From Acquaintance to Best Friend in 200 Hours
Did you know that it takes approximately 200 hours of quality time spent with a new acquaintance to transform that connection into a close, committed friendship?
This is why it often seems like it was easier to make close friends in childhood than it is now, but it isn’t; it’s simply that those 200 hours pass by rather quickly when you spend all day with the same people.
This also explains why, for many people, most of their close friends are people they naturally spent a lot of time with in school, college, or at work.
In my pre-pandemic life, I didn’t think I had the kind of time to invest 200 hours in forming friendships!
However, now, not only do I have more time, I believe that I can no longer afford NOT to invest time in making friends and deepening friendships!
In February, friendship expert Shasta Nelson held a two-hour online “Friendship Retreat.” I, along with a few dozen other women, gathered on Zoom to share their friendship struggles and learn new ways of thinking about and approaching friend-making as adults.
I first learned about Shasta’s work back in 2018 after a terrible friendship breakup sent me into therapy. I read her second book, Frientimacy, joined her free, online friendship community, “Girlfriend Circles,” and watched a bunch of videos on her YouTube channel.
Shasta teaches two main concepts about friendship that I’ve found exceptionally helpful:
- There are 5 different types of friendships, and we need all of them: Contact Friends, Common Friends, Confirmed Friends, Community Friends, and Committed Friends. All new friends start out as either Contact or Common friends, but over time (200 hours!) and with mutual effort, we can grow these new friends into being Committed friends, aka BFFs.
- There is a formula to make this happen and it’s shaped like a triangle. The three sides are positivity, consistency, and intimacy. Positivity is the bottom of the triangle because it is the most important ingredient in a budding friendship. Consistency and intimacy are the sides of the triangle, and these are needed in equal amounts (with the foundation always being positivity) to keep a friendship moving and growing higher until it reaches the point at the top, which is where the Committed Friendships live.
One of my takeaways from the February retreat was that adult loneliness is something we unfortunately vilify in modern society, but just like a rumbling stomach tells us we’re hungry for food, loneliness is an emotional rumbling that tells us we’re hungry for connection.
We would never judge someone for needing to eat lunch, but sadly, we often judge others — and ourselves — for simply craving a deeper connection with other women!
Before we all said goodbye that day, many of us exchanged email addresses. I cast a wide net and reached out via email to several women, which resulted in an ongoing connection (via email and Zoom) with one.
Another retreat attendee emailed all of us and proposed forming a “Friendship Mastermind” group to continue the momentum from the retreat. Eight of us have committed to this and we’ve met three times already (xia Zoom), with a fourth meeting planned for next week. We’ve started taking turns facilitating and choosing a discussion topic. Aside from enjoying the company of these fun, amazing, professional women, I am learning a lot from the discussions, too!
After the February retreat, Shasta reached out to us to offer a six week “Friendship Circle,” which would be a small group coaching program limited to 16 women with the goal of encouraging one another to practice our friend-making and friendship deepening skills on each other.
I signed up immediately!
Perhaps you’re thinking, Who needs a class on how to make friends and grow friendships?
Um, I do.
I’ve been feeling the friendship void for several years now, and I feel zero shame about taking a class, to learn from an expert how to strengthen my friendship muscles!
And I’m not at all alone!
Do a simple Google search on women and friendship and you will find tons of articles on how important female friends are and tons more on how difficult they are to find!
In fact, studies show that 66% of women are dissatisfied with the quality of their friendships, and that despite having some friends, only 1 in 4 women feel they have at least one person they can confide in.
Given all this, I’m surprised more women don’t take this seriously enough to do something about it!
As for me, I attended that first class in the Friendship Circle ready to make a change!
Aside from the biweekly meetings with Shasta and the other 15 women, we were placed into “Sharing Circles” of about 3-4 each. We were directed to meet biweekly with our Sharing Circles to practice what we had learned in the whole group meeting the week prior. Plus, many of us opted to be assigned an accountability partner, whom we would meet with weekly to practice these new skills at a deeper level.
The Friendship Circle ended the first week of April, but my accountability partner, Lupe, and I elected to keep meeting every week.
And, the four of us in my Sharing Circle have decided to keep going, too! We have chosen to keep these meetings more structured, so we are currently reading and discussing the first of Shasta’s three books, Friendships Don’t Just Happen.
Several months ago, I could say that I really only had 2 or 3 friends, and my contact with each of them was infrequent and thus, unsatisfying, because it’s hard to grow a friendship to a deeper level of intimacy with so little consistency.
However, now I feel like I have at least 8 new friends, and because they all speak the same Friendship language as me due to our time with Shasta, we are all practicing being positive and consistent with each other, while injecting small doses of intimacy to keep the friendship spark going.
While many have felt socially disconnected during this time, I have used it to plug in socially for the first time in over twenty years, and I feel excited about where these new friendships will lead.
Who knows? Once we’re free to travel again, I might have a great reason to fly to the San Francisco Bay Area, or Seattle, or Palm Beach, or Indiana, or Virginia, or Nebraska, or a handful of other cities: to meet my new dear friends in person!