What Andy Bernard Taught Me About Friendship (Or, The Fine Line Between Charming and Annoying)

One of the great things about The Office is that while it revolves around the workplace and coworker dynamics, there is so much in there about friendship—or, more often, attempts at friendship. Dwight wants to be friends with Michael, Michael wants to be friends with Jim. Erin wants to be BFF with Kelly, Kelly wants to be more than friends with Ryan. You get the picture.

One of my favorite exchanges takes place in an episode called “The Return,” when Andy’s basically trying to bromance Michael, his boss.

Michael announces he is leaving the office to run a quick errand.
Andy: Wait up. Where are you going? Do you want me to come with?
Michael: Um.
Andy: Just listen, I forgot to tell you the plan for this Saturday. You, me, bars, beers, buzzed. Wings. Shots. Drunk. Waitresses, hot. Football – Cornell/Hofstra. Slaughter. Then a quick nap at my place and we’ll hit the tiz-own.
Michael: No. I don’t want to do any of that.
Andy: Duh. Which is why I was just joking about doing that.
Michael: No, just stop. Stop. Stop doing it. You’re going to drive me crazy.
Andy: Fine. I’ll just sit at my desk and be quiet. Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship.

Ed Helms’ delivery of that last line is just perfect, and if I could find a clip I would stream it here. I watched the episode the other day while I was on the treadmill and it was one of those moments I had to jump to the sides of the machine because apparently I do not have the coordination to run and laugh simultaneously. (Um, it’s hard.)

But Andy’s overzealous friending is no joke. Let me tell you: This is real. There is a very fine line between being all cute and friendly and “I’ve got a girl crush on you!” and being creepy and weird and “Let’s be BFFAEAE, I’ve already planned our first girlfriend’s getaway and my mom wants to have you over to watch Grey’s with us next week.”

When you’re in the process of wooing friends, you must be eternally mindful of staying on the correct side of this line.

Even when you’re the one looking for BFFs, there are moments when another person’s enthusiasm about the friendship potential can almost seem Andy Bernard levels of aggressive. Which in itself is strange because aren’t you the one out there picking up girls?

Like I said, it’s a tightrope walk.

Have you ever caught yourself on the wrong side of the charming-annoying boundary? What did you do? I once went on a friend-date and tried to quell an awkward moment by announcing that we would hug goodbye. That didn’t make it more uncomfortable or anything.

And how do you handle it when someone else’s friendship advances are a bit too aggressive for you? Is there a correct way to say “No thank you I’m not interested in being pals?” What do you say to your own Andy Bernard when she annoys you with her friendship?

23 Comments

Filed under The Search

23 responses to “What Andy Bernard Taught Me About Friendship (Or, The Fine Line Between Charming and Annoying)

  1. Oh I love the office. Andy Bernard is such an awkward character.

    I can’t recall being in a situation where I was over zealous or the person I was with was over zealous but perhaps I have blocked it out….

  2. Karen A.

    Hey Rachel, you keep the comments on this blog fresh every day, it makes it fun to come visit and see what you have to say.

    If someone touches on something I am passionate about, I can abandon all restraint, but in that case I hope my other friends will interceded and rescue my latest victim.

  3. Hi!

    Your posts are fabulous and so relevant! I love the office and I definitely saw that episode. I never thought about, oh, am I the one doing that?

    Since I’m “new in town” (I wrote a blog post about when this term expires) I’ve been trying to make friends, and this one girl has been really hard to get in touch with. So, I was afraid that after writing on her facebook wall and then sending her a facebook message a few days later, I might seem a little desperate. I forgot that I have her number and could have avoided that whole waiting and hoping I wasn’t stalking her situation…I just didn’t know when adding a text to the deal would grant me a swift kick to the friendship curb. Luckily, she wrote back yesterday and we’re all set to hang out at some point! Yay!

    So funny…

    • Thanks Meghan! I can’t wait to read your post. I’ve started saying “I’m newish in town” because I’ve been here now for three years… but that feels new after 25 years in my hometown!

  4. I hope I’ve never been as bad as Andy! I mean I’ve definitely never wooed a potential date by performing with my college barbershop quartet via conference call (probably one of my favorite Andy moments). I think the fear of inadvertently acting like him is probably what makes a lot of us hold back with potential new friends. There’s definitely a fine line between annoying and charming, and it can be hard to gauge when you’re about to cross that.

  5. Iris Gonzalez

    Ohhhhh, where to begin? A neighbor really wants to be my BFF…except the feeling is one-sided. I have been accepting invitations when I can, so I joined her for dinner where the kids could play outside while we ate. I arrived, only to find that 2 other ladies and their boys were also invited. (Am I the only one who finds this practice– being asked to join a friend, only to arrive and find out you’re part of a crowd of people you don’t know and had no idea would even be there?? It irks me to no end– please, please tell me what to expect before I show up!)
    Not only was I the subject of a terribly awkward moment, when the neighbor told me loudly in front of everyone “I really really like you and enjoy your company and want to be with you!”– it gets even more awkward. When neighbor lady leaves first, no sooner does she turn the corner when stranger #1 turns to stranger #2 and starts talking badly about the neighbor who set this up! Hello? I am RIGHT HERE and can hear you! That lady you’re dissing is the one who invited me! I gave my good byes and fled as fast as I could. Disaster! I have since acted as if all is well, but I also do not encourage BFFness.

    • Iris, I’m really with you on this. I too get frustrated when I make a date with someone and at the last minute she says “Oh, I invited my friend Sally, she’s coming to dinner too.” I always feel like, “ummm… ok.” Because of course I would have said, “sure! bring her along!” but I like to know what I’m getting into. A group friend date is a different thing that a two-person dinner…

      And yikes! That is some story…

  6. Donna

    This post brought to mind the movie “Single White Female” where Jennifer Jason Leigh tries a bit to hard to be BFFs with Bridget Fonda. Good post but creepy!

  7. Your blog—this post in particular—totally hit home for me. I’m a classic oversharer, which is always awwwkward when wooing a new BFF, but impossible for me to avoid. Another line-crosser is when it comes time to say goodbye… I usually go in for the hug because who doesn’t like a hug? But then it gets weird and I always have to go ONE step further and say, “let’s hug it out.” WHY?

    • I did this EXACT thing recently. Let’s just say I never heard from said potential friend again….

      • Lisa Z

        OMG this is ridiculously funny. I am definitely an over friender and I am always providing unsolicited career advice to juniors at work. Depressing!

  8. Oh goodness. I have SO been on the wrong side of the line. So so so been there. Talk about uncomfortable and wanting to take it all back. Eek!!

    The Office? Brilliant. Having to jump the treadmill ship to laugh? Hysterical. Been there, too. I think I’m better at watching friendships than being in them. There’s some fascinatingly awkward stuff that goes on between people.

    Ah, life!

  9. Ana

    Haha! Love Andy Bernard. Best cringe-worthy moment (aside from the one you related) was when he and Jim were in the car, and it is getting so awkward, Jim says “how ’bout a little music”, and Andy does this whole a capella version of “give me the beat boys”. And Jim just gives him THAT LOOK. priceless.

    I am pretty shy & self-conscious and over-think everything before I do it…so I don’t think anyone would accuse me of being too aggressive in pursuing a friendship. but I HAVE been on the other end. Not as creepy as The Office or even Iris’s story above (yikes!) but there are a few times when someone I am in contact with (colleague, classmate), really is trying to be friends and I honestly just don’t like them or want to spend any additional time with them. To be honest, I think those people tend to be a bit clueless (socially) in general—not picking up on hints, so I doubt my avoidance was hurtful to them. But I still felt guilty, because I knew if I was in that position, I WOULD feel hurt.

  10. I am actually really sensitive to this kind of stuff. I usually have a rule of three: I will mention hanging out, invite you to hang out twice and after that? Ball in the other person’s court when it comes to texts/calls/FB/invites until the friendship is more established. After I feel close to someone, I don’t care who invites who or making efforts to hang out, but before we’re close—-I try not to overwhelm.

    I think I’m like this because if I’m not into someone, it’s made worse if I’m smothered. I like friends who try but are also respectful of me if I don’t want to hang out, am busy or might not be interested.

    • I generally have a similar rule myself — I’ll invite someone out, and do the follow up once or twice, but then if it’s still only me doing the work, I usually take the hint! (And agree–the most painful thing in the world is when I am not into a wannabe-friend and she smothers… Yikes. It’s all so tricky…)

  11. The Office–so many cringe-worthy moments. That show rocks.

    I’ve only had one stalker friend…we went out to lunch twice and then she started sending me emails beginning with, “Hey BFF!” That was a little disturbing. Definitely have to walk a line between “open” and “needy.”

  12. tommy

    “Fine. I’ll just sit at my desk and be quiet. Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship.” – I am going to have to start The Office at the beginning. I’ve missed so much. I’m laughing and never seen the episode….

    I go to the gym to work out, not really to hang out and chat. Most people at the gym are way to intense. However. I would definitely have to stop and talk to anyone that had to step off the treadmill because they were laughing so hard. At anything. People who laugh at the gym (not the fake laugh or work laugh) are generally my kid of disfunctional. But it can make other people avoid you. Hmm…weeds out the unfunny. Hey, how about the guy doing the “full-body trucker horn” on the lat machine?! Haha.

    Good hunting.

  13. Erin

    I sometimes worry if I am that friend. I worry that I am overwhelming the person. Gee I hope not. I think if it fizzles out then surely its not me!! lol. I actually asked one of my girl dates if she thought I was awkward but she said no. Who knows? I may be that awkward friend. The one who laughs too loud at a not that funny joke so I can show them I like them! eek!

  14. tammy

    omg..ive been searching the web for some answers ..i have a next door neighbour who wants to be my BFF,she driving me crazy..im having to sneak in and out my own home…i made the mistake of letting her have my number and now shes calling me all the time..and making arrangements to go here and there with her…pops over all the time ( i keep her at the door) and i cant get rid of her,,,she insists she takes me here or there….i wanna realy scream at her and tell her where to go….but i dont wanna be rude…..i am trying not to answer my phone now…shes so nosey and imposing..i even feel like leaving and buying another place to live…she gossips about all the other neighbours…..and then talks to them (two faced so & so )..any suggestions i would love to hear…thanks…..

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