Who Are Our Best Friends?

I have this theory about couples. I think they come in two varieties: Carbon copies or perfect complements.

Some romantic duos are pretty similar. They can seem like male and female (or male and male, female and female… you get it) versions of the same person. There are differences, obviously, but more or less they are pretty similar. Values, demeanor, all that.

Then there are couples who, individually, seem so different. She’s the responsible rock to his kooky joker. He’s the quiet homebody to her social butterfly. But they fit together like puzzle pieces, making one complete picture.

I’m told Matt and I are the former  variety. It’s true. Sure, we have distinct personalities, but in the end we’re pretty similar. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been together, more or less, since we were 19 (which is, um, completely insane when I think about it), and thus have grown up side-by-side. But I’d argue it’s always been the case. We’re just two peas in a pod…. or something less cheesy and Sesame Street sounding.

I’m wondering if BFFs follow the same pattern. In all the writing and researching I’ve done about best friends, I still haven’t figured out what it is that connects people in that we’re-in-it-for-the-long-haul sense. Sure, there are specific factors that contribute to two people clickingproximity, vulnerability, similarity, resonance, and safe place—but these are simply accelerators. They’re circumstances that help foster friendship. But what is it that makes two people perfect for each other? Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together?

Social researchers believe in the birds of a feather theory. Similar backgrounds, careers, hobbies or interests bring people together. We favor the in-group. But I’m talking on a more personality-based level. Let’s say a group of us love The Biggest Loser and The Office,  singing showtunes, and Jeff Probst. Hypothetically. If those similarities are already established, which of us will still be friends in a few years? The two party animals? Or will the studious responsible one befriend the spontaneous adventure-seeker? That’s how it always happens in the movies right? (See: Something Borrowed, Now and Then, Beaches.)
I wish there were an easy answer. It would make this whole search much easier. In my experience of meeting new people, plenty of those I was sure would be BFFs ended up falling off the radar. While some who seemed nice-enough-but-nothing-special upon first meeting have become close pals. I know part of it is due to consistency and proximity, but what is there between us that makes us like each other? It’s the question of the ages, I guess.

Think about your BFFs. In which category do they fall: Carbon copy or perfect complement?


Filed under The Search

6 responses to “Who Are Our Best Friends?

  1. Ana

    My husband and I are also two peas in a pod, and I feel like most of my friends are, too. I really think that—even in couples or friendships where people seem very dis-similar on the surface—there are usually some core similarities in deeper (and more important) values & beliefs for a relationship to truly work out long term. Maybe the cautious studious one & the spontaneous party-animal both feel insecure (but he manifest it in opposite ways), and care about their families & want to save the animals. If there is no common ground where you can truly feel that the other understands you, a close friendship will be hard to sustain.

  2. Melinda

    I always kid with my BFF that we have to stay friends because she knows too much but the truth is, she’s my rock. She would probably tell you the same thing about me. We can both get a bit insane once in awhile and we count on each other to keep us grounded. Thankfully, we aren’t crazy at the same time. On the surface, we don’t seem anything alike but dig a bit deeper and you’ll find that we are about as close to twins as 2 unrelated people can get.

  3. Lorrie Paige

    My boyfriend is my current BFF and we definitely are a perfect compliment (like we would SO win on a “Couples Jeopardy”. What one doesn’t know, the other knows). I think that’s the way it should be, and with platonic friends, I’d love carbon copies becuase I’ve yet to meet someone even kind of similar to me, so they would be an interesting find! Haha!

    You and I Rachel have both discussed on our blogs how romantic relationships are similar to platonic relationships in so many ways, but in this case, for me personally, my BFF lover would need to be my perfect compliment and my BFF friend would need to be a carbon copy, I believe to truly become “best friends forever” for both relations.

    Interesting topic. 🙂

  4. Lorrie Paige

    Oops! Sorry, I just realized I used the wrong word in “compliment”. In this case, it’s “complement”, as Rachel spelled it. You’re good Rachel! 🙂

  5. Tonya

    This is interesting. I think the similarities bring us together. Then once we realize that there IS a basis for the friendship and learn more about each other, the core similarities (such as morals, family, religion, etc.) keeps us bound…like Ana said. I have a friend that people in grad school kept asking why we’re friends. She’s a bit wild and thinks nothing of getting in your face. I’m pretty conservative, but I can get loud at times. We’re friends because we’re both brutally honest and loyal. Two qualities that I wished all of my friends had. So even seemingly different is similar to us. Oh…one other thing. I like to think that my friends bring out those traits that I lack or have hidden somewhere. I have a friend who is awesome at networking. I can talk to anybody, but I’m bad at trying to get contact info. When I’m around her at a networking event, I feel my inner networking genie working the room. lol

  6. Nico

    I think that one of the things most of my friends have in common is that they are extroverts, whereas I am an introvert. I tend to do a lot of listening and much less talking – so I guess in that respect my friends and I tend to complement each other. DH and I are both introverts – definitely peas in a pod, I don’t think anyone else could take us and our foibles. We never argue, and have found over the years that it’s pretty easy for us to make decisions about things (including everything involved in building our new house) – so for us the similarities definitely work.

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