I've been watching the shit out of "BFF," the NBC show from thirty-something comedians and real-life best friends, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair.
Watching it gave me a start -- not only because it's a female-run and female-centered show that made it on TV (it helps that it's completely hilarious), but because of how closely it mirrors real life.
The show revolves around two best friends who were separated when one (Jess) moved cross country to be with her husband. In the pilot, Jess gets unceremoniously divorced by that husband, and she moves back in with her BFF (Lennon) and Lennon's newish boyfriend. They quickly have to negotiate sharing Lennon, the girl that they both love, which is probably someplace most of us have been.
I realized early on that I watch "BFF" for more than just comedic reasons, and for more than just its similarities to my own life, but also because I am trying to figure out how BFF-dom works when you're in a grown-up relationship.
Way back in the early 2000s, I was married to a very nice guy when I met Morgan, a fellow grad student. She and I became instantly inseparable, the kind of friendship I hadn't had since childhood, the kind where weekly sleepovers are so understood they're not even scheduled.
We spent all our time together, were obsessed with each other's every move, and yes, it was pretty codependent. Gloriously so. My husband became an afterthought to Morgan and I, and he seemed OK with it.
That probably should have been a sign that he and I weren't meant to be.
The three of us moved into the same apartment complex, and were making plans to move into a commune-type of house when my husband got into school in a very far away city.
So we left, two whole time zones away from Morgan and my life as I knew it, where we quickly realized that our relationship was basically non-existent. Without Morgan as a buffer, we barely knew each other. We divorced amicably within a few months of moving, and I had to decide if I was going to stay in this new city and forge a life for myself, or run back home, where comfort and Morgan existed.
If I were on "BFF," I would have flown home and moved in with Morgan and her newish partner Beth, as they had just moved in together. (Freaky similarities, no?) I would have felt like a third wheel, probably while treating Beth like a third wheel, and we would have had to figure out how to live with each other. It would have been adorable.
Morgan would have felt pulled by her loyalties to both of us simultaneously, and eventually we would have worked it all out. Maybe.
But that's not what happened. Instead, I stayed in the new city and did the tough, shitty work of starting over completely. It was very hard, and involved Craigslist roommates and lots of debt, but ultimately, it was the right decision for me. I made a new BFF, and as inseparable single girls, we ruled the town and did each others' hair. Then I fell in love. Hard.
My BFFship, while still incredibly important, wasn't the forefront of my life anymore. I remarried, and since then, husband and I have moved twice, each time to a far away city. Each time, I make a cadre of pals, but I no longer seek out a BFF that knows my every move. I suppose that I don't even know if I know how to have a friendship that exists between casual acquaintance and obsessive copilot.
I have fantastic friends, and I'm still as close as you can be to my BFFs in their respective cities, but the person I'm genuinely closest to is my husband. Sure, there are things I can gripe about to my girlfriends more than to him, and sure, I don't drag him on shopping trips, but that sense of urgency, or not being able to handle a day without talking to a BFF, is gone.
So my question for xoJaners out there is: What does a best friend look like when you're in love with someone? Would I invite her over to play video games with my husband and I? Is it OK that I know who she's dating currently but that I don't check in with her after every date? Would we get pedicures together? Is dinner/brunch once a week enough to call someone a BFF?
If you're in a serious relationship, it can be hard to have and maintain those Be All, End All Friendships. How is it different from when you were single? Has age, love or life responsibilities affected your friendships in general? What's the middle ground here?
These may seem like insignificant questions, but to me, they are huge. A BFF has always meant "life partner," and now that I have one of those, I don't know where BFFs fit anymore. Such is the source of conflict of the show "BFF," and I suppose, a source of genuine confusion in my own life. On the screen, I watch Lennon, Jess, and Lennon's boyfriend share a group hug in a bathroom after a misunderstanding resolves itself and I wonder if that could ever happen in reality.