“Why can’t WE be friends?”

My husband and I have many things in common, but certainly not everything.*

It’s the same way with most of my friends, and yes, he’s one of them – en fait, he’s my best friend. We believe that being each other’s best friend is not only possible, for us it’s pretty much imperative. Despite our “Mars/Venus” natures, we talk to each other, listen to each other and do things together.

And – we laugh with each other.  Just like friends do.

Being each other’s best friend doesn’t mean we each don’t have other close friends. It also doesn’t mean we always communicate well, or that we always treat each other the way friends we should.

But we do keep trying.

Way back before we knew what we were getting into, we became friends (I kept telling him, “We’re just friends,” but luckily he didn’t take me seriously.) It was the 1970s, and a popular song  was “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” by the group WAR. We’ve sung the chorus to each other many times since then:

Why can’t WE be friends?
Why can’t WE be friends?
Why can’t WE be friends?
Why can’t WE – EE be friends?



And we laugh when we do.

We became more than friends, but friendship is still a solid basis for our relationship. We like to hang out with each other. We encourage each other’s interests, whether we share them or not. Yes, we sometimes take each other for granted, criticize and even hurt one another – but we always forgive. We count on each other, and together we’ve faced more than one crisis.

What about other friends? And other family? Friends are people I met, got to know, and with whom I somehow connected – we accepted each other as friends. We talk, we listen, we do things, and we laugh. We don’t criticize, we don’t boss each other around, and we don’t (normally) offer unsolicited advice.

Family members (besides mon mari) can be, well, not exactly like friends. Yes, we met and got to know each other, but we may not have connected as friends. Because we’re related, we’re sometimes together. Hopefully, we accept each other, talk and listen to each other, and maybe we share some laughs. We probably interrupt each other more than friends do, though. Ideally, we don’t criticize or tell each other what to do.

But when things aren’t exactly ideal, I often wonder why we can’t be friends. Why we can’t just treat each other the way friends do.

The answer is, we could if we wanted to – it would be much more fun than WAR.

* Another one of our oft-repeated song lines is from Bob Dylan: “We like the same things. We wear the same clothes.” Well, we don’t anymore…

Les amis de longue date: old friends, and 5 reasons why I love them

Like many people, I enjoy making new friends. But I love keeping (and seeing) those that I’ve known for a long, long time.*


Nurturing friendships takes time and effort on both sides. Sometimes, despite our intentions, it’s just not possible à continuer. For different reasons, we move on….and not always because we want to.

We relocate to a different community, city or state. We develop new interests that some of our (old) friends don’t share – so we necessarily spend less time with them. We start new jobs, have more (or different) commitments. And maybe sometimes we move on because we realize that we weren’t that close to begin with.

In my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, three young girls become friends. When their experience as roommates in France is over, they’re sad about it – they don’t want to move on. (A sequel is planned…)

In earlier times, it was difficult to stay connected with friends when I moved somewhere new and started a new chapter in life. Phone calls were expensive, and letters took more time and effort than the short messages we send now. Traveling to visit each other wasn’t easy, even for weddings; on the other hand, they were cheaper easier to attend then than most “destination” mariages of today. But everyone (or at least, I) seemed to have a lot less money back then. So we did what we could.

Happily, I never lost touch with certain old friends. I did with some others, but in recent years, it’s been wonderful to reconnect. Sometimes we’ve discovered that we have more in common now than we did before: we share new (or old) interests, or we just have more time to spend with each other.

Which leads me to the reasons why j’aime les amis de longue date:

1. They “knew me when” – back before either of us had much experience with life and love, and were filled with hopes about the future. We went through some thing(s) together, or at the same time. Somehow that “me” and that “them” haven’t changed all that much, despite our separate joys, trials and sorrows.

2. They’re constant. They’re still around, whether we were always in touch or not. The reasons why we became friends in the first place (usually NOT because our kids are the same age, or that we worked in the same office) are still the reasons why we like to get together.

3. They’re flexible, forgiving, encouraging, accepting and empathetic – all things I try to be, too. No matter what we do separately and no matter what our different interests are (or become), we understand each other. We learn from each other, laugh together and are there for each other when times are tough.

4. They don’t have an “agenda” – we’re friends because we like spending time together. We may have some shared interests (we often do) but we’re friends for more reasons than that. We’re in each other’s network of friends, but we aren’t networking.

5. They care. We’re supportive of each other, and we don’t have to know the details. We want the best for each other, and we’re troubled when the other is sad, unhappy or unwell.

One of my (old) friends often says, “Friends are the family that we choose.” Some of my dearest friends aren’t the oldest ones; I met them sometime more recently along life’s journey. But for inexplicable reasons, we may feel as if we’ve known each other for a long time. We hit it off – we just connect.

I think they’re going to become some of mes amis de longue date.

* Especially my best friend, mon mari – the family that I chose, and who chose me.

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