Today, June 8, is National Best Friend Day. The easy thing to do would be to write a posting on the glories and joys of a BFF. But, I figure most of us have a sense of how good it feels when we have that best friend... the bigger trick is how to get it if we don't currently have it.
I Want a Best Friend, a BFF
When most of us start craving more friendship-- it's usually for that idealistic friendship. We want the women who see us, know us and love us. We want that relationship that is comfortable, known, and easy.
Unfortunately, we can't just go out and find that BFF because she doesn't exist. At least not yet. A best friend has to be developed, not discovered. Meaningful friendships simply don't exist before we put in the time to create them.
This one little misguided expectation is what seems to throw off the best of us.
When members in the GirlFriendCircles.com community get frustrated, it is typically around the gap in expectations between what we want and what we find. Meaning, we want deep friendships that are comfortable and require little energy, but what we find are strangers that require us getting to know each other. And so we are tempted to give up. We sigh in defeat that we aren't meeting our best friends.
How to Make a Best Friend
Best friends are made up of two non-negotiable ingredients, I think.
Undoubtedly, there are a thousand definitions/preferences/nuances... such as if you think your BFF needs to be just like you, have a certain temperament, share specific interests, live in a defined proximity, or have proven herself to you by any number of tests. All things that can increase chemistry and connectedness, for sure!
But for every rule, there is evidence of the opposite being true, too. Indeed, when most of us start a friendship we, not surprisingly, want that person to be at our same life stage and be as similar to us as possible. And yet, as BFF's survive history and time together, it's amazing how different our paths can become, proving that friendship isn't dependent on that which we thought brought us together. Which then makes BFF's this elusive creature where we're never quite sure what fosters the relationships we most crave. So we walk away from many amazing women because we're not sure how to get from meeting people to making friends, from here-to-there. If it wasn't instant, we doubt the potential.
The Frientimacy Triangle
So, today, on National BFF Day I wanted to blog for a moment on what I call the Frientimacy Triangle. I've modified it from various marriage workshops to be used for friendship purposes.
In a nutshell, we all start at the base of the triangle with every person we meet. And if a healthy committed relationship is what we desire, then we must move up the triangle by both increasing commitment and intimacy at the same rate. An increase on one side of the triangle begs to be matched by the other side.
As our platonic intimacy (defined, in part, by our ability to be vulnerable, and our giving/receiving of affection) grows, so should our commitment to that person. And vice versa, as our commitment (defined, in part, by our level of engagement and willingness to protect the relationship) grows, so should our intimacy. Should we accelerate one too fast our triangle becomes lopsided and falls, not reaching the pinnacle.
A BFF then, should be a person we feel committed to and honest with. Which theoretically could take months and years. For none of us should be walking around committing ourselves to strangers, no matter how charming, fun and engaging they are. No matter if we perceive them to be our twin.
Commitment has to be raised inch-by-inch up the triangle. The highest level of commitment I can make to someone is "I will stay in touch with you and be a close friend no matter what." And I don't make that lightly. For I know that as life changes-- divorces, moves, babies, our kids fighting, retirement-- that many of my friendships lower on the triangle won't make the transition. That doesn't make them less important or devalue what they offer for the time we share. But it's not realistic that I will stay in touch with every person I meet and like. It's a commitment that is grown. Commitment is earned, as is the trust that will invite us to be vulnerable.
So neither should we walk around vomiting our emotional stories on new friends. Many women make the mistake of thinking that just because they share something deep and raw that these two people should now feel super close. Unfortunately, if the commitment is not yet there, the relationship can actually feel quite awkward and shaky, holding too much emotion, too early.
(Note: Here's an old blog I wrote on Frientimacy-- highlighting how important commitment is when you increase the vulnerability.)
Celebrating Your BFF Day
So I'm all for gushing over our BFF's. And if you have one-- by all means call her today and tell her how much you adore her. It's a good call to receive!
But should you not have one, or want to foster more than one (or the all too common: "have-one-that-I-never-really-talk-to-so-therefore-actually-wonder-if-we-are-in-fact-BFF's"), then I want to encourage you this National BFF Day to give the gift to yourself of committing to the journey of building that meaningful friendship this year.
Acknowledge how much time it takes to build a healthy friendship where both sides of your triangle are growing stronger. Simply whispering a secret doesn't do it, nor can you just meet over coffee and pinky-promise yourself into a significant friendship. But you can keep doing both of those things and, over time and continued energy, find yourself a friendship that matters.
*** Last Invitation to this summer's 21-Day Friendship Journey starting next week. A tele-course and daily workbook to help you strategize how to foster the relationships around you that matter most. If you're craving more meaningful friendships-- this curriculum won't disappoint! Join us with discount blog to save $10.