Bridesmaids Maya Rudolph Kristen Wiig

tina-fey-amy-poehler-friendship

when harry met sally

I had female friends growing up, but in my thirties I started feeling much closer to the women I knew. At first, I wasn’t sure why this lovely intimacy was developing, but then I read this piece from New York Magazine and had a lightbulb moment…

The secret to deeper female friendship? Doing something RANDOM.

Says New York Magazine:

Twentysomething friendships involve long, late nights, all-day walks, and hours-long phone conversations. But having friends in your 30s is functionally impossible. There is no good time to see people, no friend equivalent of the candlelit dinner and rose-strewn canopy bed. To stay friends is to make do with the social equivalent of a taco truck and bathroom quickie. As the opposite of a sensualist, I actually prefer this. There’s something both efficient and exciting about having friends woven into the texture of daily life. It feels almost illicit when we manage to steal time together, like we are cheating on our grown-up lives….

What’s more, low expectations can be liberating. “When a friend comes to the grocery store with me because it’s what I have to do, the pressure to be fun evaporates,” says my friend Liesl. “Then we can just walk down the aisles and I can complain about the domestic shackles of having to make dinner and maybe get recipe ideas or maybe not, but somehow that kind of environment — purposeful, practical — allows me to be far more myself. And in that headspace — which is also key to feeling close to someone — the conversation organically weaves from the price of granola to something about my marriage to something I’ve read to petty gossip. And I feel way better after, especially since I got my groceries, too.”

That point rang so true for me. In my twenties, I always scheduled dinners with friends. Now in our thirties, with more time constraints, we still sometimes have dinner but more often we’ll meet up in casual ways: to run an errand or take a walk or get a pedicure or go shopping for a birthday present for one of our moms.

Although our meet-ups are less ceremonious, they’re actually awesome. There’s something about random activities that accelerates intimacy, since they take the pressure off any sort of performance. Low-key time together reminds me of hanging out with family, so your friends begin feeling like sisters. “These days instead of meeting someone for coffee, even if it’s a work thing, I suggest that we walk,” my friend Gemma told me. “So much more fun.”

Thoughts? What do you do with your friends? Do you do random activities (bookstore browsing, dog walking, Trader Joe’s runs), or do you prefer more structured plans, like dinner and a movie?

P.S. Five-minute phone calls, Mindy Kaling on friendship and starting an articles club.

This is part of a series called “What We’re Reading“—featuring interesting articles on different topics we find during the week. See more here, if you’d like.