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?