First of all, let me start by saying: it’s better to have no best friends than low-quality best friends. I know, human beings are social animals. I’m not suggesting that you lock yourself in your room and spend the whole day watching Netflix and not talking to anyone. If you don’t have a group of friends (and even if you do), you should go out there, socialize, and meet new people. However, you have to be comfortable with being on your own and not needing a best friend for emotional support or motivation. By not being desperate, focusing on gaining skills, and living your life to the fullest, you actually increase your chances of finding a best friend.
You should not settle for a low-quality best friend simply because you really want one. Settling for a low-quality best friend will most likely make your life miserable, might get you in a lot of trouble, and will end up causing a lot of unnecessary stress. If you don’t have a best friend, it’s perfectly fine. I got my first high quality best friend when I was in 11th Grade in High School. The truth is, finding high-quality best friends is extremely difficult and maintaining these relationships is even more difficult. Most likely you will end up having maximum 10 (more realistically 5) best friends, if you are lucky.
Also, I know that this sounds harsh but a lot of people don’t deserve to have high-quality best friends. Friendship is a realationship that goes both ways. If you are not a high-quality best friend material, than you don’t deserve to have a high-quality best friend. Your bff should benefit from the relationship as much as you are. Otherwise, it’s simply not fair. You should possess the same “best friend” qualities as your bff. If you currently don’t, you should work on developing them first.
Core Requirements of a High Quality Best Friend
No matter your preferences, your high-quality best friend must posses this qualities (and you should possess this qualities as well if you are interested in finding one).
Safety: You should feel safe around this person. Ask yourself: “Am I comfortable having a sleepover with this person without having anybody else around?”. If the answer is “No”, this relationship is simply dangerous and you should not consider this person even as a friend, let alone a BFF. Delete this person’s contact information right now and don’t even think of talking to him/her ever again in your life.
Trust: You should be able to trust this person with sensitive information and know that this person will not rat you out to your parents/your teachers/ your boss (if you are older)/the police, etc… Ask yourself: “if I were to do drugs in front of this person, what would this person do?” If the answer is “this person will rat me out to the police”, this person is NOT a high quality best friend and you should stop sharing sensitive information with this person. The answers: “this person will slap me in the face and tell me to stop,” “this person will drag me to rehab if it becomes an issue”, “this person will do absolutely nothing”, or “this person will do drugs together with me” are all good answers and depend on your preferences (Personally, I prefer #1 or #2).
Now, I’m not saying to do drugs in front of your friends. In fact, I think that you should avoid doing drugs. All I’m saying is: make sure your best friend can keep secrets. Nobody in this world is a saint and everybody needs to sometimes complain about his parents or his boss (if older). You do NOT want this information to get out to the wrong people and if you can’t be yourself in front of him/her and constantly worry about what information you are sharing with your bff, than you are not going to be happy with this relationship.
You should also trust that your friend will not steal from you, spread rumors about you, etc…
Ethics and Morals: you should have clear boundaries of things that you are not willing to do and moral/ethical lines that you are not willing to cross REGARDLESS of wether or not they are legal or illegal actions. This is the only way you will be able to sleep at night. You should also hold your BFF to the same ethical and moral standards. If your BFF breaks one of your ethical/moral lines, you should stop being BFF’s with this person. If you meet somebody who had broken your ethical/moral lines, you can’t be BFF’s with this person. This relationship will simply not work. You will feel unsafe and disgusted by that person (and, by definition, disgusted by your own decision to be best friends with this person).
Now, different people have different ethical/moral guidelines and when you are young, they are also not going to be 100% clear. Therefore, you should probably have this discussion with your potential BFF sooner rather than later and make sure that you have similar ethical/moral guidelines. (I know, it will be an extremely boring and awkward conversation but it will save you a lot of trouble later.)
Common Interests: Your BFF doesn’t have to be your clone and like exactly the same stuff you like. However, in order to have a worthwhile relationship, you must have some common things that you both can do together or enjoy. I would say: you should have at least 3 activities that you can agree on. It can be something as simple as you both liking Chinese food or going to the library to study together or play tennis on the weekend. Again, if your BFF likes doing something and you don’t, that’s fine. However, if you can’t come up with a single activity that you can do together, that is an issue and you will end up being miserable because you will constantly have to compromise on what to do. What I learned is that this compromises suck and should be avoided as much as possible. Therefore, do your future self a favor and get a BFF that shares at least some interests with you.
Supportive: Your BFF shouldn’t necessarily have the same life goals that you have but he/she should be supportive of your long term goals. For example, it’s ok if your goal is to become super rich and your best friend wants to join a Non-Profit and save the world. However, if your best friend thinks that all rich people are evil that’s not fine because he/she will end up dragging you down and make it harder for you to achieve your goals.
Now, if you are constantly stressed out about getting into an Ivy League college and pulling consecutive all-nighters and your BFF says: “Are you sure that getting into an Ivy League in order to get a high paying job is worth it?” that is a different situation. Your BFF is simply concerned about your well-being and is trying to offer emotional support. Wether or not his concern is valid is a different question for another time.
Caring, Respectful, and Helpful: Your best friend must genuinely care and worry about you. Your BFF also should respect you. Your BFF should almost be like an extra family member for you (and you for him). If you get sick, your BFF should ask if you are alright.
If something bad happens, your friend should be willing to help you during tough times. This help could be emotional (your friend listens to your problems and comforts you) or practical (he offers to help you solve the problem or practical advice on how to solve it). Which type of help you want more of is a preference. I prefer a friend who offers about 60% emotional and 40% practical help. But I know a lot of people who are the other way around. However, the point is: your BFF should be doing something to help (Yes. Listening to you complain/cry IS considered help).
Your BFF should also help you with small stuff / requests. No. Your BFF is not your secretary. But if it’s something that your BFF can do and is important to you, your BFF should gladly help you out. Best friends are meant to help each other. That’s one of the reason that you should want to have a BFF in the first place.
Time Commitment: You should spend a significant amount of time talking with your BFF. How much is significant depends on your preference. However, I would say, you should communicate with your BFF at least once every month if you are in College and it’s a long distance thing and at least once a week if you are in High School (and this is assuming you and your BFF are super anti social.)
Yes. If your BFF now lives in a different place from you, chatting on Facebook or Skyping counts.
Natural Chemistry: you should have natural chemistry with your BFF. What I mean by this is that your relationship isn’t forced. You can both talk or chat for hours without getting bored or having awkward pauses. You can joke around with each other without offending each other. After a while, you know what the other person will say before he/she even says it. This requirement is one of the hardest to find but is incredibly important for a genuine relationship.
Past History: If you already knew this person for a while, this person made fun of you/bullied you/blackmailed you, etc… in the past, and now this person offers to be your BFF, don’t go for it. Yes. You can forgive. But you should never forget. There is no way this relationship will not end as a disaster.
Loyal In Front of Others: Your BFF should not embarrass you in front of other people and stand up for you if needed. She should also not abandon you simply because you are not fitting in with a certain crowd or because you had a bad hair day or because of some other ridiculous reason. If your social standing had fallen, your BFF should continue to be there for you and she should not abandon you simply because she wants to improve her own social standing and you are “getting in the way”.
All of this core requirements are MANDATORY. Your BFF must possess all of them, regardless of your preferences. Otherwise, your relationship will suck and you might get hurt. If your current BFF does not possess all of this qualities, I would recommend for you to reconsider your relationship. You should also possess this same qualities. If you are not loyal, not trustworthy, not caring, and don’t want to make time for a BFF, than you don’t deserve to have one.
Optional Reaquirements of a High Quality Best Friend (Preferences)
Now, you are probably thinking: “Katy. These Core Requirements are easy to meet. I should have a ton of BFF’s”
Well… you should not forget about preferences. Preferences is something that is important for you that your BFF has but not important for somebody else. For example, you might only want to have BFFs of the same gender as you while I might not care about my BFF’s gender. Keep in mind that preferences are subjective and this list is not an all incompassing list of preferences. I’m sure you will have items that you would want to add to this list. Therefore, instead of following this list, you should probably make your own. Items on this list are simply suggestions.
Also, keep in mind that your BFF must possess the optional/preference requirements (that you pick) as well as the core requirements.
Note: This list is NOT a list of my personal preferences. (Some of them are. Some of them aren’t). This are simply examples.
Gender: If you believe the “girls and boys can’t be friends” theory, than you should probably consider gender as one of your preferences. Worrying about your BFF falling in love with you is not a great idea. (I personally disagree with this theory but this is a conversation for another time).
Location/Online Relationships: some people are cool with having long-distance best friends (and can maintain those relationships). Some can’t.
Also, some can develop friendships first on line and than in real life and some must know the person in real life first.
Drive/ Life Goals: Some people only want to have friends who are driven and motivated to become successful as well as have the same goals as you. They would often form “packs” and make common goals to achieve. This can be very motivational and help keep you accountable. A lot of people need to be surrounded by people who are striving to be the best in order to be influenced by the positive peer pressure of those people. Some people also hate having friends who complain all the time because they think that those people are dragging them down.
Bad Influence: likewise, some people easily fall susceptible to negative peer pressure and want to minimize bad influence. If you are one of those people, than don’t get a BFF who likes to party all the time and do drugs.
Illegal Stuff: if you find out that your BFF has a criminal record, you should seriously consider wether this relationship is a good idea. The issue is that other people (your other friends and family) will (justifiably) try to protect you against this person and they might end up going too far. You might continue having a relationship with this person but have to keep it secret (assuming that this person had not crossed your moral/ethical lines) and you can’t be true BFF’s with somebody if it’s a secret (you are not meeting the “loyalty in front of others” requirement).
Advisor: For some people, it’s important to have a BFF who can offer a lot of guidance and advice and almost be like an older brother or a mentor. Likewise, some people want to be in the “offering more advice” to their BFF role. In this case, make sure that your roles complement each other and probably consider getting yourself an older/younger BFF. (Older BFF if you want advice. Younger BFF if you want to give advice).
Hobby/Interests: you might want a BFF with a specific hobby/interest. If this hobby/interest is central to your life, include it.
Personality: This preference will come naturally as part of the “natural chemistry” point so you shouldn’t really spend time thinking about it. Basically, different people have different personalities and get along with different personalities.
Intelligence: This point will be extremely controversial and non PC but for some people the intelligence of their BFFs is important. A more intelligent BFF means having more interesting conversations and also increases the likelihood of your BFF following through with the core requirements. (Yes. I had one BFF who ended up betraying me simply because she was mentally disabled and got taken advantage of. She didn’t even realize that she betrayed me.)
So, yes, (as controversial as it is), mental state/mental disability of your BFF can be consideration/preference. If your BFF’s mental illness/mental disability prevents her from having “core requirements” of a BFF, things will not work out and you will get hurt. And, no, it’s NOT your responsibility to “shelter”/be careful with this person. If you can’t be yourself in front of a person because you think that this person will betray you because of her mental disability, this person should NOT be your BFF.
Future (or Current) Field of Work: Some people don’t want to have BFFs who work in the same field in order to not compete with them or not to compete with them in the future. On the other hand, some people only want to have BFF’s in the same field as them so that they can get to “work together”, share ideas about work, or discuss common issues/offer advice to each other on how to “make it” in a chosen career.
Background: controversial stuff like religion, ethnicity, family lineage, etc… is a preference for some people. If this is you, I recommend keeping this one private and finding creative ways not to be friends with people who don’t satisfy this criteria. With this said (even though I disagree with you), you should have it as a preference if it’s extremely important for you.
Honesty: you are probably wondering why this is a preference. The reason is: some people don’t like being offended and would prefer for their BFFs to sugar coat everything and lie to them to make them feel better. Others would rather have BFFs who are brutally honest. Some people are in the middle.
Money: If you, yourself, are rich or come from a wealthy family, being friends only with people who are wealthy will eliminate the issue of having fake friends who are there simply because you are wealthy. (There are other ways to filter real from fake friends but you might do this for convenience.)
However, this only applies to you if you are wealthy. If not, you shouldn’t try getting rich BFFs. This would be simply hypocritical of you. Especially, you shouldn’t get rich BFF’s who don’t possess “core requirements”. If you want to, have them as friends or “use” them (although this is unethical) but don’t get emotionally attached or share your dirty little secrets. Sure. Go on that trips to Maldives. But don’t start discussing your deepest secrets with this person.
Note: you might end up having a rich BFF who possesses all of the other requirements. If this happens and it’s a genuine relationship, great. If not, it shouldn’t matter. You should focus on making yourself rich (if you want the lifestyle), rather than making money one of your BFF preferences.
Again, this is not a complete list and there are loads of stuff that you can add. The optional parts are really up to you and I (or anyone else) can’t say what should be on it because I don’t know you as well as you know yourself. However, I would say having 4-5 preferences is normal, having 6-7 is OK, and having more than 8 either means you are repeating yourself (can combine stuff into a similar category) or you are writing down superficial nonesense.
Keep in mind that all of the preferences have to be things that are very significant to you in a best friend. It shouldn’t be stuff like “I want a BFF who looks less attractive than me so that I could look hotter than her” or “I want a BFF who likes to take selfies/looks good in them”. If you choose your best friends based on incredibly superficial criterias like this one, you will (most likely) end up with low-quality best friends.
Most people who are genuinely caring would not want to participate in superficial nonsense such as High School popularity contests or being friends with people simply to form a “squad”. More importantly, you shouldn’t care about this type of superficial nonsense. Your BFF should be there for you to provide support, companionship, and help you during tough times NOT to play a game of politics, look good in pictures, and be your accessory. If you want to play this game, play it with “friends” but don’t get too attached and don’t confuse them with “best friends”. They are not. Trust me, you WILL get hurt if you make this mistake.
Similarly to the “rich” topic, your best friend might be popular and if it’s a genuine relationship, that’s great. But it should not be a preference. If she is popular, great. If not, you shouldn’t care.
Finally, if you are currently in High School/Middle School and all of the people are superficial/you know would not be high-quality best friends, don’t get desperate and settle. Focus on yourself, your skills, and living a life that you enjoy and, eventually, you will naturally find a group of best friends. (Although it will be a small group and that will be fine.) Things will get better.
Choose your friends wisely,