Yesterday I did a round of new friend check-ins.
It’s a ritual I didn’t anticipate when I started this search, probably because I had every intention of emerging with one or two people who would be my goes-without-saying playdate. I figured I’d meet a BFF, maybe a few of them, and we’d talk three times a day. Or at least three times a week.
That’s how it was with BFFs back in the day. Whenever that was.
Thus far my search has developed differently than I anticipated. I’ve made more friends than I ever thought I would, but very few, if any, are the we-talk-all-the-time type. This is partly because our relationships haven’t gotten there yet, and partly because chatting on the phone is soooo 2005. As I’ve mentioned, my friendship with the newbies are all email and text message. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.
Given this progression, there are times when I’ll go a month without speaking to certain friends. And then will come a day, like yesterday, where I shoot off a bunch of emails and text message just to say “hi” and “let’s make plans soon.” (And no, not the noncommittal, “We should go together sometime” check in. The actual, “Are you free next Wednesday?” type. I’m no amateur.)
I had the misguided idea that once I’d found my new friends I wouldn’t need to make these conscious efforts of communication. Friendship and hanging out would be easy and effortless.
Well here’s a cliché that holds up: Relationships take work. Always. Even after years of friendship, when one person stops putting in any effort the bond will disintegrate. When the friend is a new one, it’s even more important that you do the work—it’s not like you have a lifetime of history to sustain the relationship if it goes through an uber-long phone tag period. There’s very little stopping a budding BFFship from petering out.
So every month(ish)—this isn’t a scheduled activity, but I’d say I do it every four to six weeks—I reach out to the friends I haven’t seen or heard from in ages. (“Ages” can be anywhere from two months to two weeks.) Sometimes I’ll write as brief as “Hi friend! Let’s catch up. When are you free?” and others I’ll give a whole life update. But mostly it’s my way of saying hello, making some plans, and reminding my potential BFF that we’ve got a friendship to pursue.
I can’t tell you how often someone will tell me she met a potential BFF, but then never heard from her again. And after a bit of prying (yes, I pry) I’ll learn that the lack of communication went both ways. “Well I’ve been really busy,” she’ll say “and I reached out for the first friend-date.” The truth is that everyone is busy, so just send the email. You’ll both be glad you did.
And one bit of advice: There’s a fine line between “Hey… Just checking in, hope all is well! Would love to get together again sometime,” and “Why haven’t you called or texted to set up another dinner? I thought we got along. Do you even want to see me?”
Please, please, please. Go with the former.