Dedicated to my no. 1 fan, my second self, Corina
There are things in life that are as old and time and as true as truth can get. The science that friendship, deep, connected friendship, can help us lead a more fulfilling life was one of the elements identified by Aristotle as the secret to wellbeing. And it stands true today as it did thousands of years ago. I am dedicating my 200th post to Corina, my son’s godmother and my and my partner’s companion in this journey called life. Corina IS friendship to me. Committed, authentic, honest, loving and, above all, kind friendship. Big Friendship.
In their book Big Friendship:How We Keep Each Other Close, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman go in depth about their friendship. I had heard them being interviewed on an Unlocking Us podcast ( was impressed enough to order the book ) and I could not tell, at the beginning of the book, what the use was in hearing the details of a relationship … that could have been any relationship between friends. As I dove deeper into the book I discovered it as a guide for those relationships nobody labels but which are or should be so important – meaningful (big) friendships.
Friendship is a real-deal insurance policy against the hurricanes of life – and there’s social-science evidence that the hard stuff seems less difficult with a good friend by your side. In one study, participants were asked to assess how steep the hill was. Those who participated with a friend said the hill seemed less daunting than people who participated alone. A Big Friendship can hold you when you are worried that everything else is falling apart. It can be a space of validation when you feel alone in the world. It can provide the relief of feeling seen without having to explain yourself in too many words. And it offers the security of knowing that you won’t have to go through life’s inevitable challenges alone.Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman, pg. 201
Just as I was wrapping up the book, because … the universe, I was prompted to read a great article in The Atlantic – which happens to quote the book above – coming full circle here. In this article, Jennifer Senior acknowledges that “friendship is the rare kind of relationship that remains forever available to us as we age. It’s a bulwark against stasis, a potential source of creativity and renewal in lives that otherwise narrow with time.”
And yet, if we look at friendships we encounter in our lives, there is so much more happenstance than relationship guidelines and when friendships die, how hard do we fight to keep them and grow in the process?
There is no autopilot mode for a Big Friendship. You just have to keep showing up. Active friendships require active maintenance. You don’t get to sit back, do nothing, and enjoy the benefits of a meaningful relationship – any relationship. But action is especially important to friendship, which carries no familial expectations or marriage license. If you don’t take action to mark it as important and keep it alive, a friendship will not survive.
Just as there are conditions for creating a Big Friendship, there are also some ways to make sure it stays big over many years. Emily Langan, the professor who applied attachment theory to close friendships, told us that staying attached to a close friend can be boiled down to three main things: ritual, assurances and openness.Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman, pg. 193
How did I get so lucky? To walk this path of life in a complete one self with the love of my life and holding hands with our second self, Corina.
Our Cori is a testament to the truth behind the words above: she never forgets rituals and helps us respect them (not so sure about us 🙂 ), she is the queen of assurance, always reminding us there is a way if only there is a will and that we are loved and important and the openness we have together is felt at the deepest level – there is nothing we would not be able to bring up, discuss or dispute because we know the foundation is always the same: love. Among other things, Corina pushed me to write these posts. I never even imagined that someone was reading what I wrote and one morning I get a message: are you ok? Why is there no Connect? Corina talks to me about reading my posts as a ritual of Saturday morning and about worrying when I miss writing them. Apart from obviously feeling good to be read, her loving push is keeping me in touch with something important to me, in a world that is so great at disrupting our presence.
Everyone should be so lucky!!!