I made a new friend (not bragging) who is so awesome (totally bragging) she makes me seem boring (humble bragging). I love making new friends. I love the adventure, the mystery, toeing and pushing the line, oversharing with whimsy — I love every step of the way.
A few days ago I got tricked into rage-reading an article on some ratchet link-bait site written by someone who is probably named Yolo Swaggington — I digress. Let me try again. I read an article about a married couple that still “dates” one another. It was a couple thousand words, but that’s all it said: married people should date each other. I’m onboard. Totally. Sounds great. But I don’t think that going to the movies more is going to fix your marriage, Mr. (Dr.?) Swaggington, PhD. But the idea of treating your partner and thinking about your relationship with the same excitement and privilege you felt at the beginning, now that’s something I can really get behind.
But it’s also not that novel of an idea. We all know about the “honeymoon” phase of romantic relationships. I sitcoms with fat dads and skinny, model-attractive moms taught me anything, it’s that marriage is boring. And laugh tracks are annoying. There’s always that episode where their marriage gets strained and one of them cooks up the crazy idea to appreciate the other person, generally with some variation of the line, “I’m going to start loving you again as much as I loved you the first time I told you I loved you.” The studio audience lets out a big “D’awwwww” there’s a hug, a kiss, and that’s how boring television is made.
What we don’t see, or really talk about, is the same phenomenon happening in platonic relationships. Truthfully, we don’t talk much about platonic relationships at all. You see plenty of “24 Tips For Putting the Spice Back In Your Relationship” but rarely “18 Ways To Platonically Spice Up Your Platonic Relationship” (spoiler: #3 in both lists is “Don’t wear underwear tomorrow, but shhh… our little secret.”). All relationships go through phases, and all relationships that are meaningful to you deserve attention, intention, and care.
I’m going to start trying to treat my old friends in a similar way that I treat new friends. Here are a few things I’m thinking of that I can keep in my mind to help me do so:
- Be genuinely curious about everything in their life. I generally try to be attentive and present, but I realize that with many old friends I’m not the information vacuum that I am with new friends. This is partly because I know so many of those things about them already, but that’s a weaksauce excuse. Even with the people I know the best, it’s likely a lot more tip of the icebergy than I realize.
- Ask and learn how they want to be treated, and how I can be a better friend. I tend to do a good job Platinum Ruling new people, and a rubbish job Platinum Ruling the people who I’ve known the longest. Enough of that.
- Tell them things about myself directly, instead of assuming they’ll know (“they should know this by now”) or expecting them to read about it on Facebook, Twitter, Interwhatever.
- Be excited when I get to see them. And be excited that I get to be their friend. It’s a pretty sweet deal, y’all. I feel pretty strongly that I’m getting away with great train robbery more often than not.
There are many, many more ways to try to bring the honeymoon back into my friendships (and I’m all ears to suggestions!), but I’m happy with these four being what I focus on now. When building a habit, it’s best to start small.