It’s Never Been Easier to Be an Amazing Friend

We’re all participating in a giant friendship experiment

Jacqueline Detwiler
Forge
Published in
6 min readApr 13, 2020

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Illustration: Jay Wright

OnOn the how-bad-does-it-hurt scale of abominations this pandemic has wrought, a canceled wedding is not even a 3 out of 10. But it was, nonetheless, the particular sadness I experienced in mid-March: My fiancé and I called our parents and our wedding party and told the guests that our April 18 wedding would be postponed by at least six months, maybe a year. I hit send on the email, and then I went to a beach and cried. Alone.

Can I tell you a beach is a garbage place for crying? You think about how, say, your dad lives in Florida, where the outbreak is currently surging, and how he has diabetes, and how he bought this adorable shirt with little surfboards on it for the rehearsal dinner, but then you’re like, Is that seagull honestly trying to eat a Coke can? You can’t get worked up enough to really get it going. It just goes in and out like that, like waves.

The beach is not your friend.

The friend that I needed right then came through a week later, on the night that would have been my bachelorette party. She arranged for me and four other friends to meet up over Zoom and drink wine and talk.

We stayed on through three 40-minute Zoom cutoffs. It was the first time I’d been able to breathe normally in days. My fiancé and I had only been able to afford four official bridal party members apiece, and this friend hadn’t… I guess you’d say “made it” into the bridesmaids. Older friends were ahead of her in the queue. (The worst thing about weddings is how they require you to rank the people you love.)

This woman was not my “best friend,” or my oldest friend, but she did one of the best things a friend has ever done for me.

SSocial connection sustains humans as much as food or water does. In paper after paper, scientists have shown friendship blunting the effects of negative experiences, lowering blood pressure and inflammation markers, reducing the risk of dementia, and increasing lifespan. We desperately need it.

But until social distancing removed the ability to physically interact with others, we were not always good at pursuing it. There was always work, or TV, or a brutal commute…

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Jacqueline Detwiler
Forge
Writer for

Jacqui is the former articles editor at Popular Mechanics. Her work has appeared in Wired, Esquire, Men’s Health, and Best American Science and Nature Writing.