“You’ve got an emergency. Who would you call at four in the morning, knowing they would get out of bed and do whatever they could to help you? Those are your friends. That reduces your Christmas-card list a lot.”

Piers Morgan


I’m curious, do you have a metric like this around friendship? How does a friend become a friend?

29 thoughts on “Friendship

  1. Wow… I have been friends, good friends, with a woman for 35 years now. But no, I wouldn’t call her. I would call a woman I have gotten to know recently-over the last year. Our lives are complementing each other now. We see the sane things. Fear the same things.


  2. I consider a friend anyone I would call *while crying*. Perhaps it’s my pride, but I usually try to hold my sh*t together in public. If I pick up the phone to call you and splash tears on the keys? You’re for sure a friend. Plz send hugz.


  3. i definitely consider this the definition of a friend. i would also add: your friends are the people who show up to your family members’ funerals, regardless of if they knew the family member or not…they go because they know it’s important to support you. i recently went through this and was surprised by who i saw and who i didn’t…


  4. Ditto on being able to cry with someone — either in person, on the phone, or even writing an email emotional enough and raw enough that I cry while writing it. Basically, being able to be that honest and open and trust they’ll still love you.

    I’ve also currently realized that these tend to be the same people you feel comfortable having breakfast with. It’s a vulnerable time, early morning, before you’ve had your coffee!


  5. Making friends as an adult is fascinating in this way. I consider my oldest friends my dearest, almost by default. Maybe it’s biological, like they have their own neural pathways in my brain by now or something. My “new” closest friend and I have agreed that we’ll always be each other’s “new” friend, even though we’ve known each other for five years, and, similar to what Sara said above, I’d likely call her at 4am, rather than an old dear friend, perhaps because our lives have more symmetry right now.


  6. The term I use is framily (or frister, more often). The family funeral metric is a good one, particularly if it involves traveling to a very rural area and staying in less-than-optimal accommodations (…ahem). Length of relationship sometimes matters less than timing of relationship–that whole “Reason, season, or lifetime” thing makes this a more malleable concept than I thought it was when I was hesitant to name a “BEST friend” in school.


  7. The previous comments pretty much sum it up, if I can depend on you in a vulnerable time, and trust that you will be consistently honest + kind with me, you’re in. Early on in a friendship, I weigh a person’s follow through on RSVPs, and what they bring to a potluck pretty heavily.


  8. Will they help you through a particularly challenging car problem or debilitating medical issue? You find out who your friends are when you are feeling at your most helpless and inconvenient. I guess it comes down to sacrifice.


  9. We had this EXACT conversation a few nights ago. And I mean exact down to the hour of the phone call. I came up with a handful, depending on the proximity of the actual need. But that handful would absolutely answer the phone & ‘be available’. Another good litmus might be who you/I would ask for a small loan if circumstances were such. The vulnerability of such a request sheds light on those special few really deep & true connections.

    Thanks for sharing and allowing us to seek clarity.


  10. I have a few people in my life that I could call at 4am, but they aren’t necessarily my “best” friends.

    I think friends can fulfill many different needs for us – I have people that I know will hop on a plane and travel with me in a heartbeat, or that I can go and hang out at their house with their kids and make myself a sandwich in their kitchen. They are “best” friends whom I love dearly, but they don’t fill ALL the roles of friendship in my life at once and they wouldn’t be the first person I thought to call at 4am.

    I think friendship is something that you can’t quantify or attribute rules to.


  11. My friends make my life better, instead of worse. “Better” is wholly dependent upon the context of our friendship. There are some people I see infrequently, but LOVE seeing what they post on Facebook or Twitter. There are some people that I call when I want to do something random and my husband doesn’t want to play with me. There are some people I connect with when I’m angry with the world and need to vent, however irrationally, because they love me and know me well enough to understand my personal hurts.

    If I feel drained when I’m around someone; if someone is consistent only in their unreliability; if I find that we disagree fundamentally AND cannot have reasonable, respectable discourse about the issue? Our friendship wanes, and quickly.


  12. the only place I rarely lack confidence is in the quality and depths of my friendships, therefore, I am BLESSED to have a range of 4AM Friends, depending on the emergency at hand. a big part of developing friendships in adulthood is knowing the strengths of your friends and reaching out to them based on your needs. if I wake up at 4AM having a panic attack, I am going to call the friend who understands anxiety and will talk me through it. if I am in the middle of a break-up and am having a possibly irrational bout of anger, I am not going to call my friend with young kids, knowing that her attention will rightly be focused there. so while this metric is a good one, basically that you have 4AM Friends, it’s also important to know what your needs are, and who to ask to help support you while you meet them. good topic Maggie, may you have excellent 4AM Friends! xoxo


  13. PS, this doesn’t mean you choose the friend who enables your bad behavior. there comes a time when you realize that hobbles you, and you have to fix your own shiz, with the help of trusted friends of course.


  14. I guess I think of my “friends” as 4 am friends. But opposite – as in, if they called me at 4 am with an emergency, would I hop out of bed to help them, or beg off? I have several friends like this, and others that are really more “acquaintances”.

    I have a very good friend who drove to my house on her way home from work (at 10:30 pm at night – she’s a nurse), just to give me a hug, because we had a death in the family that had just destroyed me. She raised the bar on what to accept/expect in the way of how my friends treat me.


  15. I have friends who will drive hours to help you pack and clean your apartment so you can move out of state to be with a guy they can’t stand and who would drive there to get you when it all goes wrong. They’ll ignore family guilt to go to Vegas with you the first Thanksgiving after you get divorced so you don’t have to face your disapproving mother.

    These are the same ladies who will be totally honest when you need to hear hard stuff and love you anyway. They’re the people you could move in with for a couple of months if your life fell apart, no questions or payment asked. They’re like doulas for whatever life throws at you.


  16. My list of 4:00am friends is longer then the ultimate test: who do I allow in my house when it is less than presentable without making any effort to pick it up (other then couch clearing of course). Now that’s a short list. 🙂


  17. I love talking about friendship!

    I would like to think that all my friends are ride or die but some are better at crisis management than others. Head nods to the “it takes all kinds” sentiment mentioned above. Call the get-shit-done folk.

    But I’ve made maybe 3 of those phone calls, ever; I think friendships are usually made up of smaller gestures.

    My favorite friends are the ones that help without being asked, before you realize what you need: the ones that take action after careful listening.

    I work pretty hard at this on a regular basis–being that kind of friend and tending to the people I care about–and sometimes people are mystified at my being good at it. I often want to say “I’m good at it because I’m trying.”

    One other thing I’ve noticed is that the best of friends aren’t just there in times of need (obviously important) but who are also there to celebrate your victories–even the small ones.
    In other words: more champagne!


  18. What happened to Mightygirl? This site used to be interesting and thought-provoking. You seem cool, Maggie, but there’s no more YOU here.


  19. If I can reach over with my fork and eat off their plate without asking. Worth noting that I can’t even remember a meal in recent history with my best friend where we didn’t share entrees.


  20. By your metric, I’m a little short on friends. Though, strangely, I’d do this for a number of people I know. Maybe I’m just hesitant to make the call?

    My friends are the ones who forgive me my nerves, love me anyway, and make me laugh. Oh, and of course we can share meals. I love that metric! I’m such a sharer.


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