Best friend. Bestie. BFF.
No matter what you call her, she’s the one person you know will always be there for you. No matter what. When your heart is broken, she’s there with a box of tissues, chocolate, wine, and a taser in case the guy ever shows his jerk face and needs to be taken down. When you have something to celebrate, she’s there with balloons, chocolate, wine, and…well…more wine. She’s your “person.”
Best friend status can develop slowly over the years or in a instant, but it’s hallmark is “We know everything about each other,” or “We have no secrets,” or my favorite, “We’re always totally honest with each other.”
A recent survey among women ages 35-60 concluded that women aren’t always completely truthful with their BFFs. It seems there are certain things we can’t confess, even to her (or sometimes specifically to her). Maybe we know the truth would upset her, hurt her feelings, or even damage her marriage. Or maybe it’s a secret about us and we’re too embarrassed to admit it, even to our bestie. So we omit, qualify, spin, and every now and then, outright lie in our efforts to preserve the friendship and the way we see each other.
Curious as to the validity of these findings, I conducted my own informal research and asked a group of women about secrets they might be keeping from their best friends. I loved the responses.
“I weigh more than I tell her I do. She knows I’m overweight, but I’m embarrassed to tell her exactly how much. It’s weird, because I can tell her how many men I’ve slept with, but not that.” This one actually made sense to me. But then, I refuse to get weighed at my doctor’s office because I don’t want her office staff to know. Like they care.
“I exaggerate my husband’s income. Her hubby earns almost twice what mine does. I don’t want her to think I married a loser.” Personally, I like rich friends. They come in handy when your credit card gets declined after you’ve offered to buy the next round.
“I think her husband is a total tool. And so does everybody else in our group. He hits on every woman who can’t outrun him. Including me, her best friend. What’s wrong with this guy??” The Mac Daddy of things I’d never tell a girlfriend, no matter how close we were. No woman ever wants to hear that her husband is a cheating jerk and that she’s the only one in her book club that doesn’t know it.
“Yes, those jeans give her serious muffin top. Low-rise skinnys should never be a part of the post-menopausal woman’s closet. Buy hey, if she loves them, I love them, right?” This one could go either way. Almost every woman, at some point in her life, loves a style or trend that’s less than flattering. So yes, if she loves it, we love it. But the low-rise, muffin top, butt crack trifecta of “Give those jeans away. Now“? I might blurt it out in a wine-induced moment of honesty. The world does not need to see another up-close-and-extremely-personal view of a 55-year-old butt crack in a hot pink thong every time you sit down. Some things can’t be unseen.
“She intimidates the hell out of me. With her trendy clothes, gorgeous hair, and perfect skin, every single day. I feel like ‘Sara, Plain and Tall’ next to her. I’d really love to see her out in yoga pants and no makeup. Just once. But she’d probably rock that look too. It’s just not fair.” I’ve got one of those. She’s gorgeous even in the morning. Slips on her skinny jeans, grabs a t-shirt, and she’s fabulous. I wake up looking like I’ve been snoring on a plane for five hours. Bed hair, yesterday’s makeup, and drool on the side of my face. She says she loves morning sex. Do people actually have morning sex?
“Her adult children still use her like a human ATM. Seriously, they can’t pay for anything themselves. Those kids have been ‘trying’ for years to grow up and don’t seem to have made any progress. She’s not helping them. She’s enabling them.” Be very careful with this one. It’s a landmine. Any hint to a mother that her grown progeny is not living like an adult, and that it’s her fault, can implode your friendship faster than a Hollywood marriage can hit the rocks.
“Hubby and I haven’t had sex in six months, but I’d never tell her that. Based on her tales of nightly, sweaty Kama Sutra sessions, I’m quite sure she’s never had a dry spell in her 20 years of marriage. Or probably ever.” I’ve always wondered about couples who feel the need to tell the rest of us that they do the deed almost every night. And they’re both skidding into their 50s. C’mon people. Stop making the rest of us feel like sexual plankton, and admit you’re making that up.
“No, I don’t think her grandchildren are the cutest, smartest, and best-behaved toddlers ever born. The little one is two and still looks like Yoda. And the older boy has got a real future in the fast food industry, if you know what I mean.” Ouch. Insult a mother’s child, and she’s going to be seriously pissed. (Forgiveness may require a really good bottle of wine.) But insult a woman’s grandchildren? Run. Because she will take you down.
“No, I don’t agree that she should wear her daughter’s clothes because they wear the same size. I’m aware that they’re both a size 6. She brings it up during every shopping trip. (Yeah, THAT doesn’t make me feel fat in my size 12 granny panties.) But cropped tops with a short denim skirt at 58? Really??” Although I agree with the current trend that after 50, women should be able to wear whatever the hell makes them happy, there are certain outfits that make specific statements. A cropped t-shirt that says “Don’t Touch My Rack” with a blinged-out denim miniskirt on any woman over 40 (okay, over 30) screams “In case you were wondering, yes, I’m a tramp.”
“I haven’t always been thrilled for her when she lost 30 pounds, got that promotion and the big, fat raise, or bought that gorgeous new home with her Ken-Doll husband. I’m still chubby, still in the same mid-level job, and still living in a double-wide next to my parents.” Actually, I heard this one more than once. We want to be happy for you. Really, we do. But sometimes we’re just a teensy bit jealous. We’ll never tell you that, though, because even when we hate you, we love you.
And so it would seem that we are all simply human, and that the best friendships are about honesty, tempered with generous doses of kindness. And knowing when to shut up and pour the wine.