It’s fantastic to have Nina here today writing about different types of friendship because Nina and I met through a “shadchan,” the Hebrew word for “unprofessional matchmaker.” Our
pimp matchmaker was the fabulous Julie C. Gardner. Julie told me to go and check out Nina’s blog.
Best. Click. Ever.
Because when I landed at Nina Badzin’s Blog, suddenly I felt all shivery. Immediately, I knew I wanted to play Mah Jongg with this woman. Seriously, I loved Nina’s writing voice right away. She explained Why She Might (Or Might Not) Follow Me On Twitter and Why Marriage Needs To Come Before The Kids. She even told me about Why I Needed To Eat Her Grandma Suzie’s Brownies. So my cyber-crush quickly developed into a collaborative project, and I am so happy to report I won her cyber-heart. Two months later, I was able to get Nina to commit to a date… to write a guest post. I’ll be at her place next week.
Seriously. I’m going to Minnesota.
If you aren’t following Nina, all I can say is big mistake. Huge.
(Actually, Julia Roberts said that in Pretty Woman.) But it applies here as well. Except Nina is not a prostitute who just bought a lot of clothes. Follow Nina on Twitter at @NinaBadzin.
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Acquaintance is not a Dirty Word
Once upon a time (like a year ago), I over-analyzed the relationships in my life no matter how casual and fleeting. When I was an English teacher, for example, I worried about putting too much time into my colleagues since I knew I’d stay home with my kids within three years. I shied away from getting too chatty with the other moms in various Mommy & Me classes since I already had a few close friends in town. I wondered why I was still keeping in touch with long-distance friends when we would probably never visit each other now that we all had young kids.
It was as if every woman in my life had to fulfill all of my friendship needs. In the past year — probably the cause of having my fourth child and less social time than I had in the past — I’ve accepted that it’s normal, mature, and expected to have different friends for all kinds of reasons. Not everyone needs to reach BFF status. “Acquaintance,” I discovered, is not a dirty word.
Of course we should treasure the close, intimate relationships in our lives. I’m simply suggesting that a friendship is worth something even if it doesn’t fit the Oprah/Gayle standard. I’ve learned to enjoy each kind of friend.
There are friends of convenience.
These friends inhabit your space: co-workers, neighbors, yoga buddies, church friends (synagogue for me), parents with children at the same school. In the past I took the simplicity of these friendships for granted. Take my former colleagues, for example. I probably would have enjoyed our lunches together more had I not worried about whether or not we’d ever transcend the initial stage of friendship. The love of fiction, a hate of the vice principal, and fifth period free should have been good enough for me.
There are friends we simply “really, really like.”
I consider myself extremely lucky to have many friends who fall into this category. Several of these women are people who would probably become even closer friends of mine if we ran into each other more, had more time to spend together, or if each of us had more openings for “very close friends.” See Rachel Bertche’s wonderful memoir MWF Seeking BFF for more on the topic of the “friend card” and when it’s too full.
There are “group friends.”
All of your friends are friends so before you know it, you’re friends too. Birthday clubs, cooking clubs, book clubs—these all have the makings of group friendships. My mom has been in the same monthly bridge group for 40 years. Does she consider every person in the group her closest confidant? No. But she wouldn’t dream of missing the opportunity to help host their kids’ bridal showers, to attend the weddings, send gifts to the grandchildren, and organize the shiva meals for elderly parents and spouses. She wouldn’t analyze whether the friendship only exists because of the group before helping her friend celebrate or mourn.
There are friends bound to us by history.
She stood by you when you had acne, bad hair, embarrassing accessories, and strange taste in boyfriends. Bottom line: she got you through a more vulnerable time. You might not choose her at forty, but you’re friends for life –especially if you’re both on Facebook. But seriously, these friends are keepers no matter how infrequently you see each other and no matter how awkward those first moments of telephone small talk after months or even years of not talking. The quality of the sporadic phone chats or in-person visits with these friends are what help you accept the somewhat surface conversations with your friends of convenience. Different friends for different needs. That’s what I’m preaching here!
There are best friends.
These relationships rise above circumstances, convenience, group status, history, and distance. The only thing problematic about them is their potential to make you devalue the other friendships in your life. Not all friendships get to this level, nor should they. It would be impossible for every relationship to maintain the intensity of the “best” friend.
One last category to appreciate: Internet Friend
If you’re an active blogger and/or Tweeter, then you probably spend more time “talking” to your virtual friends than even your most beloved BFF. Internet chemistry can be felt across the screen, and it’s special. Renée and I clicked as soon as we “met.” And I’m so grateful she let me come here today to talk about valuing each kind of friendship for what it brings to our lives.
Do you appreciate having different friends for different needs? Or do you find yourself over-analyzing your friends?