is when someone says "oh, one of my best friends is a doctor too" or something like that. Statements like these usually make me think that this person isn't actually a best friend, probably just a close friend, maybe not even that. Probably just someone they knew at uni and don't even speak to anymore, maybe they're just facebook friends. Which is unfair, actually, because not everyone calls someone a best friend just for convenience - they could genuinely be one of their best friends. 

I've just become so jaded about the idea of best friends, and how I see other people use those words - maybe because I've had them levied at me a few times when I know the person doesn't mean it. In any circumstance it automatically invokes a sense of mistrust and exaggeration in me when dropped in a conversation by someone I don't know very well seemingly to enforce their point, which is a shame because they are two really lovely and meaningful words when used with genuine feeling. 

Essentially, I just don't like when people play the "best friend" card without really meaning it, even if they are trying to be affectionate. Life is full of false people and false situations, best friends are something that you need to get through the tough times and celebrate the good. Some things need to be kept real in this life, things like family, or saying "I love you" to someone - I think naming someone your best friend falls into this category. Let's just keep it real.