Is a work friend a real friend?

I get my haircuts in Los Angeles because my best friend Sharon cuts my hair for free, which means the cost of the plane ticket to LA is cheaper than paying for cut and color in Chicago.

Sharon is a color specialist. This is Sharon picking color for a client who Sharon is trying to focus on while I disrupt her.

She started out just being a hairdresser. That's how I met her. I had a boyfriend who had a terrible haircut and I walked into a salon that looked expensive because he was paying, and I asked for anyone. We got Sharon because she had just learned to cut hair and we didn't request anyone who had experience.

Now I know better. Now, twenty years later, Sharon is my best friend. At some point, I don't remember when, Sharon started cutting my hair for free. I asked, like a jealous boyfriend, which other friends she cuts for free. She said no one else. That's how I feel okay telling you she's my best friend.

She became an expert in people who are difficult to please. She can make anyone happy with their hair. Then she became so great at dealing with the difficult clients that she specialized even more—people with messed up color. Or people who can never be happy with their color. It's Sharon's job to tell you bad news like, “You cannot go any blonder or your hair will fall out.”

When I met Sharon I was a volleyball player. Now, we are both entrepreneurs. She has her own salon—Forme, in Santa Monica—and she is constantly amazed by my ability to get funding for companies that don't have revenue. I am amazed that she always makes payroll, no matter what happens in the business.

When I get to LA, I go straight to her salon. I have mastered the one-day-to-LA trip. I leave luggage in the middle of the salon and she tells me I have to be less disruptive. She moves it to the side. In a neat pile. Then, without thinking, I throw my shirt onto the pile…

…and miss. And Sharon picks it up and tells me that being tidy makes me less disruptive.

I try to be non-intrusive. I take photos of her mixing my color and she tells me not to get any of her clients in my photos, no matter what, or she'll kill me.

She mixes my color like she's an artist. And I'm blown away that she can be so good at business and painting, which is what good hair color is. But the cost is that Sharon and I almost never talk with each other.

We don't like the phone. At first we worried it meant we are not friends, but now I'm used to it. I tell myself that a friendship between two women with young kids and their own business is going to have a time commitment issue—there's no way around it.

I think about what it means to have a friend. Because the friends I talk to all the time are people I'm in business with. I was thinking, when I was thinking of what my next company should be, that I should do one with Sharon because then I'd get to talk with her a lot. But I couldn't think of a business model for us.

Then I thought about how I didn't have a business model when I had Ryan and Ryan relocate to Madison to do a company. I just knew they'd be good to do a company with and I needed a social life and I can only really get a social life through my work. So I needed work. And I'm unemployable due to eccentricity, so I had to start a company.

I do a bunch of career coaching. I almost always fall in love with the person I'm coaching because here's what happens. First of all, people self-select. I don't advertise that I coach—in fact, I think this is the first time I have mentioned it on my blog—so the people who ask me to coach them tend to be creative, independent thinkers. And I like those people.

And I like the process where we don't have smalltalk—people don't do smalltalk when they are paying hourly—they just tell me things that are painful, and dreams that are big, and the real truth about their roadblocks, and I fill in where they are stuck, and the conversation is so interesting because when people want to be coached, they are so engaged.

So I get overly invested in people I coach and I give them ideas to help them reach their goals but then I want to know how they are doing, how I can help them more, I get invested in their goals and I think about them all the time.

Here's an email I just got from Clara Vaz. She has a job as a part of the Court Watch in Swaziland but she wants to shift into work at a nonprofit that helps girls and women. Last Friday Clara sent her resume for me to review and she wrote:

Please don’t feel pressed. There’s supposed to be some mass uprising next Tuesday and the King has sent police and military into every corner of the country so most likely we won’t be at work until at least Wednesday again. But given the general apathy and greater issues (we need to live today, not worry about politics) in this nation, I doubt anything will happen. That and a lack of funding and interest by the middle class. But who knows! The prayer is that no one dies.

These people are not my friends, and they are not my co-workers, but they make my life so much more interesting. And it's hard for me to understand what a friend is, because Sharon is always there for me, but on a daily basis, things are not more interesting because Sharon is in my life.

I am convinced that many people who were close to me when I was working with them were just work friends. The friendship did not go beyond work. The thing is, it was intense and fun and I liked it. I'm not sure that I mind that it didn't last.

I like that Sharon's friendship does not go away when any given job does.

75 replies
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  1. Clara
    Clara says:

    Hi Penelope,
    Thanks so much for posting about me, you don’t know how I appreciate. You’ve been making my life far more interesting and advancing my thoughts on my future and my work for quite some time now.

    I think friendship has to begin somewhere. Because we spend most of our time at work or in workplace situations, we’re bound to make friends. You said so yourself: work will be far more enjoyable if you make at least one friend. And hopefully the job you’re in will be full of like-minded people, so that endeavor shouldn’t be too hard.

    For others, we connect where we can, I guess. I’m friends with many of my clients, both in my legal field and as a personal trainer. I’ve even worked with my best friend on several editing and writing projects. But mostly I know my friends by if they’re around when I’m in a slump but also when I’ve succeeded beyond where they might be.

    Because there’s nothing worse than a jealous friend, and I think the workplace is full of those.

    Thanks again. The uprising is tomorrow. People are up in arms, literally.

    • samantha scotter
      samantha scotter says:

      I too find this post of yours to be one of your bests. I thought the approach was really strong and highly interesting. Your description of friendship on the other hand was way superb. more power!

  2. A. Olive
    A. Olive says:


    I think your experience with work friends is very similar to the one most people have. I had intense friendships at work that when we stopped working together became just an email from time to time to ask how are things going.

    That doesn’t mean however that the friendship was not true — it’s just that we never really have time for everybody who matters to us, and new jobs mean new friendships that will naturally become closer because you are typically seeing or speaking to the new colleagues every day.

    • Libby McCullough
      Libby McCullough says:

      Thanks so much for writing about this. I am just getting back into the professional world and have made friends at work that I miss. I loved reading your article and also enjoyed reading posts on this. Some wonderful comments which were so helpful.:)) I have found fabulous career guidance from many work friends.

  3. William
    William says:

    I came across your blog looking for posts/articles regarding stay at home dads/househusband and your posts regarding your situation came up.

    Flying from Chicago due to the cost being the same is consistent with the nasty commentary you made about your husband being a stay at home dad.

    Flying from Chicago to L.A. for a free haircut is about as excessive and wasteful as it gets and justifying due to it being less than a cut in Chicago is shameful.

    Considering the crises level facing this country on so many level admiting to such excesses as flying from Chicago to L.A. is amazing.

    I am glad to have come across your blog as it shed light upon what some women see as acceptable behavior.

    • katz
      katz says:

      Wow – you obviously have not read up on Penelope’s blog. She has several posts about how minimalist her life has become by living on the farm and also from living in New York where space constraints just make you live with less. Is it so wrong for a woman to enjoy some extravagnaces in her life? Especially when it means she gets to see her best friend??
      Do your research and check out her blogs – definitely not a fair comment to make.
      You should be putting your views towards your government and BIG businesses that put your country in such a predicament.

    • rb
      rb says:

      Did you not read this post? It’s not about hair. It’s about friendship. Penelope flies to LA to see her best friend. Hair is just the framework.

      You must have some really deep resentments about being a stay at home dad if you read all of your thoughts into this post.

    • Erica
      Erica says:

      Wow. William makes a point about how it might be considered irresponsible in this day and age of global warming to fly to LA for a haircut, and is the recipient of outraged comments about Penelope’s (self-defined) commitment to “minimalism” and her right to a few extravagances.

      Only in the US of A.

  4. Anna
    Anna says:


    I admire your courage. Because people are going to not like what you say, sometimes.

    When I’m besieged by self-doubt, it helps to ask myself, “Would I rather have people like me, or be free?”

    You go with your free self!

  5. Brad
    Brad says:

    Even in Chicago you have to look pretty hard to find a salon that charges more than 200 bucks. Compared to a flight to LA plus cab fares? Just admit it, this is an indulgence you can’t afford, but insist on doing anyway.

    • Celine
      Celine says:

      Agreed, especially given P’ other posts about excessive spending, the farmer, etc. On the subject of work friends, they’re “frenemies” and not really be trusted. P’s friends seem to be in business for themselves, which tends not to cause the same tension unless they’re in the same industry.

  6. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:


    //And it's hard for me to understand what a friend is, because Sharon is always there for me, but on a daily basis, things are not more interesting because Sharon is in my life.//

    If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend Joseph Epstein’s “Friendship: An Exposé” (short, just over 200 pages). Most of the people I know vaguely have hated the book but people, with whom I have a symmetrical relationship called “friendship”, have all admitted to finding it hard to read but eventually finding it amusing, enlightening and in places, squirm-inducing. His view is all the more interesting because he writes as a man who doesn’t find “sharing” very amusing.

  7. Roberta Warshaw
    Roberta Warshaw says:

    I usually make one real friend per every job I have ever had. So about 5 people. We call one another, e-mail, whatever. It is true that most of the people you will never, ever see again. But sometimes there is that one real friend who comes out of it. I even met my husband that way. If that isn’t a real friend I don’t know what is!

  8. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    i find friends to fall in the ten year rule. i define friends as people who will still be in my life in 10 years — not just because I see them at work, but some other contact as well. my best friends live in hong kong, texas, philadelphia and L.A. some i talk to regularly, some every few months…if that. (thank g-d for cellphones and skype!!) but we always pick up where we left off and there is no apology necessary. some of these friends i orinally met through work but most ‘work’ friends are only acquaintances…

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  9. Paul Goldring
    Paul Goldring says:

    I don’t write to people but I have to write to you. You’re obviously from another planet but its a good one. I love your point of view which is abut 30 degrees off center, and you shouldn’t change it for anything. I have no friends and don’t seem to miss them, although I feel friendly most of the time. I do have a dog and he is a very thoughtful companion. I have never had friends at any job I’ve had but I have worked for myself for 40 years.
    Good luck to you in all your endeavors.

  10. kate
    kate says:

    i have asked myself this question a zillion times. I think sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the work friendship while it’s a work friendship and you will know it’s more than that if/when you find yourselves talking far more about anything BUT work. this theory is then tested when you no longer work together and still have much to talk about (and want to talk to each other).
    Almost all of the friends i have locally i met at work (literally 2 exceptions). However, it’s almost painful because none are as special to me as my ‘best’ friends who do not live near me. I try not to compare, but i do. then i wonder if we lived closer, would it be as special? is it special because it’s rare that spend time together and/or talk (even if it’s just email or IM – i hate the phone too) and we have so much to catch up on?
    Friendships are complicated. Wonderful, amazing, interesting, and complicated.

  11. Katy
    Katy says:

    All of my friends are from work. Whether that work was college rowing, training to make the Olympic team or organizing an Olympic Games. I’ve finished all these projects but managed to keep the friends. I have close friends from rowing that I see 2 to 3 times a year. We don’t talk on the phone. But when I see them it is like no time has passed and I’m up to date on the important parts of their life quickly. I don’t need to keep up with the daily nuances of their life to be close when I see them. Our shared history keeps up close.
    These are the same people that I could call at 3am if my life was exploding and they would be there for me. I could show up on their doorstep in whatever city they live in and they would let me crash at their place for as long as needed.
    I also fly to see them for short periods of time. Not one day but a day and half or two days. It is worth every penny.

  12. Jill
    Jill says:

    I am always astonished by the amount of indignation in the comments whenever you say you go to LA to get your hair cut and coloured. All these people chiding you about wasting money in a recession probably also lined up for a new iPad, but I guess more people buy iPads than fly outside their state for good hair.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      I would venture to guess that what “gets” many people about it is that it seems like Penelope publicly (and repeatedly) justifies it as an economy measure instead of just saying it’s an indulgence that she chooses.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Well, isn’t this whole post about how the friendship is important to me? That I love flying to LA to see Sharon?

        Also, I think it’s so easy to criticize how other people spend their money — it’s the easiest thing in the world because so much of spending is personal and irrational. Before you criticize how someone else spends $400 a month, be ready to submit the last years worth of your own spending to other peoples’ judgment.

        I think people keep their spending habits more secret than they keep their sex life because judging someone’s spending habits is so easy — anyone can look frivolous and irresponsible in the right light.


  13. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I’m not good at making friends, but I’ve been really trying. Making small talk at the dog park and so on, which is really hard for me. But then again I also had my first idea for a company, and my dad said it was a good idea and that he’d get funding for it. So now I have a project I’m a little less concerned with my inability to form lasting relationships. Which leads me to believe that maybe I should get my hair done more often, or something.

  14. Erin
    Erin says:

    I prefer not to make good friends at work. It gets in the way. For example, I became friendly with a girl at work who I felt I had a lot in common with, but she was a work bully–and I say this with full confidence that I am correct because she got in trouble several times with our bosses for her actions and comments, and general bulldozing behavior. Her work style made me dislike her, even though I would have liked her outside of work. The lines became too blurry for me. When she left she wanted to continue being friends, but I felt so resentful over her behavior at work, and the amount of unfinished business and messes she left behind, that I was just glad to see her go. Took a few months for me to feel like we could be friends.

    Learned a lot from the experience though. Would definitely handle things differently in the future, and maybe the work and friend relationship would have been better.

  15. Karen
    Karen says:

    I think that we have friends of the road and friends for life. And the friends of the road may turn into friends of life, but it's a matter of the reason they are in your life. A work situation is a great setup for the mutual sharing that friendship requires, and it can be really good; but sometimes when one of you moves on, it is the right moment to let the relationship go. And this doesn't mean that the relationship is any less intense or enjoyable than one of your lifetime friends, it's just for a shorter period of time. But we can't keep track of everything. Friends for life means that you are going to make the effort to be present when required, whatever that definition works out to be. You both still get something out of it, even when all the years and the other stuff in life intervenes. It's a shared responsibility based on deeply understanding who someone is, and delighting in it. Would you still contact and connect with Sharon if she weren't doing your hair? That's the winnowing rod.

  16. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I like your photos.
    They’re a good choice to tell your story about Sharon who you’ve mentioned from time to time here in this blog.

    “I was thinking, when I was thinking of what my next company should be, that I should do one with Sharon because then I'd get to talk with her a lot.”

    Is this a good idea? A company with Sharon may alter your relationship with her … and not necessarily for the better. Something to think about.

  17. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I just happened to notice the people commenting on you being wasteful appear to be male. Not sure what that has to do w/anything but they must not know there is something wonderful about finding the PERFECT hairdresser! Besides, that, you are helping the economy by buying an airline ticket. Unless you are charging the airline ticket to their credit card, why do they care? Have a great hair day…

    • sophie
      sophie says:

      Good point Kathy. I’m willing to bet these same men spend $400/month on beer or porn, both of which have a well-traveled footprint.

  18. Timothy
    Timothy says:


    This is easily one of my most favorite posts from you. Friends, whether temporary or not, are always important… and I think what I like most about this post is that it is friendly in a way most blogs are not…

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Really? One of your favorite posts? That’s nice thanks. Because I obsessively judge my posts by the comments — how much chatter there is about the post and what the chatter is about. And when there are fewer comments than normal, I call up Jay, my editor, and go nuts about how my world is caving in and Jay has to tell me that my world does not revolve around the comments on my blog and i have to tell him that it does and then he tells me to shut up and go write another post and then I write a post that I think will get lots of comments because I love love love the comments on this blog – they’re like a great cocktail party to me.

      I wish I could understand better what makes a post have a ton of comments and what doesn’t. It’s almost always a surprise to me, but also, it always means so much to me when someone loves a post.


      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Hi Penelope,

        Have you looked into or given the Disqus comment system any more thought? It may prove to be a nice change of pace and new look for this blog. As an example, Gretchen is using it at the Happiness Project. Some of the things I like include the following –
        the ‘Add New Comment’ box is located directly after the post (no need to scroll to the end of comments to leave a comment);
        you can post by logging into Disqus or by using Google, Yahoo, Twitter, etc. ;
        comments can be sorted four different ways;
        the post as well as the individual comments can be ‘liked’;
        and twitter responses to the post are included in the comment section as ‘Reactions’.
        Even if you decide to continue with your current comment system, you may find you’ll get more comments by having the comment box immediately after the post. Also instead of ‘Leave a Reply’, I like ‘Add New Comment’. More accurate and direct.


  19. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    I don’t know, Penelope… Maybe it’s just Los Angeles where I live, or maybe it’s just Hollywood where I work, or maybe it’s just ME…but real friends are hard to come by.

    A “real” friend, by my definition, is a person who might call or write me once in a while just to see how I am. (Do I do that? Yeah but not enough.) A real friend returns my calls and emails, at least after my second try. (Do I return theirs? All the time.) Real friends don’t lie to me. (I hope I’m not lying to myself.) But most importantly (and this is where I turn into an intellectual snob), someone becomes my real friend when his or her thoughts intrigue me, when the boredom barometer doesn’t go up over a three, when ideas are exchanged and respected, and when I can’t wait to see them again. My wife tells me my standards are too demanding. I suspect they are, but I can’t change them.

    Now…do I meet potential friends at work? Sure. Do they become my “real” friends given my requirements? Nope. Although I’ve tried, nobody in the workplace wants to become my real friend. But that’s okay, because my bestest, all-time, realist-of-the-real friend lives with me. That’s my wife. And if I never had another person to talk to ever again, I’d be perfectly happy devoting my entire attention to her. What a lucky guy I am, to be married to my best friend!


    • jane
      jane says:

      I love your standards – I’m going to cut and paste them somewhere so I can use them! That’s such a helpful way to look at who is a true friend and how to be a true friend to others.

  20. Margaret Goerig
    Margaret Goerig says:

    The friends I’ve had the longest in my life are the girls I met when I first moved to Georgia in third grade and while we all have different lives now, we’re still in touch and we get to see each other every once in awhile even. Then there are the people to whom I feel closest and they’re the ones who became family when I moved away from home. Some of them used to be co-workers. Others were neighbors or former roommates and they’re scattered all over the world but we manage to communicate here and there, fairly regularly. Then there are the people who I could probably call acquaintances more than anything, simply because the amount of time we have spent in one another’s physical presence is limited, and so we don’t stay too much in touch, either, but I know that when I am in their presence, I can count on there being a connection and I know that we will enjoy the hell out of each other. Finally, there are the people who I do not know but with whom I might share a brief moment in public, just because I’m in their check-out line or we’re looking at the same unbelievable thing and for lack of anyone else to talk to, share our reactions with one another, and I may never see them again but I could also run into them again later that day, and then who knows? We could become friends.
    So, I guess my point is that life is too short for labels sometimes and you never know where you’re going to end up or who’s going to be there, which means that you might get more out of things if you don’t stop to try to define it; just go with it. One of my favorite quotations is a Zen saying by Huang-Po: “The foolish reject what they see, not what they think; the wise reject what they think, not what they see.” And it just seems to me that if we all behaved more like we believed that, then this world would be a lot smaller and happier.
    p.s. — You’re getting pretty adept on that camera.
    p.p.s. — Are you waiting for someone to notice the advertisements on here? Because I did and I’m not upset at all.

  21. Leonie
    Leonie says:

    @ William, your comment about what “some” women think is acceptable behaviour is more telling of you than P’s decisions. This is one person’s blog. She has the right to voice her opinions.

    If she can afford to, and chooses to fly to LA to get a free haircut and see her best friend, why does it matter to you?

    I choose to fly around the country and the world competing in various swim, run and triathlon events. I’ve got the financial resources and this is what I choose to do for myself, given what I already do for my family and my work responsibilities.

    It sounds as if you have a chip on your shoulder from reading P’s post about the stay at home dad.

  22. David Forde
    David Forde says:


    Since folks perceive your flying out to vacay for a day, see your girl and getting a color and cut as excessive, I’ll chip in round trip from LAX – Forme – LAX on my dime! Checkout my URL for more info.


    Dave “The VB Mgr”


  23. Olivia
    Olivia says:

    I love opening up my rss feed reader and seeing a new post from you. Your honesty and observations are so compelling. I'm grateful that I can listen to you through a blog and not in person, because I would be completely overwhelmed.

  24. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Friendship happens over time. At first, there’s almost always some transaction of value. As the friendship endures, its life becomes the value, in and of itself. I’d say she’s your friend. Lucky both of you.

  25. liz
    liz says:

    What to do if your boss wants to be friends on Facebook, and you don’t see him as a “friend”?

    • David Forde
      David Forde says:

      Yea, I was replying to your post (apologies to the post above yours :) Just tell him/her you use FB for “emai” to get him/her off your back so to speak and accordingly adjust your settings. There’s an imbalance in the power of the relationship – okay time to post advice on my own wall =D


      ~ Dave

    • rb
      rb says:

      I have run into this. I don’t need people who are strictly colleagues seeing the crazy sh1t my wackadoodle relatives post on my fB wall. So I politely ask them to link to me on LinkedIn instead. This has so far offended no one, especially if I tell them about the wackadoodle relatives. :)

  26. poppygirl
    poppygirl says:

    going to LA to get yr hair done qualifies as a treat AND you get to see your friend.

    one of my closest friends lives in WA (im in Ca) and she started out as a work friend. Now, 25 + years later (predating my long marriage) she’s a friend friend, and i am grateful to have her. Between kids, spouses, jobs, work travel etc we don’t see each other nearly enough. Yay for email the phone & texting, tho.

    while i really don’t connect with some of your stuff, WHAT’S NOT ACCEPTABLE ABOUT SEEING A FRIEND??? Getting your hair done is almost secondary.

    and, based on your picture, she does a GREAT job!

  27. Geli
    Geli says:

    Hm, have you ever stopped and asked yourself why Sharon is your friend? You don’t talk on the phone in between haircuts and
    you just see her when you need a haircut and coloring which Sharon provides for free. I wonder what you do for Sharon in return. Friendship is a two-way-street! What would you do if
    Sharon started to charge you for her services?

    • sophie
      sophie says:

      I’m guessing Sharon probably gets as much out of this as Penelope does. Penelope, after all, is a wealth of information on work, business and (in my opinion) entertainment. I’m self-employed and pay $100/hr to talk two hours a month to my marketing consultant – on the phone, no less. If I could barter that with a color, cut and hair style, that would be so super.

  28. Amit
    Amit says:

    I thought about it and for me and the friends I make, I think the following things are important:

    1) Number of times I see the person

    2) Common things/experiences we share (working together, studying together, living in the same building)

    3) Amount of Chemistry

    4) Amount of Trust

    If all the above points are present for a while and in large doses, then it typically means I’ll be in touch with the person for a long time (even if points 1 & 2 are not met. but as long as conditions 3 & 4 are met).

    With people at work (at least in a large corporate setting), often points 1 & 2 are present but points 3 & 4 exist to a much lesser degree. Which is why I have made great/long term friends at work but very very few…

  29. Denys Yeo
    Denys Yeo says:

    If you can afford it why not leave town and spend a day with a friend? And if you can have hair work done at the same time – well that’s a bit of a bonus really!

  30. Laura
    Laura says:

    Thank you for another great post! I struggle with the work/friend relationship myself because I am in HR. I worry that one day I might have to job eliminate or participate in a termination decision of a friend so while I really like my co-workers I have purposefully chosen only a few to have a genuine friendship with. Everyone else I hold off on developing a more meaningful relationship until they have left the company. Then too I know the connection was real.

    I don’t know why, but I always assumed you did career coaching on the side… but maybe that is because it is the best takeaway I have gotten out of reading your blog all these years. Your advice and outlook have inspired me to become one! Thank you Penelope!!

  31. triple beam scales
    triple beam scales says:

    one of my closest friends lives in WA (im in Ca) and she started out as a work friend. Now, 25 + years later (predating my long marriage) she’s a friend friend, and i am grateful to have her.

  32. Nick
    Nick says:

    I just think it’s harder sometimes for people to create tighter relationships as they grow older. You’re introduced from a work environment but it’s not like you knew each other for a long time and have a history. Doesn’t mean you can’t find a best friend at work, just more unlikely in my opinion.

  33. c
    c says:

    another fun post! Please post a picture of your updated hair color and by the way I know you love your friends color but you have to try healthy look by loreal it has no peroxide your hair feels like real hair & takes 15 minutes okay sounds like an advertisement but it is amazing

  34. c
    c says:

    I have a personal observation on friendship. I lost my job a few years ago and reinvented my career. Because I am not tied to a 9 to 5 anymore and have no anxiety and stress, (I am no longer working in the legal profession) i am much happier. Because I am happier I make friends more easily, so much easier because I am not wearing the stress. I meet people for the first time and we strike up great conversations and become friends. I also feel more connected. I also began practicing my religion more frequently and noticed much more happiness. It isn’t psychological there is a spiritual world

  35. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    There are levels of friendship, and that’s fine. Some of those friendships do not extend beyond the office, and that’s fine.

    The largest percentage of my friends are from college, and I suspect that (or high school) is true for most of us. That’s because those years are transformative for many people, and the friends who knew you then know you really well, and are part of how you became who you are.

    Later on (when we’re at work) we have already gone through that process. And we’re busy, because we’re at work. So there isn’t the same energy to give toward building those friendships. But sometimes you find someone at work who will be a lifelong friend, and that’s fine, too.

  36. rb
    rb says:

    Most of my real friends are people I met at work. We spend so much time at work, how else would we meet people? I have only really had two long-lasting jobs (8 years at former, 15 at current) and I’d say my friends fall 50/50 into the two workplaces. I am still also in touch with several college friends and one high school friend, and I can tell you that the depth of my friendships with former schoolmates is not more than the depth of my “work friend” friendships.

    Of course, I have run into trouble with work friendships too. Sometimes when a work friend has left this workplace for another and is now a competitor. Or now just HATES this company and wants to complain about it all the time. Or even work friends who still work here, but are on the opposite sides of work conflicts. But I wouldn’t enjoy work as much if I didn’t have real personal relationships here.

  37. David Forde
    David Forde says:

    Penelope can purchase a few carbon offsets if she choses … But news flash, the plane is going whether she does or not. I feel like an old friend due to having been affiliated with a NCAA Div. I volleyball program … Keep doing you Penelope, my comp shuttle ride still stands and I can point out a great Foot Massage Salon that’s right along the way to further indulge your Getaway!

  38. Molly Morrissey
    Molly Morrissey says:

    Thanks for your voice! I’ve only started reading recently, but love the way you connect such different topics as your hairstylist and work friends by just telling your own story. Your writing is thought provoking and also a good lesson in having the courage to notice your life.

    I’ve had both work friendships that last and ones that didn’t. Interesting how sometimes you can’t know during the working together part what will happen afterward. I like the not knowing, too. Its like if the friendship lasts then its just an added bonus gift.

    Thanks again!

  39. Libby McCullough
    Libby McCullough says:

    Bravo to you for flying to see your friend and getting your hair cut. Best friends are certainly worth it. Best friends are crucial to survival.

  40. MWN
    MWN says:

    I am a month out from graduating college and this blog post (and the subsequent comments) answer so many anxieties about leaving good friendships behind. I am someone who has 15 “best friends” from different places and times in my life, most of whom I don’t keep in touch with very well. After reading these comments, I’m going to feel less guilty about that, like I “should” be talking to the people I love more often.

    I love your blog and forward it widely, and I think this is my first time commenting.

  41. JP
    JP says:

    I too found this post to be one of your best. I thought the tone and pacing was really strong. And your description of friendship to you impactful. Not sure why you are not getting more comments, but I would not worry about that this time.

    My best friend is someone I have known since grade school. We live in different cities and see each other in person only every few years. The last time we were together in person, we both happened to be in Hong Kong at the same time. I sent him a text while at the airport on a whim and he happened to be in town. We had dinner and picked up like we always have. It had been 6 months since we had traded texts and over 2 years since we had seen each other in person.

    Does Sharon do mens hair?

  42. sophie
    sophie says:

    My best friend for every single day is my husband.

    My next best friend is Liz, who I met nearly 30 years ago when our lives crossed paths outside of work. We live in the same town but because we’re both so busy with life, we only get together 1-2 times a year. We sometimes email and sometimes call, but not really that much. Whenever we get together, however, we can immediately take off from where we last left off. And we can talk for hours. Last get-together at a coffee shop: six hours.

  43. Kerry
    Kerry says:

    It’s interesting to see so many people have definitions of friendship. I think it’s more fluid than that. I think one of the problems is we start life with elementary then high school then college friends. And in those situations, you’re surrounded with hundreds of people like you. And they’re open to being friends. And friendship with some is expected.

    Work is different. The diversity of people around you and the complication of reporting level and the busy-ness of our every day lives makes friendship much harder. It redefines expectations for depth of friendship you have, and if you’re lucky you find one or two as many of your readers have posted.

    Motherhood is even lonelier and in some ways harder. At least in my case, working FT has excluded me from many of the ‘mom’ friendships and the few moms I’ve become friends with are hard to see because we’re so busy.

    Good for you for keeping a friend for so long — you have to cherish those that you find!

  44. Steven
    Steven says:

    Actually, I think that some of my better friendships grew out of my work, and they have lasted time and distance. It’s hard to say how a friendship will evolve, or whether it will last, as the friendship starts. But I’ve been at about a half dozen companies in my career and it seems I’ve always developed a friendship with at least one person at each.

    But Sophie is right. My wife is my best friend, and I did not met her at work and we move in such different career circles that we never would have met. How we met is a story in itself.

  45. Radha Cole
    Radha Cole says:

    “Is a work friend a real friend?” I’ll always answer NO to this question because of one person.

    Met a cool woman at work, we had lunch together all the time, stopped by each other’s offices, started to socialize after work, were pretty close for a good two years.

    After work one ni

  46. Radha Cole
    Radha Cole says:

    Sorry for the glitch with the previous comment. To continue…

    After work one night, I took my friend to an event at my health club. My friend was getting married and the leader at this event was a wedding planner. My friend ended up hiring this woman as her planner. Within six months, my friend ended up taking over this wedding planner’s business when the planner moved out of state! (My friend had worked in event planning in the past.)

    In the midst of all this, she called me at work and said I would not be invited to her wedding because she needed the room to invite critical work people. And, she never ever thanked me for inviting me to the health club event…if I hadn’t invited her, she wouldn’t have her business! I still feel sad about it.

  47. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Definitely a good read. I am reminded about the value of relationships. This is something I have uncontiously stepped away from being it so hard to find a good friend that accepts you for who you are, and doesnt spill all of personal life out to other people!

  48. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    A great read. What I have found in the past is that I either make some good friends, or you make friends that quit / get fired and you never hear from them again.

    I think there are all sorts of people out there, but honestly, some of my best friends today are those that I have worked with in the past.

  49. Page
    Page says:

    After 30 years in the workplace, I have just one former co-worker that I consider a functioning friend, although I haven’t seen her since 2007. We exchange the odd email, no phoning or Skyping.

    I no longer bother socializing with co-workers after hours, although I did a great deal of that for a number of years at my previous job. In 15 years at my current job I’ve never gone for lunch with anyone at the office or attended an office function of any description. It helps that my office seems to have a no-hottie policy, thereby removing the temptation to mingle.

    I have no contact with anyone else from past work relationships, unless I run into them by accident. They don’t call me and I don’t call them. Since co-workers are mostly all take and no give, that arrangements suits.

    While we’re at it, I never see or speak to anyone from high school or my childhood. I don’t think I’ve made a social phone call in 20 years and, damned if I don’t love drinking alone.

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