No matter what you call her, she’s the one person you know will always be there for you. No matter what. When something bad happens to you, she’s there with a box of tissues, chocolate, and wine. When you have something to celebrate, she’s there with balloons, chocolate, and wine. She’s your “person.”
Best friend status can take years to develop, and by that time, we say things like “We know everything about each other,” or “We have no secrets in our friendship,” or my favorite, “We’re always totally honest with each other.”
A recent survey among women ages 30-50 showed that women sometimes aren’t totally truthful with their BFFs. It seems there are certain things we can’t admit, even to her (or sometimes, specifically to her). Maybe we know it would upset her, hurt her feelings, or damage her marriage. Or maybe it’s about us and it’s too embarrassing to admit, even to a bestie. So we omit, qualify, hedge, deny, and yes, sometimes 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 crowdsourced a group of women about secrets they kept from their best friends. I asked each of them what they would tell her BFF if she was seated across from her and being “totally honest.” Their responses were varied and fascinating.
1. “I weigh more than I say I do. By a lot. You know I’m overweight, but I’m embarrassed to tell you exactly how much. Then you’ll know how fat I really am.” (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 to know the number. Like she cares.)
2. “I exaggerate my husband’s income. Your Hubby earns almost twice what mine does. I don’t want you to think I married a loser.” (Personally, I like rich friends. They come in handy when your credit card gets denied after you’ve offered to buy the next round.)
3. “I think your husband is total tool. And so does everyone else in our group. He hits on every woman that can’t outrun him, including me.” (The Mac Daddy of things I would never tell a girlfriend. No woman ever wants to hear that her husband is a cheating douche and that she’s the only one in the book club that didn’t know it.)
4. “Yes, those jeans do make you look fat. Low-rise skinnies should never be part of a post-menopausal woman’s closet. But hey, if you love them, I’m not saying a word.” (But please wear longer shirts, so I don’t have a rear-view visual of your butt crack every time you sit down. Love you, girl, but a 55-year-old butt crack is just, well…wrong.)
5. “You intimidate the hell out of me. With your trendy clothes, gorgeous hair, and flawless skin. I feel like ‘Sara, Plain & Tall’ next to you. I’d really love to see you in yoga pants and no makeup, just once. But you’d probably rock that look too. You’re killing me here.” (I’ve got one of those. She wakes up and looks fabulous. All mussed-up long hair and sleepy eyes. I look like I’ve been snoring on a plane for five hours. Bed hair, yesterday’s makeup, and drool on the side of my face. Only one of us ever gets an offer at home for morning sex.)
6. “Your grown kids still use you like a human ATM. I mean, can’t they pay for anything themselves? Those kids have been ‘trying’ for years and don’t seem to have made any progress. You not helping them. You’re 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 can implode your friendship faster than a Hollywood marriage can hit the skids. )
7. “Hubs and I haven’t had sex in six months. But based on your tales of nightly Kama Sutra workouts, I’m quite sure you’ve never had a dry spell in your 20 years of marriage. Or probably ever.” (I’ve always wondered about couples who say they do the deed almost every night. And they’re both in their 50s. I mean, c’mon people. Stop making the rest of us feel like sexual plankton and admit that you’re making that up.)
8. “No, I don’t think your grandchildren are the cutest, smartest, and best-behaved toddlers ever born. She’s two and still looks like Yoda. And the boy has got a real future in the fast food industry.” (Ouch. Picking on somebody’s child is dangerous territory. But insult a woman’s grandchildren, and she will take you down.)
9. “No, I don’t agree that you should wear your daughter’s clothes because you wear the same size. I understand that you’re both a size 6. But feel free to go ahead and tell me another 400 times. Gee, THAT doesn’t make me feel fat in my size 14 granny panties. And crop tops with a short denim skirt at your age? Really??” (This one I might blurt out, after enough wine. Women too often think that just because they can, they should. But trying to look 20-something sexy at 60 makes you look less “hot” and more “hot mess.”)
11. “I’m not always thrilled for you when you lose 10 pounds, get a promotion and a big, fat raise, or buy a fabulous new house, while I’m still chubby, still in the same job, and still living in a double-wide next to my parents.” (We want to be happy for you. Really, we do. Sometimes you just make it so hard.)
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.
But be honest. Do these jeans make me look fat?