I love friendship between women. There. I said it. It’s the greatest. I love my lady friendships and I’ve worked hard to cultivate these long-lasting intimacies. It hasn’t always been easy. Friendships can be hard work. Friendships are messy and imperfect. Lena Dunham explains how our closest and most intimate friendship can sometimes be “one of the most tough, volatile relationships you’ve ever had.” The key to success, at least with my closest girlfriends, is to acknowledge that toughness and to agree to push through it with tenderness, honesty, and care. Because girls are magic and we have so much to offer one another.
When my BFF suggested that I do a post on friend crushes, I decided that I wanted to dedicate a whole week to celebrating friendships between women. Friend crushes is one of my favourite topics of discussion and one of the greatest things about meeting new people. We think about crushes as something that you only experience in realm of romantic relationships. But why should romantic relationships get to have all of the butterfly feelings, the desire that you just must get to know this person? Why can’t friends go on dates? And even better, why can’t you just tell your friend that you think they’re the best and that you love them a lot? FUN FACT: YOU CAN DO ALL THESE THINGS!!!! HOORAY!!!
So I put together a questionnaire, put a call out, and had no problem filling 7 days worth of posts. But then… because being practical is hard but also an important thing, I realized that it wouldn’t be manageable for me to post them all in one week — especially if I wanted to get other work done, like *cough cough* my dissertation chapter, which just so happens to be about female besties — besties that are a little beastly. So I decided that I’d post one a week for the next seven weeks. And why not post them on Wednesday aka #womancrushwednesday — my favourite hashtag of all time.
So up first are Sarah and Mia. Sarah and Mia met two years ago during the MA in English at U of T — I had the pleasure of taking a class with Sarah but sadly didn’t get to know Mia. Probably because she was spending all of her time crushing on and befriending Sarah. Here’s the story of their friendship complete with specially taken professional friend photos — that Mia and Sarah surprised me with — to accompany their post.
How did you guys meet? And was it obvious to you at that moment that you just had to be friends with this person? Or was it a more gradual process?
Sarah: I think the first time I actually remember meeting Mia was at this weird MA mixer that happened about halfway through first semester. We were in the same theory overview class that all MAs have to take together, but I don’t have any memory of her before that night.
Mia: Yeah, we met at that mixer in October and someone just introduced us. Sarah mentioned that we might have a mutual friend, but I didn’t like said friend so it was awkward. As far as whether I knew we needed to be friends right away, I think that kind of blends into the next question in our case, actually.
When did you know that you had a friend crush? What was it about this new person that made you feel like you must be friends with them?
Sarah: Ok, Mia should answer this one first!
Mia: Ok. So Sarah said that I wasn’t on her radar at all until we met officially, but she was like one hundred percent on my radar from day one. It was like a rom com. I saw her from across the room and I was like “Her.” I thought that she looked cool. It was superficial at first.
Like I thought she had good taste. Good style! But when I really knew I wanted to be friends with her it was because we were in two different discussion groups in the same class and our groups would meet on opposite sides of the same room. I would hear her talk in the regular lecture part of the class when we were all together and she sounded genuinely smart, but not pretentious at all, so I already thought she was smart, but then during discussion time I could also hear her laughing really loudly and making the other people in her group laugh, so then I knew she must be funny too.
Sarah: And while all of this was happening, I basically had no idea who Mia was. But then in our second semester we ended up having two classes together and we started sitting nearby each other because — well, I feel like she maybe purposefully sat by me . . .
Mia: *Laughs and nods* I totally did. I had like one other good friend in that class and he was really mad at me for not saving him a seat and I was like “I’m trying to be friends with this girl!”
Sarah: Once we started sitting together and I got to talk to her during breaks, I pretty much saw the same things in her as she did in me. She was super cute and stylish and smart and never a snob. And she backed me up in my passionate defence of Harry Potter against a certain student who might have said the books were “empty of meaning” and had “no literary merit.” I just really clearly remember her following up whatever I said with, “And what about Harry as Christ-figure?!” and being very enamoured of her after that.
But I think really I was the one who had a big “aha” moment on our first friend date.
Who made the first move? Did they ask you to go on a friend date? What did you do the first time you hung out solo?
Mia: It should probably be obvious by now that I made the first move. Neither of us actually remembers how it came about, but we totally had a very definite first friend date. We went to a coffee shop near U of T and talked for like three or four hours, about really serious stuff too.
Sarah: I remember Mia telling me later that she went home that night and told her boyfriend, Ben, that if we had been on a romantic date it would have been like the best first date ever. Like we knocked it out of the park.
What are some of your favourite activities to do together?
Sarah: We like to go shopping together and we like to spend time exploring different neighbourhoods in Toronto. So like we’ll devote an entire day to Cabbagetown or Lower Ossington or The Beaches. We have study dates at the Toronto Reference Library if we’re too busy for a real hang out. But what we really love to do together is go for walks in the cemetery near my house. I live by the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery in Cabbagetown which is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Toronto. So yeah, lots of cemetery walks.
What are some other things that you’ve bonded over?
Mia: So kind of spinning off the last question, we both have a really death-positive interest in death culture.
Sarah: *bursts out laughing* That’s such a polished way to put it!
Mia: No, but you know what I mean, it’s not a dark, overly morbid, interest, it’s like, how do people think about this, how do people write about this, how is death culture explored? You don’t always find someone who doesn’t think death is scary or weird or taboo to talk about or even think about, let alone for extended periods of time. And then I’d say another big thing we’ve bonded over is being only children. And books, obviously, because that’s where we met.
Sarah: That sounds so romantic. “We met in books”. Yeah, I think I also feel a bond with Mia over having similar relationship experiences. We’ve both been in really long term relationships that started when we were pretty young and even though Mia’s still with her boyfriend and I’m not with my former partner anymore, I feel like it’s easier for me to talk to her about that relationship than it is to talk to a lot of other people our age who have mostly dated more casually or had a few shorter relationships. And yeah, other than that, we love baked goods and book stores and vintage clothes. All that good stuff!
What’s one of your favourite memories with your friend?
Sarah: One of my favourite memories with Mia is definitely my last birthday. My birthday’s in June and I was doing this crazy publishing intensive so I was really exhausted all the time. It just wasn’t in me to really plan anything. So Mia really thoughtfully planned out a day for me that was perfect for how I was feeling at the time. She met me on campus after I finished up brunch with another friend and then took me to a park in the middle of Old Campus. She had brought a huge tub of strawberries and a thermos of raspberry lemonade and some adorable owl mugs to put the lemonade in. It was a completely gorgeous day and we just hung out outside and she gave me a beautiful book that was wrapped impeccably and I had such a nice time and then got back to my house early to just have some alone time, which I desperately needed. I just really appreciated that even though she’s more likely to be someone who throws a party or goes out on her birthday, she knew that that’s not really me, especially as tired as I was, and just planned a day that she knew I would love, that wouldn’t stress me out. It was really thoughtful and made me feel very loved.
Mia: That’s definitely one of my favourite memories too, but I think another one of my favourites was the time Sarah came over on Valentine’s day and spent the night, which was also the first night she met Ben.
Sarah: Yes, I had to flee my apartment because of a Valentine’s party that my roommate was throwing and Ben and Mia took me in which was so sweet of them to do.
Mia: It was so nice because at first, Ben was kind of doing me a favour, but then the two of them got along so well and it was really fun. And we just ate a bunch of cheese and bread and fruit and Ben and Sarah bonded about film stuff, because they both studied film in undergrad, so that was really cool. I had been talking about Sarah to Ben for so long and then they met and he was like, “Yeah, she really is awesome” and I felt smug.
Sarah: Which is Mia’s favourite way to feel.
How does your friend help balance you out? What do you get from them that’s special or different from other pals in your life?
Sarah: I think the main thing that I get from Mia that’s different than my other friendships is just the level of attentiveness and effort that she puts into our relationship and into supporting me as a friend. Mia and I generally see each other once or twice a week and she always makes the effort to see me or to make plans. She remembers if I have something going on and will text me to ask how it went or wish me good luck. In most of my friendships I tend to kind of be the one to instigate things and to remember things or check up on people.
Mia: Sarah very much plays the caregiver role in most of her relationships. As has become evident from the way we’ve talked about our friendship, it is a lot like a partnership *laughs* We are really respectful of each other’s lives and time and we make an effort to be there for each other. We’re very supportive of one another. We don’t do passive aggressive bullshit or jealousy or anything like that.
Sarah: And most importantly, I tolerate Mia’s obsession with Kim and Kanye and she tolerates my obsession with Harry Styles.
Mia: Yes. Yes. Very important.
Sarah: We accept each other unconditionally. Clearly.
Was there a really rough time that you had to get through together?
Sarah: I was actually in a really dark period when we first started being friends. The summer before I started the MA, my mom had a big health scare, my parents got divorced, I was separated from my dog, my four and a half year relationship ended, and I moved to a city where I only knew two people to start a pretty grueling degree program. So I was like incredibly depressed and angry and anxious and just generally discombobulated. It was a really weird time to start any kind of relationship, but Mia was just really supportive and awesome and she’s definitely been a bright light through what have been a really rough couple of years for me.
What do you most admire about your friend?
Mia: I admire her perseverance and her…gutsiness. If most people had to deal with half of the things she has recently would, they would curl up in a ball and say “fuck it” and they would be totally justified. But she is always trying to have the life she wants and she works actively to make things happen. Sarah works harder at everything than anyone I know, even when she doesn’t enjoy what she’s doing. And because I’m her friend I know she has a lot of anxiety, but if I didn’t know her well I would have no idea because she pushes herself past her comfort zone so consistently. Yeah, just . . . gutsiness.
Sarah: What I admire most about Mia is that she is just the most herself out of everyone I know, at all times. Like I know that if I’m with her in a new scenario or if I introduce her to a new person, she will be the same person in each situation and I think that stems from her strong sense of self and her confidence in who she is. Mia’s confidence REALLY inspires me. I love that she knows what she’s good at and what her skills are and owns them instead of wasting her time worrying about what other people are doing. Her whole attitude to life is like, “This is who I am and I’m not putting up with anyone who doesn’t see how amazing I am” which I think is so healthy and awesome.
Sarah: What I haven’t included here is the real number of times we’ve both said “Awwwww” while filling out this questionnaire.
We added a question! Well, it’s not so much a question as some unsolicited advice: So here is our advice on how to successfully cultivate a fun, strong, healthy friendship (just need to interject here and say how damn smitten I am with the fact that they wanted to saw more about friendship!)
Sarah: My advice is to treat your friendships the way you would your romantic relationships. I think we tend to put more effort into dating than we do cultivating friendships and that just doesn’t seem right. Think about your friend a lot and be really intentional about the way you think about them.
Mia: Yeah, plan time together. Like the first time Sarah and I explored a neighbourhood that I knew a bit better, I really thought about what she would love and planned places to take her, and she did the same thing for me later, in her own neighbourhood. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make each other happy. You should want to do nice things for each other no matter how long you’ve been friends.affirmation, crushes, exploration, friend dates, friends, pals
This post was written by Margeaux