The Friendship Doctor

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Her 'other' best friend

it's possible to have multiple best friends, both simultaneously and serially
QUESTION

Hi,

My friend just moved here during the summer, and ever since then we've been really good friends. I feel like I can tell her anything and talk about anything. I think we hit Best Friend Status, but I really don't know because she's always talking about her best friend where she used to live and tells me all these stories about her. Not to be mean but---I really don't care.

What am I supposed to say? I feel like if I tell her how I feel she'll turn to her other best friend, because maybe she'll think, "Oh, I don't need her, I have my best friend from back home." Aside from that problem, I love our friendship right now and I don't want to do or say anything that will break it apart. So please, advise?

Signed,
Lara

 

ANSWER

Hi Lara,

It may be hard-and even a little boring- to hear your friend talk about her other best friend and all they did together. But listening is part of being a good friend. Think about it: If your friend were to move, how would you feel if she stopped talking to you, thinking about you, and being your friend? The fact that she's still in touch with her friend from her old town shows that she's a good friend. My guess is if she is a good friend to her, she will be a good friend to you.

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Contrary to what some people think, it's possible to have multiple best friends---both simultaneously and serially. If we're lucky, we collect a number of best friends through different life experiences or at different stags of our life. We remain in touch with some of them and lose contact with others. Some people consider their friends "best friends" even if they don't see them very often.

Your friend may be having a harder time adjusting to her new living situation than she is letting on. Let her talk about her past while you do things together. I am certain as she feels more settled and confident in her new surroundings she will talk less about her other best friend because she will be building new friendships and memories. You should also use this getting-to-know you phase of your friendship to share stories about your own past with your friend. Since you get along so well, it's likely that she wants to be a friend in the same way that you do.

Not to sound too corny but do you know that song from Girl Scouts...Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold?

Best,
Irene

 

Have a friendship problem or dilemma? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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