Dear Toxic Girl Best Friends: Just Stop
Updated: Jul 30
There’s a strange and dangerous phenomena sweeping through the millennial generation and they are being called girl (or guy) best friends. An example of a girl and guy best friend that might be recognizable to some is Elle and Lee's friendship in The Kissing Booth, and well, we all see the problems in it.
Elle purposely infringes on Lee's relationship with Rachel, while Lee acts like a whiny, demanding crybaby when Elle doesn't spend all day every day with him. Not to mention, they have a never-ending list of rules for their "friendship." Interested in this new term and equipped with my own experience with a toxic girl best friend, I started looking more into what this whole thing was all about. I started seeing social media posts of other girls attempting to speak out against girl best friends and stating that other girls need to have boundaries with their boyfriends and that their man isn’t going to be some other girl's “boy bestie." Sounds fair enough, but I opened the comments section and immediately found hundreds of comments from self-proclaimed girl best friends in all capital letters, “I DON’T GIVE A DAM IF HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND,” “I’M NOT LEAVING,” ”NOTHING NEEDS TO CHANGE JUST BECAUSE HE GOT A GIRLFRIEND, SHE HAS TO DEAL WITH IT.” So, without further ado here‘s a cease and desist letter to all you toxic girl and guy best friends, and also some advice to all the sweet, innocent partners out there that absolutely don’t have to put up with their significant others' (SO) girl/guy best friend.
1. First, what even is a girl best friend?
This is the billion dollar question: What the hell is a girl or guy best friend? The entire existence of this label is problematic because it really has no meaning. If someone is your best friend, don’t you just call them your best friend? If someone is your girlfriend, don’t you just call them your girlfriend? The term girl best friend for some reason puts unnecessary emphasis on gender. Why? Because it is girls’ and guys’ way of creating an intermediary between a friend and a girlfriend/boyfriend. Girls and guys enjoy this label because they get to give themselves a place of priority in someone's life and can manage to get someone to treat them like a significant other without them really having to do anything in return or commit to a relationship. Meanwhile, it's also often a way for someone to hold onto a person they have feelings for who doesn’t return the feelings. Also, if someone has an actual partner, they might use the girl/guy best friend label as an excuse to mess around with someone else that they're into. So, yes, the major point is that there is no such thing as a girl or guy best friend in the first place. It's an attempt to create some intermediary between a partner and friend in hopes of reaping some kind of benefit from it.
2. The potential to turn toxic
While the term and concept itself is problematic, there are, of course, girls and guys who use that label and who have very healthy and normal friendships. However, by using the label "girl or guy best friend," one is trying to differentiate from a normal friendship and that is where the potential for toxicity comes in. One is differentiating from even a best friend by the need to emphasize and draw attention specifically to their gender. What a girl or guy best friend is saying by using that term is that they have a special place in someone’s life and they are expecting treatment and attention that goes beyond friendship. They might start to demand that they need the other person to spend 24/7 with them or start constructing other rules regarding their special friendship. They want constant attention, make demands for how much time they spend together, and want to reiterate that they’re the most important person in the guy/girl’s life. Then, of course, this becomes problematic when someone with a girl or guy best friend decides to date someone else. It is usually instantaneous that the girl/guy best friend starts causing problems in the relationship by making crazy demands of their friend’s time with no regards for the new partner. In The Kissing Booth, Elle repeatedly belittles Rachel and refuses to let her have any time alone with Lee. Lee gets criticized for not telling Elle to back off a bit, while Elle is just as much in the wrong by feigning ignorance. Girl/guy best friends KNOW when they are getting in the way of a relationship, but they often choose to pretend not to.
3. A girl best friend is not relevant anymore if he’s in a relationship
Girl best friends are always pretty confident that they will still be the girl best friend and the number 1 person in a guy’s life, even if he gets a girlfriend. Well, a tough pill to swallow is that they are not his girl best friend or his priority or his anything if he has a girlfriend. You can be his friend, but you aren’t going to have a special label and you sure aren’t going to be spending every second with him anymore. Once he has a girlfriend, she’s his best friend and his number 1 and the person he spends the most time with. If he had feelings for you before, he doesn’t now, if he complimented and flirted with you, he won’t now, if he had sleepovers with you, he’s not going to anymore, and if he spent everyday with you before, he won’t now. If you’re his girl best friend and he gets a girlfriend - his friendship with you WILL change and it’s ludicrous to think, or demand, that it doesn’t. If you don’t like that and have a problem with it, then that's a sign you should end your friendship because you have a huge potential to severely harm his personal life and relationships.
4. What to do if you are, or have, a toxic girl or guy best friend
Again, before I get attacked, I am not saying that guys and girls can’t have friends of the opposite gender. I’m also not saying that every girl or guy best friend is toxic. I’m just saying I’ve seen a lot of them turn this way and they do have a large potential to turn toxic. If you do identify yourself as a girl or guy best friend, tread carefully. Think about why you are giving yourself this term. Is it because you genuinely care about your friend and want to show how close you are? Or is it because you want to have some kind of claim or control of this person? Is it because you know this person likes you and you like their attention, so you lead them on with the girl/guy best friend label? And, you people who have a guy or girl best friend - why do you have one? Is this person genuinely your best friend or do you have feelings? Or did this person guilt you and manipulate you into giving them that label and hierarchy in your life? And girl/guy best friends - what would you do if your friend got an SO? Would you be angry, jealous, or act hateful towards the SO? Would you feel like your friend somehow betrayed you by having an SO? Or would you be happy for him and set boundaries to ensure you don’t infringe on his relationship? How you answer all of these questions will determine if you are, or have, a toxic girl or guy best friend. If you are reading this and you recognize your own toxicity, please stop. Stop manipulating and trying to control someone who is your friend and especially don’t be going after someone else’s SO because of your own selfishness.
5. What to do if your SO has a toxic girl or guy best friend
My advice to any fellow woman is: if he has a girl best friend, run. Just run. As an accepting person there really aren’t many things I would completely refuse to date a guy over. After my own experiences, though, I will simply never, ever again date a guy if he says he has a girl best friend. I encourage other girls to put their foot down, too, and to not feel like they have to put up with a toxic, disrespectful girl best friend for even 5 seconds. Why? Because I actually did try to put up with her and she responded by spamming my boyfriend‘s phone on a daily basis yelling at him for getting a girlfriend, complained that I ruined her life, called me jealous and other names, and tried to force my boyfriend to give me her used, dirty lingerie (yes, you read that correctly). In hopes that no one else experiences what I went through, here's what you need to know and do if your SO has a toxic girl or guy best friend.
a. Being nice to these girl/guy best friends won’t make a difference, so don’t be
She’s not your friend and she has no right to talk to or contact you simply because she calls herself your boyfriend’s girl best friend. If she is a typical toxic girl best friend, she is going to act like she has a say in your relationship, that she can bother you whenever she wants, and that she can talk about you behind your back. Don’t be afraid to tell her off and to remind her that being your boyfriend’s friend doesn’t make her anything to you - you're not under any obligation to tolerate or be nice to her and she certainly doesn’t play any role in your relationship.
b. Don't be afraid to tell others
In more extreme cases, these girls will do anything to get rid of you and will take to attacking, stalking, bullying, harassing, and threatening. In her mind, you stole the guy she owned and she’s going to make you pay. Don’t be afraid to speak to anyone - teachers, employers, parents, police officers, etc. She literally cannot continue to bother you if you request her to leave you alone, if she continues to do so, that is unwanted attention and equates to stalking and harassing and it should be reported.
c. Talk to your boyfriend.
Talking to your boyfriend sounds simple, but it can be very difficult as often times the boyfriend will defend the girl best friend even with overwhelming evidence of her toxicity. Many girls suffer in silence when other girls mess with their boyfriends because they're scared they will be dumped if they say something. However, if he will end your relationship because you ask him to set boundaries with his girl best friend and to refrain from speaking to her if she’s bullying you, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with him anyways and should find someone better. No SO who loves you and wants a committed relationship will throw everything away just because you talk to him about his girl best friend and having boundaries.
d. Don’t be afraid to call out your boyfriend’s BS
Truth is, most adult straight taken male men have no interest in a girl best friend. The average guy simply doesn't enjoy a girl who demands that he hang out with and talk to her everyday and has rules for their friendship. So, if your boyfriend is suddenly very adamant that he loves spending time with another girl every single day and listening to her talk, but whines and bitches every time you want to talk to or do something with him, or if he declares that he prefers spending time with a girl instead of having a guys’ night or a sleepover with his girlfriend, it’s probably time to call BS and to tell him he obviously has a thing for this person and needs to stop if he wants a relationship with you. Do not let your boyfriend cheat on you and disrespect you with another woman under the guise of a girl best friend. With individuals trying to legitimize the girl best friend label, it's getting a lot easier for guys to use the term in a feeble attempt to cover up their infidelity.
Overall, girl and guy best friend is not a cute affectionate term that best friends use for each other. It’s a very odd thing that many people use to try to control and own someone else or it’s a way for guys and girls to attempt to cheat on their SOs. In every single guy/girl best friend relationship that I have personally witnessed: either one or both people in the friendship had feelings, one or both cheated on their SOs with their girl or guy best friend, the girl/guy best friend tried to control their friend and demanded that they spend 24/7 with them, the girl/guy best friend negatively affected their friend's relationships, job, and family, or an innocent SO got treated terribly by their partner and their partner’s girl/guy best friend because the girl/guy best friend got jealous. Don’t let anyone give themselves a special label in your life or in your partner's life. A real friendship doesn’t come with labels, demands, and rules, but a girl/guy best friend usually does. Don’t give these people any place of control or priority in your life, because chances are you’ll never be able to get rid of them if you do. If you are a girl/guy best friend, take it down a notch. Your self-made label doesn’t make you special or give you a pass to be toxic and it especially doesn’t mean that you’re more important than someone else’s SO.