17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Does it Take to Make a Friend?

What does it take to make a friend? Not just a friendly type friend, but a real, capital 'F' Friend.

It seems like many of us girls here on Tales haven't quite been able to make friendships like we did back in Queens. We often talk about how the circumstances surrounding our time in NY were just "right" for fostering lasting friendships (which in a very transitional ward is quite unique I think). Maybe looking back we are able to paint it a little prettier than it actually was, but the fact still remains, we have all been having a hard time making Friends in our new cities. And I kind of think we might not be the only ones out there facing this struggle.

So I am asking all the readers out there to think about the best Friendships in your life. How were they made? What were the circumstances that made them work and grow? How long did it take? Maybe we can figure out some rudimentary formula for making a good Friend and maybe then we can all recreate it in our new homes. Or maybe we will all realize that Friendships are something that have to happen on their own over a long period of time and we'll be even more grateful for the ones we've already been blessed with.


  • Hmmmm.....I think after 10 moves, I've GOT it! Three things that I've found are crucial to the capital "F" type friend.
    1-a decent amount of "stuff" in common
    2-NO COMPETITION(like High School crap)
    3-a true friendship shouldn't weigh you down, exhaust you, or make you feel like you're a therapist....balance!
    ok, maybe 4 things
    4-a love for eachothers kids!
    posted by Anonymous cali at 6/22/2007 03:56:00 PM  

  • I have been wondering the same thing. In college, friends were everywhere: roommates, classses, ward, etc.

    Since moving to Colorado and becoming a mom, it seems all my friendships are fundamentally based on the children first, which subsequently does not result in a strong bond with the other gal. I miss those days when I discussed more than just children; this is the first time in my life I have not had a best friend in close proximity.

    Oh well. I guess there is always email. :-)
    posted by Blogger Amber at 6/22/2007 03:58:00 PM  

  • I think for many of us in Queens, we were well past the stuff that Cali mentioned.... It was easy to see that we had things in common, there was no competition, we didn't have to WORK HARD at being friends and for the most part we loved each others' kids....

    When I look back on that time when we were forging friendships, I hate to say it, but it seems that crisis is what brought us together. We were forced to take down those social barriers and say: Look, I am a new mom and it really sucks, My DH broke his foot, and can you go fix my apt?, my purse was stolen, please help, the power is out, can I come over?, my dog is lost, the bedbugs are back, I have meningitis, I can't get pregnant, I didn't mean to get pregnant, I have a mouse, I am depressed, my DH is screwing up big time, I just got flashed on the subway, I hate New York.

    It was these moments of brutal honesty and no-where-to-turnedness, that forced us to turn to each other and trust each other. And, that raw, honest, life experience, shared, is what made us Friends....or maybe just future Blackmailers...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 6/22/2007 04:38:00 PM  

  • Shared work, rendering loving service to each other, being of use, mourning with each other and rejoicing, sharing our yearnings our joys and our sorrows.
    posted by Anonymous Tatiana at 6/22/2007 08:57:00 PM  

  • For most of my life I've just been friends with whoever has fallen into my life thanks to my circumstances: classmates, roommates, presidency members, visiting teaching companions, work colleagues, whatever. But in the last five or six years, I feel like I'm choosing my friends. I run into someone perhaps just once and think, I like this person, this person is interesting, I want to be friends with this person. And then I work at building a friendship rather than just following the current of circumstantional socializing. And needless to say, the latter kind is a lot better.

    Interestingly, many of these friends I have chosen are non-members. Sometimes I feel like as members of the church we're so overloaded with service and activities and spending time with ward members, who may or may not be good friends, that we don't have a lot of time for other relationships (either in or out of the church). Spending a year and a half in a place where the church didn't exist (Bosnia) taught me how rewarding it can be to actually pursue friendships with people I choose rather than just letting circumstances bring my friends to me--and in this case, they were all non-members.

    But having said that, I definitely feel that my closeness with friends who are not members of the church is limited--it has a ceiling. Because at some point I'm not going to be able to talk to them about my most important feelings, concerns, passions, loves, etc. the same way I can talk to members about them. So, I can easily say that the few (and they are very few) people (besides my husband and sisters) whom I consider my best friends in the world are all members.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 6/23/2007 04:32:00 AM  

  • sunny, I like the way you put that. I too wanted to add that you have to desire to want a friend/be a friend. There is a woman in my buliding who I see making a great effort to be my friend, and that makes me want to put in more effort too...

    as far as your friendships with non-members having a ceiling. I can see that, however I have also shared quite a bit with my friends who are non members, and I feel as if a few of them really do get me and where I am coming from, b/c I have shared so much, and I would argue this is one of the most genuine ways in which we can share the gospel, b/c we are talking about it in the raw context of our lives, and not as a first discussion/general gospel principles/"crazy" doctrine---you baptize dead people?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 6/23/2007 05:40:00 AM  

  • You know- it's just hard. Moving to MT has stunk, because of the friend issue. There are 2 ladies who I think we would get along great, and we do when we see each other (about once or twice a month). BUT- they are SAHM's with at least 3 kids each, and I'm not- to either thing.

    But, in ID it was the same, I lived there for almost 3 yrs and I made 3 fabulous friends. And all three came from walking every night. We all wanted to lose weight, and it was weird at first, but then BOOM! It was awesome, and I miss them dearly. :)
    posted by Blogger Frog Thinks at 6/23/2007 06:53:00 AM  

  • I agree with the comments already here, but I think being friends with someone also means accepting who they are - the good and the bad, and loving them despite the bad. Oh, and you have to be able to laugh together- friends should be fun :)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/23/2007 07:08:00 AM  

  • cali,
    10 moves!! Yikes! I think your number 3 goes along with what Kage said--You need each other but in a balanced way. I have also found in the past that people that have their family close by are harder to become friends with because when they are in need, they have them to turn to first. But that it just my opinion.

    I think when your single, it's easier to make friends because you have more attention to put towards that effort. It seems with the kids around, it's so hard to get through an actual conversation with another person (harder if the other person is a mom too) because of the constant interruptions. You have to be really good at "start and stop" conversations.

    Oh kage,

    I was thinking a lot of the same things, but I was hoping to not have to recreate crisis again. I think I can only go through having a husband with a crushed leg once.
    But, I do think you and Tatiana touched on the underlying strength of these occurrences when it comes to building friendships - letting friends experience the real you. And like anonymous said, your Friends will still like the real you. Letting down your social mask feels very risky which is why sometimes it must take a crisis to make it happen.

    When it comes to circumstances picking your friends vs being able to pick your friends, I feel like at this stage of my life, it's still a little of both. The girl that I am the closest to here in my ward is definitely someone I would have "picked" to be a friend, but thankfully, I was given a calling that requires me to work closely with her. This circumstance has helped allow the relationship to grow at perhaps a quicker pace.

    frog thinks,
    I think you touched on a really important part of making good friends - you have to have regular interaction with them or else those bonds will never form. So if your lives don't mesh, it can be really hard. I think that is one of the biggest problems for me. It seems like everyone is so busy, we can never find the time to be together.

    Sorry this is getting so long. I should have included some of my thoughts in the original post, but I wanted to see what everyone else came up with.

    My final thought is this - Sometimes I run into people that I would love to be Friends with, but I get the feeling they already have enough Friends. Have you ever had a time in your life when you had "enough" Friends? That you just didn't have the time to invest in making a new Friend? I mean I kind of understand, how many good friends can you really have?
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/23/2007 08:21:00 AM  

  • I was just thinking about this the other day... When I moved to the Northwest from California five years ago, I left all my friends there. I had to go out of my comfort zone to find new ones...

    It does seem sometimes that the women in church are so busy, there can be time for only superficial connections. I'm not interested in this. And I don't want a friend who only cares about me because I am assigned to her.

    It has taken me most of the five years here to actually begin to carve out some genuine friendships. I've come to the conclusion it just takes time to do this- very seldom do genuine friendships happen overnight.

    Most of the points made my the other women are all good. Kids cannot be the only thing you have in common- that's sandy ground.

    I find I'm more selective now about where I put my 'friend' energy. There are a few women I have met who I feel a connection with, and like Sunny said, I put more into those connections, and usually with good results.

    I don't feel like there is a ceiling on my friendships with non-members- maybe that's becasue I am a convert- but like Kage said, if I can share the nitty-gritty of my life, it really is sharing the gospel in a genuine way. If I were to look at my friendships with no-mo's as limited, I would be limiting the gospel's impact in my life.
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 6/23/2007 08:44:00 AM  

  • I'm also a convert, and I don't think there is any ceiling on my friendships with non-members. My closest friends in the world are a spiritual but not-organized-religion fellow, a committed Catholic, an atheist-raised-Sikh, and an atheist-raised-Hindu. I can talk to any of them about anything. We all have the same ideals and deep aims and morality, it's just dressed in different outward signs and thoughts. I love them all so much.

    I feel, on the contrary, that there is some constraint preventing me from having deep true friendships with latter day saints, for some reason that I can't fathom.
    posted by Anonymous Tatiana at 6/23/2007 10:29:00 AM  

  • I think by ceiling she meant a limit of things that can openly be talked about. You can't really talk about a temple experience with a non-member without leaving out a bunch of details.
    posted by Anonymous Amy at 6/23/2007 12:09:00 PM  

  • What I think I want in a friend now is just someone who I can totally be myself around. And Carrie, I've TOTALLY had that experience (recently actually) where I feel like I would be really good friends with someone but they haven't responded to my efforts. I find myself concluding that they feel like they already have enough friends. But I'm like you, who doesn't want more friends?! Especially when you seem like you have things in common and your kids are the same age.

    I do think that some friendships take longer to cultivate and maybe we give up before really putting in the extra effort. Sometime I find myself having a playdate with a mom and thinking right off the bat, "oh, we don't have much in common". Then I have to sort of remind myself that I don't even know her yet. And she doesn't know me either.

    Since I've moved from Queens I have had an experience where I met some AMAZING girlfriends out here. But the situation was sort of similar to Queens in that the ward was very small and we just needed eachother (for mom support, etc.). I don't think you have to share such intense experiences together to get to the point of being close with another woman, but obviously finding someone you feel comfortable enough to share those things with will bond you even more.

    And maybe it's b/c I'm a convert, but I have to say that friendships with non-members don't have to have a "ceiling". I understand the thinking there, but that is just not my experience at all. You don't have to divulge the specifics of the temple to share a personal spiritual experience that you had there? And sharing that experiece w/o the details can bring you just as close to a non-member friend as it can with a member. I think you just have to make sure you've surrounded yourself with people who really know you, and love you for who you are and what you believe despite their own beliefs. Maybe it's a tall order, but I believe it is out there.

    Most of my friends that live near me are LDS, but I find myself thinking - why do I limit myself to friends at Church? Why not try to make a playdate with a mom I talk to a lot at the park? Sorry so long, I guess the "non-member friends" issue is kinda another post all together. Oh, and also I agree with the list that Cali has at the top. Very good.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/23/2007 01:35:00 PM  

  • Carrie,
    I don't think you can ever have "enough" friends. I think I'll be making new frienships throughout my life but I know that right now I'm satisfied and preoccupied with ones I have and I'm not really looking for new ones. My needs are being met. I wouldn't decline friendship to anyone but I guess I just like things to be small and simple. I'm the type that is always deleting numbers out of my phone.
    posted by Blogger Maria Tortilla at 6/23/2007 06:24:00 PM  

  • I am one of those with a lot of family nearby and I would say that it makes making friends very difficult. I just don't have the time to pursue friendships because family activities take up so many of my days and evenings. It isn't that I don't want to be friends or dislike spending time with friends, on the contrary, I would love to have more friends with whom to do lunch or even playdates. But family comes first and I know that I am blessed to have them close. I don't think there is a solution to my quandary.
    posted by Anonymous colds1 at 6/23/2007 08:08:00 PM  

  • Amen to Kage's comments.

    I agree that it is harder to make Friends with folks in areas where families do live close together. Like Colds1 said. I'm in a small town now, where people live by family and freindships with townspeople have been developing for generations. Some people say it's hard to make friends here because of cliques. I think it's all relative. I've found my neighbors to be incredibly friendly. Perhaps I will find closest friendships with other "transplants", we shall see. All in time.

    It is the best when you can be your absolute most real self with the capital F Friends. Those dorky things about you and your friends just bring you closer!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 6/25/2007 10:30:00 AM  

  • Wow, have I been thinking about this lately, our family moved to a new ward a year ago this month. I still haven't made the types of friendships that I made in my last ward. I think friendship has a lot to do with service. Serving someone else, and then accepting their service to you. And what I mean is being there for one another. It's also really nice when the husbands and children get along. In my case I don't have children of my own, I have a stepson, and at times it's difficult to find things in common with other women. However, family phase put aside, I think it comes down to bringing your walls down, and becoming vulnerable. This is just beginning to happen with me, and only because of my new calling. I think all of us are scared of acceptance, I mean true acceptance. You want to have a friend where your weaknesses are out in the open, and know that they won't take advantage of that. The type of relationship where you can share the things that are way deep down inside, and not be judged or ridiculed(those crazy ideas you're afraid to say out loud), and have them feel the same way about you. Unconditional Love. I think that once you have that and then you are separated by distance, it's hard to venture out again, especially if you've been hurt by a friend before. As sad as it is, there are people out there who don't make good friends, and we want to protect ourselves. I think you also have to realize that all friendships are different, and the right circumstances will occur in time.
    posted by Blogger Lilian at 6/25/2007 02:31:00 PM  

  • For me my closest friends share these traits

    1) Little things make them happy
    2) They are easily amused
    3) They don't like cats (I am deathly allergic to them, so this is a really important quality for me)
    4) They love food
    5) They enjoy adventure
    6) They are a good mix of the modern woman and a grounded mama

    The dearest friends I have share 17 year of memories with me, so sometime for me its easier to pick up my cell phone and talk to them than reaching out to a new neighbor down the street. I also think that with kids its hard to even fit in a full conversation to get to know new people I often feel that people meeting me now might mistaken my distracted conversations for ADD.

    I have found the best way for me t o connect with other is through service. I love serving other people and feel that it opens doors for them to know that I truly care about them. I am trying to be better about reaching out to people because you never know when your friendship may be needed
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/26/2007 09:35:00 AM  

  • I'm a little late on this post but whatever. . . here are my thoughts.

    I came to the conclusion a long time ago that you will have only so many TRUE friends in your life.

    One of my best friends and I used to often describe our friendship in dating terms. We joked about being a "couple." But in fact, our friendship DID start off like a lot of dating relationships . . . we showed some interest, struck up conversation and finally one of us asked the other to "hang out." We met at work (a restaurant back in our college days) and we both thought the other person seemed cool, but didn't know how to break the ice. . . one of us started with random questions " Do you like such and such band?" And somehow we started hanging out all the time. So yes, I agree with the whole idea that it takes work.

    And friends are different. I have some friends that I rely on for some things while I wouldn't necessarily go to other friends for the same problem. Also, some friends and I have fought like sisters. . . but I've had other really close friends that I've never had a fight with (yes it's possible).

    Also, one point that I love from CS Lewis (The Four Loves)might also explain why your group from Queens was so close. Basically he says that while romantic love is between 2 poeple (or should be) friendship is not limited in number and in fact gets better with the number. ". . . if of three friends (A, B and C) A should die, B loses not only A but A's part in B and C loses not only A but A's part in B. In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity. . . Hence true friendship is the least jealous of the loves."

    I like that idea and have found it to be true.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 6/29/2007 02:55:00 PM  

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