Dubai Diaries: We all need a low-maintenance friend
We all have our own lives and pursuits outside our circles, and true friends respect the boundaries.
Hey — along with its hundreds of variations, from helloooo to hiiiii and ‘te’ — is the start of every conversation I have with my Dubai best friend Vince. Regardless of who sent the message first, either on WhatsApp or Messenger, the reply can be expected between 24 hours and 45 days. We don’t hang out regularly, too. In fact, there was a time when we didn’t see each other for a year despite living less than half an hour apart. And yes, he is still and forever will be my best friend. I know that for sure because during the rare times we do meet up for brunch at a new restaurant in town or a late-night chat over a bucket of fried chicken at home, I am convinced nothing has changed. We still laugh at the same nonsense and remain earnestly engaged in heartbreak conversations or some real talk on happiness. Having low-maintenance friendships is a blessing.
I came from a generation whose teenage friendships were built on unlimited texting plans, back when social media was not yet a thing and mobile phones not yet smart. Phone keyboards weren’t in QWERTY but in the OG three-letter per number format. We were those kids who texted wherever we were and whenever we could: under the sheets or in the shower, from sun up to sun down. Missing a text about what you ate for lunch was unforgivable and would spark a drama about how much you cared about each other. Thank goodness I’m done with all that. We all grow up and, for me, it meant outgrowing the pressure of being a friend at one’s beck and call.
While we are now in an age of 24/7 connectivity, I cannot imagine having to chat with a person for hours, day in and day out. The mere thought of it stresses me out. Being an adult with bills to pay and a future to secure can get too overwhelming that we have to take some time off the grid and quiet all the noise in our headspace. We all have our own lives and pursuits outside our circles, and true friends respect the boundaries. A friend would understand. No drama. No expectations. And most important of all, no excuses. You won’t have to make up a story about why you cannot make it to a special dinner. “Sorry, I missed your birthday, Vince. I really needed to catch some Zzzz.” Our once-in-a-blue-moon messages can get random (and shocking), too. “Can you take five? I’m right here at your office reception with a box of cupcakes.” We may not have time for a long thread of chat bubbles, but Vince and I know when to call and answer a call, by instinct. During one of the worst days of my life, I dialed his number by default. When he picked up, I couldn’t even say a word — and in that moment of silence, he knew he had to stop whatever it was he was doing.