A Case of Friends That Could Be

I hope everyone had a safe and festive New Year’s celebration. As I mentioned last week, I rang in 2011 at a close friend’s wedding. Celebrating with pals was a perfect way to close out 2010 and start anew.

You know those people who you’d definitely be close friends with if circumstances allowed? If, for instance, you’d been the same year in school? Or if you lived in the same city? They’re the people who, when you see them, you both say “Why don’t we hang out more?” or “Now that we’ve seen each other, can we please keep in better touch? Seriously this time?”

I feel confident you all have such characters in your lives.

I wish there were a name for this kind of pal. The would-be friend? The if-only-buddy? The BFF-when-we-see-each-other?

Whatever we call it, this is the category of friend I spent a lot of time with at the wedding. And I loved it. I had ridiculous fun celebrating with the entire crowd, and when we left I exchanged the requisite “let’s catch up more by phone soon” or “I’ll call you next time I’m in your hometown” with a handful of new-old friends.

The difference this time around? I intend to follow through. I’ve so often spoken these words because they make the goodbye easier at the end of some social occasion. It’s awkward to say, “It was great seeing you. Have a nice life until the next time we happen to cross paths!” So I—and my newly reconnected friend—pay lip service, making promises to stay in touch that neither of us intend to keep. Not that we don’t want to, we just know we won’t do the work.

Not anymore! And it’s not just because I have this new friendly outlook. It’s also because “the work” doesn’t really feel like work anymore. It’s like when you start exercising. It’s miserable at first, until one day you realize you’ve been on the treadmill a whole half hour and haven’t once thought, “How many minutes until I can get off this godawful hampster wheel?”

I think I actually now like taking the extra steps to ensure a friendship sticks. I’m not talking about grand gestures. I just mean sending an email that says “happy new year!” or “Thinking of you. Let’s make a date soon.” Or, in the case of these would-be wedding friends, emailing to say, “It was great to see you. Let’s keep up like we promised.”

This is what I did when I got home from our weekend festivities. I emailed the guy who Matt and I promised to stay in better touch with. I mentioned how fun it was to see him, how I hope it will be sooner next time, and I sent over a link I’d promised to pass along. One I know he figured I’d forget about.

I expect and hope to hear back from this friend. But if I don’t, at least our falling out of touch won’t be on me.

Do you have some of these would-be friends in your lives? Would you say the promises of “let’s stay in touch!” are empty, or just often forgotten? And do you think you could get to a point where the “work” stops feeling like work?


Filed under The Search

5 responses to “A Case of Friends That Could Be

  1. Love your blog Rachel, and I too rang in the new year with close friends in my home town of St. Louis! I sent you an email recently and hope to chat with you soon!

  2. There was this girl in undergrad with whom I got along incredibly well. We had so much in common, and whenever we worked together on projects we had such a great time. But we never really became “friends”. Our social circles were too different, even though we were remarkably similar.

    I regret it, really, always saying we should hang out more and never doing it, because I know when our paths cross again at some alumni event, it’ll still be that way.

  3. Betty

    Yes, I have quite a few people like that in my life. I would genuinely like to see more of these people, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether they feel the same way or not. New Year’s is usually the perfect time though to send out “I’m thinking of you” emails, so I’ll actually be sending out a few this week, and see what type of responses I get. 🙂

  4. I have a few people like that in my life. Your idea of dropping a quick note and following up is great. I usually have an intention of doing that but real life sometimes gets in the way.

  5. I really enjoy reading your blog and just wanted to let you know so am leaving a friendly comment saying so ;). Thanks!!

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