The Best Friendship Chain of Events

“I just don’t think we’re there yet.”

It’s one of my oft-uttered lines about new friends. I’ve said it to Matt when he’s encouraged me to ask a coworker out to a last-minute brunch on a Saturday morning. I’ve repeated it to my mom when she’s suggested I call a new friend on a quiet Friday night. I’ve thought it to myself when I’ve wanted to text someone about my four jars of pickles or call her to vent about a bad day. In each of those cases I’ve held back because I didn’t think my new friends and I were “there yet.”

For a long time I’ve maintained that I had to wait until I had a BFF in order to cry on her shoulder, call at the last minute, ask for a ride to the airport. But I’m starting to think I got the order wrong.

If I wait until someone local is my best friend forever before making that just-to-say-hi call, I might not be dialing for a good long while. I still remember being a freshman in high school when Callie, then just a friendly acquaintance, walked up to me in the hallway and declared “I’m going to call you tonight.” She did, we talked for hours (or maybe 30 minutes, but in my memory it was hours), and were BFF ever after. The call came first, the bestfriendship followed.

The lesson here: It’s not the relationship that warrants the call. It’s the call that establishes the relationship.

Likewise, I’ve always thought that someone needs to be my best friend before I would bother her with my tears after a bad day. Now I feel like it’s that kind of sobfest that would earn someone BFF status. In those moments—the phone call, the tears—you’re communicating that you trust this person, that you count on them and that they can do the same.

It dawned on me this weekend, when I was trying to think of someone I could ask to join me for a night out. I had Saturday night plans to go to a party where I wouldn’t know anyone. I mentioned it to a faraway friend, explaining that if this were NYC I would ask one of my BFFs to accompany me just to be nice. But here in Chicago? I didn’t feel like I could ask anyone to sacrifice their evening to come with me to a random party, just as a favor. That’s the kind of thing you request of a best friend. And then it dawned on me: I could have asked someone. I have new friends who may not be BFFs (yet!) but they are the type who are always up for something new and fun. And a party night out, just the two of us, could have been the perfect platform to elevate the friendship to BFFness.

So I had a lightbulb moment. I could wait (maybe forever) for someone to magically become my BFF, or I could do what was necessary to turn someone into my BFF. Instead of saying “we’re not there yet” about a friend, I could just, you know, get us there.

Somebody’s got to.

Do you ever do that? Avoid reaching out to someone because you think your friendship hasn’t reached “that level”? And has “that level” ever been reached without one of you making the first move? Telling a secret or making a phone call? Do you agree that the only way to get “there” is to make it happen ?


Filed under The Search

4 responses to “The Best Friendship Chain of Events

  1. I do think the only way to “get there” is to make it happen. People are sometimes “too private” today, and I feel that is inhibiting stronger relationships. My strongest friendships have come when one of us finally loses inhibitions and actually tells the other more of the intimate (and not always best) details of our lives. It shows trust, it invites compassion, and confirms a willingness to “put it all on the table”.

    Male/female relationships can not grow without intimacy. Why would we think that BFF relationships would grow without some form of intimacy as well?


  2. Suzannah

    I absolutely agree. It is completely a ” nothing ventured nothing gained situation”
    My closest friendships have all grown out someone just deciding they were gonna give me a call (actually quite a few calls)! Praise the Lord! I have meet a few ‘Callies’ in my life because I have a very hard time feeling we are ‘there’.
    Even with my nearest and dearest friends I think it thru before issuing an invite, that could at all fall into the category of favor.
    As an adult it feels very presumptive to call another busy lady, to just chat or unload. But you just have to put yourself out there!

  3. Laurie Lee

    I have 2 thoughts on this:

    Back when the phone was the only mode of communication (other than snail mail) life was a lot simpler and I didn’t over think these situations. I just called and asked. In my opinion all the different modes of communication now make us over think these situations. We wonder if calling is too intrusive. If I was on the receiving end with a newer friend it was a nice surprise when they called and took the initiative.

    My other thought is that everyone is always so busy and pre-scheduled. It’s hard to do things on the fly. I often want to call a friend on a Sat morning to see if she wants to go to an exercise class and/or get a Starbucks and then I don’t because she’s probably busy already.

  4. Melinda

    My husband has a friend that he grew up with. His first wife didn’t seem to like anyone but her parents so we didn’t see him that often. His second wife is amazing and I wouldn’t know this if I didn’t put myself out there. They are very social people and have a very diverse group of friends so they are ALWAYS busy or so it seemed. It turned out that everybody thought the same thing I did and they really weren’t as busy as they seemed. So I started calling, even when it was last minute and even though I might still get a few No’s, she always make sure to follow up with plans at another time. However, you’d be surprised how often I get an enthusiastic “YES!” And it goes both ways.

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