TIME relationships

Why It’s So Hard to Make New Friends

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This article originally appeared on Refinery 29.

So, you’re an adult now (even if you don’t always feel like one). Maybe you eat popcorn and fro-yo for dinner on the regular, but you’ve also learned — we hope — how to keep both your plant and pet alive and kicking. If you’re lucky, you might have an actual love life, as well as a decent job, maybe even in a city you like.

But, despite all that good stuff, if you’re like lots of 20- and 30-somethings today, there might be one area of life that feels a bit lacking: your platonic friendships. At 37, I’ve noticed a trend: As more and more of my friends — both guys and girls — have gotten married and had kids, I, in turn, have started feeling more and more alone. I’ve often found myself wracking my brain to find people to hang out with on weekends. It’s been even tougher since I moved back to my hometown last winter, to be closer to my mom. I hadn’t lived here since I was 18, so it truly felt like starting from scratch.

Rachel, 36, a writer and also single, can commiserate. Naturally shy and still adjusting after a move of her own, Rachel doesn’t just have a hard time reaching out to form new friendships; she also feels “less likely to make an effort to connect with women who seem to be in different [life] places than me.” Understandably, she has started gravitating toward younger friends because she finds it somewhat difficult to relate to most locals (South Carolina folks) her age, who tend to be married with kids.As Rachel and I can both tell you, gone are the days when scoring a new BFF was as simple as walking up to that cool misfit in your math class and demanding to be his or her buddy. Oh, how times have changed. Until now, explains Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of The Friendship Fix, “we spent our lives being around people our age. In school [and] in college, [we had] natural proximity to an immense amount of people to choose to befriend.” As grown-ups, though, we’re so busy muddling through the daily grind of managing our lives — landing jobs, booking as many vacations as possible, navigating in and out of relationships, fitting in exercise, moving to new cities. It may feel easiest to keep in touch primarily through texting, Facebook, and Instagram instead of actually catching up face-to-face.

(MORE: How Not to Be a Toxic Friend)

See People in Person

But, if you’re mainly relying on virtual avenues to sustain your friendships, you could be doing yourself a disservice. “We may feel like we know a lot of people [online],” Dr. Bonior says. “[But,]… typing ‘LOL’ under someone’s Facebook status [is not] connection. You feel too busy to go out and see friends, but you have time to spend three hours a night looking at people’s Facebook vacation photos?”

No one’s suggesting you jump up and close shop on your social accounts right this second. But, if you’re feeling lonely in your real life, you might want to try using those avenues solely for what they are: networking hubs to help you keep track of old school rivals and camp friends. Random Facebook acquaintances won’t be there to hold your hand through a family meltdown or when you’re laid off from a job you love.

Skimping on in-person social time can also be detrimental to both your soul andyour body. Experts claim that up to one-fifth of Americans currently define themselves as “lonely” (and, according to AARP, that number rises to about 35% for people over age 45). Approximately 20% of adults lament having only one buddy to talk to, and depressingly, another 25% say they have no one at all.

That kind of isolation can cause lasting damage. Dr. Bonior notes that “having good, quality friendships improves your longevity [and] your mood, puts you less at risk for depression, helps you get over trauma, and helps your blood pressure.” The problem is that most of us don’t adequately prioritize our friendships; heading out to meet a pal at happy hour can start to feel more like a luxury than a necessity. Instead, Dr. Bonior urges that we treat our friendships as a healthy part of our routine, “like going to the gym.”

Using Tech as an Asset

But, what if you’re one of those people who honestly feel they have no one to hit happy hour with? We daresay it’s time to get out there and find yourself more friends. We know the idea might sound overwhelming (you couldn’t pay me to approach a stranger in Starbucks, whether male, female, or monkey), but isn’t your health enough of an incentive to nudge you beyond your comfort zone?

Janis Kupferer had to do just that after moving to Denver a few years back. While scoping out men on a dating site, she decided to check out some of her straight-female “competition.” Kupferer realized that some of the site’s female members seemed, well, cool — like the kind of people she’d want to be friends with. Inspired, Janis decided to launch a new social networking site, SocialJane, which is devoted to helping women meet like-minded buddies. The site looks like your average dating site, with boxes to add a profile headline, photos, your favorite activities, and more. “[It has] all the same features and benefits that [can make] looking for love online a success (ease, convenience, and community)…but for platonic friendships,” she explains.

So, does it work? I tested it for myself: I joined the site, created a profile, and messaged some women who seemed to share my interests. It’s been a few weeks and, as of now, none of the women have written back to me (sadface). I do realize that a lack of response is par for the course on dating sites, but I guess I was hoping for a change of pace in the friendship zone. Still, it’s a cool idea, and one of a handful of similar sites that are springing up, promising to help with the ever-difficult friend search.

(MORE: An Ode to the Best Kind of Friends)

Make an Effort to Engage

When it comes to real-life strategies for meeting people, though, Dr. Bonior says you needn’t look much farther than your corner cafe, record shop, yoga studio, or coworking space: “Frequenting the same places over time [is a good approach]… You’ll [eventually] feel like member of a community.”

You can also try volunteering, attending spiritual services (meditation clubs, support groups, or 12-Step groups work, too), joining clubs based on your interests (check out Meetup.com — there’s a meetup for EVERYTHING), taking classes, traveling alone, wine- and beer-tasting, joining adult athletic leagues (bocce! kickball! roller derby!), professional and special-interest conferences (gaming, writing, you get the picture), getting a new job…the list is long. Dr. Bonior also recommends joining “listservs for your apartment building, [commenting] on a blog you like…lots of people meet some of their best friends on the Internet” — provided you vow to take those budding buddies off your laptop and into the real world.

As for me, I’ve been in my new home base of DC for eight months and I’m still trying to pin down more solid friendships. I made one local writer-friend via Twitter, but the tactic that’s worked best for me has been asking friends in other cities if they happen to know any cool people in my re-adopted hometown — i.e., getting set up on blind, but pre-vetted, friend-dates.

The takeaway? Some folks are natural introverts who may be content hanging out alone, or with just one close friend or two. If that’s you, that’s great; you keep doing you. But, if you’re unhappy with your present social-support structure — as lots of people are — it’s up to you to push yourself to do things differently. As Dr. Kupferer notes, you’ve “got to stick your neck out.” Think of it as the first day of kindergarten all over again, and strike up a conversation with a stranger — over coffee, perhaps, instead of crayons.

(MORE: 6 Relationship Talks Made Less Awkward)

TIME Television

Friends Celebrates 20 Years With A Central Perk Pop Up Shop

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Pictured: (l-r) Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing, David Schwimmer as Dr. Ross Geller in Friends. NBC/Getty Images

Even Gunther will be on hand for the event

No one told us life was going to be this way! One day you’re watching your new favorite TV show about a group of affable twentysomethings who live, love and host some memorable meals in some seriously valuable real estate in Manhattan, and the next thing you know, 20 years have passed.

Friends is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler or Joey joined the primetime line-up — and to help mark the occasion, a replica of the friends’ favorite hangout, Central Perk, will pop up in Manhattan.

From September 17 to October 18, fans can pay homage to Friends while hanging around the Central Perk coffee bar (located at 199 Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood), perhaps while sipping on a special Central Perk Roast from Eight O’Clock Coffee, who is sponsoring the shop in collaboration with Warner Bros.

To document fans’ trips down memory lane, Central Perk will be chock-full of selfie opportunities, including the actual orange couch from the show and the iconic Central Perk storefront. While there’s little chance that Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler or Joey will be hanging around (or working) at the shop, actor James Michael Taylor, who played grouchy waiter Gunther on the series will be on hand — not to serve, but to sip coffee alongside fans.

No trip to Central Perk would be complete without suffering through a set of Phoebe’s songs, so the shop will feature acts who are hopefully better than Phoebe, but will still sing at least one round of her sole hit, “Smelly Cat”:

This isn’t the first time there has been a Central Perk pop-up — back in 2009, there the coffee shop popped up in London to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Friends— but this is the only one in the States. So fans should either book a ticket to NYC now, or just drink coffee in the living room and watch Friends re-runs.

MORE: Zach Galifianakis to Star As a Clown in New FX Comedy Baskets

MORE: Netflix Comedy from Friends Creator to Star Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin

TIME Television

Jimmy Kimmel’s Mini Friends Reunion Is Pretty Incredible

Even though Aniston refused to wear a "Rachel" wig

+ READ ARTICLE

Jimmy Kimmel revealed to his guest Jennifer Aniston during Wednesday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he has been writing some fan fiction, based on her hit show Friends, that he wanted her to help act out. And thus began one of the reunions we have all been waiting for. It was perfect, save the fact that Aniston refused to wear a “Rachel” wig.

Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow joined Aniston on a replica set of the Friends kitchen for a scene in which they mostly talked about how good Kimmel (who played Aniston’s on-again, off-again love interest “Ross”) was in bed. Apparently all of the other male cast members had died after being bit by a rabid “Marcel,” the pet monkey.

Aniston may have thought the dialogue was dumb, but Kimmel brought up a fair point: “Is it dumber than living in a huge apartment in New York City for eight years, even though you work at a coffee shop?”

Bring on the movie.

TIME psychology

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Friendships

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Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified friends as one of the biggest sources of joy in our lives. Seeing friends and family regularly is worth an extra $97,265 a year:

So, an individual who only sees his or her friends or relatives less than once a month to never at all would require around an extra £63,000 a year to be just as satisfied with life as an individual who sees his or her friends or relatives on most days.

Not feeling socially connected can make you stupider and kill you. Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Good relationships are more important to a long life than exercise.

Not spending more time with friends and family is one of the things people regret the most.

So what does the research tell us about how to strengthen and improve our friendships?

The Basics

Want to improve any relationship? The first step is try. Yeah, so easy you forgot to do it.

Simple things can have the most profound impact, like actively showing interest in the other person. Listen to what they have to say and ask them to tell you more.

Enthusiastically respond when they share good news with you. The best responses are active and constructive. What’s that mean?

It is engaged, enthusiastic, curious and has supportive nonverbal action. Ask questions. Be excited. Ask for details. Smile. Touch. Laugh.

Share your own good news when you have some:

…sharing good news with others increases the perceived value of those events, especially when others respond enthusiastically, and that enthusiastic responses to shared good news promote the development of trust and a prosocial orientation toward the other. These studies found consistent support for these effects across both interactions with strangers and in everyday close relationships.

Show gratitude. Gratitude is a miracle drug:

Stay in touch. Communicating every two weeks keeps friendships alive:

…“the leading cause of persistent relationships is reciprocity — returning a friend’s call.” Further, they said friends ’til the end tend to touch base at least once every 15 days.

Leverage technology to improve your relationships, don’t let it replace them.

Technology can increase happiness and improve relationships if you leverage it to connect with other people:

The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.” Surely, I suggest to Cacioppo, this means that Facebook and the like inevitably make people lonelier. He disagrees. Facebook is merely a tool, he says, and like any tool, its effectiveness will depend on its user. “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy.

The typical reaction to all of the above statements is: That’s obvious. I know that. And then guess what?

People don’t do them for six months and wonder what happened. Knowing and doing are two different things.

Work On Yourself

Improve your self control. People more in control of themselves have better relationships.

…the more total self-control, the better the relationship fared. Multiple benefits were found for having mutually high self-control, including relationship satisfaction, forgiveness, secure attachment, accommodation, healthy and committed styles of loving, smooth daily interactions, absence of conflict, and absence of feeling rejected.

How do you strengthen those self-control muscles? Go here.

Trust beats out not trusting. Expecting others to be selfish can be a self-fulfliing prophecy:

The expectations people have about how others will behave play a large role in determining whether people cooperate with each other or not… One’s own expectation thereby becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: those who expect people to act selfishly, actually experience uncooperative behaviour from others more often.

Don’t be a conversational narcissist. What’s that? “Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves”

Conversational narcissists always seek to turn the attention of others to themselves. Your first reaction to this statement is likely, “Oh, I don’t do that, but I know someone who does!” But not so fast. Conversational narcissism typically does not manifest itself in obviously boorish plays for attention; most people give at least some deference to social norms and etiquette. Instead, it takes much more subtle forms, and we’re all guilty of it from time to time. Everyone has felt that itch where we couldn’t wait for someone to stop talking so we could jump in; we pretended to be listening intently, but we were really focusing on what we were about to say once we found an opening.

Here‘s how to be a better listener.

Scientific Insights

Keep the 5 to 1 ratio in mind. Five good experiences for every bad one.

Via The Ape in the Corner Office: How to Make Friends, Win Fights and Work Smarter by Understanding Human Nature:

It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…

And:

What’s even scarier is that Losada’s five-to-one ratio also appears to be essential when you get home and try to muster the energy for a successful marriage. John Gottmann at the University of Washington has found that couples with a ratio of fewer than five positive interactions for every negative one are destined for divorce.

Also:

Curiously, the magic number also seems to have a close parallel in the ratio of positive behaviors…and negative behaviors…among monkeys and apes.Thus the five-to-one ratio begins to look suspiciously like a basic primate need.

Don’t take that to mean you always have to be positive: Sharing negative feelings about a third party can increase closeness between two people.

We all value warmth over competence in friends but we often forget this:

  1. When assessing someone else, warmth plays a more important role than competence.
  2. When assessing ourselves, we believe that competence (the capability of someone to carry out intentions) is more important.

So stop trying to be useful and just be kind.

What’s the best way to give a friend advice? You need to provide a suggestion without it feeling like you’re telling them what to do:

Say “When I’ve had that problem in the past what I’ve done is…” instead of “You should do this…

And you’re gonna screw up. We all screw up. Know the keys to a good apology.

Turning Enemies Into Friends

Similarity is very powerful. Always always always always always be thinking about things you have in common.

How can you win over someone who already doesn’t like you? Compliment them or ask their advice.

Even fierce enemies can be turned into friends by working together to achieve a common goal. Robert Cialdini’s must-read book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion references this study:

…superordinate goals (goals so large that it requires more than one group to achieve the goal) reduced conflict significantly more effectively than other strategies (e.g., communication, contact).

Trying To Make New Friends?

Here are 4 things to keep in mind:

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME Genetics

How Our Social Networks Impact Our Health

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A new study says we may be genetically similar to our friends Digital Vision.—Getty Images

We share more than similar interests with our friends, we share genetics too

We might think we pick our pals based on who will best complement us—the old “opposite attracts” adage—but there may be something else at play. A new study published in the journal in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) shows we are more genetically similar to our friends than to strangers. In fact, we’re about as genetically equivalent to our friends as we are our fourth cousins.

Though the latest findings were primarily reserved to a group of white people of European origin, the researchers say their findings suggest there is a genetic factor at play beyond physical appearance. Though the researchers say we only share about 1% of our genes with our friends, these underlying markers may make noteworthy patterns when it comes to who we decide to spend our time with, and could even influence our health.

The study is the second to recently show that the people we are closest to are also genetically similar to us. In May, another study published in PNAS found that people also tend to be genetically similar to their spouses. But why?

These questions are central to the work of researchers, James Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego, and Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist at Yale University. The pair have been building a growing body of research about why we choose our friends, and what evolutionary benefits these choices might have.

“Sharing genes with friends appears to enhance your utility to them,” says Dr. Christakis. “Consider the hypothetical example of speech. If you evolve the capacity to speak, its use to you is greatly enhanced if you form ties with others who have evolved the same capacity.” On the other hand, the researchers found that we tend to hang out with people whose immune system make up is different from ours, which also makes genetic sense, since evolutionarily we don’t want to be susceptible to the same illnesses as our best friend or partner. We could pass it to each other, and then who takes care of who?

In the past, the researchers have looked at how social contagion can spread generosity and have reported thar people are more likely to light up a cigarette if their friends do. And in a 2007 study, the pair showed that friends can influence our weight more than genetics or family members, showing that when a study participant’s friend become obese, there was a 57% greater chance that the participant would also become obese too. They believe it’s not just that we share lifestyle behaviors with our friends, but that friends change our opinions on what we believe to be appropriate social behavior. Conversely, friends could also help us stay on a weight loss plan for the same reasons. The researchers also show that social networks could also have the potential to predict epidemics given that most are set up in a similar way, where certain people are more connected and popular than others, and subsequently more likely to come in contact with disease.

In earlier studies on friendship and genetics, Christakis and Fowler suggested that genetics can influence social behavior in networks of friends, even impacting whatever predispositions those friends already have. For example, if someone is genetically predisposed to alcoholism, and they end up associating with people of similar genotypes who are more likely to have alcohol available, that could be a problem for them. But on the other hand, if that same person chooses a group of friends with a different make-up, alcohol may not be frequently present, and their predisposition remains un-triggered.

That means friendships might modify the way our own genes are expressed, the authors propose. Meaning human evolution is not just limited to the influence of physical and biological environments, but social ones as well.

TIME celebrities

David Schwimmer Helps New York Police Solve a Crime

Michigan Avenue Magazine Celebrates Cover Star David Schwimmer With Russian Standard Vodka At The Dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar
David Schwimmer attends Michigan Avenue Magazine Celebrates Cover Star David Schwimmer With Russian Standard Vodka At The Dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar on May 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Jeff Schear--2013 Getty Images

The "Friends" actor saved the day when he brought forward video surveillance footage that captured an assault that took place across the street from his East Village home

Let’s hear it for Ross Geller! Actor David Schwimmer, who played Ross in Friends, provided New York police with key evidence in an assault that took place early Monday morning.

Three men got into an altercation that turned violent in a first-floor apartment in New York’s East Village neighborhood, the New York Post reports. The fight eventually spilled into the apartment’s hallway before the men smashed through a glass door in the building’s lobby. Police arrived on the scene and though one man ran away, another was taken to the hospital with stab wounds to the face and a third man was arrested.

The police “had only the two men’s accounts of who did what to whom,” the Post reports, until they noticed a nearby surveillance camera on Schwimmer’s property, located next to the crime scene. Schwimmer reportedly invited the police right into his home to view the assault captured on his security camera. The police then “left with a tape that might be used in court.”

[New York Post]

TIME Television

The One With the Post-Nuclear Families: Why Friends Still Matters

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The sitcom, which ended ten years ago, was innocuous by design. But its message was no less important: if you came from a broken family, or were putting an untraditional one together, it was there for you.

When long-running popular sitcoms come to an end, they generate a lot of discussion about what they mean or, as in the case of How I Met Your Mother, what will happen. But when Friends aired its last episode, a decade ago tonight, there wasn’t; it was just a popular, fun show that ran a lot of years and now wasn’t going to anymore. What else was there to say? It was Friends, for God’s sake!

The reason, I thought, was that there was a bias built into our definition of “important” sitcoms: they had to spur controversies (like All in the Family) or shake up the format and tone of the sitcom form (like Seinfeld). But that’s not the only way TV affects its audience: sometimes, shows are significant precisely because they’re innocuous. They make a statement not about what irritates our society but about what it has, sometimes without entirely noticing, come to accept. So I did a deep dive into the past season DVDs–this was 2004, after all–and wrote an essay for TIME about the show’s open-secret theme: that the “normal” family was a thing of the past, and that a mass audience, as shown by Friends‘ very innocuousness, was fine with that.

The essay, unfortunately, is paywalled. (TIME, fortunately, is glad to sign up you to subscribe so you can read it and everything else in full!) But here’s an excerpt, and the gist:

Being part of Gen X may not mean you had a goatee or were in a grunge band; it did, however, mean there was a good chance that your family was screwed up and that you feared it had damaged you. … For 10 years, through all the musical-chairs dating and goofy college-flashback episodes, the characters have dealt with one problem: how to replace the kind of family in which they grew up with the one they believed they were supposed to have. One way was by making one another family. But they also found answers that should have, yet somehow didn’t, set off conniptions in the people now exercised over gay marriage and Janet Jackson’s nipple.

There was, of course, all the sleeping around, though that’s not exactly rare on TV today. More unusual was Friends‘ fixation–consistent but never spotlighted in “very special episodes”–with alternative families. Like all romantic comedies, Friends tends to end its seasons with weddings or births. And yet none of the Friends has had a baby the “normal” way–in the Bushian sense–through procreative sex between a legally sanctioned husband and wife. Chandler and Monica adopt. Ross has kids by his lesbian ex-wife and his unwed ex-girlfriend. Phoebe carries her half brother and his wife’s triplets (one of the funniest, sweetest and creepiest situations ever–“My sister’s gonna have my baby!” he whoops). As paleontologist Ross might put it, Friends is, on a Darwinian level, about how the species adapts to propagate itself when the old nuclear-family methods don’t work.

It’s not as if Friends changed society single-handed, or that society has changed that completely at all. Even if audiences were unfazed by Friends‘ gay wedding (performed by Candace Gingrich!), gay marriage is still becoming legal only state by state. But it’s certainly true that Friends‘ running theme of untraditional, improvisatory families is now part of the standard language of sitcoms like Modern Family (in which Cam and Mitchell are readying to get hitched) and Trophy Wife. Transgender characters are more common, as on Orange Is the New Black, and given a more subtle portrayal than Chandler’s Vegas-drag-queen father. (Friends wasn’t that perfectly enlightened, the major case in point being its almost entirely white universe of characters.)

A decade after Friends, in other words, complicated is now normal. Maybe Friends didn’t proselytize for these changes, and it never sought credit for them. Today, if you watch the reruns, you probably think of the show, if anything, as The One Where They Drank Coffee and Dated Each Other in Various Combinations. You probably don’t think about the importance of Friends at all. And that means it did its job.

TIME Television

10 Ways Friends Gave You Unrealistic Expectations for Your Twenties

Friends
NBC via Getty Images

Hint: you won't have that apartment, that job or that many boyfriends. You probably don't have a monkey, and you definitely don't know how to cook

High-waisted jeans are back in, and people still drink a lot of coffee — but that’s pretty much all our adult lives have in common with the poker-playing, apartment-swapping lives of the characters on Friends.

It’s been ten years since the series finale aired, and for those of us who spent hour upon hour watching the show, it’s still a bummer that our lives aren’t exactly like those of Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey. Adulthood was supposed to be about coordinated New Years’ dances, football games for troll trophies and songs about malodorous felines. Dating was supposed to be fun! (It’s not.)

Here are 10 lies Friends told you (and us) about life in our twenties:

1. Your friends are always around and never have anything better to do but hang out with you.

On Friends, every room you walk into is automatically full of great company. This is not the case in the real world. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll run into the one person you hate than the five people you love. We spend more time texting about when we’ll hang out than actually hanging out.

2. You can count on getting a seat on the comfy couch at the coffee shop.

This cruel lie set us up for a lifetime of near-misses with coffee shop couches. The couch at Central Perk is always unoccupied and always has exactly enough room for all the friends to comfortably sit. In the real world, there’s only one reason a couch in a coffee shop stays open for long, and it usually has to do with some kind of bodily fluid or spillage.

3. Working is more of a suggestion than a requirement.

Just to pick on Central Perk once more: you have to wonder what cushy jobs all the friends had that they could take hour-long coffee breaks at a coffee shop far from their places of work in the middle of the day. Which makes #4 even more befuddling.

4. You can pay for a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village on waitressing tips and chef’s wages.

Alright, Rachel and Monica “inherited” the apartment and all its amazing furniture from Monica’s grandmother, but they would still have to make rent on a part-time chef and waitress’ salaries. Seems a little too good to be true. Alas, it is.

5. You can have kids and still hang out with your friends just as much as you did before.

Nothing seems to get in the way of the friends hanging out at Central Perk, not even parenthood. Ben is born in the first season and Emma is born in the eighth season, but neither kid really seems to put a real dent in Ross or Rachel’s social life, which is mighty convenient. Emma tags along to the coffee shop all the time, and Ben basically becomes Ross’s ex-wife’s problem (even though Ross talked all the time about what a great dad he was.)

6. Having a pet monkey is totally allowed in New York City.

Newsflash: it’s not. It’s even hard to have a normal pet like a dog in a city with so few pet-friendly apartments. Don’t get us started on the chick and the duck.

Friends
NBCU Photo Bank NBC—NBC via Getty Images

7. You can’t walk down the street in New York without meeting an eligible singleton.

Oh, if only this were the case. The friends met their dates in coffee shops, restaurants, parks and even the middle of the street. What’s more, these eligible bachelors and bachelorettes ended up being ripped firemen, hot Dutch girls or tech billionaires. One of the friends had a date practically every episode, and Tinder hadn’t even been invented yet.

8. The person you’re “meant to be” with has been there all along.

On Friends, the great romances can be traced back hilarious and romantic moments from the gangs’ teens. Ross has a crush on Rachel since high school, and it’s only when the friends rewatched Monica’s old prom video that Rachel realizes how much Ross has always loved her. Monica and Chandler begin to develop feelings for each other during Thanksgiving vacations in college. If only there were real-life flashbacks that could tell you who “the one” is.

9. You can stay friends after you break up.

After some minor speed bumps — Rachel dropping “We were on a break!” every episode, Ross accidentally saying Rachel’s name at his wedding to Emily—Rachel and Ross were really, truly friends after their breakup, and not in a “friends who are trying not to fork each other in the eye” way. Most couples are not so mature.

10. Your friends will always be your friends forever.

Nothing can come between the Friends; not money, marriage or parenthood. Even after they drop off their keys in the series finale, you know they’ll always be friends. Sadly, that’s not always the case with our real-life friendships where people grow apart, meet other through work or social events or lose touch after they have their own families.

In other words, Friends is basically an adolescent conception of an ideal adulthood; your entire clique is hanging out all the time, with (almost) no parents and (almost) no responsibilities and plenty of cute boys. Sounds nice — but it’s only fiction.

TIME Television

Seven Shows to Fill the How I Met Your Mother-Sized Hole in Your Heart

HIMYM
Josh Radnor as Ted, Cobie Smulders as Robin, Jason Segel as Marshall, Alyson Hannigan as Lily, and Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Ron P. Jaffe / Fox Television / CBS

From classics of the genres to Mother's own spinoff

After nine season and 208 episodes, How I Met Your Mother aired its season finale last night. But whatever your feelings about it (and there were plenty of them), fans of the show will be without one of the most reliable comedies of the last decade. Fortunately, there are plenty of shows —new and old, niche and broad, live-action and animated — that can fill the void left behind by the Mother gang:

New Girl (FOX)

If there’s a genuine spiritual successor to HIMYM, it’s New Girl. Swap New York for Los Angeles, add a prominent player (depending on how you feel about the return of Coach) and you’ve got the very familiar early 30s, three guys-two girls, sexual tension all over the place, nonstop inside-joke formula that made HIMYM so successful. The archetypes don’t quite match up — though Max Greenfield’s Schmidt is a fan favorite in much the same way that Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney was —but it’s close enough that HIMYM fans should be able to seamlessly transition to New Girl. Plus, without an overarching gimmick that mirrors the one from HIMYM‘s, New Girl viewers shouldn’t be in for nearly as much disappointment when the show eventually finishes its run.

Community (NBC)

Dan Harmon’s critically acclaimed show already has a devoted following, but there’s still plenty of room on the bandwagon. It might not be quite as easy to slip into Community as it was HIMYM, but the payoff is almost guaranteed to be more rewarding. Rather than following a familiar formula week after week, each episode of Community is its own adventure — all set within the confines of the world’s worst community college. The show lost its showrunner (Harmon, who has now returned) and two of its cast members (Chevy Chase and Donald Glover), but remains as funny as it’s ever been and shows little sign of slowing down. Its partner for NBC’s 8 p.m. hour on Thursday nights, Parks and Recreation, is also a viable option.

Archer (FX)

If HIMYM‘s propensity for inside jokes is what drew you to the show, Archer should be your next stop. It’s true that it has little obviously in common with HIMYM other than the fact that they’re both half-hour comedies about humans (Archer is an animated series about about a spy agency-turned-drug cartel, soon to be turned-spy agency once again), but it takes inside joke-making to unprecedented levels. Archer also has the advantage of being arguably the funniest half-hour on television, so it’s hard to go wrong there.

Seinfeld/Friends (NBC)

You might have heard of them. The spiritual predecessors to HIMYM, Seinfeld and Friends are both worthy of binging if you didn’t catch them the first time around. HIMYM is about a close a clone of Friends as you’ll find — though there have been plenty of imitators over the years and HIMYM is, by all accounts, the best one. As for Seinfeld, if you haven’t watched it yet, you probably should just go ahead and do that. (Also if you watch its finale, you probably won’t be as disappointed by HIMYM’s anymore.)

Silicon Valley (HBO)

HBO’s latest comedy effort, created by Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill), isn’t likely to bear much resemblance to HIMYM as it chronicles the efforts of six programmers looking to hit it big in the tech industry, but it does start this Sunday and has received rave reviews. Never hurts to start something from the beginning, especially since that’s not an option for the five shows listed above.

How I Met Your Dad (CBS)

Of course, the other option is to wait for HIMYM‘s spinoff, How I Met Your Dad. The new show, which will not so much be a spinoff as its own standalone series, features an entirely new cast, headlined by Greta Gerwig as the dad-meeter. Though it will feature all-new characters and locations, HIMYD will be run by HIMYM showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, as well as Emily Spivey. Few details are known at this point, but its a safe bet that HIMYD will feel very familiar to fans of its predecessor.

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