The Beatles were right when they crooned, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” The friendships we forge as we go along our journey of life constitute an integral part of it. They say that every individual has two families- one is the family we are related to by birth, we really have no say in who we are related to; the other family is formed by all the friends we make throughout the course of our lives. This second family is made up people we have carefully selected ourselves, through an arduous process of trial and error, might I add. This family that we choose for ourselves has a massive role to play in how we turn out as human beings, perhaps more so than the family assigned to us since birth.
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It is usually with the members of this second family of choice that we share our deepest and darkest secrets, confess our love to, make our worst decisions, share our first experience of alcohol and the subsequent hangover the next morning; essentially speaking, these are the people who have seen our bests and worsts with equal measure. The bond of friendship is sometimes the strongest ones we carry with us to the grave even.
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And then there are those special ones, those friends who are our rocks, our lighthouses, our North stars, our fix of a steaming cup of coffee on a Monday morning at work, our best friends. Every one of us can agree that life would never have been nearly as livable or fun without these people, whose mere presence makes the darkest nights seem a little more brighter. There are some things a woman can share with her best friends which she cannot share with anyone else, not even her boyfriend. In a boyfriend vs best friend situation, the best friends almost always win. There, we said it. As bitter as this statement might be for a lot of boyfriends, it’s the truth and the sooner they accept this as a fact of life, the happier they will be.
Every woman needs her set of gal pals, best friends who are ready to turn the earth upside down for her. And I don’t mean it in the “I love you so much I can fetch the moon and the stars” way. No. This is more like the “I love you so much that if anyone even so much as disturbs a hair on your head I will unleash hell on them and nothing can stop me” way. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. Not even in the slightest. There is nothing more terrifying than a group of angry best friends. PSA to all men out there who are in a relationship with a woman: do not piss off the best friends if you value your life and relationship. No matter how unbreakable you think your masculinity may be, you do not stand a chance against them, trust me on this.
It’s a shame that we don’t celebrate female friendships as much they deserve to be. There has always, always been this heavily stereotyped view of women being constantly catty to each other, constantly competing against each other for the attention of the men in their lives, talking behind each other’s backs and just generally being terrible toward each other. Of course, this may be true in certain toxic friendships, but in no way is this the norm of all female friendships. Amid the constant sexism, violence and marginalization that every woman faces in her day to day life, female friendships offer that much needed sense of respite and belonging. No matter how big of a feminist a man is, there are just some things that he will never understand. And this incapability to understand is due to the fact that men just haven’t faced these issues in their lives. They might be aware of them, but they do not share the same lived experiences. And that’s when a woman needs other women to express solidarity and validation for those experiences, to remind her that she is not alone in her struggles. After all, we draw our strengths from each other.
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Besides, behind every successful and powerful woman, are her best girl friends who are cheering her on and appreciating her for the queen that she is. When it comes to providing support and encouragement, in a boyfriend vs best friend battle, the best friend always wins. You have no idea of the kind of power possessed by a group of women chanting “Slay Kween” for their friend. We also need our girlfriends to indulge us with some girl talk from time to time. Boyfriends can rarely comprehend or relate to your complaints about how certain odours tend to completely put you off when you’re PMS-ing. Neither can they understand why you wrote those 30 chapter long fan-fiction novels about One Direction when you were 14, but your best friends totally can. In fact, they were the ones who proofread every chapter for you and helped you set up that Wattpad account.
It is also around her best friends that a woman is most comfortable. With boyfriends, there is that need to look effortlessly and casually attractive even when you’re not doing anything. Our best friends have borne witness to the goblin that lives under our perfectly sculpted facades. The one who sometimes doesn’t bathe for three days in a row, and eats cake with both her hands like a neanderthal, and spends hours just lying on her bed, and hasn’t cleaned her room in months, and hated Catcher In The Rye but pretends to like it because everyone else does, and sometimes maybe even digs her nose. To put in a nutshell, it is easier to be the worst versions of ourselves around our best friends, than in the company of our boyfriends whom we’re constantly under pressure to impress.
A woman also needs her share of male best friends. It is a precious kind of camaraderie founded upon inappropriate humor and tenderness. Men usually find it easier to access their emotional, vulnerable sides when they are around their female best friends due to the fact that women are generally considered to be more nurturing and accepting of emotional vulnerability. Of course, the downside to this is that women are often used as the emotional punching bag in these friendships and are expected to go around mollycoddling all the men in their lives; but sometimes, with the right people, it can blossom into friendships that last for eternity. These are friendships which see you through your good times and the tough ones as well.
The best thing about friendships is its effortlessness. Part of why friendships are easier to maintain than romantic relationships is that it requires less effort. You can not talk to your best friend for weeks and months, and still come back to where you had left it off. And everything will be exactly the way it was. In a relationship, you can’t just up and disappear, and expect everything to remain the same when you come back. Relationships require a lot more accountability and compromise, which is why they are so daunting. In this case, it is natural to want to surround yourself with people who you don’t have to bother about such things with.
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But sometimes, a woman’s best friend is her boyfriend. Like André Aciman had written in his novel Call Me By Your Name, “Perhaps we were friends first and lovers second. But then perhaps this is what lovers are.” The best romantic relationships are those which are founded on friendship. We often make the mistake of treating friendship and love as two mutually exclusive and opposing concepts, but sometimes they’re the same thing. One is not superior to the other. It is very much possible for the same person to embody both. You can’t have a healthy relationship with a person without getting to know them first, and you can’t get to know someone better without first being friends with them. Otherwise it’s called stalking and that’s disturbing on multiple levels. Even if your boyfriend isn’t your best friend, you should at least be close enough to know each other well. I’ve seen way too many relationships fail miserably because neither of the people involved took time out to actually find out about each other; they plunged headfirst into the relationship on the basis of a hint of a spark which was misinterpreted as chemistry.
In a stable relationship, there usually isn’t a boyfriend vs best friend feud. Of course, there will always be somethings you can tell your best friends only. But it’s not a competition because neither love nor friendship is about competition and pitting one against the other.
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