Ever since doing my yearlong search, I find that my visits to New York City are filled with realizations about friendship. If my time in Chicago is a case study in budding relationships—how they form, what makes them thrive, what to do when they aren’t working out—then my trips to New York give lifer friendships, the ones you’ve had for a decade or more, the same treatment.
Over the past five days I’ve been in New York, I’ve realized that one of the things I love about longstanding friendships is the fact that you can call each other out on stuff. My oldest friends know everything about me—the good, the bad, the crazy—and I know they love me anyway. So when Sara calls me out on acting like an insecure loon, for example, I laugh and realize she’s right. I don’t get offended or embarrassed.
I’ve seen it happen over and over this weekend. Someone behaves in a way that is characteristically silly, and her pals acknowledge it—sometimes teasing, other times more constructively. Of course it’s a fine line. No one wants to be friends with someone who is constantly correcting her, but I like having BFFs who hold me accountable. I want a friend who will honestly tell me when I’m right and when I’m wrong.
Plus, it’s funny. When I’m at dinner and one girl makes a comment about a guy she’s dating and her BFF says “that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You’re nuts,” that makes me laugh.
With new friends, call outs usually don’t happen. For a couple of reasons. First (and this actually makes the case for new friendships), we act like the best versions of ourselves with friends we don’t know as well. We try not to unleash the crazy. With new friends, we’re “on,” and that means we’re quite focused and conscious of how we’re behaving. With old friends, we’re so relaxed and so ourselves that sometimes we let our less-than-best selves show. I don’t mean our mean sides or anything… just the full picture. No one is perfect, and with old friends we don’t try to be.
Second of all, even if we do act wacky with new friends, we’re probably not yet at the place to call it out. If Sara told me I was going off the deep end, or somehow acting inappropriately, I’d take a good look at my behavior and likely try to change it. If someone new said as much, I’d probably go first to hurt/embarrassed/defensive.
I’ve seen it over and over this weekend. With me, with others, with groups of BFFs.
What do you think? Do you agree the act of “calling out” is the difference between old friends and new? I wonder how long a friendship needs to last before the call-outs start. Thoughts?