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What is a Best Friend? 30 Essential Reasons Everyone Needs One!

Best friends are few and far between. But what is a best friend? Here’s how to know your buddy is the best you’ll have and no one can compare.

what is a best friend

We go through life making a lot of friends. You’ll have those you met when you were just a toddler, others you formed friendships with in high school, and you even meet people as adults who can weasel their way into your inner circle. But what is a best friend?

What makes one of those friends stand out above the rest? Surely they’re all great because if they weren’t, you wouldn’t have them in your life. So we’re sure you’re trying to figure out what makes one of them the best? It’s hard to tell, but there are unique signs for sure. [Read: True friendship: 37 real friend traits & what it takes to be a good, loyal one]

The Best Friend Psychology

Have you ever looked at your best friend and realized they’re a stranger that you decided to trust one day?

At its core, the concept of a best friend is rooted deeply in trust. This trust is not just about keeping secrets, but about believing that this person has your back, no matter what. It’s a bond that evolves from shared experiences and mutual respect.

As you spend more time together, whether laughing over coffee or navigating life’s ups and downs, you’re unknowingly laying the foundation of a lasting friendship. [Read: Good friends are like stars: Ways to build lasting friendships]

The psychology behind these evolving relationships is fascinating. For instance, the mere exposure effect suggests that the more we see and interact with someone, the more likely we are to become friends.

It’s as if familiarity breeds not contempt, but affection. Then there’s the role of oxytocin, often dubbed the ‘love hormone.’ This powerful neurotransmitter plays a significant part in bonding, enhancing feelings of trust and empathy, essential ingredients in the recipe of a best friendship.

But what really cements someone as a best friend over just a good friend? It’s the depth of understanding and empathy. A best friend can often feel what you’re feeling, sometimes even before you fully understand it yourself.

This emotional resonance is what sets apart a best friend from the rest of our social circle. It’s not just about liking the same music or enjoying the same activities; it’s about how deeply you connect on emotional and psychological levels.

From personal triumphs to heartaches, these experiences are shared chapters in your life stories, creating a bond that’s hard to break. This journey from stranger to best friend isn’t just about the good times, it’s about enduring the storms together and coming out stronger. [Read: Fair-weather friends: 20 signs your friend doesn’t care about you]

High-Quality Friends are Better Than High-Quantity

It’s perfectly fine if you’re the type of person to have a lot of friends. However, you do want to make sure you’re putting quality above quantity.

Sure, it helps to know you’ll always have someone there simply because there’s so many, but it’s better to know a single person will be there no matter what.

Therefore, choosing to keep only the best people around is really important. Not only will it help keep you sane and happy, but we’re also greatly affected by the company we keep.

Having toxic friends around or having a lot of friends, but no good ones, can have horrible effects on your life. [Read: Toxic friends: 22 types, 54 signs & ways to end friendships that hurt you]

What is a Best Friend?

You may want to know the signs of a best friend so you can recognize when someone is going above and beyond to be there for you. These are the qualities all best friends tend to have. Keep an eye out and be aware of who’s doing the most.

1. They know You Inside and Out

A true best friend will know just about everything about you. Why? Because you told them. You don’t have to hold anything back and what makes them truly the best is their ability to remember that information. They know what’s important and they made an effort to remember it. [Read: 35 questions to prove if your friends know you or not]

2. You Don’t Have to Say Anything for Them to Know You’re Upset

They can just tell by your demeanor. They’re like dogs in that way. They can sense when something is off just by the way your face looks. Only a best friend who knows you really well can tell something’s wrong even when you’re trying to hide it.

3. You Never Have to Hide How You’re Feeling

This is the ultimate truth. Whenever you’re upset, feeling insecure, or are even beyond angry about something – even if they caused it – you can tell them. You don’t have to hide anything from them because you know they won’t judge you no matter what.

4. They’re There no Matter the Time or Circumstance

It can be two in the morning and they’re there if you need them to be. A true best friend is selfless when it comes to your needs, so long as it’s mutual, of course.

They’ll be there to pick you up when you’re down or even to celebrate the great things in life. Bottom line: they make an effort to be around for all the important stuff. [Read: All the signs of a great friend and BFF]

5. They Never Ask for Anything in Return

As much as being a great friend should be a mutual thing, your bestie will never ask for stuff in return. They don’t do what they do because they’ll get something back. They do it because they want to and they love you.

6. You Always Have a Great Time

Best friends are always a hoot. No matter what you do, you’re always having fun. Whether it’s sitting on the couch, sending each other memes or going on rides at an amusement park, it’s all a great time and you never feel like time is wasted.

7. Their Family Feels Like Yours

This really says a lot about your friendship. If their family feels like your own just because of how close you are, they’re definitely your best friend.

Pay attention to how their family treats you and how you feel about them and you’ll know who’s the best. [Read: Signs of a one-sided friendship you need to get out of]

8. Your Enemies are Their Enemies and Vice Versa

Loyalty is a very powerful, and important, thing. Even if they don’t know someone, they’ll hate them if you do. It’s about being supportive and sticking to those you trust. If you hate that person and your friend does too, without even a reason, they’re the best.

9. They’re Supportive of Everything You Want To Do

No matter what whacky thing you want to try next, they’re supportive of it. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it makes you happy. Because that’s ultimately what a best friend wants – you to be happy. [Read: Signs your friend is truly supportive of all your goals]

10. They’re Blunt and Honest When They Need To Be

If they’re your best friend, they will tell you when you’re being annoying and needy. They’ll also tell you when a dress looks awful on you or when you need to leave your boyfriend alone and stop being paranoid. They don’t mind telling you stuff that might hurt, as long as it’s good for you.

11. There are Very Few Boundaries, If Any

No topic is really off-limits. No matter how inappropriate or touchy it may be, you can always talk about it. You both respect each other’s opinions enough to not let anything ruin your friendship.

12. You Have Inside Jokes for Days

You know each other so well and have been friends for so long that inside jokes just pile up. When you’re at the point of just looking at an empty soda bottle and you can burst out laughing, you know it’s real.

You both thought the same thing at that moment and it was about a really funny joke made a long time ago. [Read: How to get your best friend back when you lost them]

13. You Basically Have to Talk Every Day

It’s not that you do, but you feel weird if you don’t talk to them. You feel like your day is just off and not normal if you don’t spend some time chatting with your best friend. That’s how you know they’re the best.

14. They Give the Best Advice

It’s not just like they whip out the same old advice you hear everywhere. No. They give you the real advice that comes from them and their experiences.

They really make an effort to understand your situation and help you based on what they know about you, too. It’s the good stuff. [Read: 23 must-know relationship advice for women]

15. They Feel More Like Family Than Friend

This is the gist of it. If your friend feels more like a family member than just a friend, they’re the best. You don’t get to choose your own family, except for your best friend. [Read: Signs of bad friends and when you need to get rid of them]

16. They Remember the Little Things

A best friend pays attention to the small details that others might overlook. Whether it’s recalling your favorite snack when you’re feeling down or remembering the anniversary of a significant event in your life, these gestures show how deeply they care.

A best friend understands that sometimes, it’s the smallest acts that mean the most. This attentiveness is a defining aspect of what a best friend is, highlighting their deep connection to your life.

17. They Challenge You to Grow

A true best friend isn’t just a cheerleader; they’re also a coach. They push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to be your best self.

This might mean encouraging you to take on new opportunities or gently pointing out areas where you can improve. It’s a unique balance of support and motivation, making them an integral part of your personal development journey.

18. Unwavering Loyalty in Tough Times

When the going gets tough, a best friend stands by your side unwaveringly. They are there during the highs, but more importantly, they don’t leave when things get challenging.

This kind of loyalty is rare and invaluable, often becoming the anchor you need during life’s storms. Their steadfast presence during difficult moments truly defines what a best friend is. [Read: Fickle friends: 23 signs, must-dos & ways to know if they’re hurting you]

19. They Respect Your Independence

A best friend understands the importance of personal space and independence. They know that a healthy friendship isn’t about being inseparable, but about being secure enough to support each other’s need for growth and individual experiences.

Respect for personal boundaries enhances the trust and longevity of the friendship. It’s a delicate balance that best friends navigate skillfully, knowing when to step in and when to step back. [Read: Important habits you need to be more independent]

20. Shared Values and Perspectives

Beyond just common interests, a best friend often shares your core values and perspectives on life. This deep alignment creates a strong foundation for your relationship, allowing for meaningful conversations and a shared understanding of each other’s worldview.

It’s not just about enjoying the same activities; it’s about resonating on a fundamental level. This shared philosophy is a key element in what a best friend is, fostering a bond that goes beyond surface-level connections.

21. Loyalty Behind Your Back

You can be confident that a best friend will defend and speak positively about you, even in your absence. This kind of loyalty is rare. It’s about having someone who stands by your side and upholds your reputation, no matter the setting. [Read: Be careful who you trust: Ways to recognize the backstabbers]

Their support isn’t just limited to when you’re around but also extends to every situation, demonstrating the depth of their commitment to your friendship.

Why Everyone Should Have a Best Friend

If you’re someone who’s thinking, “I can go without a best friend, I’ll pass,” wait up! The value of having a best friend extends far beyond just having someone to hang out with.

1. Emotional Support and Reduced Stress

A best friend acts as a primary source of emotional support, which is crucial for mental health. Numerous studies have shown that having close friendships can significantly reduce stress levels.

This support ranges from having someone to talk to about your day to receiving comfort during tough times. The presence of a best friend during challenging periods can be a buffer against anxiety and depression, underscoring what a best friend truly means in our lives.

2. Increased Sense of Belonging and Improved Self-Confidence

Having a best friend provides a sense of belonging, an essential human need. This bond often leads to higher self-esteem, as affirmed by research indicating that people with close friendships have a stronger sense of self-worth.

The acceptance and understanding from a best friend reinforce a positive self-image, crucial for personal growth. [Read: 55 secrets & self-love habits to build confidence and realize your worth]

3. Better Physical Health

The bond with a best friend does more than just uplift your spirits; it also contributes significantly to your physical health. Studies link strong social ties to various health improvements, such as lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart disease.

Managing stress more effectively, a direct benefit of the emotional support from a best friend, plays a critical role in maintaining good physical health.

4. Longevity

Having a best friend might just be as important as regular exercise for living a longer life, according to PLOS Medicine research.

This study highlights the profound impact of social relationships on mortality risk, emphasizing the role of companionship in enhancing lifespan.

5. Enhanced Coping Skills

Developing and refining effective coping skills often involves the input and support of a best friend. Their role in your life can significantly influence how you tackle life’s challenges, leading to more resilient and effective coping mechanisms.

6. Unconditional Acceptance and Love

The unconditional acceptance and love from a best friend are essential for your mental and emotional well-being.

It’s this non-judgmental support that provides a safe haven for you to be authentically yourself, playing a crucial role in fostering a healthy sense of security and self-worth. [Read: How to be a good friend: 49 traits & friend codes that define a real pal]

7. Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

Your best friend can act as a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery. Their unique ability to reflect aspects of yourself back to you encourages exploration of new interests, challenges existing beliefs, and broadens your perspectives, significantly contributing to your personal development journey.

8. Shared Joy and Happiness

You know that incredible feeling when you get some amazing news and immediately share it with your best friend? It’s like your happiness level just skyrockets. Suddenly, you’re both jumping around in excitement, and your joy feels ten times bigger.

Psychology backs this up too, showing that our happiest moments become even brighter when we share them with a best friend. It’s like they have this superpower to multiply the good vibes just by being there. [Read: 70 true secrets to happiness to have a happy life & enjoy everything you do]

9. Reliability and Security

The unmatched reliability of a best friend brings a sense of security and stability to your life. Whether it’s practical support like airport pickups or emotional support during tough times, you can always count on them, reinforcing the importance of their presence in your life.

10. Improved Mental Sharpness and Creativity

Regular interaction and deep conversations with a best friend can sharpen your mental faculties and boost creativity.

By challenging your thought processes and providing different perspectives, these interactions don’t just enrich your conversations; they enhance your cognitive abilities and creative thinking.

Can You Have More Than One Best Friend?

Okay, the ultimate question here: Can you have more than one best friend?

When it comes to best friendships, people often have different views. Some see their best friend as a one-and-only kind of deal, where this person is their main confidante and closest ally. On the flip side, others feel their hearts and lives are big enough to include multiple best friends.

This isn’t about ranking friends but acknowledging that you can have strong, equally meaningful relationships with more than one person. [Read: 85 fun questions to ask a new friend & get to know them like a BFF ASAP]

Life is multifaceted, and so are we. One best friend might be your rock when it comes to career advice or intellectual conversations, while another could be your soulmate in hobbies and fun activities.

Each best friend can resonate with different parts of your personality, making your life richer and more colorful. It’s like having a team of specialists where each one brings something unique to your life.

Having more than one best friend means juggling different relationships, each with its own rhythm and requirements. It’s about giving each friendship the time and attention it deserves.

This might mean balancing your schedule to spend quality time with each friend or being open about your commitments to avoid misunderstandings. The key is communication and ensuring that each friend feels valued and appreciated.

In a nutshell, whether or not you can have more than one best friend is a personal choice. It’s about what feels right for you and how you define a best friend. What matters most is the depth of connection and mutual support that defines each friendship.

Best Friends are the Family We Choose

How great is it to know you have a ride-or-die person in your life? Someone who’s not just there for the fun times but stands steadfastly by your side through every twist and turn.

They’re the ones who know you inside out, share your laughter and tears, and understand you in ways that sometimes you don’t even understand yourself.

[Read: How to get your best friend back: Why we drift & 20 ways to feel close]

So what is a best friend, you ask? They’re everything listed above and so much more. Whether it’s providing a shoulder to lean on during tough times, celebrating your successes like they’re their own, or just being present in the mundane moments of life, their significance is immeasurable. Best friends are the family we choose, the confidants we trust, and the companions who make the journey of life that much more enjoyable.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer, and the creator and author of her short stories on TheLonelySerb. She completed her first degr...
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