Hey there!

At some point, friendships always have a funny story in them. Sometimes it’s how they started. Maybe it started with your and your nemesis’s husbands coming out and confessing their love for each other and you having to move into the beach house with the nemesis. Or maybe that’s just my latest Netflix binge. (Also: Happy pride month to all LGBTQIA friends! Check out this Sown from last June about how to find your gaggle.) 

“We met on the apps,” one of my best new friends here told another friend of mine at my lil birthday shindig last month, a scramble of the random friends I’ve collected. We shared a smile and a shrug — it’s true, we did! And since we met, we’ve done day trips to the beach, split sushi, critiqued hockey games, exchanged houseplants, and even packed up her stuff from her ex’s apartment together. (Her other friend from the apps flaked.)
Meet Planta and Plantae! 
Ana and I met on Bumble BFF in February 2018, her memory remembers better than mine, and timidly bonded over this weird THING of making friends in adulthood, through the apps. Looking for dates on the apps, Tindumblenge etc. (missed that Sown? Here ya go), is honestly so commonplace these dates that this fall I’m going to a wedding of a couple who met on Tinder. The dating apps have revolutionized the way to find a companion, for better or worse: the bio/featured picture catches your eye, you peruse through the rest of their pictures, you maybe creep their other social media, you maybe MAYBE swipe right and then if the stars align they’ve swiped right on you as well and an awkward conversation can ensue. But people do this because we don't know what else to do, and you know what — it kind of works. The same is true with finding friends on the apps. 

Bumble BFF seems to be the authoritative app, branching out from its success as a dating app (just remember to switch it to the friend setting!), but others have sprouted up as well, like Hey! VINA and Present. For simplicity’s sake I’ve only really used Bumble BFF, but if you have tried any others, let me know!

On my Bumble BFF account, I had several dozen connections over a few months (I had also used it during an internship in a new city and made a day-of friend, where she had just moved to the area and I was about to move away but we went hiking together anyway). But there were several starts and stops and yeah, sometimes the conversation just Peters out. Either you make plans to meet up, and neither person flakes, and you have a first frienddate with that person, or you don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.
I don’t have a guide for how everyone should do Bumble BFF, but I do have my experience with Ana: She had included a picture in profile of her in Chicago Blackhawks gear with the Stanley Cup. I’d joined the bandwagon when the Hawks won the Stanley Cup a few times earlier this decade. So at least we had something in common to start the conversation. We almost met up over the following weekend, but her then-boyfriend was out of town and she understandably preferred to have someone around who knew her whereabouts just in case I, you know, turned out to be bad news. Soon her boyfriend encouraged her to skip out on a date night to meet me for a drink (when she was on a year of alcohol abstinence, which I didn’t realize until after I had ordered. Oops. But I'm still here and the boyfriend isn't!). 

Ana was patient with my crazypants travel schedule that spring but also persistent, and we got to know each other through more and more frienddates. We truly did spend a whole day together exploring a coastal town north of Boston and survived. She was upfront when she was going through a tough time later that summer and I made time to see her. On my bus ride back, she texted me very appreciative that I kept her company and I responded genuinely that I needed her as much as she needed me: I wanted friends like she did, and it was healthy for both of us. 

Anyway, long story short, it’s been over a year and our friendship is still actually working, and I’m very grateful for that. Will I go back on the apps? Maybe if Ana moves away (which I hope I’m not jinxing!!). Bumble BFF taught me that it’s really not the quantity but the quality of friendships you make.

Your friend,

P.S. Hello all new subscribers!! I have officially updated our zip code map, so you can see where other people are feeling the friendship needs, too. 
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🧠 Brain juice:

  • Here's another example of friends who grew from Bumble BFF, as part of The Atlantic's Friendship Files: "And I would say girls did feel kind of awkward. A lot of girls would say in their bios: 'Just looking for friends, obviously, but I'm also moving in six months so would love to meet a roommate!' They were always trying to act like they weren’t just there to meet friends. But you definitely get to a certain point where, similar to dating, you're like, 'All right let’s take this IRL. Let's meet up.'"
  • An idea for the ultimate work friend: "Highly recommend making a monthly standing meeting w/ someone in your industry whose opinion you value & work you admire, and who generally helps you see the world in a brighter way. The agenda: be together, witness, support. That's it."
  • 🎧 Sushi with Seema is a new podcast from my friend Seema, who previously shared her experience in these very webpages about making friends in Arizona through her dance group after getting some friendship jolts. I've listened to the first two episodes already and she is, honest-to-goodness, very genuine and very wise with her guests. 
  • What's the most genuine social network? Instagram, according to this meta-guide, is where the bottom line is "Show me what my friends want others to see they're doing." Compare to Snapchat: "Show me what my close friends are really doing." Anybody else a recent TikTok convert?
  • Can books or screens help the introvert make more friends? Here's the case for binge-reading, throwing it back to the book club question parsed in last month's Sown. (Bonus: My local bookstore is having a Grown Up Book Fair for all our summer reading needs! What events does the bookstore near you have?) 
  • "The payoff is small at first, and then it's immense": Why having a low-stakes network of casual friendships is really important. "We make investments in those relationships through our words and actions, and over time those investments allow our relationships to blossom."

Go sow: Challenge for the month. 

Have you tried the apps — for friends? Consider giving them a peruse this month. I recommend starting with Bumble BFF, since it seems to have the largest pool.

If you're already on the apps, what's stopping you from meeting up with someone IRL? (Just do it safely, please!)

Grow the Sow.

Zoom into the full map here. (Hey new subscribers — you'll be on here soon!)

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