Just When You Think The Search Could Be Over…

You find out your new friend is moving.


One of my most fabulous new pals is relocating. And I am bummed.

I’m genuinely happy for her. This is great news for my friend and her husband and their East Coast-based family. But still. Boooo.

Just yesterday I spoke about how you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. A romantic partner can’t be everything. You need some friends.

Similarly, having only one close friend can be risky. You need backup. A cushion in case she moves.

I learned this lesson early on. It came up at my very first dinner with this same friend. We were really hitting it off. Conversation was easy and we lingered at dinner long after our last piece of spicy tuna had disappeared. There was a moment during all that fun where I thought, “Problem solved! I found her. Done and done.”

And then she mentioned the possibility of moving. Not right away, but eventually. It was then that I realized no matter how much I liked this new potential BFF, I couldn’t call off the hounds. The One should probably be The Ones, I decided. Just in case.

This is not to say a person needs a million best friends. I believe friendship is about quality and quantity, but it’s not like each of those buddies is going to be your platonic soul mate. Some might just be a friendly neighbor or your steady date to yoga class.

Still, it’s important to invest in those relationships. Maybe not as you would with your best friend forever, but if you devote all your social energy to one person, you might find yourself back at square one when she leaves.

In 2008, a study found that 35.2 million Americans had changed residences in the last year. The majority of those people were in their 20s and 30s. If you’re in the making friends biz, and you fall in that age range, you’ve got to be smart. Don’t open yourself up to new people only to clam back up the minute you make your friend. Not to sound all Jillian Michaels, but it’s got to be a life change, not a quick fix. (I can’t believe I just said that.)

I’m sad my new friend is leaving. I feel determined to keep the relationship thriving across state lines. Luckily email and Facebook make it easier than ever. But I’m also incredibly grateful I did the work to make as many friends as I could over the last year. Makes me feel better about my long-term social odds.

(Obligatory Friends reference: Writing this post has launched a rerun in my head of when Rachel and Phoebe take on Ross and Joey as their “backups”—the people they will marry if they’re single at 40{ish}. When Rachel tells Phoebe she can’t claim both guys, Ms. Bouffay says, “Of course I can! It’s just good sense to backup your backup!” Wiser words have never been spoken.)

Do you invest in a new friendship if you know she might move? When it comes to friends do you believe that more is more?


Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Just When You Think The Search Could Be Over…

  1. This is really good advice. A couple of times I’ve invested a lot of time in one good friend and had her up and move on me. It would have been smarter to branch out and I’m trying to do that now.

  2. Shannon

    Oh, I hate it when good friends move! That seems to happen to me and my husband a lot with our couple friends, which are are even harder to find than just a girl friend.

  3. Avani

    This is fantastic advice that I’ve learned the hard way by living in what I like to call a “transient’s city” (Boston – damn those grad schools!). It seems that every two years, I am saying bye to good friends. However, now I try to look at it as having another fabulous place to visit when I want to get out of Boston for a while!

    p.s. Rachel, I love the blog.

  4. Lorrie Paige

    Actually, long-distance friendships is what I prefer now. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE snail-mailing and lo and behold! (I’m learning Early Modern English speak, but that’s another topic….), a job of mine where one of the rewards is getting a lot of free stamps, so even more of an incentive to make more snail-mail friends!

    I’m making my life busier, filling spaces where I could hang out with people in person but instead doing other things in my life so right now, yeah, hypothetically speaking, a friend moving would be fine with me… Ah! I’m thinking of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants….

  5. I love that Friends episode. Hell, I love them all 🙂

    I think you’re right that we can’t get too “invested” in one friend or one anything, really (except spouses, but that goes without saying). Even with old friends, I find that they get busy with things in their lives, don’t have time for me (and vice versa), and I have to be adaptable to that. And when friends have babies, which is happening like crazy in my life, forget it. They have (understandably) far less free time. A baby might actually be even more of an obstacle than long distance! (I love babies and I love my friends’ babies. This is just an observation 🙂

  6. Joy

    I would definitely invest in a new friendship even if I knew she might be moving. But then again, I live in a small town and do not have the opportunity to meet many new people, so if I clicked with a person I’d want to hold onto that friendship!

    Plus, like the PP Lorrie, I love snail mail.

  7. I say YES to investing! My best friend and I have only been such for a little over a year, and after May we won’t even live in the same country. But WOW, am I glad we’ve been “all in” for the time we’ve had together. And I look forward to the years of goofy letters and virtual conversations to come.

  8. Oh, I love that Friends episode – but I did think it was mean of Phoebe to take both the guys from Rachel.

    It is good sense to “back up your backups” – but I’m sorry your new friend is moving! That’s never fun to hear.

  9. Emily

    I wish I could take all my favorite friends from the 5 longer-term places I have lived in my life and have them all live here. I have really had to leave some major everyday besties behind as they or I have moved…the distance thing is really hard. I guess that is what’s good about facebook…they are all on there…just want it face to face.

  10. Moving or not, if the friend is a quality person, I would invest time in the friendship. Some of my long-distance friendships are the strongest.

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