Best Friendship Tip Ever

5:45 PM

Sometimes friends get in the way. 

I'm a big kid with homework, a job, meal-making, grocery shopping, and a relentless need for a nap. It gets hard keeping in touch with my best friends, not to mention the less-close friends who want to keep in touch with me or the new friends I want to make. Time seems to fly now that I'm almost a grownup. That and energy. Right out the door. Hello, beloved couch.

Being an anti-social extrovert (meaning I share emotions like an extrovert and avoid social situations like an introvert), I hate, hate, hate navigating the mess of time, energy, and friendships. It takes everything in me to even schedule a catch-up phone call, much less an entire get-together. By the time I've finished texting get-together plans, I want to curl up in bed and hate on the world. And if I cannot come up with an excuse in time to get out of prearranged plans (I always try to get out of prearranged plans even with people I like), I'll get together with my friend or take that phone call and then secretly pine away for an isolated corner with pillows and books the entire time.

This is my consistent hanging out pattern. I resigned myself to a friendless existence a long time ago. 

Still, I love friends. I love people. I enjoy interesting or stupid conversations that end up in either soul bonding or uncontrollable giggling. I go crazy without seeing people for more than a few hours. I want to keep up with all my friends back home, all my school friends around the U.S., my family, and even the occasional online friend. And I also want to read, write, and ignore social obligations. Oh, and sleep. 

How am I supposed to be an adult, a writer, and a friend in a limited sixteen-hour day and seven-day week? 

Here I unleash the best friendship tip ever. Are you ready for this?

Live together.

I mean this both literally and vaguely metaphorically. If you want to grow close to someone, room with her. Random questions, cooking dinner, afternoon reading, and life's ups and downs automatically bond two different people together. I work, live, and go to school with my best friend here. We started out as okay friends, got stuck together as roommates (to her delight), and then just lived together for the past two years. 

In the big world of reality, you spend most of your time working, studying, or lounging around the house. My closest friends are the ones I worked, studied, or lived with.

Live together takes on a slightly different meaning when you work with not-so-awesome coworkers or aren't a college kid spending the summer with her roommate. It basically means invite friends to do "life stuff" instead of scheduling weekly coffee dates. (Who has money and time for coffee dates?!)

It's more convenient, yes, but it's also more natural to develop close friendships within your life instead of constantly keeping up relationships in this awkward social bubble that only tangentially intersects with the everyday world. 

I met up with three friends and my sisters for a whirlwind weekend of wedding shopping. We got in some girl chat time, but we spent most of the 6+ hours in the mall eyeing the $5 jewelry sale and nixing potential bridesmaid dresses. Super shallow and super chill on the outside, but so good. We got things done, and we did it together.

Cooking meals, getting together to read, washing cars, and sewing dance costumes are all things I've recently done to keep in contact with busy friends. 

You know, this best friendship tip ever also gives me freedom to regulate my relationships. I focus on investing more time and energy in friends depending on their geographical location to me (with the exception of the boyfriend and my family, who always take precedence just because I adore them all). Out-of-state friends rarely hear from me, especially during the school year. It's not that I dislike people or don't want to keep up the friendship --- it's just that true friendship involves sharing life. If we can't share life together, we hit the pause button on our relationship until we pick it up once I come home. 

Even at school, where we all live within five miles of each other, I prioritize the friends I live with over friends I only bump into occasionally. Voila! No dealing with pressure to become best friends with everybody in my life. No conflict between fulfilling responsibilities and maintaining relationships. No need to decide between friendship and reading that new library book -- just invite friends into the living room to read with you! 

More practical tips at Verily and Cup of Jo for inviting friends into your life!

Photo creds by Elena Marie's Photography.

What are your favorite ways to "do life" with your friends?

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15 impressions

  1. "Being an anti-social extrovert (meaning I share emotions like an extrovert and avoid social situations like an introvert)..."

    I'm the opposite. I tend to keep my emotions to myself-the bad ones, at least-until it becomes too much and I dissolve in a puddle of tears in front of my parents, close siblings, or best friends. But I LOVE hanging out with people and being in social situations. It probably has to do with the fact that Quality Time is one of my top love languages. Technically, I'm an INFP, but I have strong extrovert tendencies. I'm right on the line between the two. I could pass for either one, most likely.

    "Living together" is a great way to draw close to friends. (My best friends live in my house, but siblings have a bond to begin with so maybe it's unfair to include them in this discussion. :) ) I learned so much about my close friends by doing school together (meeting one day a week for home school co-op). We all got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in each other, and it drew us closer. That's one specific example I can think of.

    1. We would be great friends, Rebekah! INFPs and ENFJs are allegedly the personality types that go together perfectly. :D

      I think siblings are so close because they're the ultimate example of how living together brings people close. And homeschool co-op is a GREAT way to make friends. My BFF and I bonded over chemistry and biology. ;)

    2. Well, I'd be for that! You seem like a fun person to be around. ;)

      Yes!! I totally agree about the siblings thing, especially when you're homeschooled. You have to learn how to get along for starters. I knew my friends for ~5 years before we did school together, so we had already bonded. Those were our tween years though. I did do both biology and chemistry with one of my best friends. Enter cheesy statement, "What a coincidence!" :)

    3. Ironically, Rebekah's brother chiming in here, I'm an ENFP, and one of my best friends fro m school is an INFJ. I actually met two INFJ girls in the same semester in different classes (one of those being the aforementioned), and we're both really close.

    4. That's so interesting! If I remember correctly (at least from the site I was reading), it appears that with several personality types, the P and J matter the least....which would make sense that an ENFP and an INFJ would get along so well since ENFJ and INFP go together.

  2. Man, the more I read your blog, the more I love you. You are always so candid about the things people think, yet are too afraid to say. This post is me in a nutshell lately. There are so many things begging for my time, and a lot of them are people. I'm an INFP, but I look like an ENFP on the outside by how "outgoing" I can be (when in reality I'm actually just like you, trying to get out of pre-arranged plans, or dreaming about what I'd be doing if I wasn't presently living out said plan). But I love the whole "living together" concept. The "catch up over coffee" mentality is a drain on my life, and I have to cut out whole portions of my day to compensate for them. It's good to remember that you don't have to be doing anything to be together, and that sometimes being is better fellowship than doing. Thanks for making me not feel so alone in my love of people and hate for catch up plans!

    1. "Sometimes being is better than doing." I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. New life motto? :D

  3. This is brilliant! And I say that as a true, hard-core introvert (INTJ) ;-)


    1. It's so funny how many of my most faithful commenters are introverts! I love it!

    2. Internet socialization is just about the greatest thing ever for introverts. It's asynchronous, so we can respond when we are up to it, and it's written, so we can think about what we want to say and not have to worry about the conversation being three miles down the road before we've collected ourselves enough to share with the class.

    3. I definitely don't prefer internet socialization over real life socialization, but I do love being able to respond on my own time. That's why I love texting over calling. It's less invasive of everyone's time. :)

  4. ENFP chiming in!

    Exactly. Who has time for *weekly* coffee dates? I do appreciate the occasional one, though.

    Hey, when you come back in August, I'll invite you over and we can clean/organize my sewing area instead, okay? *grin*

    1. I will always be down for a coffee date or organization. ;)

  5. Interestingly enough, I've recently been thinking about how to do more with friends instead of just talking. I pretty much always want to talk, and with my closer friends I could probably chat for hours. I love talking and listening, and especially about deep personal/spiritual things. Also philosophical and logical things, but more the personal/emotional stuff. However, I have a tendency to get WAY to connected emotionally to people too soon. I don't slowly break the ice, I like to take a jackhammer to it! "Tell me about your childhood" and all that great stuff. I don't actually have like big or personal questions in a list in my mind; I usually just talk about really personal stuff of my own and then sort of guilt trip other people into sharing. I've realized that it is manipulative, but I sometimes console myself (for better or worse) by saying that my only goal is for them to like me/us to get close.

    That was sort of ranty and slightly off-topic. Basically, I'm like the opposite of you and can almost never get enough of what I consider good conversation, which can be goofy or serious, as long as it's not boring. Which is, of course, subjective...

    As to your question, probably my favorite thing to do with friends is drive or walk. It allows for really good conversation, but pauses aren't nearly as awkward. Also, you can easily return to small talk like "Isn't this flower pretty?" or "Look at the trees!" I also love to play music with and for friends.


    1. Oh, don't get me wrong --- the majority of my friendships involve talking, even while we're doing life! I LOVE real, deep questions about my life. I think living life together facilitates those kind of conversations, which is why college friendships are so great. Music is one of my favorite ways to spend time with people!! We jam out all the time. It's a blast. You're so right about walks and drives too.


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