Lately, whenever I tell someone from my past about my current search, they reply with a bit of surprise. “I thought you had a group of friends in Chicago,” they’ll say.
I usually explain that no, “a group of friends” is not how I would explain my social situation. Yes, there are four ladies from my Northwestern days that I have dinner with every month or so. And I most definitely have a pack of work BFFs. But I don’t have a gang the way I did in high school or college or post-grad NYC, where any combination of a set clique (it’s a bad word, but we should call a spade a spade) could get drinks together on any given Saturday.
In Chicago I have individual friends. There’s the girl I met at a mutual friend’s wedding, a fellow student from a cooking class, old college acquaintances, girlfriends of Matt’s buddies and so on. “I have lots of separate individual friends,” I’ll explain, “but they don’t know each other. There’s no group.”
I’ve always found this sort of disappointing. Groups of friends are the dream, right? The Sex and the City model is so prevalent in books and TV that it’s hard not to feel like something’s missing when we don’t have it.
My search has presented me with a number of one-on-one budding friendships, but the next step will (hopefully) be to introduce said friends and create a small social network as opposed to a plethora of distinct relationships. Then, like on TV, we can each fill a niche: The idealist, the sass, the cynic, etc. (Yours truly will be starring in the role of the neurotic. Please hold your applause.) Not an easy feat, single-handedly creating a group of friends, but you never know. Activities like my Ladies Pizza Night might be the first step. Sushi is up next!
The group versus individual friendships is one of the largest differences between school BFFs and adult ones. In the novel Commencement, author J. Courtney Sullivan perfectly sums up the distinction. The story follows the relationships of four Smith College graduates who met freshman year, and reminds me of the BFF novels I loved as a kid: Among Friends, Just as Long as We’re Together and The Babysitter’s Club. Sullivan writes, “Although she had made plenty of friends in the city, it still felt like each of them was alone, their lives running parallel but never quite touching. With the Smithies, it was different. There was sometimes no telling where one of them began and the others left off.”
Do you think group friendships, like those in Friends or How I Met Your Mother are even possible in adulthood? Would you categorize your friendships as group or individual? Is there one you’d rather have, or that’s easier to maintain? Why?