We often take for granted how precious a thing it is to be a best friend, how many people cannot freely use those two words and how many have never experienced that very particular kind of love.
Come to think about it, it’s an incredible feeling to pronounce someone in your life as being more important than all of those other friends, despite not being romantic. But what is a best friend? Is it necessarily someone you grew up with? Or someone you can trust? Or that colleague you have been close to for years? Depending on the level of trust and loyalty, these three statements apply. International psychologist Dr Phil defines a best friend as someone you can become yourself around. His description of this particular friend is that he is committed to you, caring, loving and brutally honest with you. From his further depiction, a best friend will always have your back.
“What separates this type of friend from others is that you can always count on him or her,” he states. Lesedi Mooka has three best friends in her life-Ndinaye, Mmapula and Eve. “They are like sisters to me and I’m myself around them,” she says, adding that they give her a peace of mind. The mother of two grew up with her girls who are now professionals. This supports Dr Phil’s statement that one can have more than one best friend. They are bosom friends, and even though the other three friends may not know each other, Mooka carries the fragrance that can spread the friendship around the circle. When it comes to best friend relationship, keeping in touch and maintaining a level of intimacy that was easy to achieve when both of you were in the same school and had no real responsibilities becomes a serious investment when life begins to assert itself between the two of you and attempt to tear you apart. It may sound like a job, and in many ways, it is.
Being ready to stay up late for phone calls, to truly listen to each other’s problems, and make the effort to visit are all part of what is expected of you if you want to be a best friend. Holding that title for someone else is as much about commitment and honour and respect as a romantic relationship is, it involves compromise, trust, and a mutual growth that allows certain friends to last through decades and incredible life changes.
Nevertheless, you will have disagreements, you will want different things, you will fight. Sometimes you may go for days without talking. You are the keeper of their secrets, the one they cried in front of, the one they are able to be fully themselves with. You were there through different relationships they had, you were there when they messed up and with all the mistakes you know you have to let them make for themselves, just as they allow you yours. You also celebrate their achievements. It is nothing short of a gift.
Just as they keep feelings, confessions, and desires tucked away safely for you, things that would have been too heavy a load to carry on your own, you are charged with being this person for them, with talking to them about family and relationships and all of the other topics we often feel we have no one to turn to for. Being a best friend is to be a therapist when we are still so very deeply in the process of figuring things out for ourselves. “When I was young, I seemed to have no shortage of best friends. As I matured however, I realised there is a special place reserved for two people who deserve the title of best friends,” says Keamogetse Nkwakweng.
She describes Mpho and Katlego as reliable and emotionally supportive friends. Men also have best friends. Eric Tiroyaone 28, met Michael at primary school. They have been close ever since. “We have always been together, and interestingly, we became housemates at varsity,” says the engineer. All said and done, a best friend is different from an acquaintance. You may be an acquaintance of someone for many years without a true friendship developing. Or, it can be the first step in getting to know a future best friend.