• Resolving Problems

Best Friend: What Does That Mean?

Published: February 19, 2023 | Last Updated: February 19, 2023 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
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What does it mean if you consider someone a best friend and find out that they don’t put you in the same league?

QUESTION

Dear Friendship Doctor,

I realize this is entirely my fault and somewhat foolish, but it picks at me nonetheless. 

When I was a kid, I had zero friends. Now, as an adult man in my 30s, I have a small group of friends, and it feels like a huge accomplishment. 

My only quibble is that the guy I consider my best friend (I’ll call him Dave) refers to another guy as his best friend, not me. Dave and I have known each other for nearly a decade. We do almost everything together.

We go to the gym at least twice a week. We hang out every single weekend. We go to bars, the beach, and on road trips. We spend so much time together that at least one member of his family has joked that we’re a couple.

During much of the time that Dave and I hung out, he was estranged from his childhood friend named Mark. There was a longstanding issue between them. Mark, who has a hot temper, had gotten into a physical fight with two men at a bar, and Dave chose not to get involved.

After numerous years of silence, the two of them have squashed their beef and reconnected recently. 

At a gathering with our group of friends, Dave introduced Mark to everyone as his “best friend.” I openly joked, “Hey, man! What about me?” Dave went on to explain that since he and Mark grew up in the same neighborhood and had an older history, Mark is his best friend. 

A couple of mutual friends at the gathering made comments about how easy I was to replace. To save face, I laughed it off, but it stung.

To top it off, Mark now lives two hours away, so Dave doesn’t visit him often. He still hangs out with me, and we do all our usual activities. But it feels like the air has been let out of the balloon. I feel like the silver medalist who should be gold. 

Is this petty of me? Why would you consider someone you seldom see your best friend when another person has hung out with you for years? 

Dave now shows me funny texts from Mark, and it has started to build resentment. I want to let it go, but I’m not sure how.

Signed, Paul

ANSWER

Hi Paul,

For friendships to work, they need to be reciprocal. Two people need to value each other’s friendship, although the balance doesn’t always have to be 50-50. 

For example, a friend may have many more friends than you. Although they value your friendship, the friendship may be less important to them than it is to you because they have more people with whom to share their time.

Or, as in your case, although you consider Dave your “best friend,” he has suggested that he doesn’t feel the same way about you. He values the history he shares with Mark and considers that a measure of what makes a best friend.

“Best friends” is a murky concept because it means different things to different people and even very good friends may have different ideas about what makes a best friend.

It is understandable that you might feel hurt and shaky if making friends has been a struggle for you in the past. 

But pat yourself on the back: You’ve made great progress. You do have a small group of friends, including Dave. You and Dave spend time together, enjoy each other’s company, and “get” each other—all of these are measures of a solid friendship.

Try to put your jealousy aside, have confidence in yourself and your friendships, and don’t let the label of “best friends” get in the way.

You don’t need to compete with Mark because you and he are different people with different assets that you bring to your friendships.

One other suggestion: Nurture other friendships, so you aren’t depending only on Dave to meet all your needs for friendship and support.

Hope this helps. 

Irene


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Category: RESOLVING PROBLEMS

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  1. 1031 says:

    The people in my past I thought was my real friends was deceiving. I Found out what once your back is turned you will find out who your are. That’s why I say no new friends or old friends. Might be able to forgive them one day.

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