How to Build Meaningful Relationships Beyond “Catching Up” with Alex Friedman

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Episode 7 of The Friendship IRL Podcast. How to Build Meaningful Relationships beyond just catching-up with Connection Feast Founder, Alex Friedman - Part 2. There is an illustration of an iphone with the Friendship IRL podcast cover art on it. Episode URL is FriendshipIRL.com/Episode7

Podcast Description

As adults, we often tell our friends we want to “catch up.”

People catch up over the phone. They catch up over dinner. But the thing about catching up is you’re telling someone about things that ALREADY happened to you. You’re updating them on your recent past instead of being in the present.

That’s why I’m such a big proponent of DOING things with people – running errands, hiking, paddleboarding, going on a trip, etc. Whenever you’re doing something together, you’re creating memories right now.

Today’s episode is Part 2 of my conversation with Connhttps://www.connectionfeast.com/ection Feast founder Alex Friedman. (If you haven’t checked out Part 1, do it now!) Alex and I love talking about friendship, and in this episode, we cover it all, from building friendships slowly to making the time you spend with your friends MEANINGFUL. 

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • A great formula for reaching out to people (hint – if you want to hang out with somebody, be specific!)
  • Small intimacies, and how it’s sometimes easier for friendship to build on these instead of big intimacies (plus the dangers of sharing too early or too much at once)
  • How to “create the container” for friendships to build, and then just allowing the connection to happen
  • Relieving the pressure of “catching up” by instead DOING something together 
  • The impact of specificity when making new friends; for example, “I’m looking for friends who are really into yoga” (or meditation, running, hiking, etc.)
  • Friendships vs. relationships, and how both build slowly over time

Reflection Question:

What’s your favorite way to spend time with your friends?

Notable Quotes from this Episode:

“I cannot stand when people say, ‘let’s get together sometime.’ It just goes in one ear and comes out the other. It sounds like we’re not going to be getting together. If you’re serious, be specific, and give people two or three options.”

“Consistency is so important, but if you force consistency, it most likely won’t work. The reason the consistency in a growth group or a class, where you’re connecting on a shared interest, works so well is because people are saying, ‘I’m investing in it’. And it’s the platform. The container was created for me. We can experience this together, and neither one of us is having to think of the activities – it’s created for you.”

Resources & Links

Follow Alex on Instagram. Be sure to check out her events if you’re local to Seattle; in this episode, she teased that her next feast is in January!

Like what you hear? Visit my website, leave me a voicemail, and follow me on Instagram

Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!


Leave Alex a voicemail!


@itsalexalexander

If 2023 is the year you build new friendships, reinvest in old friendships, or build yourself a support system you'll want to follow along. Like many, I had a rough childhood. I didn't have much of a support system. So I built one… Out of friends. You don't need to be in as intense of a rock bottom situation as I was, but we all have our own versions of wishing we had more support – losing friends after a breakup, struggling as new parents, moving across the country.

♬ original sound – Kali | creator tips

Until next time…

Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record. 

Episode Transcript

Podcast Intro  00:02

All right, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn into family. Cheers.

Podcast Intro  00:18

Hello, hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends, they would tell you I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you too.

Alex Alexander  00:50

Today, I’m releasing part two with my friend, Alex Friedman, founder of Connection Feast. And we are talking about behind the scenes of our own budding friendship. You see, we realize that we lived in the same city after following each other online for a while. And from that, we developed this beautiful friendship. I know that as adults, so many of us feel like it’s near impossible to make new friends. So, we wanted to take you behind the scenes on what we did, how we connected, and how we’ve stayed connected and found new ways to spend time together.

Alex Alexander  01:39

Going to events like Connection Feast was actually something that, about a year ago, was pretty high on my list. Meeting someone like you that I just met on the internet was something I hadn’t done in a while. I had met friends through work. And I had, like, good friends from college that still lived in the area, and I had friends from high school. But it had been a while since I’ve met someone just kind of in the circumstances of life and actually pursued being friends. So our friendship is a direct result of actually something that a year ago was on my to work on list. 

Alexandra Friedman  02:23

I’d like to call out this funny kind of like how we connected. We were following each other on Instagram. I probably commented on some of your stuff. You commented on mine. But I didn’t realize that Alex also lived in the Seattle area. Until one day, there was a real… that she posted. I don’t remember what it was. I don’t remember the content. But you’re sitting on stairs in the image, and the location was marked of a neighborhood in Seattle and I DMed immediately. I was like, “Wait, you’re in Seattle?”

Alex Alexander  02:51

You had events going in San Francisco and Seattle. So, I remember trying to determine what city you actually lived in for a while before you messaged me? 

Alexandra Friedman  03:04

Yeah. It’s also interesting, because on Instagram, sometimes people don’t realize that sometimes I’m managing the social and so some people don’t realize it might be me DMing. And so… also, they’re not sure where I live. But yes, because I used to live in San Francisco and we have online events that are for anybody anywhere, we’ve hosted events in other places, too. But yeah. So, Alex didn’t necessarily… sound like didn’t know that I lived here. I would say that the way I approached Alex is for advanced…

Alex Alexander  03:36

Advanced friend makers?

Alexandra Friedman  03:39

Advanced friend maker people who are… potentially came on a little strong, is my point. I was like, “Oh, you’re in Seattle? Let’s meet up for coffee.” But what I did do, which I love people to know about is we’d have to go look at our… and it’d be…

Alex Alexander  03:53

Actually, I’m gonna go back and find it later. I gotta go back and look. 

Alexandra Friedman  03:56

Okay. I think one of us came back, the next one with times we were available. that was the key. I cannot stand when people say, “Let’s get together sometime.” It doesn’t bother me. It just goes in one ear and comes out the other. Okay, it sounds like we’re not going to get it together. Like, I can’t hold them on the back of my mind. If you’re serious, be specific, and give people two or three options of times. It’s a paradox of choice otherwise, and allow them to say no too by the way. Alex had told me, “Things are just really busy right now.” For whatever reason, she doesn’t even have to give me an excuse. You don’t have to tell me why. I might have been like a little bit, oh. Like, yeah, maybe I made those voices in myself. But the truth of the matter is, I have a formula for how to reach out to people. We had already been connecting, so we were familiar with each other. We have commonality of content of what we’re sharing. So, I attacked in a beautifully friendly way. And Alex was game for it, suggested a time for coffee. When I was walking to go meet Alex, I had a little idea that she was doing a little mockumentary of stories. And it was hilarious because we were new friends, and she was documenting how she was waiting to meet me, and how she hadn’t done this in a while, and… or something like that. (Watch here!) And it was so fun to go and watch the story later. But the virtual friendships that you can make and the connections you can make, maybe prior to the pandemic, most of us, a lot of us would have been like, “Sure, it’s an avenue of friendship.” And Alex and I, being in the same city, have been able to cultivate a deeper friendship in person because of that. I also have friendships, lots of friendships, virtual ones, where I have created deep connection with them without ever meeting them. Or meeting them, you know, now years later, but the beauty of Alex and I, our friendship is just kind of entertaining to me. Because I keep saying I was aggressive. I did feel like I was. I was so excited. I didn’t really…

Alex Alexander  06:01

You’re just direct. Like, “We live in the same city. Do you want to get together?” I said, “Yes”, or some dates. And in the beginning, it was, you know, there were big breaks between seeing each other. Like I think at one point, I was pretty busy. And it was like, we realized, like four months in between. Then it’s grown in frequency. We’ve tried new things together, gone on walks, gone paddleboarding, you showed me the slides, we played on the slides by my house. Like we keep trying to do new things. And that’s, I think, helping us get closer to each other. Like, here you are now in my house. And the other part of the room, like you’ve met my goal, very briefly, of a better… better meeting. There’s like slowly building over time, like piece by piece to whatever that is, like, who knows? We don’t know what our friendship will look like. We could be really, really close friends. 10 years from now, we could have gone through periods of hanging out all the time, and then not seeing each other for like… I don’t know. I’m not really going to worry about it. I’m just going to enjoy what we’re doing now and see where it goes.

Alexandra Friedman  07:23

Yeah. For people who are single, this might sound very familiar. If I could apply a lot of my friendship strategy to my dating strategy, I bet you I’d have a much different experience. And I think that there’s… what feels like more on the line of dating, but not necessarily, it is kind of like friendship, quote, unquote, ‘Dating’, it is a slow build. If Alex and I were seeing each other every week, and there might be some instances of that, I think we probably have gone one week where we saw each other twice, at least, it’s potentially like, you can maybe go too fast in a friendship as well. But not necessarily. Like I was saying before, there’s sometimes these little… I have this with all my friends. Sometimes I’ll just have more time with them, and then there’ll be big breaks for a while. The truth of the matter is, it’s literally been beautiful to see our friendship and how it’s evolved naturally and through these experiences. And meeting Michael was like a nice experience, because I had only seen him online. And mostly his profile view when Alex is just like talking, asking a questions. But then getting to meet him and seeing their new home, I now feel like Alex is like a childhood friend because I can walk to her house. It’s really fun. And it brings out the playfulness part in me. I will point out though. I know lots of people on Instagram, I have probably dropped into their DMs and never heard a response. The truth is like, I don’t remember. And that’s for a reason. It’s because I’m going to build on the connections that feel mutual. I’m going to build on the ones that feel more natural. And if it wasn’t feeling like that for either one of us., at this point in our friendship, I would think that we would feel comfortable to communicate maybe if something was feeling off. But it takes a while to get to that point. Like it just takes a while to be able to build the comfort with each other, like Alex said, to open up. And all of us have had this person that just… I don’t know if it’s oversharing, but there is a happy point of vulnerability in the sense of, you can meet someone and I absolutely think we should. Like obviously I welcome vulnerability, it’s part of what Connection Feast is. But if somebody is oversharing and a little too much at one time, it can actually potentially make it harder to connect on both sides, or even potentially create a codependent kind of friendship.

Alex Alexander  09:51

I think a lot about… I call them like big intimacies versus small intimacies. And I think when we think of vulnerability with friends, we’re often thinking about like sharing these big things with each other. And I think it’s sometimes easier for people to build on what I call small intimacies. So, these are gonna be different for everybody, because we’re all different people. But for me, some examples would be inviting you into my home. Now, for other people, that might be a big intimacy, but for me, I like… we basically have an open door policy. No one’s gonna be surprised. But that is still a little vulnerable to let people in. But to me, it’s a small intimacy, so I can offer that. What’s another one? Like meeting Michael, that’s a small intimacy. We went paddleboarding together, trying something new, especially… honestly, that was like a small intimacy from you to me, because I paddleboard way more than you do. So, you know, we’re giggling, like, “Thanks for being patient with me.” And that might have been a big intimacy, and I didn’t know yet. But there’s these little ways I think you can let people in and focusing more on those when you first meet people. Like what are the little things you feel comfortable doing, but still feel like you’re putting yourself out there a little bit? They feel new and uncomfortable.

Want to learn more about emotional intimacy roots? Read about my Roots Framework.

Alexandra Friedman  11:11

The connection fees does a lot of events. But recently we went on a hike. It’s not experiential art. It’s a hike. But it takes planning and it takes coordination. And I will bring this up because I didn’t just pick a hike that was off I-90, which is kind of a very popular freeway here. And lots of beautiful hikes, but they’re often busy. I picked a hike that was a little bit harder to get to. That was definitely down to like a gravel road, and was about an hour and a half each way. There were a few people giving me a hard time taking a hike. But there were a few reasons and kind of strategic of why I picked a hike that was an hour and a half away. And why I kind of made carpooling, like, essential to part of the connecting. There’s a lot of vulnerability that happens. Being in a quote unquote ‘Stuck in a car with people you may have never met before’, going on a hike you’ve never been on, a lot of these people hadn’t been hiking in a long time, for whatever reason. So there’s the vulnerability of feeling like out of shape. Like it was an eight mile hike, which to me, if I’m going to drive an hour and a half, it’s got to be like six to eight miles. I know Alex and I might have little differences on hikes. 

Alex Alexander  12:22

I’m not a big hiker. I love an urban hike. 

Alexandra Friedman  12:25

Urban hikes are great. This was in the, you know, out in nature. Wasn’t too hard. But like, it was vulnerable, because some people were having some kind of like struggles because it was just hard on the body to do that. Also connecting, you know, like peeing in the woods, all these things that some people just like to do. Not necessarily in front of strangers, but it’s like, raising hand and be like, “Can y’all stop? I have to go.” Hiding behind a bush and laugh it off. And those are all kind of tiny moments of vulnerability. But there was a lot of people that said this, like, was a really tough memory for them from the summer. To be able to experience all these waterfalls, the green, the lushness, it’s a simple thing. But it created a staple, like a memory, like a page corner in our experiences together, that now we get to have together and I feel closer to them, too. And they let me see them vulnerable, that they were sore, you know, or that they didn’t plan and bring enough food. So now, we’re sharing food and can be vulnerable to ask people because you’re hungry. These little things like that. You just don’t have an experience at like an event on a Thursday night at 7pm that you just drove to. And so Alex, I totally agree.

Alex Alexander  13:42

So when I’m listening to that, I’m thinking, what are the small intimacy somebody could have offered to people? So instead of feeling like sometimes you’re forced to open up, what can you offer? So, you could offer the food. Like I pack too much. I’m an over Packer. Like I have plenty to share, admitting how nice this was. Like, wow, I haven’t done something like this with a group of people in a really long time. This was so beautiful and so meaningful to me. Thank you so much, everyone for being here with me, I think is like a small intimacy. And I think when people are meeting each other for the first time, like you’re facilitating intimacy, and it’s a little more advanced for the average person. Like you and I do that, we think that through and someday… someday teaser*, maybe we’ll be on here talking about a program Alex is going to develop about doing just that. But when you’re just starting out, if you are somebody that feels lonely rock bottom, uncomfortable, new in this whole thing, what are the things you can offer up so when you do leave, you feel like you opened up to people, but you also don’t feel like you overexposed yourself? So, if you were gonna go on a walk with a friend for the first time admitting you don’t normally walk this far, this would mean a lot for you. That could be a small intimacy. If you’re recently injured, admitting, like I might have to stop and sit down for a few minutes, there’s all sorts of ways. And I think that those build and help people. I mean, I do that. I do that when I meet new people. There are things I feel more comfortable, like offering up than getting to the end of the night and feeling like I should have, I don’t know, shared more, opened up more. You know, people are talking about something you’re like, “Oh, I just don’t really want to talk about that tonight.” But you offered up some other things. You can walk away knowing that you didn’t push yourself like way too far outside your comfort zone.

Alexandra Friedman  16:01

Yeah, like being able to offer vulnerability in different ways, which might not require someone to actually like volunteer information or whole story about themselves, but offering little tidbits of vulnerability. So, for example, when we did go paddleboarding, I really actually had never blown it up on my own. Not only did you have the electric one, you had to like help me attach the fins. But I had to like… I just claimed that I’m an athletic person and sporty and here I am, like, I don’t know how to float my paddleboard. And Alex was just like… volunteered and helped. I could imagine in some instances, back in the day, I would feel uncomfortable and like just like sitting there, like pumping it up by hand, or making my hands come up, like bloody trying to put these fins on. And so, volunteering that. And I love the affirmations too. That’s a definite way that I love to offer vulnerability. Some people have a hard time accepting affirmation, just as the same time that some people have a hard time accepting like free gifts. I said free gifts. Gifts. You know, I think that people bringing too much food and sharing it, who’s going to not love that? Somebody like made for the group, everyone’s going to love that. It’s not overdoing it. It’s ways of showing care. It’s ways of opening the door to something that maybe is meaningful to you. When we went paddleboarding, not only was she better at it than me, quote unquote, like just she had more experience. 

Alex Alexander  17:29

I’ve been doing it a lot. Yeah.

Alexandra Friedman  17:30

Yeah, I want to point out another beautiful thing that I saw, which was just like Alex in a different light, it was also really beautiful lighting out. It was kind of romantic way to see a friend. She had explained to me kind of like her history with water, specifically that water. And she wanted to jump in.

Alex Alexander  17:51

I love water for anybody listening. Like I love water, I have a million memories of floating on my back in the water in different parts of the world. Like water is a very healing thing for me. And I had told you that. I love the water. 

Alexandra Friedman  18:05

So, our friendship had consisted of lots of walks, hard to get me to sit down very much. Lots of walks, lots of DMS, and mostly just us moving. I don’t think we’ve ever had dinner together… is moving. But we had never done an activity like that before. It is active. But then once you’re on the board, you know, like kind of sitting potentially. But the beautiful thing I was able to see and I’m pointing this out because affirmation is big thing for me. Alex was having this moment in the water, she delved in, she came out like all glistening, the light is beautiful on her. And I just was able to see Alex in a different way than I had before, a part of her that I hadn’t seen before. She just told me kind of her history with water. We had also been talking about maybe some other deeper stuff. And it was like a cleanse. And it just was a frozen moment in time for me with our friendship of a whole bunch of frozen moments in time that we look back on and like, that’s what living is about is, I felt like I was able to see a moment where Alex was really herself and feeling really happy and cleansed and like just joyful. And to be able to watch her in that and experience that with her felt like a moment of vulnerability. And she gave that gift to me. I did not jump in.

Alex Alexander  19:25

That’s what I was gonna say is that, you know, what might have happened is I could have said, “Are you going to swim?” And he said, “Oh no, I don’t want to.” And then I would be like, “Okay.” But instead I said, “Are you gonna swim?” And you said, “No, I don’t want to.” And I said, “Alright, well, do you mind sitting for a second while I jump in?” And I did. I jumped in, I floated around. I splashed and floated and laid there and chatted and… I mean those are some of my favorite. You’re right. Like it’s very much a true Alex moment. But I could have just not done that because it wasn’t what you want it. But instead I said, “I’m gonna go do it.”  Like, that would be really weird if I was like, “Please don’t go in because I don’t wanna go.”

Alexandra Friedman  20:10

Yeah. I mean, I think those little vulnerable moments allowing, like, I hope that someone can take and understand how that creates and cements a moment. Now it wasn’t as meaningful for Alex as it was for me, it doesn’t matter. It was meaningful for me. And I just felt closer to her all of a sudden. It’s because of the way I look at life and the way I look at my life, and the way that I take little images and little pictures, and put them all together. And it also felt like I was seeing Alex, not only as the woman she is now, but like, I felt like I could also see like, a little girl, Alex for a moment, you know? And the playfulness coming back again. We were in some intense, serious conversation. And then this playfulness part of jumping in and like coming back up, and just allowing her to have her moment. And it’s not like, I’m gonna say, “No, don’t go in.” And it’s also like, I don’t feel bad not going in either. It was just beautiful. It’s just simple.

Alex Alexander  21:08

Yeah, and acknowledging those. I think that’s part of it, too. If we… you’re with people, and you are looking for the big shares, or whatever society and the movies have taught us. Friendship is… like deep friendship, if that’s all you’re looking for, you’re gonna miss out on all these other beautiful small moments. But I think… I think you think, based on what we just said, are actually the foundation and the glue of it is building our friendship. 

Alexandra Friedman  21:44

Yeah. Similar to these lines. 

Alex Alexander  21:47

Yeah, like there are way more of those than there are the really intense, deep moments. There’s the moments of playfulness. There’s the moments that we’re just kind of doing life together, noticing how beautiful it is we can do that. And then every once in a while, we get those big, deep moments. But if we only saw those, they would be so few and far between.

Alexandra Friedman  22:10

Yeah, or plan for them, for example. I think that’s where the perfectionism part could potentially come in is like, somebody could plan for a lot of these things. Like I plan a hike, for example, with feasters. But those little moments of us, memories I have of like sitting at the river, laughing and people kind of, that’s a great little memory. It’s not like I created it, right, necessarily creating a space for the flow to happen. And then allowing the little memories or the experiences to happen within that flow, there is again, playfulness within boundaries, creativity within boundaries, it’s actually just setting up the container for connection to happen, and then allowing the connection to happen. That’s the… I think, where people have a lot of hard challenges is like, just create the container. Just create it for yourself some capacity of it, and then allow it to flow. And I think you were mentioning that about, like, having dinner parties once a month, inviting that in, I’m gonna go hiking, and I’m gonna invite people. And the truth of the matter is, I’m gonna go hiking anyway no matter who comes because I’m a hiker.

Alex Alexander  23:19

And you would enjoy that time with or without the people there. But having more people there creates opportunity to connect with those people. There’s this thing I think about all the time where I think as an adult, we get caught up in the catch up. It’s like catch up phone calls, or getting dinner to catch up or walking to catch up. And when you’re catching up, you are quite often telling someone about things that have already happened to you. You are updating them on your recent past instead of being in the present, which is why I talk so much about like doing things with people, whether it’s running errands, sitting around and watching TV, going on a trip, going hiking, whatever it is joining a soccer league. Like when you are doing something together, you are creating memories in the present. When you’re sitting and filling each other in on life, that just becomes a blur. There’s not really a lot of memory making happening. If the time where the ketchup ends at the dinner party and people just start talking about random things, then that dinner party becomes memorable. Suddenly, you’re sitting there having the debate about whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not. Truly, you could have told me all about your life and I will catalogue that but the funny memories, the laughing, that whatever comes from actually being in the moment even if it’s about something so silly.

Alexandra Friedman  24:59

Yeah. And when you said catch up, it actually gave me some anxiety. It feels daunting to me to go on an hour walk with someone and feel like, I can’t wait to catch up on the past year of your life. It reminds me of a question and all meaning well, but my dad, we’ve talked about it since that, would ask me this daunting question of ‘Are you happy?’ I guess somehow, I think it was through my brother’s… got back to him that I just despise that question, because, of course, a parent just wants to hear yes. Ideally, not all of us have similar types of parents or families. But ideally, they want you to be happy. If you say no, it could be heartbreaking for them. So a lot of pressure have a question to ask, in my opinion, also a lot of pressure to ask a friend that, and a lot of pressure for me, not everyone’s the same. For someone asked me, “Let’s catch up. How’s your life?” Like first of all, it’s way too big. I’m not a fan…

Alex Alexander  25:57

What do you want to know? About my sleep schedule? My work life? About my dating life? Like, what do you wanna know?

Alexandra Friedman  26:04

Yeah. Be a little bit more specific, but also the realistic expectations that like, it’s just daunting. And the truth of the matter is like, some of those things will come up more naturally. And then also, it’s the playfulness of like, after we go down the slides… well, the funny part about Alex and I going on the slides, for example. And this comes together. I don’t remember we were talking about serious things a little bit on that walk. 

Alex Alexander  26:25

Yes.

Alexandra Friedman  26:26

We found these slides. I’m a little obsessed with them, anything that has to do with playground slides, swings. But these slides, they had been under construction. And so, we went, found them. And they were finished and updated. And they were big slides.

Alex Alexander  26:38

They’re big. It’s fun. 

Alexandra Friedman  26:40

They were fun. But I was scared. I don’t know why, they’re slides, that they were long. And at first… and we have a video. I didn’t know Alex was recording me. But at first, I wasn’t sure if my hips were gonna fit. They look like little kids slides.

Alex Alexander  26:54

It’s very long, but it’s narrow. 

Alexandra Friedman  26:56

Yeah. I was like, I don’t want to.. my hips gonna get stuck. I also was nervous what was gonna happen at the end? Was it gonna shoot me out into like this like prickly ravine? And I’m asking Alex all these questions, what’s going to happen at the end? Are my hips gonna fit? Like, I’m talking out loud, but I’m thinking out loud. And she’s also kind of like coaching me. And it became this like beautiful representation of maybe actually subconsciously how I was feeling in my life. We go on the slides. It’s super fun and playful. And it probably opened up other doors within our conversation. It allowed kind of like a comfort of being like, I actually really needed that. Because I’ve been feeling really whatever. We create a memory together, and it allowed other doors to open naturally versus where are you feeling stuck in you life? And that you want to like, slide into a new vortex, which is totally Alex kind of question potentially asked. But it’s a very daunting question on an hour long walk. And I love your idea of just like, allow ourselves to live in the moment, be specific with our questions. Like, I’m working on perfecting my sleep. You can be really specific. And that’s a way of being vulnerable by also asking for advice.

Alex Alexander  28:14

Yeah, go do things. Go experience things, go be present, go make memories. Because if you think about the catch up call, everybody listening to this podcast is putting off a catch up phone call. They’ve just been kicking it down the line until the point where they feel like guilty, that they haven’t reached out or they feel ashamed that they’re not a good friend, whatever it is. Instead, pick something to do together, because you are so much more likely to initiate that to say, “I’ve been playing tennis recently. Would you like to go?” They might say no. You might have to go back and forth, like figure out the thing that you both want to do together. But that is so much more interesting than just the catch up call. The other interesting thing about the ketchup call now that I’m talking about this is scheduling a time to just catch up with each other requires somebody to like accept or admit that they are so interested in the other person and that that person would be interested in you like. Sometimes I think we have a hard time accepting that somebody else cares about us so much, they would want to listen to us for an hour talk about our lives, and they probably do. But you know, there might be some like, “Oh, what do I even have to tell them for an hour? My life’s not that exciting.” And now, that’s just like another barrier to actually connecting with each other. When you might be really close friends, you might really love each other. This might just feel like too much pressure. And you can relieve the pressure by going and doing something together.

Alexandra Friedman  29:58

Yeah, the catch up calls actually have a hard time. Shout out to people who have tried with me, I have a hard time committing to like, “Hey, can we talk Wednesday night at 8pm?” You wouldn’t think that I would have a hard time committing. But I guess sometimes I do because it just feels like an hour and a half of like this deep conversation and now I have to find an activity where I can actually focus. And I have been one of those people that have felt like a daunting thing, it’s the call. And the truth is like if this person doesn’t live in my city, or in my state, it’s going to have to be pretend… well, no actually doesn’t. There’s other creative things to do. It feels like it. But you know what’s really beautiful? The other day I was on a walk because I do this morning walk, thanks, Dr. Huberman, where I get sun on my eyes as early as possible. And it’s like 08:30 in the morning, and I get a call from one of my best friends that I met from studying abroad. And she calls me at 08:30. In the morning.

Alex Alexander  30:53

I’ve been trying to do that more. 

Alexandra Friedman  30:55

She was like, I thought I would just try because she’s driving to a doctor’s appointment. And you know what? I pick up, because I didn’t think anything was wrong. She just caught me at a different time. It wasn’t in the evening, I wasn’t exhausted. It wasn’t scheduling going back and forth. If she didn’t get a hold of me, she would have left a thoughtful message. But the fact of the matter is having kind of maybe… I know people have reminders in their calendars of like, like Alex was saying, there can be reminders, like different ways of just holding yourself accountable, holding ourselves accountable to reach out and then allowing the flow within it. And that not expecting a tit for tat, like I called this person three times and they have yet to call me back. That’s where you know, there’s a flag where maybe there might need to be a little bit like, what other things do I have going on in my life? What other types of friendships, what other types of activities? Because if I’m obsessing about this person, and I get it, I’m not saying it’s excusable necessarily. I get that it’s hurtful. But thinking about it, thinking about it, thinking… you’re digging yourself into a hole, it’s actually an eye opening opportunity for us to be like… actually, like, yeah, I need to diversify my friendships, I need to diversify my activities, so that I’m not letting this win over me thinking I’m being avoided. I would feel horrible if my friends thought I was avoiding them, because it’s not the case. But maybe they’ve thought about that. So like, it just sometimes feels daunting to schedule a call. There was the schedule calls during pandemic worked at that time. A way you can get me to commit to a call every Monday now, at 8pm. I just can’t. I might be climbing. I might be in my new sports team, as Alex… sports ball. I’ve heard on another pod if Alex invited me to go to a dairy free, gluten free cooking class… she found it, she did the search for me. She found it. And she said, “They’re offering it this time and this time. You want to sign up?” I mean, that is a magical friend.

Alex Alexander  32:52

Yeah. I mean, you just pointed something out I talked about which is that you brought up the reciprocity, like tit for tat earlier, that what is your friend providing that you maybe are not? So if you are calling me three times, and then you’re mad, I’m not calling you back, I would call it nourishing. Am I nourishing this friendship by doing all the research for activities? Where I’m like, here’s three options of times for a cooking class, I’ve done all the research, here’s the cost, I’ll make the reservations. Like, can you let me off the hook a little bit for not being the one to call? Because I’m doing something for this friendship, it’s just not exactly what you’re doing. Equal calls might be a hard boundary. If that is so important to you, that’s fine. Just make sure you communicate it. But I just think that sometimes people are trying to show up for the friendship in their own way. And it’s not being seen. Because it’s different. Because that’s what they do and not what you do, which is why it works. But if you’re waiting for them to show up just like you do, you might be sorely disappointed.

Alexandra Friedman  34:04

A common thing I hear from people is before that level of friendship is created, where you are planning activities potentially, and I’m calling you non stop, which wouldn’t be the case. But let’s say, before that level of intimacy and the friendship or deep enough friendship, both of us are putting in investment. And the actual first steps of creating a friendship and establishing, we’ve talked about ours flowed really nicely. There’s a lot of people that don’t have that same flow and I’m just not highlighting some of the times it hasn’t flowed for me. But I do hear from a lot of people, you know, feel disappointment with like, just even establishing new friendships and feeling like… and that’s where maybe a lot of the reciprocity, like, they feel like it’s one sided, they reach out to people. And here’s a couple instances of choose your own adventure of what comes. They reach out to that person. They don’t respond. They reach out to the person, they respond, but say, “I Can’t.” They reach out to that person, they invite them to something, they flake, or they do come, but then they never invite… that person ever invites the other person back, it’s not two sided. And this person is feeling almost like this upset. And it could be that they just are seeing this consistently in a lot of different types of people that they’re reaching out to. They feel like they’re putting in the effort. They are like, I am an invite person, I find the events, I invite people to them, and nobody comes and I having a hard time building these friendships. And they will come to me. And it’s like, that type of energy… not all of them. But some of them might be the type of energy where it’s just like, no matter what you say, they’re gonna be like, “I tried that. I tried that.” And they’re feeling really low about it. So my question for you is, for people in that situation, they feel like they are putting in the investment of like creating experiences, inviting people, reaching out, doing the experiences regardless, but they’re not able to, like call in those types of friendships, where it’s the other person like seems interested, what would you recommend for them? 

Alex Alexander  36:04

Yeah. So I think something that’s interesting about friendship, I mean, that you’re working to change, I’m working to change is that friendship for many people is not a priority in US culture. It is, honestly, kind of a means to an end. Like you have friends until you find a romantic partner for a lot of people. And then that becomes your priority. And the interesting thing about dating and romantic partnership is there’s an end goal. Like people know, what you are working towards. Friendship doesn’t have that, which I think also makes it hard is that you’re putting your energy into this thing, that you have no idea where it’s gonna go. You’re not making any promises to each other. There’s no formal commitment necessarily, although there might be, but that’s another episode. You know, it goes back to the… there’s two people in a friendship. If I have decided I’m an invite person, our society does not have a shared goal of what that looks like to like, build that friendship. And it’s not a priority. All to say, a person on the receiving and may not be wanting new friends. They may not know that they want new friends, they might be terrified by the idea of making new friends. And they don’t even know what it would look like to make new friends, because it’s been so long since they’ve done it. So, they shy away from it. So then my advice is one, that habits thing. Like you just have to decide you’re this person, and that you’re going to be uncomfortable getting rejected, basically. Option two is to be honest about it and tell people when you’re making these invites, “I would love for you to come to this thing. I am hoping to make new friends.” Like to just be upfront so that this other person now understands what your goal is. And I mean, I think making new friends is still pretty broad. So something that might be… feel more manageable to somebody would be to say, “I’m looking for more friends who love movies, and want to go to the movies with me and want to analyze the most recent films we saw.” Or “I’m looking for more hiking friends, I’d like people who want to stay local, because I have a family. And it’s easier to get to the local hikes than it is to travel.” “I’m looking for more business friends, people who own their own business or who work in a certain sector, so we can talk and network and compare.” I think putting out something specific and then people can self identify if they fit in that or if they’re also interested in investing their time there and choose accordingly. I think if you get more specific, you’re gonna have better luck.

Alexandra Friedman  39:13

Yeah, I love that. So many things. I love that advice. And if someone is listening and feeling like, yeah, like Alex and Alex experiences that all the time, and I want them to know they’re not alone, like I have experienced the same thing. And I’ve also not experienced. It’s also like mindset of what we’re focusing on. And I think Alex, I’ve heard you talk about that a few times. I’ve reached… recently reached out to someone and I don’t know why it stuck out to me. Because Seattle is known for the Seattle freeze, but it’s a very specific type of thing. I have my own theories for why it exists. I will go off. It’s not the meaning of our conversation. But this can happen anywhere. And that is like somebody giving an excuse and not just saying and I’m making an assumption here. Maybe they just aren’t interested, like Alex said, in making new friends. Somebody who tells me that they’re on their moon cycle and there are just like feeling how they’re… totally fine. Health is first for me. And I say, “All good.” So, I have two options after this. I can follow up in a week. We can have some other options. Another option could be like, “Totally good, please take care of yourself, like, please reach out to me when it feels in alignment.” Because if I’m calling somebody out, right then like, it’s… I guarantee you, they’re not going to want to be my friend. That’s not necessary. And I believe that they probably are telling you the truth. I have also had people, “It’s jarring, this is jarring.” I want to be the person and I might start to be because I really respect it. Somebody can say, “I have a group of people that I’m excited to get to know. And I haven’t had the opportunity to really deepen my friendships as it is. So at this time, I’m not making new connections.” That might not be the most adequate way of saying it. But basically, they’re saying, thanks, but no, thanks. I’m not looking to build new friendships right now. I respect people so much that can say that, and I’m telling you people have said it to me, it’s jarring. And damn, I really respect them for it. I just want people to know that like, it happens to all of us, including me. I can’t speak for Alex here, but it’s happened to me. It’s happened to where people haven’t responded, it’s happened to where people have told me that they aren’t looking to build new friendships. It’s happened where people have flaked on me, it’s happened to where people also say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And the truth is, I diversify. And then what Alex is saying, the specificity of it is really special. We live in a culture where there is a paradox of choice, so many freaking options it’s actually overwhelming. But that’s actually a beautiful thing, find three things you’re really into, I’m just making something up, and decide, I’m going to focus on that for this quarter or this half of the year or these months. And I’m looking for friends who are really into meditation, and groups and opportunities. I’m not asking them to be my bestie nor to hear the challenges. I’m asking for meditation, friends and accountability. And I’m open to whatever doors that might open. And the specificity of that really will allow me or you, anybody to narrow in and feel so much more purposeful about the friendships you’re creating.

Alex Alexander  42:39

And I think it helps with those first hangouts. Like you and I, I don’t think I’d have to go back and look. I don’t think we were specific about our first hangouts. However, we were so excited to have somebody else who was talking about the same things and building a business around the same things. That was really like we showed up the first time. And we were talking about connection, feast, my platform, my book, and podcasts and blog, and whatnot. And like comparing what we each believed and how we were doing it. That’s what I wanted. At first, I was so excited to meet somebody else who was doing this work. And then over time, we started to get to know each other. So we weren’t specific. But we could have been. We could have said, I’d love to get on go on a walk. And so few people are doing this, I want to hear about what you’re doing. And that would have guided our first hangout. 

Alexandra Friedman  43:32

We did start out that way. For sure, I might even… talk shop. But yeah, it’s because we have that commonality. And that is a way to create connection depending on where people live and who are listening to this. You’re most likely surrounding yourself around people with similar beliefs, who believe in the same things, most likely, who are also in the same financial kind of bubble as you. It’s not like you’re doing it on purpose. It’s kind of just how human’s nature is. It actually takes very proactive part, for people to go outside of those bubbles and be very intentional. When I pick something like meditation or group sports, or that’s a little too generic as well, but let’s say volleyball, beach volleyball, and let’s take another one here, coaching. And I want to make coaching friends, I am now taking myself potentially out of this bubble of what I know and allowing myself to connect with people that are most likely going to be very different from me. They’re also most likely going to be, let’s say, the coaching, much more, quote unquote “Successful” than me, or just different experiences that I can learn from. And it does really allow me to have an enormous excuse. But it really is an excuse to be able to connect to somebody. It’s really less daunting. It’s so much less daunting. It’s like reaching out to somebody. If someone DMs me and it’s a freaking long thing, like it’s very daunting to read through, it just is. But if you have a very specific question, you’re most likely going to get a very specific answer. So, we don’t love hearing this, it’s because it takes more work on our part. But I feel like we have better results.

Alex Alexander  45:12

It also relieves pressure, I think, off your close friends, because they may not want to do the same things you might want to do. They may not want to do team sports, they may not want to try meditation. So instead of trying to convince them to join you, and they just keep saying, “I just really don’t think that’s for me.” Or they try it once. And they’re like, “I’m good. I don’t need to go back.” Then you can go find that somewhere else. And you will develop new friends in the process and meet new people and broaden your horizons and surround yourself by new perspectives. But yeah, that’s my number one. I don’t want to say advice. But what my number one suggestion to people that want to meet new friends, is to be specific, pick an interest and start putting yourself in those places, but also telling people, tell your friends, like I’m looking for hiking, buddy. And somebody might be able to connect to you. It’s easier to make a connection for a hiking person, it’s a very specific connection, than it is to just introduce your friend to a friend. Because you think they might get along. Like why? Because you both like hiking, because you both want to go hiking together. That gives like a seed for people of what they could maybe plan to go do or what they would talk about even the first time they meet.

Alexandra Friedman  46:42

Exactly. You actually made me think of one of my favorite quick little stories. I know we’ve been talking a while. The quick story is, when I was many years ago in San Francisco, this was probably like 2014-15, yet an article I have yet to publish. But I have the draft, which was a very detailed thing of how to make friends, but different kinds of ways. It wasn’t just about Facebook groups or meetups, I really wanted to identify kind of a unique creative way. I was making this long list and I was like, it’s just gonna be like, another blog post with a similar list people know about I need to have something creative. So I decided, I’m going to make a spreadsheet of all the ways I’ve met some of the most impactful friendships of my life and see what can come up. Yeah, it was kind of crazy, I should pull it up. And I’m not like a very logical person sometimes. But like, this feels very logical. But it was actually really creative. So I made the spreadsheet, the time I’m identifying friendships that have had a big impact on me. I’m not talking about all the friendships, because I’ve met amazing people over the years. And I started to put these people down, and then how did I meet them. And I started going back, like, what was the thing that opened up the door to this person, there was this really interesting overlap that I identified, which was my brother.

Alex Alexander  47:58

Really?

Alexandra Friedman  47:59

Yeah, this is took me by surprise as well. I have two older brothers. The one that’s four years older, introduced me to people at the time in San Francisco, without anything of commonality other than, “My sister is moving to San Francisco. She’s looking for a job in tech.” That was the only commonality. But I owned my own business at the time. So, I was talking to this individual and he said, “You should meet another… yeah, another Alex.” 

Alex Alexander  48:25

More Alexes.

Alexandra Friedman  48:26

“You should meet Alexandra Kenin. She owns Urban Hiker SF in San Francisco. And I think you should meet and…” And she used to do marketing at Google. I think that you two should connect because you have some overlap in regard to tech and doing your own thing. So, he introduced me to Alex. Mind you, I signed up for her hike. So, I paid her to be my friend initially. I joke about that. I signed up for her hike, full price. I paid for her hike. And then we met up for coffee before she puts on hikes in San Francisco Urban Hikes. And through meeting Alex, there was intentionality because somebody introduced us because we had… we’re both entrepreneurs. Although it happened, that there was an intentionality like Alex suggested here to have like, have someone introduce you because there was that intentionality, Alex had opened the door, she became one of my best friends. And she opened the door to so many beautiful people in San Francisco as well. That was one way that I found I was meeting people. The second was through classes, specifically storytelling, improv, things that met consistently over time that involves sharing. Not just me writing, like on my own, or on Zoom together. We were sharing the storytelling and getting feedback. I have met two really close friends. So, I found my two, my brother and classes right at that time. And the reason this analysis was really grateful to me, like Alex said, super intentional shared interests. But my brother introducing me because it took me into a bubble that I didn’t have access to, of people. It has just over and over again, you better believe I’ve asked him for dating intros, not as helpful there.

Alex Alexander  50:06

If only. 

Alexandra Friedman  50:07

What’s so cool is that once I looked at the spreadsheet, it really like gave me a sense of relief, that I could simplify how I was looking for friends, that it doesn’t have to be these only two ways. But that these have… some reason have proven to be really helpful for me. It’s not friends from college. It’s not from work. It wasn’t friends from the coffee shop, or in other ways. These were very successful friendships because they were very intentional. And we were building like in the class part, building something together. And so like, the intentionality is so key. And if you don’t know what you want to be intentional about, you’re missing out on what you can create for yourself, which I think is such a beautiful opportunity.

Alex Alexander  50:51

And then they can blossom from there. That’s the thing, right? You go specific, something connects, you still enjoyed your time, and then they can like blossom into something bigger from there. And if they didn’t blossom into something bigger, they would still be that great friend from improv. And that’s okay, too. There’s something about the shared activities, the specific interests, that’s where I’ve had most of my luck too. And I just bring up the broad name, because I do have people that meet friends from various parts of my life and are kind of surprised, right? Because I’ve friends of all ages, different life situations, kids, no kids, all over the country, whatever. And, you know, I can only tell them, like, I’m really close to that friend now. But they started as a blank friend. Like, I met them for one specific thing, and… in the beginning, and then over time, that grew into something bigger. But that connection point gave us a reason to see each other at a certain like frequency. 

Alexandra Friedman  51:59

The consistency is key in those instances. In those instances where the consistency is set through the shared interest in the shared goal, it’s not forced. Both people have decided I’m going to invest my time into this, two month, three month, whatever thing is, where we meet every week, or every other week, I have invested my time and also potentially financially. And the interesting thing is Connection Feast will be launching growth groups, because of this exact learning in the new year. The consistency is so important. But like Alex and I talked about, if you force the consistency, it most likely won’t work. The reason the consistency in a growth group, or a class, like, you know, where you’re connecting on a shared interest or goal works so well is because people are saying, “I’m investing in it. And it’s the platform, the containers created for me. And together, we can experience this together.” And neither one of us having to think of the activities it’s created for you. You can then like work on it on your own on the side, come back. It just gives like this little web of creativity on the on the outskirts that you can then bring into the container. And I’ve seen it over and over again. And the consistency there is really cool. And a way to build trust, a way to build vulnerability. And then a way to feel like you’re cracking open. Even if you didn’t even share for three weeks, you crack open because you see yourself in other people’s experiences, through sharing and learning through them. And that’s what I think my experience and expertise has really demonstrated to me, the consistency in our lives, the habits we build, all of this adds up. And then the consistency in participating in things that are genuinely something you’re interested in, in the company of other like minded people it’s going to open doors for you where it just won’t feel forced. It will no longer feel one sided, it will no longer feel like a tit for tat. It’s a beautiful way to expand yourself and yourself within friendships in that community and then hopefully outside of that community too.

Alex Alexander  54:12

And it has meaning beyond the relationships, you’re getting fulfillment. It’s small actions building up over time. There’s just so many good things about this. Also, I am over here just overjoyed because you’re like making growth group announcements on my podcast. You said that out loud and I was like, oh, yeah.

Alexandra Friedman  54:32

Yeah, I have decided. The next feast is January 11th.

Alex Alexander  54:35

This will air long before that. People have plenty of time to buy tickets.

Alexandra Friedman  54:38

This one’s going to be a hot one because I have noticed a trend with which ones are most popular. How to Make Friends series is always our most popular in addition to love and sex and relationships. That’s not surprising. But this one will be friendship goals. 

Alex Alexander  54:53

Oh, have fun. 

Alexandra Friedman  54:55

Yeah, it’s going to help people kind of identify the type of friendships they want in their life and are you living a life that will invite in those types of friendships. The one in Seattle, is on January 11, then growth groups will launch shortly after that. I just recently decided that’s kind of the timing. Yeah, founding members will get first access, and then the public. And I think that, I just want to say thank you, Alex, for all the work that you’re doing. The content is so deep, if people could have been a fly on our shoulder on our walks…

Alex Alexander  55:27

That’s the point of this podcast. 

Alexandra Friedman  55:30

It’s just like the amount of knowledge and insight that you’re bringing to people and helping them realize that there’s so much that they can create in their life, no matter what type of dynamic you’re in, in your life, the type of friendships that you can create. And also the friendships you have and how they all play together is really a beautiful gift that you’re giving to people. And it’s flowing like a beautiful friendship on your own with this content. And that’s how I know that you’re in the right spot. So, just thank you for putting all this out there.

Alex Alexander  56:00

Well, thank you for being here. Since you are one of my friendship friends, one of the people I can like get super deep with this on, I know, you will be back. Thank you so much. And we’ll talk again soon. Thanks, Alex.

Alex Alexander  56:22

Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.

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Hi! I'm Alex.

I obsessively think about friendship and community. You see... these are the relationships I hold most dear. Let's talk! I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

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Alex Alexander, a blonde hair female wearing leggings and a white sweater, is sitting on a large white sofa in front of big windows.

Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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