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.

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