It Happened To Me: I’ve Never Had a ‘Best’ Friend

Does the fact that I can’t hold on to a best friend mean that there’s something wrong with me? Am I actually a complete arsehole, and up until now everyone’s been too polite to tell me?
Publish date:
November 20, 2012
best friends, friendship, social networks, how do you keep a best friend?

Friendship was so easy at primary school. Amidst all the playground games and pretending to get married to boys under the Wigloo (that’s an igloo made from wicker to those of you who didn’t go to a school as cool as mine), everyone had a best friend. I had a few through the years - Natalie, Faye, Shelley, Kate, Becki. I just never managed to make it last.

I seem to be utter shit at the whole BFF thing.

Clearly I’m on my own - films & TV shows are full of girly groups of best friends- Bridesmaids, Sex and the City, Girls, Clueless, even Golden Girls(!). It's pants to watch this glorified version of 'besties' sharing every part of their lives with each other when it doesn't exist for you.

They might be fictional, and have their fair share of friendship troubles, but they still have each other. Where's my happy bloody ending? Where are my Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha? Do Rachel, Monica and Phoebe exist in the real world?

[You're not alone - check out Daisy's great piece on the US site. That said, I've always been the opposite - I've always had a proper friendship group but no manz - compounding my theory that people either have one or the other. I do love a great one-size-fits-all theory for life! --Rebecca]

Does the fact that I can’t hold on to a best friend mean that there’s something wrong with me? Am I not the sort of person friends go to when they have a problem? Am I one of those girls who spends too much time focusing on her relationship than her friendships? Am I actually a complete arsehole, and up until now everyone’s been too polite to tell me?

I understand that people eventually grow apart, but why does it happen to me over and over again? My primary school friends weren't part of my life at secondary school, my secondary school friends weren't part of my life at university, and my university friends are Facebook avatars.

My relationship with my university friends consists of texts, tweets, cards and Facebook statuses, and I feel close to them, but there’s no defined group that’s managed to last the distance – literally.

We live all over the country. And thanks to Facebook, I can see all these friendships thriving without me and I constantly feel guilty that I don’t make the effort to see them as much as I should. It’s a funny thing, Facebook, never failing to make us feel like we’re excluded. The social media snub hurts just as much as the silent treatment did at school.

While my friendships with uni girls and work colleagues keep me from going slowly insane, I just don't have that long-term best friend with whom I share my innermost secrets. When it comes to friends from my childhood, well, we’ve all grown up, but without each other.

I think one of the reasons is because arguing with friends is always very final with me. I've done a lot of falling out over stupid things. Sometimes it was my fault, sometimes it wasn’t, but it's meant that I’ve lost some pretty important people because after one fight, that was it. No sobbing reunion. No teary, inaudible, only-dogs-can-hear apologies a la Rachel and Monica.

Moving to London in 2009 meant that I had to get out there and make friends in what was a really scary city for a country girl from the flat lands. Twitter helped me meet some truly lovely people, yet that same old bone of contention kept coming up. Everyone already had best friends. They didn't need another one.

Being in a long-term relationship also means that going out with just single friends results in a lot of quiet moments for me. When they're all joking about dating, it feels a little like I’ll be confined to the 'couples group' forever.

And it's one of the reasons why getting along with friends and trying hard to be a fun person is such a big deal now. I have my fiancée, but he can’t be the only thing I have. He can’t be the only person I hang out with or turn to for advice.

We’ve been engaged for five months, but for almost all of our five-year relationship I’ve been fretting about having a Maid of Honour. People pick their best friends don’t they? The person who knows everything about them? Since I've been too free and easy with past BFFs, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about bridesmaids and the looming possibility that I'll be sans-Maid.

In case you’re wondering, my fiancée doesn’t have the same problem as I do. We’re quite similar in some ways. We're both fairly quiet until the drinks come out, both prefer to be wallflowers than the centre of attention, and both prefer staying in with a good movie over a weekend of debauchery.

However, he’s much better than me at friendships and even manages a yearly Mancation with his group of mates. In my case, when other girls at school were taking trips to Ibiza and Malaga, I was sticking out the summer holidays at home, writing and doing my best Myspace goth poses, which means I've never even been on a girly holiday.

I get jealous that friendships seem much easier for him; that he's got a best friend he can open up to.

Sometimes I find myself reminiscing about old friendships and the sort of person I'd be now had it worked out. Having a group of friends like those TV shows, most likely friends from high school, seems to be the 'norm'. So that must make me abnormal. Having that one friend who's stuck by you through thick and thin is a test of character. So I must be the worst friend, ever.

Why are things different for me? What is it about those sitcom bosom buddies that make us feel like we don’t fit in? Are those who keep friendships from preschool to nursing home a minority? You know…I think they probably are.

My experience with best friends from childhood to now has meant I've felt an awful lot of loneliness, blame and self-loathing. But maybe I’m being too hard on myself.

Now that I'm comfortable in my relationship, and grown up a hell of a lot, I’ve struck up friendships with colleagues and Twitter followers, and now have a circle of ‘close’ friends – even if none of them qualifies as that elusive ‘best’ friend.

Even though I don't physically see my uni friends much, they're still there when I need setting straight. I might feel a little out of place at tweet-ups too, but every single one of those women has given me advice when I needed it. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what friends are for?