The friend chain

group at table cropThis weekend we are invited to a picnic. These friends are really friends of friends.

I am always amazed at how we make friends. It’s easier to make individual friends than couple friends. The dynamics between four individuals is so much chancier than between two especially since opposites attract. Now you have four diversely different people who are better suited for a therapy group than dinner.

It’s easier to win the lottery than to make good long-term friends. Just when you think you have a good couple friendship going, someone does something like dies and breaks it up. You are now without an even foursome. It’s tricky to make threesomes work although it can be done. (No, I am not talking about that kind of threesome!)

We are well past the stage where we meet them through kids or work although some of our friends are former work friends.

We meet friends through friends. Sometimes the friendship sticks and sometimes…not so much.

For this picnic, the root person has been my friend for a long time. He was a training consultant with whom I occasionally worked. We would have lunch when he was around and it was always hilarious. We would create outrageous work scenarios. Sometimes there were other consultants included but sometimes it was just the two of us.

When you meet someone you enjoy, you like to share so we “double-dated,” he with his wife and me with the beloved husband. You never know how these things are going to work.

Sometimes a work connection should remain a work connection. All you have in common is work and you can bore spouses to death with a lively chatter of who did what to whom at the water cooler. (Do they still have those things?) Think of going to a class reunion with your spouse who is 10 years older than you. I can guarantee none of the discussion will be interesting. You are lucky if you recognize the music.

Sometimes you like one part of the couple but not the other. The mate can be a total bore or maybe just annoying. We have friends like that. We joke about trying to fix them up with someone else (at age 70).The friendship falls apart or gets one-sided. (Of course we always wonder what their sex life is really like. Is there fifty shades of cranky?)

Sometimes you lose custody of the friendship in a divorce. That happened to me and I was gob smacked. I thought it was a loyalty conflict or awkwardness but I found out later that we both lost custody of them. Maybe divorced people make them uncomfortable. (We can get wild and unruly at times. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I ripped my clothes off in public. Note to self — visit Victoria’s Secret.)

Sometimes it works. When it does, it’s golden. They are hard to come by and precious to nurture. This weekend we will be with friends of friends and some other friends of friends. Throw in some food and drinks and it will be fun!

How do you meet friends?

42 thoughts on “The friend chain

  1. My oldest friend is a school chum who is completely opposite from me. We have been friends for 60 years and met after school one day. Friends who just came 3,000 miles to surprise us with a visit were neighbors who needed to borrow a vacuum cleaner when our son was in diapers – that’s 50 years ago. Explaining how we meet and keep friends is a real puzzlement isn’t it? Another thought provoking post Kate!

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    • It is thought provoking. I don’t think I have any that are similar. My besties from both grade school and high school are dead. I have a really great friend I made when I lived in NJ and I haven’t seen her in 5 years (she’s about 2 hrs away). However, when we do see each other, it’s like old times. You are indeed lucky!

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  2. You nailed it, Kate. We’ve had some couples friends that worked out really well. But there have been others when one of the couples just is not that into the get together. I wonder: Is it them? Is it me? That makes it really awkward. 😉

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  3. Kate, I love this. I know exactly what you mean! I remember my husband had a friend who was a pretty anchor person on a TV station and she was wonderful. But they knew each other from work . As you say this does not always work out. When we went out to dinner, the two work buddies were yukking it up and the husband and I sat there like we were waiting for a bus!

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  4. My late husband was more outgoing than I. When he was alive, we had lots of couples friends. Now many of those friends live in another country or city. I have a long Christmas card list, but I seldom see any of them. A few of my old friends from high school live in nearby cities, and we enjoy getting together when we can. The friends who live nearby are mainly women I’ve met in the last ten years.

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    • I don’t see any of my high school friends, one of my BFFs died a while back. For a while I moved a lot and those friends aren’t nearby. We exchange cards like you but rarely see them. We don’t live in an over 55 community where I understand you can make friends easily. Our neighborhood was our age when we moved here but it’s slowly turning over to 30-somethings. Making acquaintances is easy but the real friends that last is much harder.

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  5. Living where Hubbs grew up meant he has a ton of friends. Most of them I like, others not so much, or perhaps they don’t love me.

    Every once in a while I like to meet a new friend who is all mine. 🙂

    You’re right – couple friends are REALLY hard to come by … MJ

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    • The area I live in is notorious for being a closed community. People stay to themselves and their families. When I live in New Jersey, most people are job transients without nearby family (at least where I lived) and there was always something going on. I loved living there.

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  6. Sailboat people – not the giant luxury kind – the ordinary people who drive old cars to afford the boat or have wind/kite boards on the beaches always seem like long lost family to other sailors – the water and wind ( and terrors dealing with those) is some sort of bond
    Today’s world is full of acquaintances.

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  7. My mother always told me you were blessed if you had one true friend during your life. Aside from Derek, I’ve been blessed with four life long friends, one for forty-one years and the other three for thirty plus years. I meet people easily, but the deep connections are with the long time friends.

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  8. Have fun with your friends and your friends of friends. Until moving here, we made friends through the workplace, most of the time.

    Since being on this extended sabbatical, we’ve met friends through water aerobics, social events in the neighborhood, introductions from acquaintances eager to pawn us off on someone else . . .

    This afternoon we’re going to a cocktail party 3 doors down. It will be our first time in Lynn’s house even though we’ve been neighbors for 5 years.

    Slow and steady. 😎

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  9. Love this: “Now you have four diversely different people who are better suited for a therapy group than dinner.” hahaha I know what you mean! Friends are such wonderful riches. One thing that is a constraint are friends who want to spend much more time together than I have available. That always leads to a drifting apart.

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  10. I have more acquaintances these days than friends. A couple good pals….Camille and Joanne…Amy, Ed. I think it’s great you’re having a picnic…reminds me of my Auntie Ida who always had them at her house…your essay may have inspired me to reblog something…enjoy…nice piece, as always 🙂

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      • Probably true! My young lady grew up in another country speaking a different language, so that couldn’t have happened for us, but surely the “high-school sweetheart” relationships have some opportunity for long-term couples friendships. Anyway, as long as you have good friends you can trust, the dynamics don’t matter than much.

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  11. One of the beauties of urban life: cafés. There are at least 10 in walking distance from me. I usually have my laptop there, and generally write or do research, answer emails, etc. It’s pretty easy to get into conversation with people – They’re often interesting, sitting there writing their latest book, or composing music, or planning their next class, or marking papers, or doing a ‘conference call’ via Skype. My “old man” and I don’t have a foursome rule. So I’ll gradually get to know someone based on mutual interests. Next week, I’ll be walking to a Toastmasters class, a women’s glee club, and on a long walk with a “walking pal” — all opportunities for friendship-building. Interestingly, most of my friends are at least 10-30 years younger. One of the few my age is divorced, and we’re about to have lunch out. But most my age seem to live by formulas – even restrict their conversations to what I call formula chatting — boring, and definitely not good for the mind! I find being retired very freeing too! 🙂

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    • Many of my friends are singles I have met along the way much as you have. I enjoy my girlfriends but dinner with the hubby is nice too. I do agree with that formula thing. I went somewhere with one of my friends just a tad older than me and we had to be home by 4 p.m. so she could make supper for her husband. I was speechless. BTW I was in Toastmasters for over 10 years. Loved it.

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  12. We make friends as a couple probably more than individually. I recently made a new friend in an elevator simply by exchanging niceties. One of our long time couple friends began 52 years ago when she invited my sweet husband, our four little boys (4, 6, 8 and 9) to drop by their place after church our first Sunday on active duty w/the army. She wanted us to see what type of housing we’d probably be assigned…later she said she never thought we’d accept but we did and that was the beginning of our continuing, closest friendship. You never know….and the surprises are awesome!

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  13. Interesting. For us, we make friends as a couple much more easily than as individuals. Never thought about it before, but that’s how it seems to work. When it comes to divorced couples, we always joke about who we’ll get custody of after the split. Not quite as predictable as you might think it’d be. Good topic.

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    • We have made a few couple friends together, usually neighbors, together but most of our couple friends originally belonged to one or the other. Friend custody is not predictable at all.

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