Do you ever find it easier to talk to strangers than to friends?
I’m not talking about therapists. Just strangers.
As you know, I spend a lot of my working hours at a coffee shop. I like being something of a fly on the wall there. I often overhear long heart-to-heart talks between friends, (it’s overhearing, not eavesdropping. I swear. Usually) but just as often I’ll catch a snippet of a chat between strangers. These two people will be meeting for the first time, but their chatter can sometimes get personal really quickly.
The other day a woman next to me was talking (loudly, which is why I have all this information) about coming out, and being a devout catholic, and how her parents think her religiousness is a passing phase. She says otherwise, and was telling her coffee companion about her unique role in both the church groups and the gay rights groups of which she is a member.
The conversation went on, and the woman continued to open up more and more. It seemed obvious to me, given her volume as she revealed all this in a public place, that this woman wasn’t especially private. But it struck me that she seemed to be giving this new friend a lot of information about herself. Information that someone might not as easily share with close friends who are entrenched in her life.
I’m a talker. (Surprise!) When something is on my mind, it’s hard for me to keep it to myself. Even if I want to. I process my thoughts by speaking them aloud, and I value input from other people. Most of the time, I’ll talk to my besties. I want the advice of people who know me best. But then there are sometimes when I find myself revealing things to new friends that I might not necessarily tell my BFFs.
Asking advice of a relatively new friend can feel less loaded. They don’t have as big an interest in all the players in your life. They might give you a totally straightforward answer without weighing all the things they know about you and your history first.
I think the best part about talking to a relative stranger over a friend every now and then is that the question won’t come back to haunt you. If you want another’s input on an issue, but then you want to let it go, never to revisit it again, that can’t always happen with a BFF. Your friend, good pal that she is, will likely follow up. See how you’re doing a week later. This is a good thing. This caring is what makes her your best friend. But when you want to try and let something go, friends can make that tough.
So, there’s my long thought process all to get at the question: Do you ever find it easier to talk to relative strangers or new friends than to your besties?
I was really thrilled to contribute to Krystle Klein’s awesome web series “The FatNoMoSho” last week. I weighed in about how friendships influence our body image. Watch it here!