Everything I Know About Friendship Comes From Sitcoms
Myth Number Five: Wacky co-dependency is totally OK
This final myth is connected to the first one, but it’s more important. Besides just always being around, friends on sitcoms always want to be together. Always. They’re weird, they totally get one another, and they socialize constantly!
If I could be in a sitcom, I’d probably choose Cougar Town. It’s a show that fully embraces the ridiculousness that is the sitcom friendship. The characters barely work, they hang around drinking wine and goofing off, and they’re always together. There are very few outside people in their lives – and some of them, like Tom, are quite literally outside, looking in. No one seems to be alone for more than thirty seconds at a time, their vocabularies are peppered with inside jokes and THEY ALL LIVE ON THE SAME CUL-DE-SAC! Seriously. You thought living above a bar or coffeeshop was convenient? This is better.
I imagine her saying that to me.
Other sitcoms support the idea that it’s totally healthy for friends to spend all their time together. Have y’all seen Happy Endings? Those friends are tight. As previously mentioned, the friends on Parks and Recreation and Community exist in worlds that allow them to spend 99% of their time together. New Girl features twenty-somethings who rely on one another much more than what I’ve come to realize is normal.
Another thing about sitcoms: They make making friends look as easy as eating a whole log of goat cheese. (Shut up, that can happen to anyone.) A girl answers a kijiji apartment ad, or some people enroll in community college, or a lonely gal contacts city hall about a pit in her backyard and boom – BFFs! Guess what? It’s not that easy.
In fact, making friends after college is really hard. Every job I’ve had in my professional life since college (so…two jobs) has been in a tiny office where I didn’t manage to make any friends. Most of my friends from college were dudes, and they’re scattered across the country and the world. It’s not exactly easy to keep in touch.
After college, I’d say over half the friends I’d had from high school and college years left town. I live in a small, lovely city, and there are more plentiful and more impressive opportunities elsewhere. It’s a choice, to live here. One I’m crazy happy that I made – I love my life in this little East coast city, I love my fiancée, our apartment, our neighborhood, my friends, my family. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
There are friends in other cities. There are friends you grow apart from, because you no longer have the same interests (FYI, you can only turn down invitations to hit the local bar-star dance club at 11:30pm so many times before people just stop inviting you anywhere) or the same values (yes, values – not something I’d consider important at age nineteen when the only thing that matters is whether you both loved the Spice Girls back in 1996, but something that does matter when you’re 25 and everyone and their low-maintenance no-commitment cactus plant has an opinion on who the right guy is, or what the right time to marry is, or whether anyone should have kids before they turn 30 and have an amazing career.) There are friends you just plain never see.
If you believe the sitcoms, you think it’ll be easy to forge new friendships that have the same depth of emotion and plethora of inside jokes as your old ones. When I moved into my first apartment last summer, I imagined hilariously pouring too much detergent into the washing machine and meeting my new BFF in all the bubbly chaos. That never happened, and I never met a single person in my building. (Pro tip: It’s easier to make friends in a small building than a large one. My new building is filled with cool people that I could be friends with.) I even read a book on how to make friends – more of a witty memoir than one of those gross self-help books, MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. I didn’t read it for the advice, I read it because a HelloGiggles.com article said it was funny. But it was actually helpful.
The truth is, you don’t fall into friendships by moving in across the hall from dorky physicists or signing up for Biology 101 at community college, or befriending each and every one of your co-workers. You might not always live in the same city, or on the same cul-de-sac, as your friends from high school. In real life, Annie and Pierce would not be friends. Annie and Britta probably wouldn’t even be friends. In real life, Marshall and Lily wouldn’t spend 95% of their time with Ted. (How could anyone stand to spend that much time with Ted?) You have to work at finding new friends, you have to look for people who are your jam. You have to ask someone to go for a drink even if it makes you anxious, and they hardly ever say no.
Over the past year or so, I managed to make some new friends thanks to nerdy Interwebs things like blogging, Twitter and Yelp. It sounds nerdy, but it’s an awesome way to connect with people who like the same things as you. (For me it’s good food, happy hour, talking about pop culture and playing board games. I know, thrilling stuff. I live on the edge!) We like to joke about building a sitcom around our group of friends – a wacky gang of misfits and a chronicle of our antics. When something funny happens, we’ll joke that it’ll become an episode of the sitcom. (Which is called Offline, get it?)
I just hope I’m not the Alex of the group.