To BFF or not to BFF?

Within many of the services I have delivered for Unique Voice in the past couple of weeks, time and time again I have come across this question; is it good to have a best friend? For this week’s blog, Sarah weighs up the pro’s and con’s and explores the nature of these exculsive friendships.

Looking back to my own school experiences, best friends were always part of the school gossip; who was best friends with who, and which pairs had fallen out. The dynamics often changed and more often than not, other children got dragged into the fallouts- acting as messengers as they ran tirelessly from one end of the playing field to the other with either parties scornful and stubborn messages.

Having had various best friends throughout my school life, I can definitely understand the appeal of knowing that person will be there for you; be it in partner work, to play with at lunch time, or for time spent together after school and at weekends. But I also remember those painful moments when said Best Friend was off school- and the desperate panic that ensued about who you might work with for the entirety of the day.

One thing I notice within schools now, and something I certainly remember from my school days, is the sometimes worrying sense of ‘ownership’ best friends demonstrate over one another. Only this week drama ensued when one girl decided she wanted to work with someone other than her usual partner. Whilst this was not done to cause offence or harm, her best friend was left distraught and angry at having been second choice in this instance.

Such close knit and exclusive friendships are, in my opinion, potentially unhealthy. Surely one of the joys of school is the vast number of people who are around. With so many different characters within each class, I can’t help but feel that young people miss out on other friendships if they spend their days glued to the side of the same person, especially if one of them manipulates the other into such an exclusive partnership.

But I also wonder if there is also the potentiality for these young people to lose a sense of their own identity? Thinking back to my primary school there was one particular pair of girls who were so close that they became a constant duo (had they been famous they almost would have certainly had their names combined ‘Brangelina’ style). As a result of this, I have almost no memories of them as individuals, which seems a shame that seemingly they lost some of their own character and became instead an extension of each other.

With the move to secondary school imminent for many young people it is a certainty that they will be introduced to a whole array of new people. The BFF title can lead to awkward situations during this period, with some young people finding new friends, wanting to expand their friendship groups whilst others desperately cling to those they already know and are familiar with. Often the concept of having different friends in different aspects of your life seems alien, but I stand firm in my belief that there are many benefits to be obtained from a wide and diverse social circle. In secondary school I was always the girl on the edge of several friendship circles, and my lunch breaks were often spent catching up with many of these groups, spending ten minutes with each set of friends. Whilst I wasn’t in the core of any group, it meant there were always people I could chat to, spend time with- and if I fell out with any of the groups there were always others I could approach.

That said, I did and do have a best friend. A person who I know I could talk to about anything, who understands me, who always has my back, who makes me laugh like a hyena multiple times each day and whose company I always enjoy and appreciate. We spend time together, we spend time apart, but perhaps the difference is the way the friendship is labelled. We haven’t gone to Claire’s accessories to purchase a sparkly set of BFF necklaces (probably also to do with our age…..) and despite my calling this person my best friend within this blog- it’s never been an agreed title between the pair of us.

Equally, we both have other best/close friends, people we might turn to at different times for different reasons. We all naturally feel more connected to some people than others, but perhaps learning how to handle and balance these friendships whilst valuing others is a learning curve.

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