Meeting fun strangers while traveling has helped me accept that some friendships aren't meant to last forever.
- The following is an adapted excerpt from Lane Moore's new book.
- "You Will Find Your People: How to Make Meaningful Friendships as an Adult" is a guide to making friends as an adult.
I have always had very good Stranger Luck, which is what I call meeting a total stranger briefly and really connecting with them for that moment in time in a way you weren't expecting.
A good example of this happened a few years ago, when I was on an airplane and noticed a woman in a beautiful green coat in the row behind me. After we landed, there was a horrible snowstorm that made everything hectic, transportation-wise. I immediately called a cab to be ready for when we got off the plane, thinking there would be a war to find one.
The nice coat lady behind me (she would later tell me) heard me make that call and thought, Wow, that person knows what she's doing. I'm gonna follow her! and waited with me at baggage claim before striking up a conversation. After several conversations about our shared love of Logan Echolls from "Veronica Mars" later, the two of us split a cab to Brooklyn. She was visiting NYC, and we hung out the whole time she was here, and we've been friends ever since. We don't talk all the time or see each other all the time, but I love that a chance meeting developed into something more.
Connecting with someone, even if briefly, is special
There is something so valuable and beautiful about friends I briefly made on the plane or subway or walking in the park. And they don't always have to transition into close friends. Having someone you connected with briefly in a really meaningful way is still a form of friendship, one with great value in its own right, even if you feel like it should become more than that for it to "count."
I've often struggled to be satisfied with connecting deeply with someone in passing and it not becoming a very close friendship you keep forever, at least partly because of how much we're socialized to value how long we've known someone over how much we've actually connected with them. In many of my experiences with Stranger Luck, those people might not have been a good fit for a deeper friendship but we worked so beautifully as acquaintances, or people who met for that one moment in time.
The truth is, having great Stranger Luck, and really memorable interactions like this is meaningful if it means something to you. Some of my favorite memories involve people I've only talked to for 10 minutes or met for one day. Those little moments when you connect with a stranger for five minutes or five hours meant so much to me, even if we never spoke again. And perhaps those relationships, as fleeting as they were, were meant to be exactly that. There are so many examples of friendships like this, that served their purpose at that time, and maybe aren't meant to be lifelong, and that's OK.
Not every friendship needs to turn into a close one
There's a group of women I met last summer when I was on tour and I was hanging out at the hotel pool alone before my show. One of them offered to take hot pool photos of me, and I nervously and then gladly accepted. They bought me one of the fancy drinks they all had, and we hung out in the pool for hours talking about everything, just everything, in that "girls you meet in the bar bathroom at 2 a.m." way that feels like a drug.
And now we all like each other's social media posts devoutly, and every time I see them in my feed, I remember the very cool way we met. I didn't try to turn it into very close friendships, though maybe one day it will end up that way. But we should be able to see these friendships as beautiful just as they are, just for that moment in time.
Similarly, it would be great if all your friends from high school and college, or from your old jobs, were still compatible with you throughout the rest of your life, but for many of us, that isn't the case. And you don't have to keep them in your life forever, or try to remain just as close as you were, if that doesn't make sense to you anymore.
There can be friends you catch up with sometimes, or you reconnect with one day and it feels great, even if you don't become best friends again. Think of them as second-tier friends, which can sound harsh, but think of it less as "second-tier, wow an insult" and more like the second line of a friendship army. Maybe not someone you call when you're in an emergency, but someone you call to have fun. And over time and many life changes, maybe those friendships don't need to be kept up with as much, or someone wants more and you don't feel the same, or you get to a point when you realize you only want a few close friends, period.
Maybe things that worked for you years ago just do not work for you now. Maybe in high school, you loved having friends who gossiped, and now you think that's really boring and not your thing. Or in your early twenties, you used to love friends who hated everyone, and now you want to be around people who love people more than they love to hate people. Just as much as you're going to grow and change, it makes sense that your wants and expectations of your friendships will grow and change as well. So, if you used to love having thirty casual friends and now you want three very close friends because you just don't have the energy for anything else, that is great.
I know we love to think there's a magic number of friends you should have or maintain all the time, but not everyone has their set best friend or set friend group, and even if they do, they still might continuously shift. The social pressure of having a certain amount of, or type of friends is very much there, but that's just an external pressure that only gets really bad when you start to internalize it, when you start to believe it yourself.
The truth is if you have even one person in this world who feels like a good friend to you, you've won.
This is an adapted excerpt from the new book "You Will Find Your People: How to Make Meaningful Friendships as an Adult" by Lane Moore, published by Abrams Image.
Moore is an award-winning writer, actor, comedian, and musician. Her comedy show "Tinder Live" has been praised by The New York Times, Spin magazine, and New York magazine. She hosts the "I Thought It Was Just Me" podcast on Patreon. Her first book, "How To Be Alone: If You Want To and Even If You Don't," became an instant No. 1 bestseller and was praised as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, New York magazine, NPR, "Good Morning America," Fast Company, Marie Claire, and many others. Her second book, "You Will Find Your People: How To Make Meaningful Friendships as an Adult," was released on April 25, 2023. Moore is the front person and songwriter in the band It Was Romance, which has been praised by Pitchfork, Vogue, Paste, and Billboard.
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