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running.tally

Does the concept of The Best Friend reinforce Amatonormativity?

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I was thinking about this the other day, because I cannot seem to understand the idea behind having a 'best friend' or 'special' platonic relationship. Perhaps this is more related to ideas about how monogamy is weird to me (why would you dump so much responsibility onto one person?), but I was also thinking about how the concept of the Best Friend, when I was young, seemed almost like preparation for finding a romantic partner.

 

I'm wondering whether society, who reinforces monogamy and puts romance on a pedestal, has used the concept of Best Friend to further highlight those monogamist and amatonormative ideals. Similar to romantic partners, Best Friends are often seen as more important than other friends and even other relationships (like family) sometimes, and as I have gotten older this message seems to be even more intense. When I say I don't have a romantic partner, I get pity and 'sympathy.' When I say I don't have a best friend, I get the exact same reactions. Maybe it's just me, but I'm really curious about these parallels.

 

Any thoughts from the aros?

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I mean, maybe this is just my having grown up with Time Warp Trio, but I have absolutely never thought that "best friend" is a concept that has to be reserved for one person only. I don't see why one couldn't have two, three, even four best friends. I wouldn't necessarily consider them more important than other friends, either.

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21 minutes ago, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

I wouldn't necessarily consider them more important than other friends, either.

What differentiates a friend from a best friend for you if not importance (however that might be defined, since that's a loaded word), out of curiosity?

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I'd say mostly how you connect with them. I consider all of my friends to be equally important, and I'd just as soon come running if any of them needed help as I would if my best friend did, but some of my friends definitely just get me more than others. To me, a best friend is just... someone who really clicks with you and your opinions and attitudes, I think, moreso than other people might.

(Admittedly I only have one person I actually refer to as my best friend, but I think that's because we've called each other that for so long and for a long time neither of us really had any other friends, so I think it's kind of like a "That is exclusively her role and nobody else's" thing for me right now. I do have at least two other people I would consider my best friends if I weren't so reluctant to use the term for anyone other than her, tbh. But that's not a monogamy thing, it's just sort of a personal history thing)

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I've never thought about best friendship this way, but I could see it. If there were a platonic extension to amatonormativity, qpr's and best friendships would probably fit. I basically grew up in that kind of relationship though (awesome single mom, no siblings, you know how it be) and it is something I like. However, I also kind of admire the kind of relationship everyone has on the TV show Friends (minus the romantic tension) where you have a gaggle of people who all share their lives together.

 

Interesting topic, thanks for bringing it up.

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Interesting. I always wanted a 'best friend' but never really had one. What I really wanted was someone who understood me 100% and accepted me unconditionally, so I can just be myself around them. I have a few people who accept me unconditionally now, but nobody here really uses the term 'best friend' for that sort of thing. Apparently my idea of these things is different than other people's. I also have accepted that nobody is ever going to understand me 100% because I don't even understand myself that well.  :rofl:

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I don't believe I ever had a "best friend" in the traditional sense. I haven't had a single person I connected with above all others, and more than once when I thought I did the relationship turned toxic. I have a QPP, and the reason that I choose to 'elevate' my platonic relationship with him is more... in response to the amatonormativity I see around me. It's easier to say "oh yeah I have a partner" and just not specify that we aren't romantically involved than to identify him as my best friend or as a friend. Other ppl have talked about this before in other threads and posts and stuff but the devaluation of friendship as opposed to romance is pretty much the only reason I do this. I want to emphasize to people who aren't intimately familiar with the ins and outs of aro community terminology that he is someone I want to spend my life with. 

 

In terms of monogamy -- I think in some cases that's probably true; pressure to "pick" one (1) best friend reinforces the amatonormative ideas pushed on kids. But I think that's being broken down in a lot of cases, as @Jot-Aro Kujo said in her response(s).

 

(I do want to say that the whole 'best friend as preparation for romance' thing seems terrifyingly accurate / plausible.)

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On 9/28/2018 at 2:24 AM, running.tally said:

I was thinking about this the other day, because I cannot seem to understand the idea behind having a 'best friend' or 'special' platonic relationship. Perhaps this is more related to ideas about how monogamy is weird to me (why would you dump so much responsibility onto one person?), but I was also thinking about how the concept of the Best Friend, when I was young, seemed almost like preparation for finding a romantic partner.

I don't think it's exactly preparation.
Though there does appear to be some kind of normativity going on In the sense of lionising this specific kind of friendship dynamic.
Also the way in which allos can conflate things along the lines of "I married my best friend".

 

On 9/28/2018 at 2:24 AM, running.tally said:

I'm wondering whether society, who reinforces monogamy and puts romance on a pedestal,

IMHO romance is very much about reinforcing monogamy which is also placed of a pedestal. 

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All of your responses have been really helpful!

 

I think where my ideas are coming from is from a lot of allos' conflation of best friends and romantic partners (like how @Mark mentioned). It's really nice to hear from people who have best friends (one OR multiple!) and hear how they conceptualize the term. Once again, it seems like I have been well-manipulated by allo norms. I think allo folks might see 'best friends' as a stepping stone to a romantic relationship rather than a relationship in and of itself (like a tool), but y'all are completely right in that some of this narrative is being broken down nowadays, which is great!

 

Perhaps it's less that the concept of Best Friend reinforces amatonormativity and more that it can sometimes play a role in it indirectly. The concept itself seems neutral but when paired with "oh, they're your best friend? Why don't you marry them?" kind of things, it inevitably becomes a part of the whole shebang.

 

Also, I apologize if bringing this up seemed like I was delegitimizing best friends and QPPs and casting them as inherently romantic concepts. I just realized that the question carries that assumption but I do not view best friends or QPPs in this way. I wanted to know more about the parallels I see in people managing best friends and romantic partners rather than actually [falsely] argue that the concept of best friend IS always a romantic concept in disguise.

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17 hours ago, running.tally said:

I think allo folks might see 'best friends' as a stepping stone to a romantic relationship rather than a relationship in and of itself (like a tool),

Certainly you can find the term "friends first" being fairly common in personal ads written by allos.

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