Has the lockdown made it easier or harder for you to connect meaningfully with friends? In your ‘normal’ life were you someone who navigated friendships with ease or could you, now you’ve stopped to think about it, do with a manual?
I argue that for many, friendships are trickier to navigate than sexual relationships. For example, there are some known possible goals when you first meet a potential lover. It might just be that you want to sleep with them. It might be that you want a loving life-partner, it might be that you want marriage with all the trimmings. Though it can be hard to broach questions like ‘so, do you want kids one day?’ or, ‘shall we move in together?’ these milestone moments are so ingrained in our culture that individuals do, generally, feel they have a right to ask them of their new partner if not in the first week, then perhaps over the first few months of dating.
But what about when you meet a potential new friend? Chances are they haven’t found you on Tinder. Chances are they don’t know if you’re ‘just looking for something casual’ or ‘looking for the one’. And how often have you told that new friend what you’re looking for in a friendship? Hands up if you’ve ever actually had the courage to say ‘I’m desperately seeking a best-friend. You need to be available for weekly coffee dates, have a sofa-bed in case I need to crash after we’ve been drinking, cry at weddings, sing karaoke and share my shoe size (7.5)’. No? No-one? My bet is many of you are more like me: you might meet and connect with people easily enough, you may even be lucky enough to call them a friend a few months down the line…but what about that limbo feeling? ‘Do they like me?’ ‘Is suggesting a second meet-up this week stalker-ish?’ Can we all stop being so British about friendship please and put some navigation tools into the general domain?
I’m Tessa. I have moved areas 3 times for work in recent years and I’m bloody lucky: I have a few best friends. But we’re geographically challenged. And they don’t even know each other, it’s not like we were ‘a crew’ and I moved away. With each house-move I have quelled the urge to wear a sign on my head with ‘NEW (LOCAL) BEST FRIEND REQUIRED. ENQUIRE BELOW.’ I’m a very heart-on-my-sleeve kinda girl. My partner jokes that I scared all previous lovers away by getting down to the nitty-gritty (I mean questions like ‘Do you want to move to the Outer Hebrides with me?’ not THAT nitty-gritty…) in his words, ‘refreshingly’ soon. But IS honesty the best policy with new friends? I know I’ve scared my share of potential ‘besties’ away. And I know they probably weren’t worth it if they scared easily…but maybe I need a new framework for friendship? Maybe I need, maybe we all could do with…a Formula for Friendship?