Many of us have good friends who have good friends we know of. We hear stories about them and their lives—when they succeed, when they struggle—because those things affect our friend. On social media, we see photos of our friend with the other people in their lives, at the beach, on vacation, picking kids up from school. In many ways, we know these other women. And we usually like them and appreciate their role in our friend’s life (though that’s not always the case). In many other ways, though, we really don’t know these women, and we don’t spend time with them individually.
Sometimes these are women who live in another city or country, who your friend got to know while traveling or living somewhere else, and long before you and she met. Or they’re part of a different friend group, which rarely overlaps because you don’t share the same interests (other than your mutual friend).
Yet, if you find yourself on the phone with this friend of your friend, maybe to plan a party, or discussing how to help your mutual friend if she’s in trouble, or perhaps because she has expertise in something you need help with, it could feel like you’ve known her forever. Her voice sounds familiar. You can picture her face, her smile, maybe even the room she’s standing in. And you can’t quite pinpoint the last time you saw her in real life, because you hear about her so often it seems like the two of you met for lunch just last week.
It’s a special joy to share in our friends’ friendships. We get to see, and sometimes personally get to know, the other women who are important to our friend, who shape their life as much as our friend shapes ours. Social media can amplify the feeling of closeness with friends of friends; when they aren’t posting pictures of fun times with you, most of your friends are posting pictures and stories of things they’re doing with other people.
When we see these women in person it’s often at big life events. We’re all guests at a wedding or christening. We come to the same place together to celebrate an award, perhaps, or a special birthday. We watch them comfort our friend and then share coffee and donuts with them at a funeral.
We celebrate you…the friends of our friends. You’ve made our life all the more special, sometimes just by being a good friend to someone we love and care for. Sometimes for helping us out. Sometimes for becoming our own close friend. We call you our friends, even if the last time we saw you in person was that 50th birthday party several years ago. Can’t wait to see you at the 60th!