friendship: another 12-step program

If you want something in your life—significant friendships, so close you feel like the sisters (the one you’re still talking to)—you have to say it, aloud, then make it happen. As promised once upon a friendship ago, here’s my Grab Friendship By The Man Apples Plan:

1. You’ve Already Mastered Frisky. Now, Try On Risky.
Take the chance, call her for plans, even though the two of you haven’t ever hung out alone. “But I don’t want to come off as too needy,” is a phrase you use while dating, not friending. If you were really “that annoying one who won’t let up,” you’d have a relationship with her voicemail, not her, so as long as she picks up now and then, stop stop stop worrying about coming on too strong. *Unless you’re calling me because I never answer my phone (it’s always on vibrate in a big bag, or left at home in a totally random place, like a makeup drawer or in the bar).

2. Use It Or Lose It.
Program more numbers into your cell phone, then call. Forget that you even added the number? Move new contacts into the *favorites* category. Easy access.

3. Three Strikes + Out With You
Live by the 3-strike rule. Invite someone to join you three times. If it’s “no” each and every time, then onto the next. Too often people give up, stop reaching out and doing the asking after two “failed” attempts, where the person is simply busy. On the whole, spend less energy worrying that you’re coming on too strong, and instead worry that you haven’t left yourself open to meet more people to change your life and feed your soul.

4. Of Mice, Men, and Friendship: Best Laid Plans
“Let’s get together” is the air kiss of plans. “Let’s get together sometime next week” is a limp handshake. “What are you doing Tuesday night?” is an untoothy head-bob. So to speak. Be that specific.

5. Things Can’t Go According To Plan Unless You Make Some… Again & Again
Establish a routine. Having a standing Tuesday night happy hour with a specific friend or group is entirely underrated. Because when we do all manage to get our shit together and slurp oysters, we always remark how great it is, how we must do it more often… then nothing comes of it because you don’t commit.

6. If You’re Gonna Be A Lazy Dung, Plop Down Beside Me
TV Night. Oh, how I miss this. Why, if so many of us are obsessed with The Bachelorette (sorry, but it’s true, even if Ashley was annoying as fook), don’t we watch it together, frizzy bun and stained clothes essential?

7. Get Off The Wrong Bus
Some people aren’t worth your precious time and keep you from the direction your life really wants to take. So get off the wrong bus and wait for the next one. Or, better yet, hunt down a taxicab.

8. Use, Don’t Abuse, Your Best Judgment
As I was saying, don’t let time with a friend be a time-suck. But do wait to make that decision until AFTER you’ve gotten to know someone. Pay attention to your body, how do you feel when you leave this person? Do you feel better, less alone (someone else deals with this shilila too!), energized, or do you feel like a championship round of whack-a-mole?

9. Smell The Creed Roses
As I’ve said before, friendship is like perfume. There are different scents for different moods. Light and casual, the sea-swept breezy friend who’s great about telling you which clothes suit your figure, the deep dark troubled friend all patchouli and sandalwood, flirty going out friends, comforting stay-in friends, your hippy granola grass friend, introspective verbena friends, and then you have your classic Coco friends, perfect for any occasion. Sometimes there’s a lot of crossover, but beware of the scents that are too sweet or heady because they’re nauseating after awhile—aka Drama Friends. You know who they are, might be entertaining, but with life being so short and all, why not aim for and, quite frankly, expect more?

10. Know Thyself
Ask yourself what need they’re fulfilling in you. If it’s the clingy friend, intense, ask yourself if it’s her you like or just the feeling of feeling needed? What do you get out of the friendship? You feel wiser, you feel like a good person when you help her out. But dig deeper. Who are your friends with wisdom, the ones who enrich your life and make you better?

11. Tell Emily To Go Pluck Herself
No, this isn’t a reminder that you can make friends anywhere, even on the waxing salon table. It’s a gentle nudge to go ahead and send that thank you note, that baby gift, the wedding gift you never gave, to make good on your inner Emily. Make amends. It’s also a “friend”ly reminder that you need to let it go (This is for me in a big way). To go ahead and invite friends over last minute. To concoct an impromptu dinner with tomato paste, garlic, oil, spaghetti and backyard basil. Unshowered, no makeup, sure, come on over. Why not? No one cares what your dining room—or lack thereof—looks like.

12. A Friend In Need
Make more friends with people who grow basil.
I believe we all have give friends and get friends. Give friends are the friends to whom we give. We give them advice, recipes, our opinions and insight. We feel good about ourselves, helpful, caring, compassionate, even parental. We’re looked up to, important, valued by them, in a way, because of what we give of ourselves.

Get friends are the friends to whom we turn for advice, in times of pain, seeking insight and wisdom. We get the hard truths from them. Or the ridiculously funny friends who get us to laugh, the friends we feel lighter around because of what they give.

Ideally, you find individual friends who each, on her own, become your give and your get friend. Forget Yin Yang. With friendship it’s all about the emotional Give Get.

Now, get on with the endship and make meaningful friendships.



  1. My best friend exhausts me with her dramas. Which aren’t. And she keeps on telling me what she’s going to do (buy this, learn that, build the next thing) and nothing EVER happens. Its just one day after another, plodding along, making everything a drama, with me being the adviser and the picker upper and the listener and I’m tired of it and I don’t know what to do. Forty years of it.

  2. Thank you for writing this one. I’ve been weird about friendships this year. I always pictured life like “Friends” with only a core set of friends my whole life. To be 29 and still have constantly shifting relationships with people is unsettling. I’m a slow-to-warm-up kinda girl. Not to go on and on and ON about myself, but something weird happened with a close friend at the beginning of the summer. This is a chick I’ve been friends with for 15 years, some of which were spent living together in a one bedroom apartment. We share a SLEW of mutual friends, and one friend in particular I would always sound off to her about. He happened to be my first love. I called her when we first kissed. I called her in the night when we first you-know-what. She was that person that KNEW, that understood, or so I THOUGHT. Scroll forward in time to two years ago. The guy and I had broken up a few years before- it took me literally years to get over him. But you know how first loves are sometimes, he will always have a valve or chamber in my heart. This chick’s OTHER close friend, someone I considered a sort-of friend too started dating my ex. Well. That was the end of her sounding board days. Every time I mentioned him after her friend and him (lets call him Clint) got together, my friend (let’s call her Sheryl) would shut down like the stockmarket last week. So she calls me at the start of summer and basically it’s like this- She feels caught in the “middle” (which by the way I think I’D kinda like the “middle”, seems like you could score juicy info there) and doesn’t want me to mention Clint. Ever again. And honestly I DON’T mention him that often. We all still go to same gym so sometimes I would be like, “Did you see him??” Sorry, but what are the statutes of limitations for close friendships? I REFUSE to censor myself to one of my best friends. That just seems as fake as a faux Fendi in some Oldsmobile’s trunk. So now we’re at a stalemate. Anyway, what would you do? I just can’t can’t can’t not be who I am to someone I’ve entrusted with my true self.

    1. She she have told the OTHER chick not to talk about Clint and not you. Her loyalty should be to you first.

  3. This is great! Having just moved to a new state too, it’s hard to make friends. And it’s even harder to make GOOD friends.

    I had to dump a friend earlier this year, THAT was hard. “I think you’re really a nice person, buuuuut…” Then what? We know how to dump boyfriends, but dumping a girlfriend is harder.

    How do you dump a friend if it’s not working out?

    1. Call me lazy, but I just stop calling, and then they usually do too. If it’s not working for you, chances are they’re not getting much out of it either.

      Come to think of it, that’s how I got rid of boyfriends in middle school too. Ignoring is not the most mature thing, but it works!

  4. I love this take on friendship – your timing is perfect for me as I’ve been thinking about my friends a lot (for various personal reasons) over the last few weeks.

    I have certainly had to admit to myself I like being needed – what does that say about me?

    But I like to think I have a balance of ‘Give Get’. And I have the most wonderful best friend who seems to be a whole perfume range – and I hope I am to her too!

  5. Maybe this should be the subject of your next book. Thank you for the advice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered why friendships aren’t easier.

  6. I love this post. My sister (who is 45, I’m 35) and I have been talking recently about how hard it is to make new friends as adults. If you don’t make them at work or the gym or some other place, it’s just plain tough to find people who share the same interests as you do. I like your advice, though. Perhaps if I follow it, I’ll add some newbies to my circle!

  7. Thank you for this post. I just moved somewhere new and this is has provided me with both inspiration and structure to begin the friend hunt.

    Much obliged.

  8. This is the bane of my existence. I struggle DAILY trying to figure out where and how to make new friends.

    I had awesome high school friends that moved away. Then awesome college friends that are spread all over the globe. Then work friends that left and only communicate via FB. Now I cannot seem to make ANY friends the way I used to. I feel lost, and, sad but true, lonely. I tend to rely on my family and occupy a lot of my time with my kids, but still miss friendships. Problem is that as I age, I do not have time for the BS.

    Thank you for this post. More like it would be awesome :)

  9. I’m with Cori. If you’re thinking about writing another book, this would be a great topic. People are relocating more often in their lives and there aren’t many outlets for women to meet women. We aren’t like men who can join a baseball league and feel fulfilled. There are plenty of places to meet men, but women who are attached and settled in their love life are shit out of luck. And then we start thinking about crazy stuff… like going to church or joining a cult. *shudder* Thanks for the post!

  10. This is such a great post – even if I am late to bat. I know a lot of women, me included, feel like they don’t have good friendships. Yet, it seems like there’s no way or place to make good friendships when you’ve finished your schooling. I’m pretty good at the ‘endship’ as you call it – after uni I purged the friends that were essentially toxic. The problem was that I was left with very few friends and now with one thing and another, most of those relationships have also disintegrated. Where do you go when you don’t have children, you’re not in school and you work a good 50 hours a week to meet new people?

  11. Just read this friendship blog, Stephanie. In a new State, surrounded by all new people, this is truly salve for my soul !
    A road map for the new me. Thanks

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