In my lifetime, I have never really maintained a lot of close friendships. This is especially true when it comes to female friends.
I have always had a ton of acquaintances. Lots of women I would see in school, then out when we all turned 21, then on social media as time went on.
But not many that I would remain close with, talk to personally, make trips to see.
Two constants have been B and M.
B and I when we were 16, in high school, managing the wrestling team. Our friendship went through the mischievous stage (when I was always lying to my parents about where I was actually going), then distance stage (when I moved to PA, then back to DE and she moved to Maine, then back to DE), and now the adult stage (when we see each other periodically, check in frequently, but know that the love is always there no matter how busy we are).
M and I met through mutual friends on Main Street (the place to go out when you were 21) while I was doing a stint of PA living. I moved up to escape a bad relationship, start fresh with old friends, and be me. We had a lot of fun together – lots of nights out, lots of karaoke, lots of alcohol. After I moved back to DE, we stayed in touch. Then she moved to South Carolina, we stayed in touch, I visited. Then two marriages, two new states (Maryland and Maine), and three kids later – we’re still in touch. In fact, we talk almost daily. Every time she visits her parents, who also live in MD, we make it a point to plan a get together for us and our littles.
Outside of these two beautiful humans, I have recently made many amazing friends through the MOMS Club that I am involved in. But from the time that I stopped working as a finance manager, became a wife then a mom, and joined the club – I was essentially friendless.
When I found out I was pregnant, I would take the weekly belly photo like every other excited new mom. Each week I would add the hashtag #20weekspregnant (or whichever week I was at the time) then I would click on the hashtag and scroll through the other photos using this tag.
I would see woman after woman cradling their baby bumps, as excited as I was. Then I would look deeper into their Instagrams – how did they announce? do they have other children? what is their plan for the nursery? Some of these profiles instantly drew me in. I wanted to know these women.
After I began to follow some of the accounts, I would comment. They would comment back and next thing I know, we were having conversations about the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. Sharing our fears, our difficulties so far, you name it.
It has now been three years since I had my first baby and I still follow a good number of the feeds that I found at that time. Many of them I genuinely care about.
I am sad when they or their families are sick, I am happy when they buy houses or move, I am excited when they announce a new baby entering their family.
Which brings me to my question.
We live in an age where you can do everything from your phone.
Order dinner. Find a contractor. Pay bills. Shop for a new wardrobe. Make friends?
But are the friends you make online real?
If you never meet some of these women but frequently talk, confide in each other, ask their opinion, share in their excitement – are you creating a real friendship or an imaginary online friendship?
For me, I have the phone number for a few of these women. I text them when I have something specific to talk to them about, rather than just an instagram comment or DM which makes me feel a bit closer to them.
They have done thoughtful things for me (like one texted me her code for a free Dunkin Donuts coffee on Thanksgiving as a gift). Some see things, usually relating to DD, and think of me (like one that was staying at Great Wolf and after placing her coffee order for the next morning, posted a picture and said “thinking of you”)
Because of the little things like this, I feel like we have a connection that is greater than just Instagram or the internet. Like we actually care about the well being of the other, whether we ever meet or not.
These are women that I would meet if I were ever in their areas.
I cannot vouch for them, I do not know that they feel the same as I do. But I would like to think that it is not just one sided.
If you can maintain a friendship long distance after a friend moves away, you can definitely start a friendship the same way.
What do you think? #Instafriends, real or fake?