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Anatomy of a Friendship

I want to move you up my triangle.

That’s all I texted to my cousin Rosemary mid-June of last year, along with a link to a podcast.

Rosemary thankfully took the time to listen and figure out what the heck I was talking about. She responded that she too would like to make our relationship a higher priority, and suggested a weekly FaceTime call to make this possible. I eagerly agreed and with a 3-hour time difference we settled on Tuesdays at 9am PST.

Since then, we talk every Tuesday without fail. Regardless of work, weather, travel or holidays we make it a point to consistently connect.

The podcast that prompted this behavior change is Leah Smart’s EVERYDAY BETTER, and this particular episode I shared with Rosemary featured Shasta Nelson detailing the Anatomy of a Friendship. According to Shasta, 60% of us acknowledge feeling a desire for deeper relationships, deeper connection. To quote Shasta we don’t need to meet more people to achieve this deeper connection, we need to feel more met by the people we already know”. This really resonates. She cites three requirements for all healthy and meaningful relationships: positivity, consistency and vulnerability, and she uses a triangle to demonstrate how these elements work together to create strong connection. Positivity is always the base — we don’t generally want to hang with people who don’t foster good vibes within us - but as you move “up” the triangle, intentional consistency and vulnerability practiced at high levels create a deeper, healthy and more meaningful relationship. Although Rosemary and I have always enjoyed a positive connection, my cousin and I were lacking consistency, the factor that allows us to build greater trust by going through our lives together rather than just haphazardly catching up.

Another powerful statistic shared by Shasta is that 70% of our happiness is directly correlated to the quality of our relationships. With the current loneliness epidemic, she articulates what we are actually lonely for is people at the top of our triangle…those we have practiced high levels of positivity, consistency and vulnerability with over time. The “over time’ part is also key: in order to become the best of friends the relationship has to have logged at least 200 hours together. That’s a lot of Tuesdays!

On our Tuesday mornings Rosemary and I discuss food, books, kids [ironically we both have a set of fraternal twin boys turning 30 this year], spouses, siblings, friends, work, aging, movies, more food…all the things you would discuss with any friend, but more. Much much more.  It was me that she asked to practice her mom’s eulogy with one Tuesday, a heartfelt moment that likely would not have come to pass had we not been in regular, consistent contact. Our week may include that cherished FaceTime call, but it is also augmented with a dozen text messages and photos going in both directions to fill in the gaps until our next conversation.

When we were little girls we were pen pals: cousins using paper, pen and a stamp to connect across 3000 miles. While the old-school process was fun, I appreciate what technology can offer us now so much more. Seeing her, hearing her, being “with” her in realtime feeds me in a way that is so satisfying, I never want to go without my “Tuesdays with RoseMORRIE.” (Apologies…I couldn’t help myself).

My cousin is at the top of my triangle.

Technically, I think we’re second cousins but I acknowledge I often get confused with kinship terms.

I’m confident we’ll talk about it on Tuesday.

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Pat’s text arrived at the perfect time, I was feeling unsatisfied with some relationships and craving a deeper connection. Now I feel like I’m IN her life not just hearing about it!  Having this commitment has quieted any insecurities I had about how she feels about me.  It’s wonderful knowing we’ll be there for each other every week and through all life’s ups and downs!

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