It’s complicated: Best friends and why we need them

The Asian Age.  | Gayatri Reddy Bhatia

Life, More Features

A bit of science and social to explain why that band on the wrist matters.

Friends are family. And for some, the social bond goes beyond the familial.

Friends are family. And for some, the social bond goes beyond the familial. Perhaps the most recent example of this was the special equation between the late Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa and bestie, Sasikala Natarajan. It’s a friendship that survived political turmoil, rumours of a coup and some very suspect relatives. But Sasikala was probably the one person Amma was emotionally dependent on.  

Our strongest names have found individuals for special support. Skipper Dhoni usually keeps to himself. Barring R.P. Singh, most of Team India were not invited for his wedding and when that movie came out, Dhoni’s own brother was disappointed to discover he was left out. But the one man Dhoni turns to is manager/associate/confidant, Arun Pandey. It’s said that besides wife Sakshi, Pandey is the only other person Dhoni has complete trust in.

And then, there’s Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan. The two will take on the world for each other and in fickle Bollywood — with relationships as fragile as champagne glasses — K-Jo and SRK have formed the sort of bond that can’t even be destroyed even if they themselves tried to. That’s true friendship — one that transcends the emotions of the people involved. It’s the Jai-Veeru rule — nothing new is stronger than what stands!

What is it about a friend that we need one so much? The reasons are plenty and they are from your earliest days. Siblings are often glorified snitches and as you scramble to find someone you can trust with the first ever innocent lie, you soon discover the secret’s safest with the kid sitting behind you in class. The cousins can’t take his or her place because well, they are always doing better than you in school and are unlikely to waste an opportunity to bring you further disrepute, and a stick to the knuckles. Besides, cousins are just shared DNA strands and have no real motivation to keep you safe from immediate family after last week’s exams. So, there, science has nothing to do with it. You might share 50 per cent of your DNA with someone but that doesn’t guarantee a back without a knife sticking out of it. True buddies come with no baggage, no sense of envy, no competition and no politics. That kid sitting behind you in class is part of the same hypothetical construct which your earliest ancestor connected with. No amount of science can ‘show’ friendship — it’s in such special cases that a bracelet on the wrist matters more than a century of behavioral studies.

Plus, there’s a friend for every type of person. You can be a techie working 11 hours a day or you can be someone who enjoys jumping off cliffs over the weekend. There’s one for each one of us.

Because we as individuals carry a social package of views, likes, interests, emotions and experiences. It’s critical for most of us to find someone compatible to share that package with. While blood ties simply exist, friendships are the result of what we really are, within.