How have you made your best friends?
November 12, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

How have you made your best and most lasting friendships?

I'm not conducting a study or anything; I just want to understand
friendship better and am curious what other people have experienced.
Where, how, or under what conditions have you made your most genuine friendships?
posted by cymru_j to Human Relations (39 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Playing music together.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:44 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was younger :) Making friends as a grown-up is much harder, I think, although I'll be interested to hear what others have to say.
posted by humblepigeon at 9:46 AM on November 12, 2009

Travel always seems to cement friendships for me. It doesn't have to be a huge journey, but at least overnight. The grand majority of my good friendships have been built around some shared activity and expanded from there.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:47 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by teg4rvn at 9:49 AM on November 12, 2009

Rocky Horror. I guess 'theater' in more general would work, but there's nothing like RHPS troupes to cement friendship or create lifelong enemnity. I think it's being in underwear around people.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 9:52 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Many of my very close friendships have come about through living with people. I think that you get to know people better that way because you see them when they're tired, or sick, or upset, just generally not at their best. It's easier to get past their public persona.
posted by number9dream at 9:53 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

It has never happened on purpose. I meet friendly acquaintances easily, but they turn into good, lasting friends quite accidentally and over time. It always starts with meeting someone and finding during chatting with them that they are easy to talk to and seem nice or fun. These kinds of acquaintances are easy to make but difficult to turn into lasting friendships.

They are always people who I admire for some reason and who share similar core values of being considerate and laughing a lot. My friendships have always started when I have a good chat with someone either at work, school, or someone else's gathering, and we find a common interest and decide to do something outside of the setting in which we met. For example, I've become good friends with coworkers after lunchtime shopping expeditions, with classmates when deciding to work on craft projects together, and with other friends' friends by realizing we love a similar store or hobby and deciding that we should get together on our own to shop or craft together.

I also keep my closest friends for a long time. I am still best friends at 29 with my 3 best friends from junior high. My 2 best girlfriends were bridesmaids in my wedding. We live far apart, but make time to email each other or call each other, and visit each other at least once or twice a year. Other best friends are former college roommates and dorm-neighbors that I kept in touch with. Or the wives of my husband's friends who found that we had stuff in common while the guys talked about stuff we weren't that interested in.
posted by tastybrains at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

May seem obvious, but having a common interest is key. Especially if it's an incredibly dorky interest (no, really). When you already know you're a bunch of dorks, you don't feel like you have to impress your friends. You can tell them almost anything without being embarrassed, and that's the kind of friendship that lasts.
posted by katillathehun at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2009

Shared adversity.
posted by procrastination at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

3rd grade.

2nding playing music together. I met two of my closest friends in middle/high school band and then started rock bands with them.

Living with someone will make you either love them or hate them. I was in a triple last year. I cannot stand the sight of one of my roommates, while the roommate is now my best friend and still my current roommate.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:00 AM on November 12, 2009

Work (hey, it's DC) or church.
posted by jgirl at 10:01 AM on November 12, 2009

Seeing or talking to someone every day. Maybe it sounds silly, but I've actually made a lot of good friends through instant messaging services like AIM or gchat. As long as it's part of a friendship that includes a lot of face-time, it's a surprisingly intimate way to become friends with someone.
posted by lunit at 10:03 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nerd camp as a teenager.

posted by oinopaponton at 10:03 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I met my best friend on the school bus on the first day of kindergarten. She lived around the corner from me for 18 years so we spent a lot of time together in school and otherwise. My house was her place to get away and vice versa. We spent a lot of time smack dab in the middle of our two houses shooting the shit on the street corner too.

I also have a group of friends that I met online about 15 years ago. We'd sit and chat for hours every day about comic books and life and we went through our formative high school/college years 'together' through email and chat. Eventually we took to meeting in person and to this day we still visit each other and go on trips together.

My social group from college was built on membership to a particular student group which housed us near each other. We had similar interests, hobbies and senses of humor. And we've stuck together for years.
posted by mrsshotglass at 10:08 AM on November 12, 2009

Grad school. Common interest, shared adversity, and lots of time together.
posted by min at 10:09 AM on November 12, 2009

My closest friendships that I have maintained to this day are ones that were formed in childhood.

Seconding shared adversity. I made very close friends in a particularly grueling academic program. We were all in it together and it brought us closer. I don't see them regularly but if I ran into them tomorrow it would be like we never parted.

I haven't made many close friends in adulthood. I credit one close friendship to a shared interest. We both love movies and see a movie and eat dinner together twice a month. A shared interest is not enough. You can feel a connection to someone, and share an interest, but it takes plenty of effort to maintain a friendship.

Feeling at ease. When I can be myself, I feel closer to the person. I'm afraid I can't be my true self around some of my friends. This is my problem, not theirs, but it doesn't do much for closeness. The best friends are the ones that you feel completely comfortable around.
posted by Fairchild at 10:12 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

My best friend has been my best friend since she threw gravel in my face on the playground, and I forgave her. We were seven, now 24, and I'm set to be the maid of honor in her wedding next summer. In the meantime, we both played flute together in elementary, middle, and part of high school, and spent a lot of time together in general. Lots of post-breakup visits with Ben and Jerry, and sleepovers with stupid movies. Our friendship survived high school cliques - she was a cheerleader, and I was pretty much Queen of the Overinvolved Nerds.

Now that we've grown up some and we both live away from home and far away from each other, it comes down to talking every day, being there to vent out the little frustrations, and being present for the really big moments. It's strange though - we were total polar opposites in high school, and now we're much more similar in terms of interests.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:15 AM on November 12, 2009

Coming of age together in the early 1980s Los Angeles punk rock/art scene. Even if years have gone by since I've seen someone, when we run into each other there's just so much shared history that we "get" each other in ways that those who weren't a part of it never will.
posted by chez shoes at 10:18 AM on November 12, 2009

High school: The only person I talk to on a regular basis from those days is the friend I made when I was 15 and she was 14. She's my best friend, we were each other's maids of honor at our weddings, she's my kids' godmother, etc.

College: Met people in the dorms who introduced me to the local alternative music scene. Met my husband through my roommate. We ended up settling in the same city as a good majority of our college friends (not the same city our college was in), so that's a very old, very tightly-knit circle.

Work: I've met and kept a few friends from various places I've worked.

Neighbors and parents of kids my kids go to school with.

And I've just acquired a new friend in the last year, the girl who started dating another friend. We just instantly connected, which doesn't usually happen for me.
posted by cooker girl at 10:19 AM on November 12, 2009

The guys I ran around with during the summers on Cape Cod from ages 10-15 are still my best friends. I have a couple of good friends from high school, and one from college, but most of my friends made since then are ex-girlfriends.
posted by nicwolff at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2009

Took a shit-ton of ecstatically fun substances together in late teens/early 20s, then (fortunately) figured out how to be friends and have a good time without.

Also, the same friends have gone on several self-guided rafting trips a year together for over 20 years. The effort, collaboration, and risk involved in those trips has done more to bond us than any number of dinner parties ever could.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:21 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

nth shared adversity.

however my best best friends: my (random) freshman year roommate and the girl who lives accross the hall from us.
posted by anthropomorphic at 10:29 AM on November 12, 2009

Leftist politics. Seriously. Animal welfare, pacifism, gay pride, electronic freedom, Parents for Public Schools. I'd say I have this in common with pretty much all my closest friends, going back thirty years.
posted by rdc at 11:14 AM on November 12, 2009

BF#1: Childhood/family friend.

BF#2: Enemies turned Class Officers/Choir Buddies in high school.

BF#3: College friend who hated our alma matter as much as I did. We bonded over our fantasies of transferring out and impersonations of kids on campus we loathed.

BF#4: Dated the same guy at the same time. Awkward enemies at first, but quickly realized we liked each other more than we liked him.
posted by RingerChopChop at 11:21 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

My best friends are not always my most olasting friends. Something about the enormity of the intimacy in really close friendships seems to make them more likely to fracture. My longest-lasting friends are the ones I communicate with once every six months to touch base with, and have for decades.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on November 12, 2009

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

A shared experience is the best foundation. The closest I've ever been to someone was when we trained for a half marathon together.
posted by wrnealis at 11:26 AM on November 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think long-lasting friendships are born out of commonality and emotional intimacy. Where if you really like someone you do things together, you invite them over to your home, you go out of your way to make their lives better (and they reciprocate). I have had friendships that were more like good acquaintances, but then I would do something for them or they would do something for me and the level of intimacy would deepen.
posted by Kimberly at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2009

Me and three other friends from my teenage years used to get together at least once a week, every friday night, to get drunk and stoned and shoot the breeze. We'd play music in the back garden, build bonfires, dance, and just be in each others company until the wee hours of the morning. We did this every friday night without fail for an entire year before two of our number moved away to university. After that, me and the other remaining friend would get together with about the same frequency, wrote music and poetry together and went out and performed it together, hell, we even supported each other on the journey out of the closet.

I only see them once every few months now, due to distance and work commitments, but when we're together again it's like we never left. We've all grown a little, and we've all changed a little, but the things that matter hold fast. I'm not closer to any other people in the world.

I also have a close friend in one of the guys who I live with, that friendship is essentially based in watching episodes of the Wire in the middle of the night, and a bastardization of seo-ri which comes into play whenever there's cake or biscuits left where we can find them.
posted by emperor.seamus at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2009

My best friends always seem to come about when I'm in a new situation/place and don't know anyone. I find a kindred spirit and bond with them, and then kind of stop looking for new friends. Being on your own forces you to let down your social guard a bit and actively hunt out companionship.

Others I have met because they were the only other _____ in the group: only other female in a male-oriented club, for example, or the only other girl in her 20s in a program with mainly teachers in their 40s. Having that in common really helps start up conversation and before you know it you're hanging out and talking about whatever club you're in and then wham, best friendship.
posted by amicamentis at 12:12 PM on November 12, 2009

Combination of tastybrains and Astro Zombie - although it's possible those close friends I see/speak to/email infrequently would be just as close if we lived in the same place.

However, all my friends are 100 percent random. I am friends with doctors I first saw as a patient, guys who asked me out and I turned down, friends of people I don't know all that well who invited me to parties... I have only one friend from school and no adult friends (that I can think of) who were neighbors. I do have some friends from professional organization and work, which is I guess means it's more like 80% random, 20% conventional.

Some of my very closest friends, and I think I've posted this before, are people who, if I have the question "is it just me," can answer "no." Of course, two of my best friends on the "is it just me" test are dead and have been for years. Other friends are people I admire who are not like me at all - overachievers or talented people, mothers whose number one goal was always to marry and have children.

If you are wondering how to have close friends, I suggest that you try to enjoy life and people, even if you can't stand most of them.

When I was younger, I waited for other people to make the first move, which was stupid and probably cost me some BFFL friends.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:43 PM on November 12, 2009

Met a couple at school, 2 via work, one at pregnancy yoga, one on yahoo msg-er, one is my neighbour, one at church and with one I have a child (not my partner). For all of them it is the time and interest that is spend together the key word. If we do not stay in touch regular the depth of the friendship gets less quick. They do stay friends though, also after months of no conversation. The good and mostly the bad times shared together is the cement.
posted by kudzu at 12:43 PM on November 12, 2009

Some of my closest friends are people I knew in college or high school... but my closest friend? I met her via livejournal and we've spoken online or on the phone every day for the past >6yrs. I don't remember how we were introduced or who found who, but we've been "kindred spirits" from day 1.

And my partner: I met him on the train. Just started talking to him and we exchanged emails and well, here we are.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:57 PM on November 12, 2009

My best friends have been made through patience and freeing myself from the expectation that we must click/understand each other right away. We were generally in the same place at the same time, but sometimes became good friends only right before one of us moved. I feel like I have learned a lot from all of my friends, but we may have started out with similar temperaments which helped us find the things we had in common relatively quickly.

Sharing food also generally plays a strong part. There's a feeling of well-being when talking over food (particularly food you have worked together to make) which simply can't be beat.

[semi-derail] I'm curious to know if people associate making particularly strong bonds of friendship with certain phases in their lives. High school and university are often mentioned -- university more frequently -- I guess because there is an inbuilt social element to both these places, as they are largely made up of people who are young and (some of them) are open to different experiences (not that people who are older are not that also). I would wager that a lot of people later on have cemented their social groups, or flat-out have less time and more stress. Of course this is not true for everyone, and I certainly feel like I've only just begun the business of learning about people. [/semi-derail]

Interesting question. Is this a little chatfilter-y? Dunno.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 12:59 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Mutual appreciation is the glue that binds people - of each other, of an activity, of opinion, of simply a way of thinking - a way of being.

My friendships may look, act, feel different, but this appreciation runs through them like a magma seam.
posted by smoke at 3:13 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Commutes. Specifically, carpools, the school bus, and train + shuttle commute to Silicon Valley job. Two of my bridesmaids were the girls from my middle school carpool. Probably my other best friends are from my high school bus route (LAUSD route 5659, what what!!). I was unlucky enough to have very long rides to school, but it's really the only way I know how to make friends.

The friends I keep in touch with, though? It's pretty much just the people who are often signed into Gchat.
posted by crinklebat at 5:49 PM on November 12, 2009

I was the "new kid" at my very small private elementary school in 3rd grade, and a couple of other girls in my grade instantly targeted me and found any way to ostracize me that they could. I spent the next few years being pretty miserable. In 6th grade, there was a new girl, and on the first morning of school I went up to her and introduced myself, invited her to be my lab partner in science class, and we are now 26 and still ultra best friends.

Outside of that, some of the longer-lasting friendships I've made have been through the interwebs (a handful more of my closest friends were people I met online during the horrible cesspool of high school, where I felt like I had no one who could understand anything about me), and grad school.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:05 PM on November 12, 2009

For the last few years, my partner and I have been having weekly dinners with another couple, and separate weekly dinners with another friend of ours.

With the couple, we started off alternating who was hosting, and then switched to always going to their house when their first kid was born. Now, almost 4 years later, we've played with their two kids almost every week since their births. There's an undeniable closeness that comes with consistent time together, and shared meals seem to work especially well.

With our other friend, it's been a chance to alleviate some of her financial difficulties, as we can offer her a free meal once a week. Plus we get to catch up and goof off and play stupid games and talk about life, the universe, and everything. :)

This has worked so well that we're trying to start another weekly dinner with another couple who we adore and want to hang out with more.
posted by heatherann at 6:19 AM on November 13, 2009

A couple of my most treasured friendships started out as dates that lacked the necessary spark.
posted by surenoproblem at 8:49 AM on November 27, 2009

I'd do anything for her. We've been best friends for 10 years :)
posted by shortbus at 7:03 AM on March 9, 2010

« Older Make My Hyper-Local Blog Community Friendly!   |   Looking for a housekeeper in Toronto Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.