The Definition of a Best Friend

Remember how last year was the year of friendship for me?

Well, March brought about some challenges regarding everything I learned last year, and it took all of my mental strength not to get trapped in my head. Getting stuck in my head leads to consistent confusion, which leads to an unnecessary feeling of hurt. While I worked to numb my brain, I began thinking about the definition of a best friend.

I decided to ask my friends, both past and present, for their personal definitions of a best friend. Before I share what they had to say, here’s my definition:

Your relationship with a best friend is something you should never have to question the state of. There’s open & honest communication, whether it’s daily or the annual catch up; nothing is left unsaid. They’re someone your soul feels connected to; they’re your complement, while still managing to agree on the things that matter. As your complement, they provide a new perspective in the most supportive way possible. They read you like an open book, no matter how much you try to hide. You leave their presence/the conversation feeling tranquil instead of restrained or tense. For me personally, they ease my anxiety; I feel so incredibly comfortable to be my most vulnerable or most playful self. It’s surely possible to have multiple best friends, and each relationship with a best friend looks completely different but has the same core values: trust & care.

Now for what my friends had to say:

“I define a best friend as someone you can be your true self around, you never have to hide how you are feeling or what’s happening in your life. They are the one person who can hold your most juicy secrets and also encourage you to be your best.”

“I think my personal definition of a best friend is overall someone you trust and you can be your authentic self around. However, that looks different between each person I call my best friend. Some are more intimate in the sense that we can have super late night talks that you put your heart out on the table. Others, I trust with a lot and love being around, but there’s things that aren’t brought up. But there’s more to it than that, and I don’t know how to make it make sense in words.”

“It’s someone who will always be there for you, even if y’all haven’t talked or seen each other in a long time.”

“I feel like I can’t put it into words really. I think to me, a best friend is someone who you connect with beyond shared interests. I worded it that way because, like, I have a lot in common with a lot of people, but my best friends are my best friends because of the experiences we’ve shared. The trust we’ve built by sharing the most vulnerable parts of ourselves.”

“My definition could probably be summed up in one word, being unconditional. My best example of that is I grew up with a girl named Lola. We have been best friends since elementary, and of course, she went on this wild relationship ride of David with me. Even though she never approves of me trying again or going back, she has never been mean to me or anything. Whereas, Katy literally said ‘Fuck you, I don’t want to talk to you’ when I went back before. Obviously, I realize my decisions weren’t approved of, but Lola, being my best friend, was still there for me, and I think that’s one of the best examples of friendship that I have.”

“For me, that’s the one for the long run. You might grow apart, not talk a lot, live cross country, but when you get back together, it’s like nothing ever happened. A best friend is more like family. Not sure if that’s the right term either because a lot of the time, it’s easier to let go of family.”

“I think for me it kind of varies. I think that if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find your platonic soulmate, because I do 100% believe in those, more so at a platonic level especially. But generally speaking, I think a best friend is someone that is easy for you to be around, that you can lose touch with and regain that interaction like no time passed at all. For me, I can have multiple best friends, and they all mean equally as much to me, and I value and respect and cherish them even more than other friends.”

“A person that you can trust and grow with. Someone that you can sit in silence with but also talk all day with. Someone that leaves you a better person.”

“So to me, a best friend is someone who thinks of you as themselves. Someone who almost instinctively thinks of you quicker than themselves. A best friend is able to say and do things no one else is. The best friend is a sacred position of trust where someone doesn’t have to announce it, and it’s nurturing, patient, and understanding. A best friend is capable of being all things. It’s capable of being a soulmate, a lover, a friend, a confidant, or a sibling. The form of a best friend is more rare than a diamond. We spend our whole life searching for love/a significant other, but few of us truly ever find our best friend.”


My current and past friends put a lot of thought and effort into their responses. When you think about it, it’s incredibly challenging to come up with a singular definition for the term “best friend.” They really put that into perspective for me and helped me heal in a way I didn’t know I needed.

Recently (like yesterday), I started reading Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, and it discusses how a big friendship is deeper than a best friendship. A big friendship is defined as “a bond of great strength, force, and significance that transcends life phases, geography, and emotional shifts…” There’s more to it, but we’ll save that for the review.

Now all that’s plaguing my brain is big friendship vs. best friendship.

Writing this has forced me to think about how deep the connection between best friends are compared to a general friendship. To help with my attachment issues and overly emotional being, I’ve started to look a bit deeper within the true meaning and power of the connections I have.

about the author

Jamilah is a college graduate in her early twenties who wants to live and learn and love herself while fighting the anxiety fight.

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