Not everyone uses the term “best friend,” but most people have some version of one. The person that usually understands you (but is still supportive when they don’t); the one who’s honest with you even when it’s not what you want to hear. There’s an indefinable quality to a true friend, but for the most part, one golden rule exists — they’re the ones you’ll want to call the minute anything really great or completely awful happens.
These are the folks you talk to for clarity on almost any topic except your love life. (In that situation, it’s usually more effective to speak to the person you’re loving at the time.) But if the person you’re dating is a constant bother and you can’t stop discussing them with your best friend, you might need to take the hint and consider whether the new beau is honestly worth the hassle. Best friends are honest, even when they want to let you make your own decisions; you just have to be reading the signs.
Pay attention to this word — if it comes up too regularly in separate conversations about your latest squabbles with the new boyfriend, that means something. Of course, what is being argued about is important, but the fact that you’re quarrelling that much in itself is a sign, don’t you think? Your best friend saying, “again?” in response to you telling them about a new fight is a reminder that a pattern is emerging between you and the person you’re dating. The problem isn’t that you and this new beau are constantly fighting about the same things; the question is, is that what you want?
“What about what you want, though?”
New relationships are fun, and the chance to dive into another person’s life is intoxicating, especially when things are going well. But in the honeymoon phase, it’s easy to just be a yes-man (or woman) and get swept up in doing all the things the other half prefers, from take-out choices to bedroom antics. If it takes your friend asking about your interests to even remind you that you’re not protecting your own interests or getting them seen to, you have to consider whether you’re not asking for enough in your relationship, and whether it’s worth staying if you ask and don’t receive.
Silence, the subtle eye-widening, and “okay, wow?”
Even if your bestie is not facially expressive, chances are you know how to read what they’re feeling for the most part. It’s the best friend’s job to listen to you when you gab on about this and that, but if your latest tirade has your bestie literally unable to form sentences for a few seconds, you might want to think about whatever it is you just said. It’s like that scene in the Sex and the City movie where Samantha’s put on weight and the rest of the gang is dumbstruck when they see her: I completely resent the body policing of that scene, but the logic underneath it rings true. If you’re unhappy in your love life and acting out, and your latest complaint with your significant other is huge enough that your bestie needs some recovery time, you need to consider if it might be time to move on from the drama altogether.
“I feel like I never see you anymore!”
Now, this is a loaded term — my sincere hope is that we all have good friends who only ever use this phrase as a remark made in passing, not as a way to be passive aggressive. (Most pals understand when you’re busy and you can always plan ways to work around schedules; true friends should feel comfortable enough to tell you that they miss you and want to spend more time with you.) But this is a great spot for a check-in with your internal scheduler — have you actually been neglecting your friends out of poor planning and being busy, or is it because your significant other’s been too much of a focal point in your life?
There’s a whole spectrum to explore here. If you really are obsessing too much about your sweetheart, enjoy it, but remember to balance it out with other things that some people consider important — family, friends, a career, you know, the works. If it’s a new boyfriend or girlfriend who just doesn’t want to hang out with your good friends, that’s something that needs to be addressed right away — everyone needs to get along, or you need to call it for what it is. If it’s a situation where your other half actually doesn’t allow you to see your inner circle of friends regularly, I think we all know what the problem is — those who genuinely love us don’t actually try to control us and, also, other people don’t get to tell you what to do. Figure out which category you fit into, and work on the appropriate solution for yourself. If in doubt, just call your best friend back and tell them about it. Chances are they’re tell you just what you need to hear.