Someone asked me this a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sure what to say. Well, to be more specific, someone asked me, ‘Is your partner not your best friend and I simply replied with, ‘Laura is my best friend.’ Because she is.
Then I thought about what it means to be a best friend. Someone you trust implicitly, a partner in crime, always has your back. Is that actually any different to a partner?
What I want in a partner is a team mate, an actual partner in everything you’re doing, a cheerleader to support you but also someone to give you clarity when things aren’t so good. But, I guess that could also describe a best friend. Whilst there is overlap, I think it’s healthier to have these as separate pillars in your life and have a wider support network. As my mum would say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
I think I’ve always separated the two because when someone starts a relationship and ditches their friends, I just think: why? Being in a relationship doesn’t make you half a person. I mean, what about before you were together? Didn’t you each have a best friend before and what happened to them? And honestly, when your whole live revolves around one person and you do everything together, what do you even talk about?
But I think I’ve also always actively tried to separate the two because if your partner actually becomes your best friend, then what’s the point of them being your partner? You don’t have anything special or different with them. I’ve had good relationships end when that has happened. You get on so well, that you forget what brought you together and about the whole other dimension that you can have.
The obvious thing that sets a friendship and a relationship apart is sex. And since everyone has their own view on what is right for them in terms of quantity and quality, it’s not fair to say this paramount in all relationships. But without that, aren’t you just in a relationship with your best friend?
I suppose it boils down to what you want and need and whether or not you accept the long term friendship that you automatically reach after years together, or whether you put the work in (and it does take work – if someone says it doesn’t they’re either lying or haven’t been in the relationship long enough) to set it apart from all your other friendships.
I wondered if I was on my own in this thinking so last night I asked my partner if I was his best friend. He immediately answered with an emphatic ‘YES!’ I turned to look at him and told him it wasn’t a trick question, it wasn’t a trap. And then he said, ‘Well, no, not really. My best friend is Mike and yours is Laura.’
And then I realised something.
As long as you’re in agreement on stuff like this, it doesn’t really matter what your answer is.