Frances ha

Frances ha

Do you tell your friends that you love them? I’m a mixed bag.

Whenever I call her, my friend Gemma answers the phone with “Baaaaaayyyybeeeee!!!!” She is forever saying sweet nothings and using pet names. This meme is basically our relationship:

friendship meme

But with other friends, busting out with endearments would feel awkward. Even though we’re just as close, we would never say anything outright. The vibe is different; it’s not our style. We stick with other love languages, like quality time or acts of service. Or nicknames.

From the movie I Love You, Man:

Sydney Fife: You get home safe, Pistol.
Peter Klaven: You got it, Joben.
Sydney Fife: I’m sorry, what?
Peter Klaven: Er… nothing.
Sydney Fife: No, what did you say?
Peter Klaven: Nah, I don’t know… You nicknamed me Pistol, and I just called you… ‘Joben’… It means nothing… I don’t… I’m drunk… I’m gonna call a cab.

Curious, I asked Gemma about her effortless ability to express love. “I literally cannot stop,” she laughed. “I taught myself to be more affectionate because I realized it made people, including myself, feel good. I don’t care about being awkward, and I don’t expect everyone to say it back. It’s not a tennis game; you have to be okay just lobbing it over. The older I get, the more I love people because I see what they are capable of and what they survive. Particularly after my dad died, when I realized that no one escapes the experience of grief, I would look at passengers on the subway and think they all looked like five-year-olds and feel so much affection for them. Now I just tell people how I feel.”

And close friendships really do make your heart swell, don’t you agree? You sometimes feel butterflies at first, or miss them on vacations, just like romantic relationships. “Friendships can be as deep as being in love,” wrote Anna Konkle, co-creator of PEN15, in a recent Instagram caption. “Female friendships are often portrayed as thin and fun and vapid. They missed it. It’s as serious as love and war… We are not a side dish to the meal. We are the meal.”

I’m so curious: Do you tell friends you love them? Or do you instead show love through your actions?

P.S. Making friends as an adults, and the love story I never thought to tell.

(Photos from the great movie Frances Ha.)