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One evening, I texted that neighbourhood friend to see if she wanted to chat while we walked. Yes, she texted back, excitedly, I didn’t know you were here! No, I clarified, I was just going to, um, call her on the phone. How retro. We chatted via our AirPods while we strolled, but it wasn’t the same.

There’s a theory that the shallow friendships and acquaintances that come into your lives, often to fulfil utilitarian needs – workplace colleagues, carpool mates, and the like – don’t matter as much as the friendships that have deeper roots and are grounded in pure pleasure. (Or so Aristotle says.) And the thinking goes, if you’re feeling untethered from society or the world, it can make sense to winnow out your shallow friends and hone in on these deeper connections, the people you would hang out with one-on-one, to apply an easy framework. Purple Lingerie Those are the bonds you should make sure you’re cultivating with adequate care and attention.

But when I tried to apply this litmus test to my own network of friends, the hierarchy collapsed. There are the friends I am always thrilled to see when they’re in town and with whom I can keep up the most invigorating banter, but months can also pass between our calls. My “best friends” in fact, few of whom live in the same city as me, I barely speak to once a month. Red Lingerie There are the friends I have felt genuinely close to because we’ve struggled through some professional difficulties together, not in spite of the fact that we were initially brought together in an office. And there are the friends who have served a purpose that could be seen as utilitarian – new moms whose parental leave overlapped with mine, for example – but whose communion and perspective at a moment of vulnerability and transition I valued deeply. I haven’t seen some of those mothers in years, but that expanse does not diminish the comfort they offered me.

In a way, the pandemic made loneliness universal, as Kristen Radke puts it in her beautiful book Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, by imposing isolation “on all of us at once”/ It also exposed some falsehoods: “Loneliness is often exacerbated by a perception that one is lonely while everyone else is connected. Perhaps now we can learn how flawed that kind of thinking is.” Skin Lingerie

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