I used to think that having a best friend was a necessity of being a teenage girl. Along with unrequited crushes and period nightmares, I considered it one of the experiences I needed to add to fulfill my time in high school. While it's one of the most important cliches featured in pop culture's version of high school, the reality of having a best friend is far from the level of companionship portrayed on the big screen.
As I was entering high school, I pictured that idyllic fantasy of having someone to share late night talks on the phone with, maybe tears over boys or laughter over inside jokes. I already had someone I was close with, but our difference of mindset was something we found hard to overcome. She preferred anime, k-pop and brutal honesty. She found that I was too innocent for her, especially when she got herself an upperclassman boyfriend.
And that's a perfect example of why the "Best Friend Model" is not universal.
You could say that friendship is an investment. You open yourself up to someone in hopes of gaining support and someone to confide in. When we refer to someone as our "best friend," we often choose someone we find reliable, supportive and trustworthy. Sure, those are the basics. But for someone to qualify as a best friend, there can't be an overload of conflicting differences.
This seems illogical. Isn't it good to be friends with people who aren't exactly the same as you? For regular friendships, that's fine. That's actually optimal for exposure to diversity, but for a best friend, it's better to have someone similar.
It's not just a personal problem either. While I've had a personal experience, I've seen that in high school, not many people keep a defined best friend. Does it stem from a lack of loyalty? Most likely not. Instead, I blame the failure of the Best Friend Model on our school system.
One of the problems that caused my best friend failure was the lack of time seeing each other. Sure, we maybe saw each other on Sundays at church, but what was there to talk about? Without shared experiences, a friendship is bound to fall apart. In freshman year, high school breaks apart those close friendships only to reform them later on into groups of people with similar classes. It's an awkward area of adjustment, and some would say that this allows for best friend pairs with similar interests to be made.
But schedules can change almost every semester. So what does this result in?
The healthier alternative to the Best Friend Model is a "Best Friend Group." Given, this group will obviously have problems. However, to have a group of people to select from and depend on makes for a safer investment. Think of it as putting eggs into different baskets, each with their own risks and rewards. More people to confide in and backups in case one person fails. Not only do you share the same classes as these people, but you're familiar enough with a wide range to be comfortable at lunch and in clubs.
And there will be people in the group you feel most comfortable with, but that doesn't have to mean selecting a best friend. If you do that, you leave yourself open to somebody letting you down.
Weak and unreliable, the Best Friend Model is dead.