In Friendshipping (Workman, Dec.) podcasters Bane and Garritano divulge hard-won, realistic advice on making and keeping friends.
In the book you write that meta-thinking is one key to healthy friendships. Can you explain what that means?
JB: A similar term is meta-cognition, or examining where your thoughts come from and why. So if you think you are awkward, or if you are having negative thoughts about yourself, we encourage people to take a step back, look at the thought, and ask “Why am I thinking that about myself? Is that really true?”
TG: And even the very simple fact of “I’m hungry and I’m cranky and therefore angry at you.” That happens so often. Past traumas can also influence the way we see situations, and we jump to the wrong conclusion. A lot of our book is about examining all the perspectives that you can, just to see what the reality of the situation is.
Was there one “aha!” lesson that inspired your understanding of friendship?
JB: Your friendships don’t have to look like friendships in books or TV, and they don’t have to all look alike. If you have a friend that you see once a week at the dog park, that is a friend. Just because someone won’t be in your wedding party or know your family history, that doesn’t mean they are not a friend.
Has some of your advice changed, or become more important, in the pandemic era?
TG: One of the most important differences for me is how you weigh your interactions when you’re at a distance. Give yourself a little room and judge yourself less. The reality is people have one to three tight friends, and everyone else is kind of an acquaintance we care about. Having your expectations at a realistic level for yourself and how you expect reciprocation is important.
JB: Something we emphasize in the book is to go easy on yourself. Find how to maintain your friendships in a way that is low stress. If you are not a phone person, don’t make yourself take a phone call for an hour every Sunday.
What about making new friends during quarantine?
TG: The world is not closed off. It’s just different. People still want to be in contact with one another. I think the better you know yourself, the better you can put yourself in a virtual situation amongst people who are your kin.
JB: I saw this tweet, maybe in April, that said, “If you’re hungry for friendship don’t think of it as social distancing, but socializing distantly.” It’s not that you are closed off, the world just looks different right now.
TG: I’m sending a lot of mail these days.
JB: I just got your Star Wars card!