Today, The Atlantic is launching a new series of interviews that we are calling The Friendship Files. It will feature a weekly conversation between me and two or more friends, talking about the history and significance of their relationship—how they met, the way their friendship evolved over the years, what they mean to one another, that time one of them borrowed a sweatshirt and didn’t give it back for 20 years, and so on.
Friendship is the most flexible category of relationship—it can ebb and flow with the tides of busyness; it can stretch and contract to fill whatever space people make for it; it can evolve over the seasons of a life; it can weather a long dry spell or wither away. Friendship’s strength—and its weakness—is that friends choose one another. And with no shared cultural script for how a friendship should progress, like the one that exists for romantic relationships, friends have to figure it out for themselves.
Friendships are rarely considered to be people’s primary relationships—that honor falls to family, or romantic partners. Those are the relationships that get the most research, and most of the epic storytelling. The Friendship Files is a corrective to that, an invitation to read about the internal dynamics of a wide range of friendships, and a reminder that these relationships, while not defined by blood or law, shape and anchor our lives too.