In case you’re interested in where I stand in my summer reading, let me share: According to my Kindle app, I’m exactly 42% done with the summer It book, David Nicholls’ One Day. I mention this not because I think you should read it (Though I do. Think you should read it, that is. So far it’s a perfect beach read. And you’ll want to have read the novel when the Anne Hathaway vehicle hits theaters), but because a sentence others might gloss over recently gave me pause.
“People make a big deal about friendship but it really does seem incredibly easy here, and soon he is imagining everyone hanging out together, going on holiday in a camper van, having barbecues on the beach as the sun goes down, and they seem to like him too…”
The second part—the imagining everyone hanging out and gallivanting in a camper van—happens to me all the time. I meet someone seemingly spectacular and picture us walking through the city streets, each balancing a cell phone on our shoulder as we fumble for our keys with one hand and hold fresh shopping bags in the other. In my mind’s eye it plays like something out of a BFF chick flick. With a split screen or a montage that jumps back and forth between us. The Sweetest Thing, perhaps. Or Now and Then.
But it’s the first bit of this passage that really stuck with me. “People make a big deal about friendship…” Do they? Because when I started this search, it seemed to me that no one made a big deal about friendship. That so much energy was spent analyzing romantic relationships that friendship got a bit shortchanged in the cultural conversation.
In fact, I’ve always imagined that the most popular criticism of this blog might be that it makes too big a deal about friendship. People are constantly advising me, “don’t overthink it,” when it comes to navigating the murky waters of forging a local BFFship. It is, obviously, my tendency to notice and analyze issues as they pertain to social connections. I think about it. Then maybe overthink about it.
I’d argue these issues—saying the L word, how to go from acquaintance to friend, which BFFs are off limits—are real, and that people rarely talk about them for fear of appearing neurotic or obsessive. But you might argue that all my analysis is detracting from the experience. That friendships should just happen, in their own time, on their own schedule.
So my question to you is this: Do you think people make a big deal about friendship? Too big a deal? Or do you think talk of BFFs and making friends gets sidelined by all the discussion about dating, marriage and Mr. Right?
17 responses to “Much Ado About Something?”
I think people – women, really – make far too big of a deal about Mr. Right when your female friendships are probably more important in terms of enriching your life and nourishing your soul. Yes, Mr. Right will be your forever BFF in a way (well, mine is to me because, let’s face it, if I didn’t like hanging out with him I surely wouldn’t have volunteered to live with him for the rest of our lives), but think of how many good friendships fall by the wayside when “HE” comes along.
The reason I (and I suspect others) come back to your blog is because you are addressing issues that are too often shoved aside….there is definitely too big a deal made about meeting The One and there are lots of venues for discussing being a wife, a mother, an employee. But very little attention is paid to the complex issues of women’s friendships; and the issues are fascinating to think about probably because the conversation is fresh and new. And I have certainly discovered how little thought I actually gave to some of the most meaningful relationships in my life—and that lack of attention does take its toll.
I don’t think we focus enough on friendship and how much we all need it. As someone who moved to a new city two years ago, it is now something I realize I might have taken for granted.
I also think men look at friendship differently than women. I think women need their friends in a different way than men. While a woman realizes she needs both romantic love and BFF love, many men believe that they should serve both roles for the women in their lives – and are happy to let the woman in their life be both to them. It’s hard to make men realize how different those roles are without hurting any feelings.
I agree with Jen and Ana that more emphasis is placed on finding the perfect guy, so finding the perfect friend just doesn’t seem important. I was guilty of neglecting some of my friends when my boyfriend and I started dating, but a couple years later when we hit a really rough patch, I realized exactly how important it was to have my girl friends. You can’t make one person your entire life, so we should be making a big deal out of friendship.
I think you definitely bring up some issues of friendship that we tend to ignore/not notice/shove aside. I keep coming back to your blog because there’s always fresh (and often hilarious) insight about friendship here. I adore my husband, but I NEED my friends too, so I think friendship is definitely a big deal.
As an older woman, 57, I come at this from a different perspective. I think friends are extremely important. Spouses/partners seem to come and go. A good friendship can last a lifetime and transition with you as you grow. At this point in my life, I am finding a lot of organizations filled with single and married women looking for friends. Since there are no guarantees in marriage it is very important to maintain your friendships with both sexes.
I think in general people now may take the making of friendships for granted– as something that should happen naturally. When there weren’t so many distractions readily available, friend activities took up lots of your free time (like on “Friends”). Instead, I find now that making new friends has to compete with someone’s time and energy alloted for the gym/errands/Facebook updates/Twitter feeds/family/personal maintenance…and thus, spending time thinking about a new friend may come last, if it even happens at all.
I think now one needs to make more of a deliberate choice to seek out and meet new potential BFFs– it has become so easy to mistake busyness for a full life. However, if you are the only one in your circle who realizes quality should take precedence over quantity when it comes to what fills up your spare time, you may be the one making the most noise about new friendships. That may be the biggest sign to seek out a new circle of friends who think as you do!
“Overthinking” something is only negative if it never leads to any action, and that is the opposite of what you’re doing. When lots of questioning and thinking is combined with action — actually getting out in the world and connecting with new people — it’s powerful!
Friendship is a big deal. You want to be able to share with someone your dreams, fears, and get personalized advice that helps you get through the difficult times. A friendship is built on trust as is a dating/marital relationship. If you don’t have trust, the friendship is just an acquaintance and not someone to share laughter, shopping and tears with when you need someone there.
I recently expressed my fear of entering a new relationship after 16 years of only being with the first guy I knew and married him. A big mistrust exists now with all men. Friends have suggested “get a guy friend to hang out with,” and “when the time is right….” I don’t know if having an intimate relationship is possible, but knowing I have a social group of friends, in mixed company or just females, I am able to enjoy myself without fear of “what is this person going to expect of me.”
I don’t have a BFF, just multiple friends that I are around for different needs I have, shopping friends, talking/listening friends, church friends, reading friends, college friends, co-worker friends.
I make a huge deal out if friendship and have often found that I am alone in that. People are much more laid back about expectations, even desires an d hopes than I am and that makes mutuality really difficult. I think that our culture overshadows romantic relationships – often putting do much pressure on them that they fail due to burnout. Friends are at least just as necessary as romantic partners if not more so…
I don’t think people make a big enough deal out of friendship. When my mom’s BFF moved across the country, she went through a grieving process like someone had died. She was completely unprepared for the void in her life that just couldn’t be filled with phone calls, emails and visits every 6 months.
I think of that email that goes around every once in awhile that is a grandma giving advice to her granddaughter (or something like that) and it is all about the importance of your girlfriends. I’ve always remembered that and tried to live its credo.
Our society places a lot of pressure on women to find The One, settle down and get married. Then it shuns them when they wake up and leave it all behind because they neglected to put the social structure necessary to support them in place.
Thanks for for focusing on it in a non-cheesy way!
Friendship often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I think people are consumed by their other relationships, i.e. marriage, family, and co-worker ties. And when these same people make time for friends, they find that it isn’t worth making a big deal out of friendships because other relationships are such a big deal.
I am someone who is fascinated by the subject of friendship and often ponder the fact that finding a good friend is more difficult than people think.
When I first stumbled across your blog I was so excited to find somebody writing about these issues in a positive way!
After hoping that great new friendships would ‘happen naturally’ for almost three years I was starting to feel like some sort of pariah. I think what made this worse was that I felt that I could not talk about these feelings with anyone except my boyfriend as I was afraid of being judged.
Reading your blog is really helping me to move forward and put myself out there. I am doing little things everyday to reach out to people everyday and am feeling positive that I can build new friendships. The other day I made the effort to initiate a conversation with a male coworker on the bus home from work – something I would never have done before reading your blog as I would have been afraid he would think I was hitting on him. We did establish that we both have partners and I now have another potential friend to chat to at work.
Anyway, what I was trying to say was your blog is awesome – thank you Rachel! 🙂
Thank YOU! That is such a great story about your coworker… I’m so so glad this blog helped inspire you to reach out to him. Work friends are so important…
You know, I think the same people who over-analyze relationships probably also over-analyze friendships. But, there are plenty of people out there who are overly chill about both (letting everything roll off their backs) and plenty others who fall somewhere in-between.
I personally think that people don’t think too much about friendships unless they find themselves in need of a friend – or go through something that makes them appreciate having friends – or if they find themselves needing to end a friendship. Otherwise, I think it’s somethign we dont’ think about. Kind of how when a dating relationships is really good, you don’t really think about it all that much either..
People don’t think enough about BFFship, and/or friendships enough. Even when girls gather together, I swear, we become teenagers again, and spend 75% of our time chatting about boys. Even with all the movies, and books, they just assume that it’s there, it’ll come, and it’s natural. When, like the comments above noted, that these are in fact the relationships that sustain us, that we run home to, complaining about all the other ones that (are oh so fleeting and more often let us down). Until it’s too late.
They assume that if you’re a friend, their BFF, you’ll just be there, and you’ll love them unconditionally (despite their neglect and/or insanity). Yes, I’ve actually been told this. Hehe.
For the fifteen romantic comedies, I’ll see four movies like “Dumb and Dumber” (greatest BFFs), and/or the “Sweetest Thing”. Hopefully your book and blog, will set off a whole movement. 🙂