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Truth: “Best Friend” is not an Exclusive Relationship

“You are my best friend, Mommy.”

I looked down on 3-year-old’s big brown doe eyes gazing up at me as he pet my arm. He was not smiling.

“I thought you said Daddy was your best friend?”

“No, you are,” he said.

He was very serious.

“You know, bud, you can have more than one best friend. Can Daddy be your best friend, too?”

A moment of contemplation, followed by a smile and “OK!”

Ah, best friends. The idea of best friends or even friends in general is enchanting to a 3-year-old. His relationships are simple. There is no drama. If you can share a toy with him or want to sit next to him in story time, you are his friend. Heck, you don’t even have to do those things. You just have to be approximately the same height.

When I was a kid, though, I thought of best friends as an exclusive relationship. No, Elise can’t be my best friend because my best friend is Jennifer. And if I dared proclaim Elise instead of Jennifer … scandal.

But as an adult and military spouse I’ve learned that friendship is often based on location. Sure, there are people whose friendship extends beyond the bounds of geography and even social media. But for most folks, face-to-face interaction is required to progress a relationship. Maybe you can meet back up with them and pick up right where you left off – but nothing has changed in your closeness since you last saw them because nothing could.

I like to think of myself as having a list of best friends based on geography – so many folks who I love dearly but left behind (or was left behind by) because of a move that I could practically hold a best friend convention. I have my best friend in D.C., my best friend in Washington, my best friend at Benning, my best friend in Idaho, my best friend in California, my best friend at Fort Campbell and on … and on …

Each of these relationships is special to me. Each has its place in my life. And each can be declared a “best friend” in her own right.

I want my military kid to grow-up with this truth ingrained in the fabric of who he is. I want him to know that he will have many, many “best friends” over the course of his life. I want him to know that some relationships, like marriage, are meant to be exclusive. But best friends?

The more the merrier.

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