Friendship is important

We're waking up to how important friendships are, but they take work

I’ve been wanting to write about friendship, but I’m not sure what I wanted to say about it, but friendship has been on my mind a lot lately and I sense it’s something everyone else is thinking a lot about, too.

My most popular newsletter of all time, was where I talked to my best pal and podcast co-host, Anna Codrea-Rado about our friendship. In Friendships are the greatest loves stories of our lives, I wrote:

Friendships are so fundamental to the quality of our lives and yet are so often overlooked and maybe it doesn’t need to be that way…’ 

I’ve noticed that articles about friendship have been doing the rounds on the internet and whenever I share one of them in this newsletter, they get the highest clicks from readers. So, we’re showing an interest in friendship and I’m curious why.

Perhaps it’s because we have been so deprived of time with our friends this year, that we’re more aware of their impact on our happiness when we do see them. I’m at my most relaxed in the company of friends and when I get home from spending time with them, I feel so full of joy that I feel like a big bowl of hot chocolate. 

So much busyness has been stripped from our lives this year and, in theory, it’s allowed more time for our friends. In the earlier days of the pandemic, I wrote about my love of the unscheduled phone call and said: 

‘I hope that out of this collective angst, we’ll emerge more open and vulnerable in our friendships.’

Of all my naive, early-stage pandemic predictions, I’m going to predict that this will be the one that is most likely to come true.  

I was walking around London Fields this weekend, with what felt like the rest of London, because it was so packed. While this was a comic view of what is supposed to be a lockdown, I also saw something which I thought was a beautiful: people desperate to socialise with each other, but trying to do the right thing by doing it all outside. I smile when I see a pair, sitting two metres apart on a park bench in the drizzly cold with little beer cans placed between them. 

In England, we’re allowed to go for walks with one other person and we’ve been so fast to adapt to these rules, such is our craving to socialise, that everyone is out walking, whatever the weather or time of day. On Monday, I went for a late-afternoon walk in the dark with a friend, with a Starbucks toffee nut decaf oat milk latte each to keep us warm. 

I suspect there’s some anxiety happening around friendships at the moment, too. We may feel weird about getting back in touch with people we haven’t spoken to for months or maybe we’re not sure how to make new friends at this time. Socialising has been so heavily disrupted for us this year that we now physically feel a craving for it in our soul. So perhaps some of that anxiety may come from the realisation of how important friendship is to us, but not quite knowing how to move forward with that knowledge. 

When I was bitching about how the men on Hinge that want me to eat carbs, I wrote that: 

‘Nothing is ever effortless.’ 

This is also true for friendships and isn’t spoken about enough —we need friendship advice like we do dating advice.  I’m fortunate in my friendships, especially because I live in the city I grew up in, but I also believe friendships, like anything fulfilling in life take work. That’s particularly true as I get older and even more true in a pandemic. 

I actively pursue single and freelance friends because it’s important to me to have friends who have a similar lifestyle to me. We can find friends on the internet like we can find a boyfriend on a dating app. 

I love new friends, but it’s also important to me to bend and stretch and actively make older friendships work as our lifestyles diverge. Change is anxiety-inducing and so while we may be happy for our friends who are pursuing different paths to us, it can also be scary and may make us worry they’ll abandon us. We run the risk of pre-rejecting our friends before they’ve rejected us, even though they had no intention of doing so. 

If a friendship has a solid foundation then different life paths shouldn’t matter. My best friend had a baby in June and I couldn’t be less worried about the impact that will have on our friendship. We’ll just have to be creative in how we socialise, as everyone has spent the whole year doing as we’ve been responding to the every-changing pandemic rules. Similarly, Anna Codrea-Rado has now moved out of London and while I did have to adapt to no longer being walking distance from each other, Whatsapp has the data on our chats to prove that it’s not an issue.

We must allow our friends to grow and change as we desire change and growth for ourselves. We must make space for different life choices and encourage them to take their own paths. I have friends I used to party with who are now sober and we still manage to have deep chats without the booze. I have friends who have moved away and it just means we just have to make plans further in advance than we did before.

New friendships also play a role in maintaining your old ones, so you can still have certain needs filled without getting resentful of your friends who can no longer meet them. Sometimes you want to meet someone who’s available to see you last minute or is also serving on the front lines of dating and can relate to you on the same level. 

I think something amazing is happening and we’re beginning to place a higher value on friendships, even if that’s causing us a bit of worry.  So perhaps that’s all I wanted to say about friendship: friendship is important and I’m appreciating it more than ever and I suspect that I’m not alone in that.

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The goss

🖍️ Come to life-writing school with me and the incredible (new-ISH) friend Nicola Slawson. If you’re a budding writer and want to know how to pitch your ideas to editors and how to keep coming up with fresh ideas, grab a ticket now! Also, check out Nicola on the Storyteller podcast and I loved this Insta post of hers:

A post shared by Nicola Slawson (@nicola_slawson)

🎙️   We brought the pod back for a special bonus episode, listen to how we think the great remote-work experiment has failed. And check me out on the Rebuilders podcast where I cover a lot of the themes of this newsletter and my work. 

🤳 This Insta live between Mo Gawdat and Elizabeth Day is a raw and honest chat from two people whose work I hugely admire. They talk about how much you can learn about yourself from dating and Mo also talks about how you should say congratulations when there’s a breakup, which I also wrote about for Stylist in Why you should say congratulations, not sorry, after a breakup

📰  How to make friends as an adult, What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?, What's sweeter than my solitude?, Writing in red lipstick, The Rise of Online Webinars (and thanks to Sian for mentioning our life-writing ones!) and delighted that the brilliant London Writers’ Salon got some appreciation in The Times this week and I hate this coat that’s divided the internet (for those watching The Undoing)


Love for TTW 💌


I’m Tiffany Philippou and I write about life and talk about work on the podcast Is This Working?
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