Would this be nice or creepy?
April 24, 2014 8:41 PM   Subscribe

I want to make my good friend a fancy list of 20 things I really like about her. If I made such a list and gave it to her would that be nice and thoughtful or kinda creepy and overwrought?

So two weeks ago I was at a pretty low point personally and my best friend, who I have known for almost 20 years now (since middle school) randomly gave me a small gift and made time for me despite her super crazy schedule. She did not know I was feeling down - this is just how she is and is why we are such good friends.

Since then, I have been exceptionally grateful to have her as my friend (well I always was but that just drove the point home) and I want to do something nice in return. I was thinking of making a list of 20 or so things that I really like about her and handwriting it on cardstock or some such with some hand-drawn embellishments. But would that be too much?

I know none of you know me, her, or our friendship but I don't want to seem over emotional. On the other hand I was bought up in a house where emotions aren't expressed so I have trouble navigating sometimes. We are both heterosexual females for whatever that is worth. So internet strangers... if you got one of these, nice and thoughtful or creepy and too much?
posted by WinterSolstice to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a general rule of thumb if I catch myself wondering if something seems creepy I usually decide to table it and not do it. None of us can know what your relationship with your friend is like, what your cultural background is and what country you're in, etc - so your responses here are going to be pretty idiosyncratci.

How about rather than the italicized list of things you like about her on cardstock you invite her out to coffee? Or surprise her with tickets to a play/movie/whatever and tell her how much you appreciated her care and concern for you?
posted by arnicae at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2014 [10 favorites]

some of us become uncomfortable when complimented too effusively. just buy her a drink.
posted by bruce at 8:48 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

It would be a little too much for me, but I think the same sentiment, condensed and expressed in a card or letter, would be really lovely - I've sent these to friends and even a couple of years later, I know that those notes are still on their refrigerators. Just a hey, I really appreciate who you are kind of note.

Similarly, I have a note from a friend that says 'I like who you are, I'm glad you're my friend, and I think that you're doing a great job of being alive' on my refrigerator. I reread it about once a week.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think the way to go is to take your cues from your friend and reciprocate mostly in kind when possible.

She gave you a small gift and made time for you. Maybe a small gift and some time for her would be about right.

Match the thoughtfulness and time commitment. Did she get you something relatively impersonal, like a Starbucks card? Or something that required thought and effort and personal expression, like a scarf she knitted herself in colors that match the outfit you bought on your last shopping trip together?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Honestly I don't know whether it sounds creepy exactly, but it does strike me as kind of... adolescent, maybe? Like, what are your 20 items going to be? "1. You're nice! 2. You're thoughtful!" etc.?

Anyway, have you considered sending back a card with a note or short letter earnestly thanking her for the gift? I guess I'm projecting a little bit what I would want in this situation, but I think it seems a lot nicer to get confirmation that someone really appreciated what I did for them, rather than to have them come back with what seems like kind of a quasi-gift, that is maybe but not quite supposed to be responsive or reciprocal to the first thing.

I don't know. I may be over thinking it, but I think a nice, earnest thank you card expressing your deep appreciation would be a better way to go here.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's impossible to say without knowing both of you, but I agree maybe a card or letter would be a better way to convey your sentiments. Also, I think it sounds nice to do something extra special, more than a drink or coffee, or an impersonal gift, if you don't want to give a card or letter. I would love it if a special friend did anything like that for me.
posted by Blitz at 8:55 PM on April 24, 2014

I have a list like this taped in my linen cupboard. I love it because it's from a female friend and the items on the list are a mixture of sweet and random: "1. M likes to eat a variety of foods" (for example). The tone of the list and the relationship that you have with your friend matters.
posted by mmmbacon at 8:56 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think a card with a heartfelt note inside might be better. I don't think you want to make her feel like your happiness is resting on her shoulders. Just thanking her for being a good friend would be enough and not too much pressure. You don't need to overstate it. Just the simple acknowledgement of it is enough.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:01 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree that putting some really nice compliments in a card or a letter, as opposed to an illustrated list, would be more likely to be appreciated. And yeah, actions > words so figuring out a shared experience that would be low-emotion and high-fun might be a great gift too.

Personally I tend to shut down when presented with a ton of flowery praise, and better absorb kind words if they are in small doses (otherwise it turns super awkward!) but that's just me. When I was in college I gave a friend a long letter about how awesome he was and it made things awkward, but I think that was because there was unresolved sexual tension between us so that's another story.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that sounds awesome and I'd be thrilled to get the same sort of card from my best friend of 15+ years. The way you describe it, I'm not getting a "too much pressure" vibe but rather just an acknowledgement of everything you both have gone through during your friendship. If it was a more casual friendship it might feel weird, but with the friend I've had since middle school, the one who lives across the country from me but when we do actually manage to end our year-long game of phone tag because of stupid busy schedules and actually get to talk again it feels like no time has passed, whose husband pointed out to us that we finish each other's sentences and we hadn't ever even realized that we did? From that friend, something like this would mean a ton and wouldn't feel a bit creepy. In fact, now I kind of want to do this myself because wow I miss my friend!

I think the variety of responses here really speaks to the fact that this is so personal there's really not a good blanket answer. I think you really do know the dynamic of your friendship best - trust what you feel on this. Personally, I think it sounds touching and sweet.
posted by augustimagination at 9:18 PM on April 24, 2014 [10 favorites]

I think that sounds like a perfectly nice thing to do, with two caveats:

- Nothing about her appearance.

- Nothing that even remotely comes off as lovey-dovey coupley.

I would think nothing of this if you kept it light and fun and listed things like "you know about all the best bad movies", "your fridge is always full of beer," "always up for a road trip", etc. I think if you get really emotional/mawkish for more than maximum two entries, it could be borderline creepy.
posted by Sara C. at 9:39 PM on April 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

Save the list and dole them out to her one at a time.
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This might be a silly suggestion, but what about a shorter list? If I were the recipient I might be overwhelmed by 20 things but 5 or 10 would feel more manageable, I think.
posted by mlle valentine at 10:00 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I made a small notebook with 2 other friends with tons of things we loved about a friend that was going through a breakup. It is probably the best thing that happened to her all year.
If you love someone, tell them.
If you know something great about someone, tell them. They often don't know why they are great. They will appreciate it.
posted by littlewater at 10:19 PM on April 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

I love the idea!

I agree that shorter might be better, and the more heartfelt and deep, the shorter the list. Five if they're all very earnest, ten if they're a mix of serious and silly.
posted by jaguar at 10:42 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it would be maybe not *creepy* exactly, but definitely a little weird. Nthing a thank you card with a personal message, rather than an itemized list of things you like about her. I also have trouble expressing emotions due to a rather emotionless upbringing, but when I write Thank You cards I make it more about the thing I appreciate that they did rather than gushing about them personally, which can make it awkward.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 1:41 AM on April 25, 2014

I think if this way of expressing your gratitude towards her has come from your heart, and the only thing stopping you is some worry about looking "creepy" (which is a very subjective term) then just go with it. It's genuine and sincere on your part and if she knows you well she will get that. I think it would be a lovely and unique thing to receive and personally I'd be touched. Ignore the thinking part of your brain which is saying "what if?" and go with you inner self which is saying "this is what I feel". Her reactions to it belong to her and you can't control that one way or the other but at least you've been true to yourself.
posted by billiebee at 2:36 AM on April 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

For me, it would seem like you were starting to see me in a romantic light. That kind of intensity can be awkward to receive. I think too often we want to match a gift given and the gracious thing is to accept it and thank them. Adknowledgment can go a lot further than some big dramatc presentation.
posted by Aranquis at 3:36 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

She did not know I was feeling down - this is just how she is

A note saying her timing was perfect and you're grateful for her friendship is appropriate. A calligraphied list of "20 things I love about you" is not.
posted by headnsouth at 3:52 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Depends on what your friend is like.
posted by sam_harms at 3:54 AM on April 25, 2014

It sounds like it's too much about you and less about your friend.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:29 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

If making this gift for your friend was your first instinct, then yes, do it! She's been your best friend for 20 years! You can tell her as you give it to her that you hope it doesn't come off as creepy, and that you're just very grateful to have her as a friend. I don't think it would be inappropriate if you came up with it on your own. But on the other hand maybe the fact that you're asking a bunch of strangers if a really loving and thoughtful gift might creep out your best friend of 20 years suggests an emotionally distant nature to your friendship; then maybe don't?

In general, with acts of love like this I say go with your instinct. I'm not sure why you want them each to be on a separate piece if card stock but you know, that's on you! Maybe you want to collage each one and turn it into an art therapy project? I don't know. Or maybe you want her to be able to pick one out each day she's feeling blue or have an example of the quality on each card? Idk. But if I got this from either of my best friends I would be so thrilled. So, so thrilled. And you can just state that your intentions are platonic I guess? I don't know why a best friend would assume otherwise? I'm sure she understands your love for her...you've been besties for 20y!!
posted by bengalibelle at 4:46 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've been friends for over 20 years. In this context it's not creepy, but if you aren't positive she's the kind of person that would love this then she probably wouldn't.

I would find it overly sentimental and sappy personally, but a certain kind of person would love it.
posted by whoaali at 4:48 AM on April 25, 2014

Imagine the scenario where she gets the note, reads it and then says "oh...ah...thanks! That's very kind of you." Then you gush some more about why you wrote this note and how you feel about her and she smiles and quickly says "oh, no problem, glad you liked it." Then she changes the subject.

Wouldn't you feel let down? Maybe kind of embarassed? Worried? Because this is the most likely scenario. Trust me, I was into those kinds of gestures a lot as a young woman. They never ended in a satisfying way for me. People never knew how to react, and it just got awkward or at best it got treated as a nice but unremarkable gift, full stop. Don't do it if your heart is in that list.

It suggests to me that with this soul baring gift you want a reaction that matches yours in intensity. You want her to feel as loved and emotional as her gift made you.

But consider that that is unlikely because she is not in as crappy a place as you were in when she gave you her random "thinking of you" gift. Gratiitude and gladness hit you that hard precisely because you were feeling so bad earlier.

She's in a different place than you. Your expectations may be too high for her. High expectations make giftees uncomfortable, for an emotionally supercharged gift just as if it were a very expensive gift. Because people feel blindsided and worry about reciprocity. They might be thinking "whoah, what's going on? Why is she giving me this? Does that change our friendship? What does she expect from me now?"

Speaking of reciprocity, I'd take my cues from her. She didn't know you were feeling bad, but she knew a random small gift would always be well received, so she did that. Do that, too. Give her something that says "I'm thinking of you because I care for you", and she'll get it.

If you have to give her your list, wait for a special occasion, like a birthday. Or for a time when she feels rotten and could use a pick me up.

Again, she's your best friend. If you know she digs big emotional gestures then go ahead with your plan. But the fact that you're asking here indicates you are not so certain, hence my advice.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:11 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

If I got one of these from a friend, I would love it.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:19 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Honestly, you should ignore every answer here. You've known your friend for 20 years. Imagine her reaction if you gave her a list like this, and act accordingly.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:35 AM on April 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think this is nice.

You've been friends for most of your adult life, you treasure her, so why not. I'd preface the note with what you wrote above, "You didn't know it, but I was feeling so blue, then you showed up, just being you and I felt so much better."

Don't force it into a set list of a specific number of things, just write a heartfelt note including the characteristics that you love and admire in her.

Write it on pretty paper and mail it to her.

I'd keep something like this forever.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:36 AM on April 25, 2014

We're all doomed to either lose our friends or them to lose us. I don't think anyone has ever regretted telling someone they love and appreciate someone they love and appreciate.

Your friend is lucky to have you. Do it!
posted by inturnaround at 5:44 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm an anti-social, non-sentimental, easily weirded out kind of person, and I wouldn't be creeped out at all if I received such a list from my best friend of 20 years. If I received such a list from someone I only recently met, I'd run so fast. But my high school best friend who I'm still close with two decades later? I would cherish that kind of gift forever.

Of course, you know her better than any of us.

I agree with the idea of shortening the list though. 5-10 items sounds perfect to me.
posted by ohmy at 6:23 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think this sounds very sweet. One word of caution from personal experience - I had a boyfriend who wrote out his ten favorite things about me. He had clearly planned it out as a ten-item list and prepared it as a ten item list and... run out of ideas after nine. Better to have an odd number than to close on filler!
posted by prefpara at 7:28 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sara C. has it. Make the list, but keep anything about her appearance or anything even REMOTELY lovey-dovey off of it. Throw in some funny ones and ones that emphasize her quirks ("You living room reminds me of the living room in Family Matters and that is awesome!", "Your car perpetually smells of maple syrup", "You find the word 'spatula' inexplicably hilarious", etc). Go beyond the obvious "You're nice/thoughtful/kind/intelligent" and go for the more offbeat and specific-to-her ones. Maybe reference things from her past, like "When you were 14 you had a rat tail and that is fucking awesome!" or "I knew you were the coolest kid in school because you had pens that wrote in 3 different colours". Things that you know BECAUSE you've been friends so long.

But keep the appearance and schmaltzy stuff out.

And agree with prefpara -> don't make 20 because that was your plan. And start and end end on good ones, not filler ones.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:31 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a close friend who writes people she admires letters and mails them out on International Women's Day every year. Our relationship is platonic (I'm queer, but she's hetero and there's no sexual tension between us), but the letter she gave me was very heartfelt and sweet, and definitely along the "you inspire me" wavelength and not just "you make great tacos!"

I love that letter and I still have it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:50 AM on April 25, 2014

Response by poster: I am so glad I asked this question even though the answers vary.

The way I framed the question it made it seem like this list was in direct response to her gift but really it's in response to her friendship generally. We give small gifts to eachother frequently and have a standing date to see eachother once a week and again, this gift is not meant to be romantic - I'm straight and she's been with her husband 10 years now. We have more than once acknowledged to eachother that we see eachother as family now, not just friends.

Honestly I am not sure why I hesitate but the comments suggesting that since I feel that way, I should listen to the feeling. As for the "20" number, I just started jotting down things down and stopped at a round number. The list consists of things like "You like to take adventures with me!" and "You are the teacher I wish I could have been!" "We can be silly and it's cool!" and "You and I are totally Jack/Sprat!" (this is an inside joke of ours). Maybe the title should be why I love our friendship.

I think what I might do is shorten the list and maybe give it to her on a birthday or if I see she is very upset one day.
posted by WinterSolstice at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Awkward. The thing about extended mutual reciprocity that lends it power and generates trust is that everyone has to kind of keep quiet about it. Exposing obligation and gratitude in this way (which, personally, I'd both find sloppy if it were directed at me, and might feel compelled to do for someone else) would be a meta friendship moment that interrupts the smooth back and forth of regular business. Plus as noted it would exaggerate and might freeze any asymmetries in a way you d both regret. Drinks or dinner instead, agree with others.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:09 PM on April 25, 2014

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