What Makes a Best Friend?
From my previous posts, I hope its obvious that I’ve been questioning friendships and the qualities that make up a friend. I’ve also been asking what differentiates a friend from a good friend or a best friend. My trip to Singapore has definitely helped me come closer to finding an answer. My closest cousin, Stella, and I instantly click every time I see her. Talking until 6am really creates quality bonding time. Before this trip, I had not seen or spoke to her in four or five years. That’s what happens when you live in totally separate countries with a 15 hour time difference. However, there’s some quality in her that makes me trust her with every cell in my body even when we haven’t interacted for a long time. My current roommate calls this quality the “best friend quality”. There are people with whom I’ve been friends with for many years, but I still wouldn’t consider them to be a close friend. On the other hand, there are people I’ve only known for a year or so that I would consider a “best friend”. So what are the qualities that push people over to the “best friend” side? For one, it’s someone who I can have no contact with for a long time, but when I do see them its like we talk everyday of our lives. It’s someone who I can share everything with and they also share everything with me – no hiding our emotions or withholding of information. It’s someone who can put up with my sarcasm, who doesn’t have to be reminded that I don’t eat meat, who makes me laugh but knows when to be serious, who is loyal but gives me my own space. A best friend doesn’t judge me for stupid things I do and calls me out whenever I’m doing something potentially harmful, they know my emotional state by reading my body language and facial expression, and finally a best friend who has gained my highest level of trust. I don’t trust people very easily, so if I trust you wholeheartedly, we’re really really good friends.
However, is the “best friend quality” a genetic construction or can you build up the characteristics over time? Are some people naturally gravitated to becoming a best friend? Are they extremely loyal and trustworthy because that’s just how their personality is? Or, is it a construct of environment? If you grow up surrounded by people with “best friend qualities”, will you have those qualities yourself? If you decide that a person naturally has these qualities, the question of whether personality is dependent on solely genetics or is also developed from the environment comes into play. If the environment does affect personality, then you must say that the development of “best friend qualities” is mainly influenced by how you grow up. Evidence for this would obviously be very difficult/impossible to collect unless you want to make a clone of yourself. If environment is a factor, putting you and your clone in extremely different environments growing up would lead to different personalities and different abilities to gain the “best friend qualities”. However, if environment is not a factor, then the ability to be a best friend should be equal independent of the living situation. I don’t know what the right answer is. Ideas?