Monthly Archives: March 2011

And the Oscar Goes To…

Between Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams bringing BFF Busy Phillips and the buzzworthy bromance between The King’s Speech trio Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper (a triangle of man-love, as a friend of mine called it), BFFs might have been the biggest winner of all on Sunday evening.

I love that Michelle took Busy as her date throughout this awards season (they went together to the Golden Globes as well). It makes their friendship seem so genuine in a town when so many relationships might be for the cameras.

The whole thing just makes me want to be in on their BFFdom.

And the fact that this grown-man bromance is one of the great news items to come out of The King’s Speech? Adorable. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of their cute accent-laden dinner dates. Sometimes I wonder if Helena Bonham Carter was sad to be left out of the boy’s club, but mostly I am too busy swooning over Mr. Darcy. The fact that he is a sweetheart who loves to bragging about his bromance? Icing

Says my Colin, about Geoffrey: “I would describe his as my geisha girl.”

And Geoffrey about Colin? “We do tend to refer to each other as Abelard and Eloise or Thelma and Louise.”

Like I said. Swoon.

Who are your favorite celebrity BFFs?

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The Hard Facts: Be Kind To Friends, Be Kind To Yourself

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising.” (“Go Easy On Yourself, A New Wave of Research Suggest,” The New York Times, 2/28/2011)

One of yesterday’s most e-mailed articles on The New York Times website was this piece about what scientists are calling “self-compassion—how kindly people view themselves.” The message of the article is that the nicer you are to yourself, the healthier you’ll be.

The research doesn’t strike me as anything new. We all know it can be hard to live up to our expectations of ourselves, and when we anticipate falling short we often give up altogether. I’ve been there.

More interesting is this notion that those who find it easy and natural to be good to others are the very people who can’t be good to themselves. It’s as if there’s not enough kindness to go around, so you can either give it to friends or to yourself.

My first inkling of why this is comes from my many years of watching Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper trying to double as therapists. Year after year, the issue with the Biggest Loser contestants is that they spend so much time taking care of others they don’t take care of themselves. Or maybe it’s that they spend all their energy helping others. Either way, their self-compassion is in the pooper.

I would be doing readers a disservice if all my “be a good friend!” “reach out!” “socialize!” advice was followed at the expense of self-compassion. I want friendship to come more easily, certainly. But I don’t like the idea that the easier it is to be nice to others, the more you are likely to berate yourself.

So, if you see yourself in this research, first take the self-compassion test. See where you fall on the scale. If your score is low, the researchers suggest exercises “like writing yourself a letter of support, just as you might to a friend you are concerned about. Listing your best and worst traits, reminding yourself that nobody is perfect and thinking of steps you might take to help you feel better about yourself are also recommended.”

Basically, treat yourself as well as you’d treat your friends and you’ll be good to go.

Why do you think those who find it easy to be a good friend have a hard time being kind to themselves?

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An Unlikely Friend-Search Success Story

Last night I went to dinner with one of my most unlikely friends to come out this search. Long after the meal was over, I found myself wondering how exactly this relationship took off, because on the surface it doesn’t make good sense.

I was looking for someone near me in Chicago to grab a last minute lunch with. She lives in LA.

My goal was to meet people for face-to-face girl-dates. She and I met on the Internet.

As I mentioned last week, I’m always intrigued by the unlikely stories of how friends connect, so it’s my turn. Here goes.

The backstory: When I started this blog, I tried to build a readership by commenting on other blogs that might have a similar audience. I found Lauren’s blog through that Internet vortex—you know when you click on something that leads you to something that leads you to something else, and suddenly you’re watching cats ride broomsticks in clown costumes and have no idea how you got there.

Lauren and I commented back and forth on each other’s blogs for a bit and I wrote a short guest post for hers. When I saw that she and a fellow blogger had a Gchat “study date” to ensure they both got work done one afternoon, I asked if she’d do the same with me. I had deadlines to meet and needed someone to keep me on track. We chatted on gchat that day, learning more about each other during study breaks.

When Lauren had a project she needed an objective opinion on, she asked me to help out since  I’d recently done similar work. We chatted back and forth for a bit more as I tried to help her out.

Then she came to Chicago for business. We met at Starbucks, though I only drank water because I was on a cleanse (and was subsequently terrified she’d think I was crazy). Lauren was more understanding and nonjudgmental of my weird food restrictions than I might have been if the tables were turned.

During that face-to-face coffee/water run, we clicked. There were no moments of awkward silence or racking your brain for something else to say. The relationship felt natural and easy, as good friendships should.

A few months later, when I needed some writerly advice of my own, I went to Lauren. She’d offered to lend a hand when we met the first time, so I figured I’d take her up on it. We’ve become each other’s objective eyes. As a writer, that’s a pretty important person to have.

I was in LA for work this weekend so I took Lauren out to dinner as a thank you for her help. It was our second in-person meeting, and just as friendship fairytale as the first.

It’s kind of amazing. Lauren and I are both writers, but we write such different stuff that we learn a lot from each other. We’re at the same stage in our writing careers, so we can empathize and trade stories. And on a personal level, somehow we had one of those connections where we felt at ease opening up to the other, despite having only officially “met” twice.

I know, it sounds like I’m writing about a romance. I might as well be, as I’m totally smitten with my new friend. If she didn’t live across the country from me, perhaps this search would be over! If men have bromances, maybe Lauren and I have what my friend once called a “shelationship.” (Thoughts on this term? I heard another option recently—sounds like “bromance,” but maybe too offensive to include here…..)

Another long-distance friend is not what I was looking for when I launched my BFF search, but you never know what can happen. I can’t believe that one of my new favorite people is someone I met online.

Lesson: You never know where your next pal will come from. (Side note lesson: Charlie Sheen is wacko. Not related to my search but a lesson nonetheless.)

Oh, and Another Lesson: Be open to the friends who don’t fill your qualifications. If  I’d written  Lauren off for living in California, this post wouldn’t have been. You just never know.

Where’s the most unlikely place you’ve ever made a friend?

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