Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sara and Melissa talk about...Friendship!

We recently started a new column series to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about friendship! We're open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Melissa Amster:

Is it possible to become close friends with someone you've never met in person?

The answer is a resounding YES!!! And I have your proof right here. While I make friends with a lot of people I meet online, one of them comes to mind often because of the type of friendship we have.

Let me start with how we met. This story goes back to 1995, when I became friends with a guy I met online because he liked my handle, which was "Magenta" at the time. He was a Rocky Horror fan and we connected over that fact and met up every once in a while at the movie theater where it was playing. We were both in serious relationships, so it was never more than a platonic friendship. Several years later, he moved out west and we stayed in touch sporadically. Around 2007 or 2008 (after I had already moved out east), we connected via Facebook and he shared about this woman he met and how he had proposed to her. For some reason, I asked him to introduce us online. In the beginning, she and I commented on each other's posts or noticed things we had in common. A few years later, I asked her to join a blog project group that I was in with my best friend and one of her friends. We got to know each other through this project and started e-mailing a lot on the side. At one point, we did blog posts where we pretended to do a Freaky Friday like switch (here's my side of it).

Around this same time, I had invited her to write guest book reviews for CLC and eventually asked her to join as a review associate. I admired her dedication and thought she wrote great reviews. All the while, we were still e-mailing each other or messaging almost daily. Over time, we have built up to several e-mail "novels" that we try to stay on top of, even when life gets in the way. When some local friends got me into 90 Day Fiancé, I paid it forward to her and now we text our commentary during the "Tell Alls." We have tons of inside jokes, thanks to that show along with our wacky sense of humor. We also talk about other TV shows that we have in common, our love for The Princess Bride, relationships, motherhood, our lives growing up, and sometimes more serious topics. We have yet to meet in person, but I know when we finally do, it will feel like we've known each other that way the whole time.

So the next time someone tells you that you can't possibly become close friends with someone you met online, share this post with them.

P.S. If you haven't guessed by now, the friend I've been referring to is our very own Sara Steven! :)

Sara Steven:

I’ve maintained a friendship with a close friend of mine for nearly thirty years now, and just yesterday as I wrapped up an email to her, the last paragraph of what she’d sent to me focused on the fact that she’s always seen herself as the type of person who didn’t have many friendships. She’s always been more of an introvert, so that viewpoint didn’t surprise me. What did is that she’s noticed how, if she really got down to it and focused on her support system, she is not lacking in the friendship department at all. In fact, she has quite a few that she’s cultivated over the last several years, in which she replied, “Take that, social anxiety!”

My response to her was how we’re gleaning from one another’s personalities. How I’d always been seen as the social butterfly, picking up friendships like slipping various collectible rocks into my pocket to save for later, while she’d always remained at a distance and had a more scrutable eye for people. I’m digging into her introverted mannerisms while she’s picking up on my extroverted vibes, an interesting shift that widens the gap but brings us closer together the more we age.

And the older I get, the less friendships I have. The less amount of people I want in my tight circle, to join the ranks of my support system. It’s strange, because I feel like I’ve spent so many years trying to make friends with everyone, to get along, to feel that special acceptance a friendship can invoke. But with time and distance and a shift in priorities- family, children, me- I’ve held fast to some, and let go of others.

Not that it’s been easy. I once blogged about my penchant for collecting people.  It’s hard letting anybody go, but with age comes wisdom, and some of the friendships I tried so hard to hold onto, were the same ones that proved to be the most damaging, or toxic. It took a long time for me to see that. I guess that’s where I picked up on my own scrutable eye, in becoming more careful on who I let in.

The other thing I’ve let go of, are the judgments I’ve had against maintaining “real” friendships- the ones you maintain in person, vs. the ones you have with someone online. I used to believe you’d never really get to know someone through an online connection. That it didn’t count if it wasn’t in person. Boy, was I totally wrong. A good example of an amazing friendship that has spanned over a decade would be the one I share with Melissa, my co-conspirator on this blog post. We’ve yet to meet in person, but we chat nearly every single day! She’s definitely become a part of my support system, and I’m grateful for that. Really, I’m grateful for all the friendships I have, the people who are in my corner, whether they’re in my vicinity or not. Particularly now, with everything going on in the world.

In whatever capacity, and however we view our own friendships in the world- in person, online- cherish them. Develop your own scrutable eye, and hold close to you the wonderful people who are a support for you and in return, allow you to be a support for them, as well. I think it gets harder the older we get, in maintaining friendships and making new ones. It makes what we have all the more important. We need our friends, right now, more than ever. Maybe Woodrow T. Wilson had something when he said “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” It really just might.

Your turn! Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you.

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