I have a theory about best friends. Namely, that they are a practice run to find a life partner. Growing up, I witnessed my share of intense friendships that coexist with rivalry–what might be called these days, frenemies. These girls were tight, yet simultaneously very competitive. With each other. Once the rivalry exceeded the friendship, they would move on to another intense female friendship, and this would continue, until they found a significant other. In most cases, male. These girls, who replaced the competitive spirit with sexual tension, it appears to me, lead a very happy married life.

Oh, so me. My best friend. I’ve had multiple. (But I was never competitive with them.) I organize the bestie with eras: the high school best friend; the college best friend, etc. The other day, I was chatting with the college bestie and was painfully aware of how much we had drifted. We shared a colorful history, yet now that she was busy raising two sons in Europe, our daily conversations struggled to have much in common. Her current bestie was her husband, really, and maybe her business partner second. Sure I felt slightly dejected, but whaddayado, that’s life.

I started thinking about how friendships are the basis of a subsequent sexual relationship with a significant other. How you may drift from a girlfriend once you discover a male replacement (assuming you’re straight.) So what happens to us who don’t find a significant other, I wondered. Surely there’s a thing as a life-long BFF who survives boyfriends, lovers, husbands?? I thought of my older friend/mentor Anna. She had her string of acid-dropping jazz musician lovers in the 60s and at least one ex-husband. But she’s been consistently single for the past two decades, at least. She has a bestie. Oh yeah, and her bestie’s been diagnosed with dementia. And so, they too, have drifted…



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