Can a Best Friend Be a Composite?

I have a diverse group of friends spanning all ages and backgrounds.* One thing I’ve realized is that given my range of activities and interests it’s hard for any single person to cover all my bases, to understand all the dimensions of my life.

Shared experiences is maybe the #1 factor of a successful relationship. And anyone who accumulates unique experiences, by definition, will have less overall shared experiences with any one person. So this presents a challenge for someone trekking on their own trail. My question is, does the construct of “best friend” even work in a situation where hardly anyone has direct overlap of experiences? After all, few people can fully appreciate an experience without enduring it themselves.

What percent of people do you think would say they have a true “best friend”? Do you have a best friend or is your best friend a composite of several relationships which serve different needs in your life? Is the mere notion of best friend a crumbling artifact?

(Hat tip to Kai Chang for helping think through this idea)

*To reinforce the diversity in my relationships, consider this. I just returned home from a three hour dinner with a 40 year old entrepreneur who’s smart, fun, and inspiring. Today I also got an email from a good teenage friend in college (also smart and funny) who said:

I am curious to know how corporate life is for a fledgling wannabe like yourself. Have you succumbed to financial greed just yet or are you still that innocent bastard who calculates what people and actions serve you most propitiously (you may want to consult for that one.) Have your co-workers taken to your sense of office humor, or have you found yourself at the mercy of some far advanced entrepreneurial jokes? In any case, try to make one less trip to the vending machine/water fountain from your cubicle and hit me back…Don’t forget where your black ass come from.

6 comments on “Can a Best Friend Be a Composite?
  • Like Steve Martin in “The Jerk,” Ben was born a poor black child….

    More seriously, I believe that it becomes more and more difficult as one gets older to identify a “best friend” with the possible exception of a business partner or spouse.

    As I get older, I develop so many different interests and activities, that I simply do not have any one person that I spend the bulk of my time with, excepting my wife and kids.

    When you’re in school or college, you might spend most of your waking hours with someone who isn’t a romantic interest (though man love may seem that way sometimes!). You can truly be “best friends”. It’s much more difficult when you’re older, or, in Ben’s case, old before his time.

  • I absolutely agree with you, Ben. My dad and I have discussed this issue a number of times in the past.

    I wonder if this has an impact on falling in love with someone? (Makes it harder to find someone to fall in love with, since falling in love is definately related to making lots of connections to another individual).

  • I would have to agree with Chris. As I get older I find that I have a handful of people who I would probably consider “best friend” status. Although none of them alone would fit that description to a T…as a whole…each one brings to the table something I need in the way of support or companionship. I have a 40+ year old friend who brings wisdom and amazing conversations with deep intellect. I have a 24 year old friend who brings the young, energetic, foolish child like times out of me. I have a 30 something friend who brings the “this-is-your-age-deal-with-it” (even though I am not yet 30), and the “I will always be here to support you” friendship. Each one alone does not provide the depth I need in a relationship to fulfill the true role of “best friend” but I am comfortable calling each a best friend based on our experiences together and the amount of support (in their respective areas of my life) that they provide.

  • A best friend is someone i can call to help me remove a “heavy load” from the trunk of my car.

    A best friend to me is the first one i call with good news and the first one i call with bad news.

    All other relationships are different kind of relationships that emphasizes different interest of my life, ie business, blood wrestling, dogs and etc.

    But my buddy, my real real buddy, is someone i can share personal feelings to in any areas without choosing one, and he/she will cry with me and laugh with me.

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