On Friendship and Friend Quantity

(This is part 2 of a 3 part series on Friendship.)

Let’s cut to the chase: When you are a woman in your 40’s, juggling career and family, what is an optimal number of friends you should have in your life? Why?

Quitter: Threeve…wait, that isn’t a real number? Okay fine. I don’t have the answer to this one kids, I was never good at math. My current formula is that my friends shouldn’t exceed the number of openings on my head. Make of that what you will.

Bossy: I think you should have stuck with threeve.  My number is 8.  I have no solid mathematical reason why, other than to say I can’t share the mathematical reason why cuz you nosey and it’s secret. 

How many people do you think are on your current close friend list? Acquaintances?

Quitter: Close friends – Threeve. I know you’re spotting a trend here.  Acquaintances – Too many to count. What about well wishers? Are we counting well wishers?

Bossy: Well wishers are a make believe group.  That’s like saying you would like to count imaginary friends or the people who you encountered during citizen’s arrests.  My current close friend list is morphing at present as I air my grievances and make it known that friendship deposits will be cashed.  I think I’m hovering around 1.

What makes a person perfect or unacceptable for this list?

Quitter: The perfect friend for me is Bossy. There I’ve said it. It’s out there. But here’s for why. Bossy is all kinds of low maintenance, but she’s also there when I need her for the heavy stuff or the crazy stuff or the weird stuff or the embarrassing stuff (which there is a lot of.) And also Bossy brings the funny. You gots to bring the funny to be on the list. As for the unacceptable that’s easy, if you’re a drama queen, no thanks. If you dress well and have never ventured into the world into your pajamas, no thanks. If you don’t think Seinfeld is funny, no thanks. If you’re too self-concious to break out bad dance moves when the groove hits you, no thanks. Basically if you’re not Bossy, or doing a reasonable impersonation of her, no thanks.

Bossy: Awe shucks.  You’re awesome too for a semi-committed humanoid who likes to fall off the friendship radar like me.  I give you a solid 7.  For others, my screening process includes: Do you make me laugh?  Then you in.  Do you bring the drama?  Then you out. 

When do you feel like you are being an optimal friend? When are you failing?

Quitter: I have never been an optimal friend. I have no idea how this shit works, I just fall into friendship and if it works great and if it doesn’t I fake my own death. (Btw, this is basically my operating manual for all relationships.) As for failing, I think I fake my own death before it gets to that point. I’m pretty sure that I have failed in the friendship department on several occasions, but fortunately I have created a new identity for myself before people can call me out on it.

Bossy: I am ridiculously hard on myself.  I always think I could be better.  The failing happens the hardest when I need separation from everyone and basically avoid all friends.  In fairness, everyone gets an equal dose of my shitty friendsh-upping (I’m now thinking friendship should be spelt with a “u” – friendshup!  Who with me?)

When do you cut a friend out?

Quitter: Okay, I’ll be real for a minute here. I’ve only done this a few times in my life and boy does it suck. Twice it was over drama and the other time it was over an unfortunate drunken confession of feelings that weren’t shared by both parties. I believe these incidents lead to my “fake your own death,” model.

Bossy:  Dude!  I am unfamiliar with all of those scenarios.  I thought we were friends!?!  I also have cut people whose expectations of our friendship were WAY too high.  You need to know that I love you and will circle back.  If you’re patient during that time, you are my people.

How much time in a week do you devote to friendship? What does that time take away from?

Quitter: Who can tell Bossy wrote these questions? Show of hands. I did not prepare a pie chart or graph and I apologize. I have no idea. It changes depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes Bossy doesn’t hear from me for weeks and other times I’m bugging her constantly. Non-Bossy people maybe get five minutes bi-weekly. As for what it takes away from – uke playing, hanging with my dog, creating weird art with pickles, eating cheese. You know, the stuff that makes life worth living.

Bossy: Son of a!?!  How dare you suggest that I am the only one who assesses her life in the form of a chart!?!  And also, please refer to the enclosed chart.

What is your ultimate time spent with a friend?

Quitter: Easy. Uke. Gummies/chips. Talking about everything and nothing. Kids running around doing crazy stuff. Husbands amused and leaving us alone. Oh wait, I think I am describing every single family gathering Bossy and I have together.

Bossy: Add a bottle of bubbly wine in there and she nailed it. 

What about online? Are these the same group of people or do you see them as totally different?

Quitter: The online stuff is weird for me. Not weird bad, just weird. Because of the inter-ma-net I have reconnected with some pretty awesome people from my past that I will likely never hang with in person, but I totally dig connecting with them and chatting. I also love the no pressure aspect of online friendships, well at least I feel no pressure. Sometimes I answer quickly sometimes it’s weeks later. Perfect for a flakey introvert like me.

Bossy: My people pleasing personality means I tend to treat everyone the same, online friendship or platonic flesh friendship. 

Why do you think women more than men need their friendships? Or is that a myth?

Quitter: Bossy and I have chatted about this a bunch of times as we’ve attempted to schedule play dates for our husbands. I don’t honestly know if women need friendships more, but in my experience, they certainly seem to have a desire to connect more then men do. And if modern psychology is to be believed, most women process their thoughts and feelings through talking about them with others. So unless your puppet game is on point and you have several distinct personalities residing within you, friends are an important part of our mental health. (Man that sounded way too smart to have come from my mouth. I should probably attribute it to one of my puppet personalities.)

Bossy: I’d be lost without my friends.  Emotionally, and if you know me, likely quite literally. 

Next week: Quitter and Bossy tackle their own friendship.  What works.  What sucks. And which member carries art supplies at the ready.

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