Before we had the phrase “main character moment,” we had Carrie Bradshaw, the woman known for her credit card debt, kitten heel collection, and love for a man we pray was not based on D*nald Tr*mp.
With a weekly column in the New York Star, a few best-selling books, and a stint at Vogue, Bradshaw was the original influencer—a quality it seems she’s holding onto. In a recently leaked script for And Just Like That, the upcoming reboot of the HBO hit that ran from 1998-2004, we learned that Carrie Bradshaw will be ushering her vintage narcissism into the new era in exactly the way we would expect: from behind a podcast mic. Where will Carrie’s Sex and the City pod land among modern competitors like U Up? While her insights may have been revolutionary in ‘99, her tired tips don’t hold a candle to today’s sex positivity, and her narcissism doesn’t translate either.
Carrie Bradshaw was supposed to be the ultimate It Girl: career focused but not too busy, sexually free but hopelessly romantic, an enigmatic quirky Manhattan elite. She was written as the dream girl of every type of man, from finance guys in suits to artists to comic book enthusiasts. She sat front row at every fashion show, despite having worn a literal bird in her hair on her wedding day. She represented an impossible standard of perfection, one that every 2000s girl aspired to before ascending to adulthood and coming to the realization that Carrie Bradshaw is actually humanity’s shared nightmare.
Between leaked scripts and the mysterious set photos of Natasha, we can’t stop thinking about the HBO hit that taught a generation of women to choose between four basic archetypes of femininity. We’ve spent decades taking Cosmo quizzes seeking the answer to an age-old question: which Sex and the City woman are you? We’ve refreshed the page so many times that we’ve missed the point: be anyone except Carrie.
Be a Samantha, a Charlotte, and a Miranda—a blend of our three supporting characters would make a classy, optimistic, sexually liberated woman who values her career, independence, friendships, and style. Imagine a world where a woman can wear Jimmy Choos without talking about it all goddamn day.
If your vision board is still anchored by photos of Carrie Bradshaw’s hundred-pound body in 10 pounds of tulle, we have the solution for you. The best way to combat Bradshaw levels of narcissism is to perform a self-check. Let’s evolve the “which character are you” quiz into something actually helpful. Instead of asking, “am I a Carrie?,” ask yourself, “am I the problem?” Here are some useful tips:
- If your friend invites you to the opera, but you spot your ex mid-show, do not leave her stranded at the Met.
- If you’re someone’s maid of honor, do not choose their wedding day to confess you cheated on your boyfriend.
- If your friend gets you on the cover of New York magazine, do not black out the night before.
- If your friend throws her neck out and is stuck on the floor naked, do not send your boyfriend to help in your place.
- If your friend buys you real cashmere for your birthday, do not ask if you can return it for cash.
- If you’re a sex columnist who doesn’t believe in bisexuality, get a new column.
- If you cheat on your boyfriend with your ex-boyfriend, do not write about it in the newspaper.
- If your boyfriend takes you to the country, take off the f*cking kitten heels.
- If you have a friend like Samantha Jones, do not take her for granted.
Maybe I’m bitter because Carrie Bradshaw is the person who convinced me I needed a collection of dresses for the classic last-minute gala. The summer before moving to the city, I spent my days rewatching all six seasons of Sex and the City and ordering countless pairs of heels that would never see the inside of a subway car. The first few weeks in New York make anyone feel like a Carrie, like the main character; but a few morning commutes, a failed Hinge date, and a phone call with ConEd are there to bring you back down to Earth all too quickly. Remember this, city girls: there is nothing chic about credit card debt.
In its time, Sex and the City turned the tides for single women. At dinner tables and crowded bars, four women created space to talk openly about subjects that were once taboo, even introducing the world to the Rabbit. The show laid a foundation, albeit a thin one, for 20 years of sex positivity and female empowerment, even if aspects of it failed to hold up to modernity. With the evolution of modern feminism and the introduction of the Bechdel Test, Sex and the City’s mortal nemesis, longtime fans began looking to the show for nostalgia more than wisdom. Headlines once dedicated to “Carrie Bradshaw’s Best Fashion Moments” were replaced by roundups of “Carrie’s Worst Decisions on Sex and the City,” “10 Times Carrie Bradshaw Was A Jerk,” and “9 Times Carrie Bradshaw Was The Actual Worst.”
When it comes to nostalgia, HBO is a bloodhound, and they caught the scent and ran with it. So now here we are, counting down the days to the reboot that we never asked for and the main character we never liked. That said, when And Just Like That does finally drop, don’t reach out for at least three days, I’m busy.
Be the main character without being a Carrie. Romanticize your life, but don’t forget that the people who will meet you in a diner at midnight to have another conversation about your Mr. Big are not your supporting characters. Look at your life the way Sex and the City should have always been seen, as an ensemble.
Oh and—justice for Samantha Jones.
Image: Courtesy of HBO Max
Dear New Friend,
When we connected in line at the pharmacy over the insufferable wait time, I thought this friendship could be the beginning of something gr—well, not great, but.. enjoyable? After all, is there any bond stronger than the one formed over mutual annoyance? I foresaw us graduating from complaints over waiting 30 minutes just to grab a single box of Sudafed (“At this rate,” you remarked, “I might as well buy enough to open up a meth lab. It’s like they want me to do it.”) to higher-level gripes, such as the inconvenience of doing your own laundry and the persistent lack of motivation to grocery shop. In this brief fantasy of mine, I imagined that maybe we’d even moving up to sh*t-talking celebrities or people doing weird stuff on the subway (“did that guy just remove his mask so he could sneeze into his elbow?”). I had average-sized hopes for us, I really did. Like, maybe a brunch reservation that we only canceled twice before going through with it?
Unfortunately, after my one-month trial from this friendship, I regret to inform you that I would like to unsubscribe. It’s not you, it’s… definitely you. It’s the random complaints that come into my phone at all hours with no context (“ugh”, “I’m gonna lose my sh*t”, “my foot hurts”), leaving me to play Robert Langdon in a game of whiny Da Vinci code that I never wanted to play in the first place. It’s one thing to want to vent, but I just feel like a storm drain.
It’s made me wonder why you don’t have any actual friends to share this with, before I realize… oh, right. That’s why you were so keen to befriend a complete stranger who was just trying to pick up her birth control.
I suppose I should have seen it coming—a spark borne out of negativity tends to only breed more negativity. I like to complain as much as the next
millennial in a big city person, but I’m honestly exhausted. I’ve spent more quality time with certain Netflix shows than with you, and still I feel like I know more about your traumas than your therapist does. Which reminds me, I feel like I could be charging for some of this emotional labor. I do have a sliding scale. I’ll have my people call your people.
Listen, we had a good run, and I’ll always remember the barrage of reels you sent in my DMs (which I “heart” reacted to without watching because I almost never watch videos with the sound on). But much like my Netflix subscription, the cost of maintaining this friendship has gotten way too high for what’s actually being offered.
Please consider this message my written notice of cancellation.
Image: Kayla Snell / Stocksy
Once upon a time, the concept of leaving your house and actually doing something — anything — seemed absurd. Sure, we used to be well-versed in the art of rallying all weekend, our false lashes hanging on for dear life. But once the pandemic hit and everyone and everything shut down, we got realllll comfortable with the fact that not going anywhere was kinda… nice?
So, for over a year we’ve all just been sitting inside with our vibrators, ordering way too much food and begging our exes not to change their Netflix passwords. Other than that week or so when the world seemingly discovered Zoom and you had to go to virtual happy hours with everyone you know, plans were just a far-off, abstract idea. We agreed to anything because honestly, it wasn’t like it was actually going to happen.
Except now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, seeing friends and family once again is becoming a reality. Which is great… except for the fact that you made a lot of bullsh*t plans with a lot of bullsh*t people that you have absolutely no intention on keeping. Here’s what you agreed to, and a few ideas for getting out of this mess:
10. Drinks With Your Coworkers
For over a year you’ve been working on your couch, but after the company-wide email went out saying everyone was expected back in the office, the invites started rolling in. Happy Hour! Team Building! Draaaaanks! Whether you like your coworkers or they’re pesky annoyances you try to forget exist after you log off at 5pm, the barrage of “let’s go out after work” invites are a given as soon as the world opens back up. Back when you replied to those requests while sitting at home with acne cream on your face, it didn’t feel like they would actually happen. But now that the time is here here, you’re realizing you might actually have to interact outside of work with these people after not physically seeing them for over 12 months.
How To Get Out Of It: You can’t really. You work together. You sh*t in the same room. You can put it off as long as possible, but eventually, you’ll have to give in and go out with them. Sure it sucks, but out of all the “plans” you made, it’s the least offensive. Just make sure to schedule it on a day you have a time restraint (“one drink because I have to help my neighbor? with her printer??”) so you can down your vodka soda and peace TF out ASAP. It’s that or quit your job, so like, the choice is yours.
9. Brunch With Your Frenemies
Did you love them pre-covid but after seeing their idiotic IG posts for the past year you’re over them, or have they always been a little sh*tty? Chances are you have a few toxic friendships that need to be scrubbed, but that didn’t stop you from making “when the pandemic is over” plans with those a-holes. Now that things are “normal,” they expect you to join them for carbs and complaining. It’s not that you hate them, it’s just that you realized life was maybe better without them?
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you’re ready to cut this group loose, they’ll eventually guilt you into brunching. Wear your biggest sunnies so they can’t see your eye rolls and chose a spot with bottomless mimosas. If you’re going to endure a few hours with the friends you low-key despise, you might as well be wasted for it.
8. Dinner With That One Annoying Couple
Whether you’re coupled up or expected to third wheel, you keep getting invites from that one couple you can’t seem to shake. Perhaps they’re college friends who turned corporate or your friend and her obnoxious boyfriend, but the duo just won’t take the hint that the idea of breaking bread with them makes you want to die. Sure, you could just keep bailing, but if there’s any part of you that wants/needs to keep that relationship afloat, you know it’s only a matter of time before they choose a pretentious restaurant and expect you to give them a bite of your entree.
How To Get Out Of It: It’s honestly kind of embarrassing that they haven’t figured out you don’t want to hang, but that’s a prime example of why they’re so frustrating to be around. Still, if they’re true friends who turned lame, a coworker you can’t ignore, or a pal you love with a partner you hate, you don’t want to totally jeopardize things. Luckily, claiming to be on a strict diet might be the key to getting out of a meal. Say you’re working with your doctor and can’t eat X, Y, and Z, so dinner is out. Promise to reconnect once your cholesterol (wink) is at a healthy level (wink, wink), and just make sure not to post your drunchie food the next time you have a fry craving.
7. Partying With Your Old High School Pals
When you were stuck in your tiny apartment with no one to talk to other than your house plants, you found yourself reconnecting with your old friends from school. Ancient pictures resurfaced, memes were sent, and after your ten-year high school reunion got canceled, you all agreed that you needed to get together ASAP. Now that ASAP is here, you realize you’d rather leave the past in the past and keep those relationships where they belong: in high school.
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you live in your hometown (my condolences), timing and scheduling are on your side here. I mean, what are the odds that all of you will agree on a weekend, book flights, and get together? Slim. So the only real option is to meet up around the holidays, but after a year of family events were canceled, your parents are officially your “get out of plans without looking like a total dick” card. Say you’d love to get together and then once you’re in town, throw your family under the bus with “my mom keeps guilting me” or “grandma forgot to tell us she was coming by for dinner.” It sucks but, you know, they’re family *humble shrug.*
6. Coffee With Your Internet Friend
Whether she’s a friend of a friend who slid into your DMs or you connected in a Facebook group and started chatting, you’ve officially landed yourself an internet pal. One thing led to another and a few casual conversations became a passing plan of meeting up IRL after Covid. Which means you agreed to go awkwardly hang out with a stranger whose messages you sometimes ignore because the idea of actually being able to leave your house someday sounded less ludicrous than going on a platonic first date with a social media rando.
How To Get Out Of It: It really sucks to be ghosted, but that’s the beauty of social media. If the person has no ties to you, stop answering/opening their messages or even go so far as to block them. There’s probably a reason you don’t actually want to meet up with them. If, however, they run in your circle or there’s the possibility of seeing them again, you might want to be a little less bitchy. Keep putting off the actual coffee date until they get the hint, or destroy their spirit and tell them you’re not that into an IRL relationship with them. The truth hurts, but at least then they’ll stop sending you TikToks you’ve already seen.
5. Shopping With An Acquaintance
Is she a friend? Sort of. Do you know her middle name? No. Do you genuinely enjoy spending time with her? Also no. But again, she’s sort of a friend and somehow you both landed on the idea of getting together to go shopping. Like, in public. Back when you agreed to the idea, the thought of perusing shelves instead of Amazon sounded so absurd, you said yes without thinking because it wasn’t like it was ever going to happen. But alas, stores are open, you’re both vaccinated, and she’s trying to schedule a time to get together. Even though you’ve never hung out with her 1-on-1 (and never really had the desire to TBH), she seems determined to spend an afternoon shuffling around stores and making forced small talk.
How To Get Out Of It: This is a tricky one. On one hand, you don’t want to go shopping with this person. On the other hand, ghosting feels like a non-option, especially if they’re friends with your other friends. Say you’re trying to save money, turn the shopping date into drinks, and drown out the awkwardness with shots and sh*t-talking. Everyone knows the pathway to a new bond is paved with bottom-shelf liquor and newfound mutual hatred.
4. Manis With Your Mother-In-Law
It’s been a long year, but one of the very few perks was getting out of those obligations with the in-laws. Unless you love the family you married into (liar), the thought of spending some extended 1-on-1 time with your MIL is probably causing you some serious angst. You’d humor her calls and texts and gushed about how you couldn’t wait to get together with her, but now that she’s vaccinated, it’s clear this wasn’t idle chitchat. She’s sending you nail design Pinterest boards, photos of cats in salon chairs, and is continuously asking your S.O. why you won’t call her back. Did you not get her seven-minute voicemail?
How To Get Out Of It: I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting your nails done with someone you don’t like chatting with. You’re just sitting there for a very extended period of time with nothing to do other than talk. You can’t bring a book or scroll social without looking like an asshole, but you’re 100% certain you’ll run out of stuff to talk about before the clippers even come out. The only way to get out of this is to say you’re not visiting the salon due to health concerns (Mold? Germs? Covid still? You decide), and would rather just paint your nails the next time you get together. Grab a few bottles of the fastest dry polish you can find and tell you S.O. to stay in the room while you give your MIL the sloppiest mani ever. She’ll feel like she’s getting that mother-daughter bonding moment and as long as you have some polish remover to get rid of the lime green mess she made on your hand, you’ll be set.
3. The Cross-Country Visit To See The Friend You Talk To Once A Year
Around the time when everyone was Zooming each other for happy hours, game nights, and *gasp* virtual bachelorette parties, you casually reconnected with an old friend who went MIA after moving away post-college. When she left for work (or was it to follow her boyfriend’s work? Wait, does she still have a boyfriend?) you both promised to keep in touch, but that quickly went to sh*t when real life got in the way. With covid, however, you had the chance to drunkenly DM, and now she’s wondering when you’re going to come see her and her new baby, whose name is escaping you at the moment.
How To Get Out Of It: There’s nothing worse than being roped into an expensive trip you don’t actually want to take (looking at you, bridal showers, weddings, and baptisms), but luckily, this one is fairly easy to get out of. There’s a good chance she doesn’t actually expect you to pack a bag and take a four-hour flight to see her, but if she does, hit her with a “times are hard, sh*t is expensive.” It’s not technically a lie because last I checked, times are hard and sh*t is expensive. If that doesn’t work, offer to host her at your home instead, and hope to God she too, decides to flake.
2. Toxic Weekend Retreat With Your Estranged Family
Awww! Your aunts, uncles, and cousins were so sad you didn’t see them this year, but they get it! You’re just a liberal sheep who believes in science. Even though they all masklessly got together numerous times, you were easily able to opt out. Now that you’re vaccinated and slowly starting to post bar pics on Insta, your family is making it clear that they’re dying to see you so they can ask you probing questions, question the validity of your job, and gaslight you into oblivion. You know, like the good old days!
How To Get Out Of It: Extended family is super tricky because, on one hand, they’re family. But on the other hand, you disagree with them about everything, and you honestly don’t even know how to spell half of their names. The problem is, no matter how sh*tty sitting around a cabin with people who still call you “kiddo” sounds, you kind of have to go unless you want to
get written out of the will look like a dick. The only way to get out of it is to fake a work trip or wedding and make it clear how sad you are to be missing the big reunion. Sure they’ll talk sh*t about you, but what else is new?
1. Accomplishing Those Lofty Personal Quarantine Goals
View this post on Instagram
Sure, you made a lot of plans with a lot of people during the pandemic, but what about the plans you made for yourself? You know, the mission to really concentrate on your health during quarantine? Or what about the novel you were going to write? Or that new job you were going to get? Weren’t you supposed to have abs by now? You made a lot of promises to yourself and now that the excessive amount of “you time” is coming to an end, it’s clear: You didn’t accomplish sh*t.
How To Get Out Of It: Letting yourself down is the worst, but if you think about it really hard, did you actually think anything was going to change? I mean, after doing that ab video one time, did you ever try it again? And you went on LinkedIn once, but quickly left after seeing all the thirsty DMs from old men wanting to ~connect.~ Sure, you bought a lot of cute note pads to write in, but did inspiration ever strike? Nope. And while everyone else might not understand, at least you can cut yourself some slack for flaking.
Images: Autri Taheri / Unsplash; Giphy (9); betches / Instagram
It’s been a bizarre year for everyone, and spending nearly a year socially distanced and largely stuck inside has challenged us to get creative with the relationships in our lives. From Zoom events to outdoor dining in the dead of winter, tradition has gone out the window when it comes to keeping friendships alive, and especially when it comes to navigating the world of dating.
Luckily, our dating app Ship has made it easier than ever to stay connected in these now-precedented times, with its one-of-a-kind features designed to bring your friends into your search for love (or whatever you’re looking for, no pressure). Why spend your evenings on boring group FaceTimes when you could be matching for yourself and others at the same time? Because it’s been such an unexpected year for friendships everywhere, we rounded up a list of some unexpected celebrity BFFs that should definitely give Ship a try.
Bette Midler & 50 Cent
At this point, we all know about Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s iconic friendship, but they’re not the only woman of a certain age/rapper pairing who get along surprisingly well. 50 and Bette met because they both work with the New York Restoration Project, an organization dedicated to improving parks and public spaces around New York City. Bette has gushed about her friendship with 50, and thanked him in a NYRP speech, saying he’s been there for her “through thick and thin.”
Jennifer Aniston & Selena Gomez
Despite their significant age difference and very different career paths, Selena and Jen go way back. They met in 2014 because they were working with the same management company, and since then, they’ve become good friends, and Selena was even a guest when Jen guest-hosted Ellen last year. Rumors are swirling that Jen has a new man (not Brad Pitt, sadly), but if it’s not too serious, she and Selena could use Ship’s new Hype Line feature to leave notes to the potential matches they find for each other. If I was on a dating app and got a personalized note from Selena Gomez, I’m pretty sure I’d be matching ASAP.
Jonah Hill & The Olsen Twins
Now that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have left their acting careers behind, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever share the screen with Jonah Hill, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming friends with each other. It’s unclear how they first met, but in 2018, the twins attended the Wall Street Journal Magazine’s award show to see Jonah receive an honor, and he even thanked them in his speech. Now that Mary-Kate’s divorce is final, maybe Jonah can help her get back into the dating scene.
Kourtney Kardashian & Travis Barker
View this post on Instagram
Now that these two are an Instagram official couple, the cat is pretty much out of the bag, but a lot of people don’t realize that Travis and Kourtney were friends for a long time before they ever started dating. While they eventually realized their feelings for each other, the process could’ve been sped up by Ship’s “likes you” feature. The friends-to-lovers pipeline can be a tricky one to figure out, so it’s always helpful to have a hint that the other person is probably just as into you as you are to them.
If Kourtney and Travis could find love with each other, you never know what could be around the corner in your personal life. There’s no denying this has been a strange time for friendships and dating, but with apps like Ship, there are more possibilities for connection than ever. Fire up the app, get your crew together, and go for it.
Images: Lars Niki / Contributor / Getty Images; Ari Perilstein / Stringer; kourtneykardash / Instagram
This is hard.
We’re more than a couple weeks in now.
The allure of eating Cheetos and Pop-Tarts has worn off.
Your cat officially hates you.
Going to the grocery store feels like something out of The Walking Dead.
And you’re worried. About how hard it is for your family to co-exist when you’re crammed in the house together and no one can leave. Or how you lost your job but the bills just keep coming. Or because someone you love is an essential worker and you’re scared they might get COVID-19. Or someone you love already has.
I’ve been thinking about that worry a lot. Especially on the days when it rains and not being able to go outside nearly makes me have an existential crisis, or the days when I miss my mom’s hugs with a longing that feels bone deep. And I’ve been thinking about what gets me through it. And this is going to sound like something about of My Little Pony, but honestly, it’s female friendship.
I guess it’s not that surprising—my girlfriends are what’s gotten me through just about every hard thing ever. But something about our friendship has shifted. I can’t say exactly when it changed, but since this pandemic started, we’re talking about the hard things and the important things all the time now, openly and bravely and more. So much more.
I’ve always been fascinated with female friendship, and wondered what it is that makes it feel so extraordinary.
Is it because the experience of being marginalized as women causes us to band together more tightly? There’s a young adult novel I love, Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Lemon, that says, “We’re friends because when girls—women—are alone in this world, they’re easier to pick off.” And maybe that’s it. Maybe we need each other to survive, and so we wrap ourselves around each other like armor.
I was talking with my friend, Mayra Cuevas, about a children’s book author group she’s in called Las Musas. She calls it her “Latina tribe—a group of amazing women, who understood the magic of abuelitas, the absolute bliss of a guava pastry and the pain of a chancletazo.” At a retreat a few weeks before the pandemic, she told me the group “shared our fears, cried through grief, and laughed at the absurdities of life. We even burned away our self-doubt in the most amazing fire ceremony, while praying for our collective hopes and wishes. It was pure magic. Enveloped in the arms of this sisterhood, I felt seen, accepted, and appreciated. Their love and compassion gave me courage and strength. This is the function of female friends.”
Is it that men simply don’t form these types of friendships as often or as easily? I’ve read that men report spending less time with their friends and that they don’t consider their friendships to be as important as women do. That women are more likely to treat their friends like sisters.
I worry about my husband during this time. (Possibly because of that seminar I attended in grad school where I learned that women are more likely to report feelings of stress and depression after trauma, but men just die earlier. Burying your feelings: it’s even more dangerous than we thought.) It seems like it’s so much harder for guys to make friends after college. He has these amazing friends from high school, and they nerd out playing Magic and video games whenever they come to town. But does he have people that he’s leaning on emotionally?
It seems like it’s harder for him, and for men, to make new friends. And full disclosure, I’m super shy, so I almost swallow my tongue every time I meet someone for the first time.
Maybe it’s that initial awkward bubble, the space between politely knowing someone and telling them terrifying truths like I’m scared I’ll never figure out what to do with my life or I’m worried I can’t be the kind of mom my kid needs or I have a crush on this guy in accounting even though he wears jorts. Maybe it’s harder for men to break through the bubble than women. And make no mistake—it’s hard. If we’re thinking about undervalued strengths that women have, the extreme bravery it takes to form a new friendship goes at the top of my list.
But could there be something about women’s neurobiology that makes us friend differently? Okay, this is an extremely complicated topic to talk about because people have tried to weaponize the idea of brain differences against women and other marginalized groups for years. But there is a ton of cool brain science behind friendship, and I got to talk all about it with Dr. Sara Freeman, a neuroscientist who studies social behavior, and with whom I once made a friendship pact in a bathroom during our grad school interview.
It turns out the same systems in the brain that are involved in pair bonding (or falling in love) are also involved in female social behavior (friendship!!). The hormone oxytocin drives all kinds of social bonding—love, friendship, familial—across a bunch of different species. We talked a lot about one particular scientist, Dr. Annaliese Beery, and her work on oxytocin in voles. There are a lot of animals that mate for life (swans, termites, fennec foxes), but meadow voles are not about that life. They’re so promiscuous they don’t even form a male-female bond for a single mating season. But you know what they do form? Female friendship!!! (Well, the vole equivalent of a female friendship.) These furry little rodents aren’t thought of as being the most social creatures, but they actually make really critical social bonds that help them survive the winter by huddling together for warmth. (Adorable.) I think huddling together for survival is exactly what we’re doing when we send takeout to a friend who’s having a hard week or share a roll of toilet paper with a neighbor.
Another cool thing about the science of friendship? Our brains are similar to our friends’ brains. When scientists had college students watch short videos while scanning their brains, they found that people who are friends had startingly similar neural responses, showing reward, boredom, and attention at the same parts. It could be the scientific reason behind why sometimes you meet someone and just click.
Regardless of why women are friends, I’m convinced it’s critical. Every time a friend tells me, “It’s okay that you’re not okay right now. I am not okay either. But we’re not okay together,” it feels like they’re giving me life.
Having a group during trauma makes you more resilient. A lab at Instituto Universitário in Portugal did this research with zebrafish where they exposed single fish or fish in groups to a chemical stressor, and the fish had a lower fear response if they endured the stressor together. It didn’t even matter if a fish was in the same tank as the others. As long as it could see the other fish through the glass, know that they were in the tank next to it, the fish wasn’t as scared. This gives me hope that all the FaceTime and Zoom meetings are working. (Hell, even TikTok.)
This phenomenon of feeling reduced fear when you’re in a group is called social buffering. And just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we have to stop social buffering. I believe it makes a big difference, whether we’re talking about people and COVID-19 or zebrafish and chemical stressors. For now, my connections with my friends are keeping me sane.
Sometimes it’s opening a book I set down a couple months ago and having the most perfect Galentine’s Day card fall out and bursting into happy tears.
Sometimes it’s group texting with my neighborhood moms about how exhausted we are while plotting a socially distanced happy hour in a nearby field that will totally make us look like a coven of witches.
Sometimes it’s a Marco Polo from a friend talking about the importance of perspective as she shows me her chin from different angles.
Sometimes it’s my friend Terra Elan McVoy telling me about how she was watching bees that day and thinking about how “the bees didn’t all freak out when they started dying from Round Up, they just kept being bees. And that’s kind of what we’ve got to do is keep being bees. Make macaroni n’ cheese. Play music. Cry. Freak out. Get some sleep. But keep being bees together for as long as we can.”
And sometimes it’s live posting with my besties while swilling wine and watching Love Is Blind together because WE ARE CLASSY PEOPLE, OKAY?
So, play Jackbox or leave silly Marco Polo messages while wearing old Halloween costumes or reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time and tell them you’re thinking of them. Because I really do think things like that, and like friendship, are going to save us all. I think it’s what will keep hearts and minds and humanity intact for when we come out the other side of this.
I dream of the day when I can hug my friends again and go on girls’ trips and sit on a patio sipping margaritas. I hate that all of those things have been taken away. But the part about how we’re talking about the important things so much more because this pandemic is forcing us to? As much as I can’t wait for the day when we don’t need to shelter in place, that closeness feels really special. I don’t want to lose it. When this is all over, I’m going to figure out how to keep it.
Rachael Allen is the winner of the 2019 Georgia YA Author of the Year Award, whose books include 17 First Kisses, The Revenge Playbook, and A Taxonomy of Love, which was a Junior Library Guild selection, a 2018 Book All Young Georgians Should Read. Her most recent book is The Summer of Impossibilities. She lives in Atlanta with her family. Visit Rachael at rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.
Image: Simon Maage / Unsplash
It’s said that friends are the family we choose, and I couldn’t agree more. My girlfriends are some of the most cherished people in my life, and there’s no one else in the world I’d rather talk sh*t have several glasses of chardonnay with than them. But is it realistic to expect that all friendships will last forever? I’d argue no, especially now that the average life expectancy is in the 70s instead of, say, 35. While no one wants to dump a friend, there are certain signs that indicate your friendship may not be long for this world. Here’s how to tell it’s time to break up with your BFF.
1. The Dynamic Has Become Toxic
You’ve likely chosen your friends because they make your life better in some way. (At least, I hope so.) While it’s natural to fight occasionally, if every interaction is fraught, this is a good indication that the friendship may not be worth maintaining. Your friends should lift you up and be your biggest supporters. If instead, your friendship is making you feel worse about yourself, whether as a result of jealousy, competition, pettiness, passive aggression or some other form of negativity, it might be time to move on.
How To Handle: Think about whether the friendship can be saved by addressing the problem head-on with a direct and honest conversation. If it can’t, the friend in question won’t cop to her behavior, or you simply don’t want to bother anymore, it’s time to cut the cord.
2. You’re The Only One Giving
Friendship should be a two-way street. Of course, at certain times, one party may be giving more than the other, but neither party should be expending all of the effort on a consistent basis. While a friend who dominates the conversation with their drama might be exciting in high school or college, the novelty wears off once you enter the real world. If your friend only seems to contact you when they need something, but isn’t there for you when you need support, it’s time for you to sashay away.
How To Handle: This type of friend usually lacks the self-awareness to change their ways. If you want to get off the roller coaster, a slow fade is usually the best approach.
3. The Connection Feels Forced
Because life circumstances constantly change, certain friendships that emerged at one particular point in your life might not go the distance. These divergences become more apparent in your twenties and beyond as priorities start to shift. While it was easy to bond with Janine when you were downing Natty Lights during sorority pledging, it might be harder to relate when you’re climbing the ladder at work and navigating the veritable cesspool that is the New York dating scene while she’s preparing to pop out baby number three. History is great, but it shouldn’t be the only thing keeping you together. If every conversation feels like work to try to find some common ground, it may be time to put your energy elsewhere.
How To Handle: Chances are good that if you’re feeling a lack of connection, your friend is feeling similarly. In that case, you may not need to do much to create distance. If neither party wants to put in the work to keep the relationship going, it will likely dissolve over time.
4. They’re Constantly Bailing On Plans
We all have moments where we just don’t feel like socializing with sentient beings other than our dogs something unexpected arises and we can no longer stick to plans we previously scheduled. However, if your friend is regularly bailing on plans with little to no notice or explanation, this is likely a sign that something is off with the friendship. It’s also highly disrespectful of your time. I knew I had to consciously uncouple from a friendship when the other party thought it was acceptable to cancel plans without excuse when I was already in a cab en route to meet her.
How To Handle: Unless you’re willing to write this person off immediately (same), this warrants a direct conversation. Be honest about how your friend’s actions are affecting you. If she is able to own her behavior, there may be hope. If not, it’s time to bid her adieu.
5. You’re Not Eager To See Them
Your time is precious, especially as you get older and are juggling different priorities. It’s important, then, that this time is spent with people who are adding value to your life and who you genuinely enjoy seeing. If a friend reaches out to make plans and you feel a sense of dread rather than excitement, this may be an indication that the friendship has run its course. Think about whether your reaction is stemming from something temporary, like a friend who is negative because they are going through a hard time, or something more permanent, like a friend who simply no longer shares the same values. If it’s the latter, it may be time to phase out the friendship.
How To Handle: This one is tough. Ideally, the hope is that with enough excuses, this friend will get the hint that you no longer want to invest in the friendship and the problem will solve itself. If, however, this friend won’t let you off the hook so easily, you can let them know that your priorities have changed and you no longer feel as close as you once did. It’s uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s best to simply rip off the Band-Aid.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and the friend in question to determine whether the friendship is salvageable. The idea is to assess whether or not both parties can or want to invest in the relationship and to act accordingly. If the answer is to move on from the friendship, there’s nothing wrong with that. Honor your feelings and do what makes you happy. I know I didn’t cover every sign, so share your stories in the comments!
Images: Korney Violin / Unsplash; Giphy (5)
I go to a university, like many, where roommates are completely random your freshman year, so I didn’t have the luxury of scrolling through a Facebook group to shop for someone who had the same degenerate tendencies as me. I was lucky in that the worst I had to deal with was a snoring Wisconsinite with good intentions and poor taste in decor, but this also means that I have little to show for any spicy roommate drama. I thus have to live vicariously through others when it comes to terrible roommate experiences, and my best friend from home provides the perfect example. I was constantly receiving text messages about the absolute barbarian she called a roommate, so strap in thots, it’s story time.
View this post on Instagram
My friend showed up to school freshman year after her roommate had already moved in, and given, like, the rules of college, this means that she got the sh*ttier room situation. Yes, you read that correctly. ROOM. Apparently her school is a f*cking resort, because not only did she have her own room, but she also had a built-in kitchenette and bathroom. Would I ever use said kitchen? No, absolutely not. But would I also love the opportunity to pretend that I’d cook more than a literal Dorito for myself every once in a while? Hell yes. Anyway, enough about me.
The storage in their suite was complete with two built-in drawer/walk-in closet combos, presumably one for each roommate (I know, like they live in the f*cking Ritz or something). Given this built-in/walk-in situation, the beds, and other pieces of furniture, there was little room left for any extra storage in the suite. My friend finally makes it to campus to move in, and while unpacking, she slowly starts to realize her roommate has put her clothes in literally every single storage space; both closets and all the bathroom storage are completely filled with her sh*t. Not just any sh*t, we’re talking designer everything: a fugly Gucci tracksuit à la Jeffree Star, Balenciaga sneakers, Hermès belts, the works.
My friend texts this girl to let her know she’ll be moving some of her things, because you know, she needs to have clothes accessible like a normal human being. This girl responds saying, “Don’t! I left you storage in the KITCHEN CABINETS.” Bitch what!? My friend understandably gives the girl a heads up and tells her won’t be using the spice rack as a closet, and is planning to move some of her roommate’s things out of the walk-in and onto her bed. My friend claims to have laid everything out nicely, but the way this girl reacted would make you think that my friend flushed this girl’s LV bag down the toilet.
My friend notices her roommate didn’t come back for the night, but decides to chalk it up to her wanting to spend more time with her mom before orientation in the morning. The next day my friend leaves her room for orientation, having not seen her roommate all day, and when she gets home, there’s a 50-something-year-old woman sitting on her bed. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but this is the point where I’m calling the RA.
Turns out the woman is the roommate’s mom, who begins to lecture my friend by explaining how my friend, and I QUOTE, “does not understand the price nor value” of the things she “treated so recklessly” and how she’s willing to forgive her for her actions because she, “would not expect her or someone of her background to understand.” Ugh, what a saint! I’m so thankful that she was so understanding—I hate when the middle class touches my things too. She really went out with a bang, however, by telling my friend if she ever “assaulted” her daughter again, she would call the cops, get her scholarship revoked, AND get her tossed out of the university. Lol. Ok, Nancy, how about you watch one episode of SVU and get back to me with some more substantive charges?
Needless to say, my friend decided to GTFO and is now living with two amazing girls in an apartment off campus. Personally, I would’ve stuck around a little longer to see if I could cop some designer items, but to each their own. Just remember, if you think your roommate is crazy, at least you don’t have a psychotic, entitled mother in your bed threatening to call the cops on you! Or, if you do—submit that sh*t to [email protected]!
Images: giphy (2)
If you haven’t already read Natalie Beach’s tea-filled essay about her friendship with influencer/scammer (scamfluencer?) Caroline Calloway, you may have at least heard about some of the more sensational points. The life of an Adderall-addicted manic-pixie-dreamgirl-esque influencer, wreaking havoc in a foreign country and drunk off her own (bought) Instagram power, is pretty much the stuff social media dreams are made of. I’ve followed Calloway for a while, after several articles about her various scams—including the time she ordered 1,200 mason jars to her own home for a “speaking tour” that got mostly canceled—alerted me to her beautiful yet terrifying Instagram presence.
I started building up anticipation for Natalie’s article last week, when Caroline told the world the it was coming via her favorite medium: the novel-length Instagram caption. Caroline ultimately posted about the story eight times before it came out, and since it has come out and my writing this article, she has posted about it 42 times. Yes, forty-two. My guess is by the time you read this she’ll have posted so many times, Instagram is permanently disabled. Following her is about following the improbable life of a probably crazy person, who lays it all bare for the world to see, and also like, might have a pyramid scheme on the side.
View this post on Instagram
The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing. The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away. It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer. I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Despite Caroline’s desperate desire to post “relatable” content, her life has always been hilariously far from anything I, or any typical human, would experience. For example, I have never accidentally ordered 1,200 mason jars to my home (though I am getting married next year, so who knows?). But in hearing Natalie’s story, I realized there was a role for me in Caroline’s crazy world, and it was the role of the traumatized friend. The girl caught up in her friend’s fake “adventure girl” persona, who falls for her magnetic energy, only to get burned in the end. Underneath the story of Caroline ripping up the floors of her pill-strewn Cambridge apartment and the mysterious disappearance of some Yale plates (#WhereAreThePlates), is a story about a toxic friendship coming to its logical conclusion. Ultimately, it’s a very common story, with a pretty filter over top.
The relationship Natalie describes between herself and Calloway is one that was familiar not only to me, but to many of my friends. The toxic cocktail of jealousy, love, anger, fear, and desperation that Calloway inspired in Natalie was something we’d all felt at some point, towards someone we considered a friend. Were those toxic friends famous influencers who lost us thousands of dollars by failing to complete the terms of their book deal? No. But were those relationships similarly painful, traumatic, and difficult to end? Absolutely, yes. A lot has been made of toxic romantic relationships—how to spot them, how to get out of them, how to deal with them once they’re done—but the toxic friendship is the toxic relationship’s annoying younger cousin, and it can be just as hurtful and hard to process.
The end of my own toxic friendship took almost a year from when I realized the damage the relationship was doing in my life to when I finally decided to cut contact. One of my biggest epiphanies that led to my ending the relationship once and for all was when I realized I was behaving like someone who was being abused. I lied to my friend about where I was going because she’d get mad if I hung out with other people. I dreaded seeing her, but also desperately wanted her to be happy with me. I found myself daydreaming about something—anything—that would end the friendship, not realizing that I had the power to end it myself.
I wrote about an intoxicating, formative, challenging, infuriating, and deeply important relationship of mine for The Cut https://t.co/Y4JqIwS5tk
— Nat Beach (@Nat_Beach) September 10, 2019
Like Natalie, my toxic friend brought out the worst in me. She made me feel small. She sucked me into her drama and made me responsible for her successes and failures. I was a worse friend to others because she was a bad friend to me. I hated her, but I also followed doggedly in her footsteps, begging to be included in the crazy adventure that was her life.
That’s not to absolve myself of any wrongdoing. Also like Natalie, I was as much a part of the relationship as my toxic friend. I encouraged some of her worst decision-making, watching on the sidelines as she blew up her own life time and time again, all because I thought it would make for a crazy story. I was the Gretchen to her Regina, and the most shameful parts of the whole relationship were the times when I watched her inflict her toxicity on other people and cheered it on. Because if she was losing her sh*t on someone else, she wasn’t losing her sh*t on me, right? When she broke into a boyfriend’s bedroom (multiple times) after they broke up, I laughed it off as her being crazy. When she broke into my bedroom after getting angry at me over text, I realized how frightening that type of “crazy” could be.
Who among us hasn’t met a magnetic person that they just couldn’t help but want to be around? One who gets close too quick, and the next thing you know you’re years deep in a friendship with someone who, based on your knowledge of true crime, might be a f*cking psychopath?
The story of Caroline Calloway is the story of an unhinged influencer who will stop at nothing to seem “relatable” to her followers. What’s funny to me is that the first thing that ever made her actually relatable was the one thing she tried to hide: a toxic relationship with a friend.
Images: carolinecalloway / Instagram; Nat_Beach / Twitter