Scrappy friends.

Scrappy friends.

Just when I say I’m DONE reading BuzzFeed articles and their ilk, I stumble upon one that’s too perfect pass up.

Take this recent “open letter from an introvert” on Blush. Admire the GIFs, then skip on down to point 4: introverts are okay without a bajillion friends, which explains that:

If you are one of my dear friends, then one of two things happened:

1. You clawed your way in (bravo!)

2. We were confined together for a long period of time and forced to talk.

 I laughed out loud at this, because it’s so true for me. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with Will that go, “How do you know her again?” and I reply something like, “I think she hunted me down and made me be her friend.”

They clawed their way in.

I’m reminded of the Friends episode where Phoebe schools Monica on how to drop a friend. The friend in question is the tiresome Amanda (played by Jennifer Coolidge, of Legally Blonde fame): Phoebe instructs:

Just cut her out. Just ignore her calls and dodge her till she gets the point.

But then later in the show, it comes out that Phoebe once tried to unfriend Monica–but Monica refused to be unfriended. Phoebe explains to her:

No matter what I tried to do I couldn’t keep you out of my life. Of all the people I’ve cut out, you were the only one who ever clawed her way back in.

She’s a scrappy one, that Monica.

As an introvert, I admire her tenacity: the kind that spots a kindred spirit and claws her way in, the kind that won’t be dropped by a friend she loves. I wonder about myself and my own relationships: do I have that kind of tenacity? I’d like to say I did, but I don’t know.

Monica Geller, role model? Maybe this time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your friends who clawed their way in (or how YOU did the clawing), scrappy friends, and nostalgic recollections of Friends viewing sessions in comments. 

P.S. This episode (The One with Ross’s Tan, from season 10) is consistently rated as one of the worst episodes of the entire series in fan polls. I’m not buying it (even though the Joey-Rachel plot line stinks), if only because I’m remembering it with fondness a decade later.  (Yep, a decade. I know.)

And on a serious note, I’ve been meaning to read this book on friendship by Luci Shaw and Madeleine L’Engle for ages. If you’ve read it (or intend to), I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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28 comments

  1. I laughed at this. I think I may be scrappy. But if so, it’s probably because I’ve had to be: moving to seven new cities in eight years taught me that if I wanted friends, I’d have to work for it.

    Thankfully, I’m naturally inclined to initiate anyway (being a bit more E than I). But not keeping tabs of “who’s turn it is” to call back, not taking offense if someone doesn’t return an invitation to dinner, and generally trying to believe the best about people helps too :).

    And favorite Friends moment? When Ross calls the radio station to dedicate U2’s With or Without You to Rachel and she calls in to tell them what he did–and they stop playing it 😉

  2. Cathy Armour says:

    Borderline E/I here. I’ve found I spent way too much time “connecting” friendships, clawing for others. So, this year I decided to take a break and claw for only my family, and see which friendships would forge for me. Who is scrappy enough to claw their way back into my life? It’s been an interesting journey on the other side of clawing. I’m finding who are my really dear friends.

  3. Jeannie says:

    This is a great post, Anne: I’m always interested in friendship-related musings (and I’ve had that Luci Shaw/Madeleine L’Engle book on my Amazon wish list for way too long!). After a breakup with a close friend I have really had to examine what it takes to be a friend. I am an Enneagram Six and super-loyal; she is a One with very high standards. I know she will never claw her way back in, but should I? Your take on it here is really interesting to me and takes me down a different track of thinking about the whole situation. Thanks!!

  4. Jillian Kay says:

    Ha! I got my best friend when literally everyone else our age at our company quit within a year. We were stuck together after that and now we’re inseparable. But I don’t know if it would have happened otherwise.

  5. And some friends you are both with for long periods of time AND happen to be scrappy… 🙂

    I appreciate this, as someone who needs people to be persistent and intentional about developing a friendship with me. I want those close relationships, but I need to know that the other person is *really* wanting to be a part of my life before I open up.

  6. Ana says:

    I love Friends–I was forbidden to watch it when it began (in high school), so naturally that made me a life long fan. That episode with Jennifer Coolidge is great–I also love the one with the Holiday Armadillo, the one with Danny DeVito (although it’s the Joey/Pheobe storyline in that one), and the one where Rachel and Pheobe run. And I’m anything but scrappy–I could probably learn a lesson from Monica.

  7. Kayris says:

    I consider myself to be introverted, but to me that doesn’t mean that I’m shy or that I don’t like people or have a hard time in social situations. I’m very outgoing and have a lot of friends and love to meet people, and work in an industry that requires meeting new people every day.

    But too much social interaction exhausts me and I have to have my alone time to recharge. I am never the last to leave a party, or if we are hosting the party, I’m often found in the kitchen alone doing the dishes because I need some space. My extroverted husband likes to come home from work and immediately talk about his day and be together; I like to be by myself for a bit to think about it and relax.

  8. Molly says:

    There must be a sliding scale of introversion because some of the points made in the letter are fairly accurate about me, others totally off, and most made me think “that would apply except that…” I don’t mind chatting on the phone with people for social reasons and can be on long distance with someone I haven’t spoken to in months, but texting conversations drive me nuts. I HATE trying to make small talk, but I also can’t think very well on my feet so debates about politics and religion are out. I do like to expound on an area of expertise, though, so if you ask my advice about how to help your ADHD child you will get hear me for a while.

    I do feel bad about point 4. I have a hard time initiating friendships. Some extrovert friends who made great efforts in the past almost never call now because I can’t stand going to loud places (i.e. night clubs) and try holding conversations (but I love to dance). And I just don’t think to pick up the phone and give them a call because I am trying to remember to fold the laundry or return library books or pick up celery for tonight’s dinner. But she does pull me out of myself, and I love her for that. Also, I hate tooting my own horn. Job searches are a nightmare.

    It’s interesting that the Friends were the picture for an article on introversion. With the exception of Ross I’d have considered them all extroverts because of the zaniness. But if you turn your head this way and squint, you can see it in almost every Friend!

    • Anne says:

      I get what you’re saying: I wanted to say, “I can meet new people!!!!” but I restrained from adding my commentary to the post. 🙂

      Also, I’d love to see someone break down the personalities of the Friends cast. Even though I just said I keep trying to quit Buzzfeed links. 🙂

  9. Leigh Kramer says:

    This is interesting. I’m an INFJ and definitely need my downtime. BUT I’m also a natural initiator and investor in relationships. (I hear INFJs are the most extroverted of the introverts.) I don’t think I’ve clawed my way in to any relationships. I like making plans and getting to know people but it has to be a two-way street. My propensity for continuing to reach out probably correlates with how much free time I have, as well as the state of my other friendships. But in general, I’ll initiate plans a couple of times and if there’s no follow through, I’ll stop reaching out. Now I’m trying to remember how our friendship went from the internet to real life…

    • Sarah Beals says:

      I’m with you. If someone needed me to claw their way through to them, it would be a turn off for me. Friendship is mutual. My mom would always say, “The phone rings both ways!” lol My friendships tend to be deep, and we can go for long periods of time and pick up right where we left off. I’m not a high maintenance person, and I don’t value high maintenance friendships. They seem fake to me. “Clawing” through to get a person to respond would be a huge red flag to me. Especially thinking of this as it relates to my girls. At some point, you say, enough is enough, honey. This girl is not interested. Move on. 🙂

      • Courtney says:

        Ditto to both of these. I can be understanding about someone being busy or going through a hard time, but after a while, if there’s no reciprocation, I let the relationship drop. There are over 7 billion people on this planet, so no need to force a friendship with someone who isn’t interested. Maybe I miss out on a relationship here or there, but at the same time all the close relationships I have now are ones where BOTH parties put in the care and effort to create them. This works both ways, too. If I’m clearly not interested, I’d just find it frustrating (and a little creepy) to have someone try to force a friendship with me.

        On a related note, I read a great blog post once about how some friends are with us only for a season, which has made it easier to let once close friends go when our lives are moving in different directions. I can appreciate having some wonderful years with them, but also look forward to the wonderful years ahead with new friends. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Internet to real life: when you drove up to Louisville for lunch!

      I admire your propensity to reach out. 🙂 I’m betting your internet-friend-to-real-life-friend-ratio is much higher than most!

  10. Donna says:

    I’ve loved Friends since the very beginning and cannot BELIEVE it’s been 10 years since it ended. Crazy enough–“The Last One” is playing on my tv RIGHT NOW. (Not kidding). I still watch it all the time and I still laugh, even though I’m sure I’ve seen every single episode. But yeah, the Rachel-Joey thing? NO. No chemistry, just weird. One of my favorite episodes was when Phoebe was trying to teach Chandler a lesson (“They think they can mess with US??”) and was flirting with him and the always competitive Monica made him call her bluff. Hilarious.

  11. Tim says:

    Great link to that open letter, Anne. The one that resonated most with me was the very first. Weekdays are me days! No, I don’t want to do anything after work. ANYTHING!

  12. Jean says:

    I loved this, it summed it up to a tee, most of my friends were made by “force” usually because of work. When your stuck with someone for 8 hours a day and you find common ground, it’s a no brainer we’re going to be friends and your stuck with me. Though I agree with some that I really am outgoing once you get to know me and I’ve found that comfort zone with you. I like to be apart of social situations as long as I don’t feel overwhelmed

  13. Allison says:

    1. Weekdays Are Me Days. “Errr…Book Club is on Mondays? Um. Ok I can’t make it. Ever. Why? Because it’s on Monday.” –

    Anne – let me say thank you to you. again. I said it earlier this year with your HSP post. Do you know (I know you don’t) – that this year I turn the big 5-0 and you’ve taught me about HSP and realizing that I’m an introvert.
    And now I know it is OK to be an introvert. I just used to think I was strange. But I like it.
    Sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk at work – I find myself to be very happy and I think how whew! it’s a good thing I got into accounting, this working by myself really suits me and makes me happy! (you are the first person I ever told that to)
    The opening quote from the letter (I pasted it above) – is me to a T. (For me its Tuesday and Quilt Guild. Not that I don’t like going and it’s not that I don’t like the people – it’s just that it is Tuesday. And no, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday won’t work for me either.) Yes, I do go to school functions, meetings. Actually, as soon as I come home from work – Monday thru Thursday – I am in bed. Not to sleep, but for me time, down time. This does not mean I don’t talk to anyone. My children come in, tell me about their day as does my sister, I help with homework, whatever needs to be done.
    And yes the friend thing – I was just saying this recently – no I don’t have a lot of friends but the ones I do have mean a lot to me. Unfortunately they do not live near me.
    And yes, texting is the GREATEST invention! I love to text.
    So Anne, thank you, I’m so glad I found your blog and that you put yourself out there!

  14. Corrie Anne says:

    I have a friend who I always tease about having clawed her way into my life fairly aggressively. The rest of my best friends are mostly from childhood – our parents were friends – so we spent a lot of time together and the five of us have remained friends for almost 30 years now. My best friend in college I met when we painted stairwells together for several weeks. Confinement!! My best friend in grad school was my roommate. Confinement! I think I’ve recently found my scrappy equal now in Denver.

    And I love Friends.

  15. Natalie Hart says:

    I so relate to this. The friends who’ve stuck with me are able to withstand the lack of phonecalling and shyness about initiating getting together, but I like to think that I make up for it by being totally present when we’re together. That’s changing, though, as I get older and my and my friends’ kids get older and don’t need us to make their plans or even get them to where their plans lead them. I find myself taking the initiative more often, which feels good. I hadn’t heard of the L’Engle/Shaw book before; I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  16. Sarah Royal says:

    Cracked me up! I have a small number of close friends. New ones squeeze in through endless hours in the office, or working on a project together. Neighbor friends have made the cut after endless hours on my back patio watching kids play. Being a SAHM means fewer of these “forced” relationships!

  17. Dori says:

    The Shaw/L’Engle book is a worthwhile read. Not often that you find such great friends (and good writers) musing on the topic of friendship.

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