My best friend! Who is this person (the two-legged variety) and what criteria characterize a best friend for you?
One individual defined "best friend" as one who loves her unconditionally.
What does unconditionally mean? You can do no wrong, your mistakes are granted absolution and your poop doesn't stink? Is your best friend older, younger, same or opposite sex, same or different race, color, religion or ethnic group?
Do you even have a best friend?
Some folks point to longevity as a major criteria to identify a best friend. ''We've know each other since grade school.'' Or, ''We don't see each other often enough since we live far from each other, however, we communicate regularly.'' I love this one: ''She's like the sister I never had.'' For some folks, a sister or brother is, in fact, a best friend. ''We've been through a lot together growing up and all.''
Now, there truly are people who have no best friend. Given careful consideration, some folks have lots of ''friends and acquaintances.''
They may be characterized with a lesser integrity than describing the depth of what characterizes a best friend. Is having a best friend valuable, beneficial for our health and well-being? Again, the answer is subjective. My sense of what may define a best friend speaks to the fullness of trust and love one might experience that overshadows any other relationship. Once again, who might that person be?
What happens if a best friend is not one's spouse/partner? I've heard countless stories particularly from women whose best friend doesn't live with her. Wow!
Imagine the dynamics.
Can anyone have more than one best friend to include one's spouse/partner? Something to ponder. If the former present one's true belief, the inner strength of one's main squeeze is critical.
Jealousy can infect a marriage and sour one's love. The test of time hopefully will prevail. Many enter into a marriage/partnership not with their best friend.
Sometimes a best friend relationship is best left as is. Many best friend relationships have been destroyed by ''taking it to the next level.''
Men I've encountered frequently get confused and pit themselves versus the best friend in an unhealthy competition. No one wants to be positioned to choose one over the other. The potential losses can be devastating.
A true healthy best friend will not, I repeat, will not allow for jealousy dynamic to exist. If the spouse/partner gets entrenched in jealousy, a best friend knows how to handle the situation. I've seen many men and women for counseling who can't comprehend, nevermind manage, a healthy best friend in his/her spouse/partner's life.
I stated before and it bears repeating, when a conflict arises, one can benefit from looking within taking on one's own responsibility in the conflict.
Best of health. Be well.
Marshall Greenstein holds a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org.