I Don’t “Do” Best Friends

My first best friend L. was a girl who lived down the street from me. She was timid and shy. I was loud and bossy. When we played with one of the neighborhood boys, I would never let her be She-Ra to his He-Man. In first or second grade, she moved away. We stayed pen pals for awhile, but that eventually stopped as we grew older.

When I moved to St. Louis in elementary school, I became best friends with C., who was loud and crazy and drowned out my usual outspokenness. She had a birthday party at a pizza place and when I said I wanted sausage she told me they looked like dog turds. I switched to liking pepperoni immediately. The summer between sixth and seventh grade she bonded with a fellow softball teammate and unbeknownst to me until that first day of junior high, had replaced me.

In high school I had a few different best friends, but one in particular, J., became that sort of all encompassing relationship, an “us against the world” sort of bond. And while we were certain once college rolled around we’d move on from one another, for the time being, we became one another’s everything. That is, until she started dating the guy I was totally in love with. We never really recovered from that, mostly because when again confronted about it our freshman year in college she remained mostly unapologetic, even claiming she’d done it to one of her new friends.

One of the girls I had an on and off again best friend relationship in high school became my actual best friend in my early 20’s. E. was all over the place all of the time, but I could spend inordinate amounts of time with her and never tire of it. We’d have unspoken “breaks” where we wouldn’t speak for weeks or months and then come back together as if nothing had happened. I started dating someone when I was twenty-five and when we hadn’t hung out in a bit, I thought we were on another one of those breaks. Instead, I found out through a friend she was moving to Germany and to this day, don’t know why she dumped me.

So that was that.

Since then, outside of boyfriends (which I feel is a different kind of relationship and one in which “best friend” naturally fits, a sort of assumption that doesn’t always have to be said) I don’t have best friends. I don’t want a best friend. Or perhaps more accurately, I never want to be in a position where I could lose one, so it’s easier to not use the word “best”.

Friends have referred to me as their best friend and it’s made me extremely uncomfortable. Kind of like what I imagine being called someone’s girlfriend might feel like before having the actual talk. This needs to be a mutual understanding and if asked, I’ll tell you plainly: that ain’t ever gonna happen.

I never want to be vulnerable on either side of the coin, to be dependent on or to depend on.

I’m fairly certain all of those broken friendships have changed something inside of me when it comes to being able to walk away from people as easily as I have been walked away from. There are no sacred bonds. I will no longer put someone else’s feelings above my own if their life is eclipsing mine.

We can grow apart even if it’s just me edging away from you.

I love and I cherish and I’d be sad if I lost the people in my life. But I’m not sure I’ll ever trust one person to have me entirely, like I once was so eager to do.

-Carly

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