Friday, April 26, 2013

Raising the Bar: Frank talk on friendships, with a special focus on best friends

Photo credit: nenetus of

We all need friends to accompany us on our journey of life. A friend is someone we can talk to, someone we can have fun with, and someone we can count on when we need help. A friend is someone we can grow old with.

A BEST friend is a friend who seems to
stand out above the rest; someone we feel closest to.

Most of us have a few friends, but only one or two best friends. What's the difference? How do we know? And how do we keep and nurture our friendships?

Let's begin with identifying what a friend is NOT:

• A friend is not someone who takes advantage of you
• A friend will not make everything feel one-sided
• A friend is not someone who ignores your attempts at contact
• A friend is not someone who persistently cancels plans to get together, or who always has an excuse why she can't see you
• A friend is not someone who says, "We have to get together", and then doesn't follow through with making the plan

A FRIEND is someone who likes to have fun with you, and likes to joke around. She likes to go out with you, spend time with you, and you consider her someone who is likeable. You feel a sense of loyalty to her (and from her), and she has patience with you. She is kind towards you and she is attentive.

A real friend will give you the
last piece of her favourite cake. 

You will fight over making sure that your friend gets something that you initially wanted. When she showed interest in it, you wanted her to have it. A good friend will sacrifice for you, to make you happy. A friend will compliment you and make you feel good about yourself.

A friend is someone who you keep in touch with, either by email, over social media, by phone or in person. It doesn't have to be frequently, but it should be regularly. Show that person care, respect and kindness at every opportunity.

There are many different types of friends. Most of them fit into one of these categories:

Once-a-year: The once-a-year friend. Someone you see rarely, but you usually have contact with her on an infrequent basis.

Dumpee: The friend that only calls you when she is sad or upset, and she "dumps" all her sadness and irritation on you. You are unfortunately being used as a "dumpee".

Friends with Kids: Friends that have children the same age as yours, so that you can share advice and relate to each other's experiences of "ages and stages".

Childhood: Friends from childhood. These are people you can trust based on prior history. You have things in common and happy memories to share together.

Mentor: Older friends, or friends with special skills can be called upon as a mentor. These friends are very important in life and we all need them from time to time.

Work: Work friends are also important. These are people that we can share our frustrations and accomplishments with instead of boring our family or other friends who have no idea what we are talking about. These friends also have the potential to become friends outside of work which is a big bonus.

School: Friends who we go to school with. School friends can relate to our frustrations and accomplishments when it comes to school work. If we are lucky, these friends stay with us for a long time, too, once school is long gone.

Obligatory: Obligatory friends are friends we "have to be friends with", due to circumstances of association. Example: Wife of your husband's friend. Family members may fit into this category, too.

Sports: Friends who we play sports with. These are the friends that we can hang out with and have some friendly competition or team play with.

Dining: Friends we can dine with. Some friends love to go out to eat.

Drinking/Partying: Friends you can go out and party with.

Shopping: Friends we can shop with. Some friends are serious shoppers and love to go on shopping trips.

Crazy S*#t: This is the friend that you can do crazy or daring activities with. (Thanks to Miriam Castilla, author of Today's Woman for giving me this idea.)

Travel: Travel friends – are people who like to travel with you.

Best Friend: This is your friend who you are closest to and who you spend most time with and have a trusting, loving relationship with. You share a lot in common.

A BEST friend is someone you have frequent and regular contact with. She is someone you can confide in. You can share your intimate self with her, and can trust that she will keep that information to herself.

You can trust your best friend with your secrets.

She makes your friendship a priority, and shows unconditional love for you (through thick and thin). Your best friend accepts you and loves you for who you are. A best friend cares for you and you can tell that by how she treats you (actions speak louder than words). A best friend remembers things that are important to you and is interested in updates (celebrations, illnesses, and other concerns). A best friend is empathetic. She cries when you cry, she is happy when you are happy, and she joins you when you get angry at the injustices in life.

Your best friend gives you hope
when you need it the most.

She is encouraging when you feel like giving up. A best friendship is one that is of equal sharing – who listens to you as much as you listen to her. It is not one-sided. There is usually a lot of history between best friends. Becoming a best friend to someone is a title that is earned. A best friend is loyal – has your back and will always stand beside you.

You know someone is your best friend because she tells you that you are her Best Friend Forever (BFF), or Bestie or she addresses you as such. She tells others that you are her best friend. She is happy to get together with you and tells you she is looking forward to seeing you. She follows through with things she said she'd do. She is dependable. She doesn't forget important occasions.

You feel good when you are around her,
and in terms of friendships, the "bar is set really high",
and other relationships don't compare.

A BEST friend is someone who you keep in contact with you more often than a friend. Best friends are there for each other at any time, for anything. A best friend is like a trusted family member. She is someone to celebrate with, and someone to support through sad times.

Best friends ride the waves together.
and they hang on tight no matter
how rough the waters get.

A best friend is usually someone that you share a lot of history with. This history is something that you both can relate to. "Inside jokes" are common with best friends, as no one else can understand the jokes due to the fact that they don't have the whole story. A best friend knows your sense of humour and can make you laugh. You can relate really well to a best friend.

Best friends share similar morals, values,
beliefs, lifestyles and goals in life.

Sometimes a best friend is like a reflection of yourself. "She just stands out in her actions, in her words, in her presence, and in who she is". A best friend is a great person to get advice from because they know you really well. You can trust their judgement based on history and the fact that they know your personality, character and values so well. They can help you see the bigger picture, and can challenge you to "do what's right" for you.

Would love to hear about your thoughts on friendship.


Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW

(Special thanks to Sheila Roy for helping me write this article)

Edited 14 Mar 2016.

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