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I just read an argument and its rebuttal on the subject of best friends and it really made me think: is it bad to just have one best friend or is having a lot of close friends the better way to go? While from first glance, the article about the “horrors” of a child having a “BFF (Best Friends Forever)” seemed just like an overprotective parent trying to micromanage their child’s life, but even so, I could see some clear points in there that struck a chord with me. Limiting yourself in any way, shape, or form in terms of who you consider a “friend” is limiting how you see the world. Situations with friends can change on the instant, so why put yourself in a position where if one friend leaves forever, you have no one to fall back on? It’s good to be open to whomever you meet and any potential friendship that comes your way. I see the other view, too, though, that unless you spend time nurturing a friendship, you never truly become close to anyone. Which is more important or is there equal weight in both arguments?

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I know that throughout my life, I’ve had both scenarios – one best friend that I could talk to about everything, as well as multiple close friends with whom I felt a strong connection to. I also have those acquaintances that I only say hi when I see them and have small talk, but we don’t have a strong connection like I have with other friends. I truly feel like you can’t limit yourself to who you consider a friend because things can change in an instant and who sticks out all the bad moments is truly someone you can trust. Personally, I just have a group of friends I can call my confidants, but also groups of people I just have fun with. Why does it have to be all or nothing? There’s always a range of people that you share certain things with, a rolling river where trust comes in different forms. When there’s one person that you can share everything with and they’re not judgmental, that’s definitely “BFF” material. However, you can have multiple “BFF”s and feel a strong connection to them all, but in different ways.

I don’t think friendship can be so concrete. Children should be allowed to befriend whomever they want, as long as they’re safe and are allowed to learn what it means to be a friend through relating with others. For me, it wasn’t until the end of middle school and early high school that I learned the difference between true and superficial friendships. I don’t think it would be as clear to me as it is now if I hadn’t had that learning experience and gained a firsthand understanding of interpersonal relationships. I don’t even regret the moments of clarity I had to have as to who was toxic and who wasn’t because it’s helped me in the present day to differentiate who I want to keep in contact with. Although it’s important for parents of younger children to reinforce connections, by a certain age, the parenting reigns need to be pulled in and kids should learn on their own to read social cues. It’s invaluable human experience to be able to relate with others and figure out who fits with you. As I wrote this, I thought of an anonymous quote I once heard, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” and in looking it up, I found a link to what exactly that means. It’s interesting to think of friends in those categories instead of “best” or “close” or “acquaintance.” The “lifetime” friends are the ones that are your “best,” or the ones that are always there for you. However, there are always others that are harder to categorize and sometimes it’s best not to since life is ever-changing.

I know a girl who I sort of knew throughout elementary and middle school, but it wasn’t until high school and college that we became part of a group of close friends. When parents try to dictate the friendships of their children, that could be stunting the natural growth of their child’s connections. Whoever is meant to be there at certain times in a person’s life is never set in stone, but in the end, it’s the journey that matters. That might sound cliche, but why label friendships anyway? Maybe it’s just better to let friendships fall into place by themselves, rather than rank the level of connection you have with individual people.

What are your thoughts on friendship, childhood or otherwise? Post your comments below.

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