Why You Should Never – And We Mean Never – Try And See All Of Your Friends In One Go
The Debrief: It's called the friend cram, and here's why it's a super-bad idea...
When it comes to crisps, nobody likes to share. Or Kit Kats. Just don’t touch my food, OK? But friends? Oh yeah, I’m super keen to share my face time with my mates, the bigger the group the better, right? RIGHT?
The reason why I do it is obvious – it’s hard enough to find time to watch a 40-minute episode of Pretty Little Liars – just WHO the hell is A? – let alone scrape together a couple of hours after work to meet up with all my BFFs. It happens to me all the time; I swear I’ve seen some mate just two weeks ago, and it actually turns out it was seven months ago(!) Basically, I’m living in a constant state of bad-friend-guilt.
And so the only way to fix this is by bringing all my mates together – for one huge banter orgy, otherwise known as the friend cram.
Read More: In Defence Of Ditching Your Toxic Friends
The Friend Cram [Verb]: ‘To see all known friends, all at once. Regardless of the fact none of them actually know each other. Or used to date each other. Or hate each other’.
It’s usually a product of a WhatsApp conversation. One that, for me, inevitably went a bit like this: ‘I’m such a bad friend, I’m SO sorry. Let’s meet up next week...? I’ve invited Lucy too, you know Lucy, right? Oh, and Emily, from school, and Dee, and T, and G…’
This sort of rendezvous can go one of two ways. Your new super group of friends can flourish! They may have a completely different set of interests and beliefs but hey, they’ve got one major thing in common… YOU. The key stone in all your friendships, the Pritt Stick keeping everyone together. If they like you, they’re bound to get on with each other, and if all else fails, they can just talk about… er, you?
Get over yourself. This scenario rarely has a positive outcome. Part of the reason you have such a strong circle of friends is that they all have individual strengths that come into play when you need them most. The friend who is the physical embodiment of a positive affirmation meme. The party friend who can drink more Blue WKDs than you. The friend whom you’ve known since school when you had really bad eyebrows. They’re all great, just probably not great together.
‘I combined mates for my birthday a few years back. One of my friends, an eternal liberal, got into a super awkward argument with the conservative in the crew, everyone got quiet and the restaurant was staring at us,’ explains a work mate Carlene Thomas.
‘But I’ve had lovely dinners with said mates one-on-one. We really catch up, we trade stories, and actually chat.’
Even if you’ve crammed your oldest group of friends together for a liaison en masse, it doesn’t automatically spell success.
‘There’s a group of us, and we always insist on meeting up as this party of five, but every time we do, I only find out really small bits of information about each person. We all talk over each other and so you don’t really feel that close to them,’ says reluctant friend crammer Jerry O’Sullivan.
‘Basically, group meetings suck. They take ages to organise and then when you finally find a date, someone cancels. I’ve been the only one to show up to a group meeting because one person cancelled then everyone else followed with a flurry of lame excuses.’
So why do we do it? ‘Guilt has a part to play and is a motivator, but another reason is a misplaced focus on what’s “convenient” and “getting things done”’, explains Lucy Sheridan, a life coach who’s an expert in coping with Gen Y struggles.
‘We all live busy lives and keeping track of friends and being present in their world is tricky. Add to that conflicting diaries and friendships can sometimes feel like another job to do, if we choose to see it that way.’
It’s true we’re a generation of self-obsessives. In a time when an Instagram selfie with more than 30 likes equates to some form of achievement (seriously, 30 LIKES!) and a news update on Facebook feels like you’ve done the rounds with your nearest and dearest, it’s not surprising that our online, and offline lives have synced, with slightly depressing results.
‘As digital natives, we fall into the same traps of assuming our OFF line lives can and should work the same way, but the realities are very different,’ continues Lucy.
Acceptance is the first step to change and all that, so this year, let’s (read: I plan to) try and be a better friend IRL, and acknowledge that whether you’re the crammer, or God help you, the crammed, lumping your friends together doesn’t work.
Unless, that is, everyone gets drunk, really drunk. Then, in the morning haze of uncertainty and regret, you all silently decide it was the best night EVER. That’s a bond that will never be broken.
Here’s five ways to stop sharing and start caring for 2015…
Be conscious of how you spend you time
When we’re conscious, it means we don’t sleepwalk through months of our lives and wonder where the time has gone! If you have a meeting near where your BFF is or you have to pass them on the way home from the gym, give them a call to see if they’re free. That extra time is up for grabs if you create the opportunity through being conscious.
It’s all very well saying you’re too busy to meet up and exclaim ‘life has taken over’, but before you know it you’ve been watching make-up tutorials for three hours on Youtube…
Book in a Skype date
Yes, in person is the ideal scenario to enjoy time with a friend, yet any concentrated face time is good when it comes to nurturing and investing in a relationship.
Give presence as much as possible
When you are with them, try not to use your phones and make sure you really listen to the answers to the questions you ask so that they feel heard.
Say how you feel
Friendship is demonstrated not just by meet-ups and talking. Let them know you’re thinking of them and you value them. For example, if you are reminded of that amazing night out, or you see a funny meme when you’re scrolling on your commute, screen grab it and send it to them with a little message to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
Opt to see people in the day, one on one
Drunken nights out are great, yet, they’re not a replacement for sober, real conversations and letting people, including yourself, speak, share and be heard.
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Picture: Lukasz Wierzbowski
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