Making Remarkable Friends



Peter McGraw invites back his good friend, Julie Nirvelli, to kick off a mini-series on how to make remarkable friends. They define what a friend is and what makes one remarkable. They also discuss some tips on how to make and maintain friends–including when to move fast and when to move slow.

Listen to Episode #61 here


Making Remarkable Friends

In this episode, I invite back a remarkable friend, Julie Nirvelli to kick off a series on how to make remarkable friends. We define what a friend is and what makes a friend remarkable. We also discuss some tips on how to make and maintain friendships, including when to move fast and when to move slow. It’s a fun conversation, and I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.

Our return guest is Julie Nirvelli. Julie was born and raised in San Jose, California, and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She’s lived in Colorado for sixteen years and as a strong, independent, and fun-loving person, Julie embraces her solo life. Nevermore is that on display from her participation in this show, episode 1 Introduction to Solo, episode 10 What Makes Life Remarkable? Episode 18 Tips For The Solo Entrepreneur, Episode 50 Looking Back And Looking Forward, and in episode 52, Selling to Singles, which coincided with the launch of her new business, Bachelor Girl Productions, which features flirty shirts that invite conversation. You can find those at BachelorGirlProductions.com. Welcome back, Julie.

I’m excited to be back. I always have so much fun with you.

The people are either going, “It’s Julie,” or they’re going, “No, Pete, find a new friend.” Julie keeps saying yes, thankfully in part, because she’s a friend and can’t say no. 

I’m enthusiastic about this. I love this project. It’s such a great project. Many people are enjoying it and there’s a need for it. There’s nothing else like this.

That’s good because you’re telling your dates about it. I’m gathering readers. If you’re reading to this and Julie told you about it, you’re not the only one. Regular readers will know that I have a saying, and that is, “A single should have a team.” I’ve decided to do a series on this topic. This is how spontaneous I’m being. I had a chance to see Julie and I decided to do this series and I don’t even know what the other episodes are going to be yet. With this one this is an introduction to the series about How to Make Remarkable Friends, how to have a team. It is personal and professional friends, experts, and so on. This is completely critical. This is worthwhile for us to talk about because we are a team and a remarkable set of friends at that, in my opinion, at least you’re on the remarkable side.

I don’t think I’d still be here if you weren’t.

Julie, why don’t you start by telling the story of how we met? It may have come up before, but it’s important because you’ve been in Colorado for many years and we’ve been friends for many years. I have also moved to Colorado around that same time. How do we get going?

This is a great topic for this talking about remarkable friends because it all started when we met. We were both living in Boulder, not too far from Pearl Street.

Pearl Street is the downtown pedestrian mall. It’s the main street in Boulder.

Lots of restaurants and walkable, cute neighborhood, two doors down from the Mork and Mindy house. I had been living there and Pete moved in and we ran into each other in the parking area and he said, “I’m new to town.” I said, “Welcome.”

I knew some people at the university, but I had no friends. It’s not like I had someone, a family member in the state or someone I knew from Denver, or something like that. I was completely fresh. 

It’s totally my personality to take in strays.

It’s my personality to trick people into being my friends. 

He said, “I’m looking to meet new people.” I said, “Too bad, you weren’t here last weekend because Mike across the street had a Memorial Day party.”

There were all these hot people. It was good. We ended up having an orgy later in the evening.

We had a nice little chat and that was it at that point. My memories spend many years was you came over one day and knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to go downtown Boulder and watch a basketball game.

I was still watching sports back then and I didn’t have a TV and I wasn’t planning on having a TV. If I wanted to watch the game, I had to go somewhere and order a drink or a buy to eat and watch it on a screen.

I said, “That sounds fun, but I’m going to Las Vegas for my and unbachelorette party.” I had gotten divorced and had decided to have a fun time with it in Vegas.

I’m sure I’ve said something like, “Tell me more. I want to know all about this.”

The next way we bonded is I mentioned I was getting ready to throw a party. You being the nerdy professor that you are said, “There’s research about how to make parties more fun.” You offered to help make my party more fun.

I came by and I don’t know if you had planned it. We don’t exactly remember everything about this, but I was like, “It helps to have a theme.”

You said, “It helps to have a theme and it helps to tell people this is going to be such a fun party,” because then they come to the party all amped up like, “This is going to be such a fun party.” The theme ended up being a prankster party. You had to bring a practical joke for the party.

Among other things, I’m not giving away all of those secrets about how to throw a good party, but you threw a great party that night. It was fun. We then continued on as friends.

I don’t think we missed a beat after that. We were great friends after that.

At one point, we went in and we were hosting a condo for a group of people in the Denver Metropolitan area trips and things. I survived Julie’s subsequent marriage. She came back. She never left.

I’m not one of those people.

There are two types of people in this world. There are the people who get involved in a relationship and maintain their friendships and Julie is one of those people. The other one is the person who gets into a relationship and then forgets all of their friends until the relationship ends and then comes back sometimes acting as if nothing happened. Neither of us is that type of person. Let’s start with a definition because as you mentioned, I’m a nerd. It’s important to define what is a friend. If we want to try to talk about what makes a friend remarkable and how to make a remarkable friend. I want to say this clearly. The term is making a remarkable friend. I don’t think that friends are naturally remarkable or not. It’s the interaction of the two people that makes a friend a remarkable friend.

I like that. That’s a different twist than I was expecting.

I just made it up. We’re going to talk a little bit about that thing, and that my point is that you’re not a remarkable friend to other people. You’re not a remarkable friend to all of your friends. I’m not a remarkable friend to all of my friends but for most of my friends, I am. For most of your friends, you are. In the sense that it’s an exchange.

There’s a different level of friends is what you’re saying. The A-team gets the remarkable Julie. The B-team gets a less remarkable version, but it’s true. It’s just a little bit less engagement or less not as close, not seeing those people as frequently or being in touch on a super regular basis.

I don’t have a color system for my friends. There are these people who are inner circle. I have a friend that if I’m in a foreign country and I get thrown in jail, I’m going to call him. You’re not my first call. He knows he’s getting the call too. It’s like a mountain biking friend that you might have that you see once every few months and, “I haven’t talked to so-and-so in a while.” Let’s talk about these definitions. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a friend as, “A person who you know well and who you like a lot, but is usually not a member of your family.”

It’s interesting because I think of the definition of friends like the definition of pornography that the Supreme Court has, which is, “You know it when you see it or you know it when you feel it.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, this is a partial definition. The first definition says, “One attached to another by affection or esteem.” Number two, it says, “One that is not hostile.” It’s the opposite. It says like, “Is he a friend or an enemy? A friend or a foe, or you’re one or the other thing.” The third one says, “One that favors or promotes something such as a charity.” This trend has alarmed friends of the liberal arts. Friends of the university. It’s attached to another by affection or esteem. 

What’s the Facebook definition of friends?

Anybody who will accept your request. It’s a low bar. It shouldn’t be Facebook friends. It should be Facebook that person accepted my friend’s requests. I have my own definition of not what is a friend, but what makes a good friend. This hurricanes all the way back to a conversation that we had in the Dating Friends And Sleeping With Strangers, which was episode number eight. It’s one of my favorites. Do you want to know these or do you have some ideas about what makes a good friend? 

You prepared, I did not prepare.

For once, Julie has a napkin in front of her with some stuff written down on it and I have printed out a sheet. These are my criteria for a remarkable friend. 

That’s what we’re aiming for here.

I’m not sure the right word yet. I’ve been playing around with language a lot with this show. Originally the word was energizing. The issue though, is that energizing has this feeling of arousal. Obviously, energizing feels positive, but it also feels like high intensity. To use Kim, her friends, things like a high vibration that’s there. I was thinking maybe they’re attractive, not in the sense of physically attractive, but there’s an attraction. There’s a pull towards you like magnets. You find yourself gravitating towards this person. The last word is appealing.

They hold some appeal for you. You get that idea. It’s getting back to the Cambridge Dictionary, this is someone you like a lot. Merriam-Webster is affection or esteem that’s there. That first of the four criteria match the dictionary thing, but that doesn’t make them a friend, but to make them remarkable per se. You need some other things. The next one is trustworthiness. It’s huge. That’s the difference between a friend and a foe. A foe is not trustworthy and the enemy is not trustworthy. A friend has to act with integrity and they should keep the secrets that you asked them to keep.

They should act not only in their best interests but in your best interest and so on. For me, the second one is harder to find than the first. It’s pretty easy to find people who were energizing, appealing that you’re drawn to, but to have them have that trustworthiness. You know what the saying about, “A drop of tar in a barrel of wine, spoils the barrel of wine.” Trustworthiness works like that. You do one thing that suggests that I can’t trust you now, why should I trust anything? In that sense, it was a lot more tenuous, whereas I’m not always energizing, am I? I’m not always appealing.


I got to put together several days of being uttered before you’re going to get rid of me.

You’re trustworthy to the end, incredibly.

I expect it. I’m on the lookout for it. I listened to the stories that people tell. If I’m with a person who’s like a friend, developing friend or a candidate or something like that, and they’re shit-talking one of their other friends, they’re telling secrets or stories.

They’re giving you the information. This may tie into another thing you have on your list, but the trustworthiness is not only keeping the secrets but, “Can I trust you to be there for me when I need you, friend?” That, and to be supportive and things like that. I’m sure that’s on your list in some form or another.

Number three, reliable. You anticipated it perfectly. Do you show up when you say you’re going to show up? Are you canceling plans? Do you follow through? I feel like those two are closely related. In part, because there is something about it, and I know this is something that you and I have talked about and I suspect a lot of people have, which is I expect people to be selfish in this following way. I expect them to look out for their interests, that they pursue a good life, that they try to avoid pain and seek out pleasure. It’s why I say that married people are as selfish as single people because they’re pursuing their good life in that sense. However, there are limits to it, which is, I have a series, Do No Harm Policy of Selfishness. No one else in the world is worse off because I’m pursuing my good life.

That makes sense and that’s what I quote you all the time on this, “Do what makes you happy without harm.”

I recognize I take this to an extreme sometimes. Do you know where I take it to an extreme?

When someone cancels.

Yes, or they keep showing up late. I try to differentiate, “Is this person late because they’re that artistic creative person who they’re not good at being on top of things, or are they the late person where they value their time over the time of everybody else?”

If you said, “I’ll give you $1,000 if you’re on time,” they’d be on time.

Except for the people who are bad about it. In general though, but that’s an example of reliability. It’s not a major one, but it is something that I recognize that I’m on the far end of timeliness. I’m on the lookout and my own personal story is I didn’t always have the family to hang on to and to rely on. I moved around a lot. I’m in motion a lot. I quickly learned that my friend’s network was a support system for me. It was one that I play a role in other people’s support systems. I was unusually into seeking out friendships, not like pulling levers and all this stuff.

It was always genuinely about enjoying first. I have a friend, we joke, it’s not a joke, but if I get cancer and I’m terminal, she and I are flying to Switzerland to euthanize me. She can stay as long as she wants in the five-star hotel as payment for like, “Enjoyed the view of the Alps and bring my ashes back.” I could ask a family member to do it, but that’s our pack. The fourth one is a new one that I discovered right around that previous episode, Dating Friends And Sleeping With Strangers. I don’t know exactly the right word, but I like the word supportive that is they celebrate your victories, your wins, and commiserate on your losses.

They’re cooperative, they’re not competitive. That is independent of those other things. You can be trustworthy, reliable, and appealing, but if you’re competing all the time if it’s too much about you. In Julian and Pete friendship, sometimes Julie is the star and sometimes Pete is a star in that way. When Julie’s the star if it’s a comedy, we’re celebrating. If it’s a tragedy, we’re commiserating, and vice versa.

There’s no elbowing off the stage of stardom because someone’s jealous or wants to be in the spotlight all the time. There are people who are that way.

There’s not an exchange there. They’re taking a lot and they’re not giving a lot. It looks something like this, let’s play a little game. Julie, share with me some good news. Pretend you’re telling me about your new company. I’m not doing free advertising, this is just a good way to do this because I know Julia has good news.

It’s like, “Pete, I’ve been working on this project of getting this business launched and we were under a lot of pressure to get it done in a timely manner. Our website launched for Bachelor Girl Productions.”

“That’s cool. I know exactly how that feels because I’ve been working on Solo for so long and we got this press hit in the Washington Post. Isn’t that fun when you have something that you’ve been working on and it works out so well?”

“Congrats.” You stole my thunder.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a shitty friend.

That is not a remarkable friend.

We’ll get into the other one. Tell me something bad that’s happened or something you’re struggling with. You can make it up.

“I fired a friend.”

“I know exactly what that feels like. A few years ago, do you remember Todd?” I then go on and tell the whole story about it. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not remarkable friend in that way. Instead of, “You had to fire a friend? That’s incredible. Tell me all about it. How are you doing?”

This is exactly what you said when I told you that.

Prior to this show, Julie told me about this situation and we can’t tell the whole thing, but we’ll talk about it briefly. I have two go-to phrases when it comes to those situations, whether it’s celebration or commiseration. I say, “Tell me more, tell me about it,” and that’s it. He then just shut up.

That person will chatter away.

They can tell you as much as they want it. The other one is, “How does that make you feel? How are you feeling?” Those are the two most important phrases when it comes to having that moment where Julie, Joe or whoever is the star of this relationship at the moment.

They feel heard.

This is related to one of the chapters that I have in Shtick to Business that’s called Cooperate to Innovate. It’s not a chapter about making friends, it’s a chapter about building things and executing ideas. In it, I talk about how improvisers are good at navigating uncertain situations. Situations where you don’t know, when you say, “I fired a friend,” I have no idea where this is going. What friend? What happened? How are you doing? There’s all this uncertainty, but improvisers have a certain set of rules, which are good at creating a scene out of nothing. One of those things is this idea of yes-and, that’s my, tell me more thing. Instead of, “No, you didn’t.” They also have these two other things that I talked about as being critical, one is the perspective that we are all supporting actors. On this stage, our job is to make everyone else be the star. If we’re all trying to make everyone else be the star naturally, organically, at some point someone will star depending on the nature of the story, the situation, the context, the way the improv scene goes.

It’s building everyone up.

It’s why friends are energizing and they’re appealing because it’s not just a charismatic figure telling the story it’s that they also help you feel uplifted. The last thing is listening. If you’re going to create a scene out of nothing, you need to be listening to what people say versus, “I’m just going to let Julie tell this story, and then I’m going to tell her a better story about how I fired a friend five years before she did.” That’s annoying.

Listening is a skill to be worked on.

Any reactions to that before we get into this a little bit? What I want to do from this point on is I want to know what you think about what we’ve said so far, then we’re going to talk about some tips.

My reaction, I’ve been interrupting you along the way and not listening, but I love that we’re talking about this. I’ve known that we were going to do this episode and having remarkable friends, I did an evaluation of friends in my life.

Can I start naming names and you tell me what column they made?

All, except for one made the list.

How many remarkable friends do you think you have?

Something I’ve been told is that I’m good at keeping relationships going and keeping a lot of people in my life. I would say I have quite a few.

More than ten, less than 50? 

No, less than ten. I have close, remarkable friends with who I’m in regular contact. It would be difficult to do that on a larger scale. I know some people who have 2 or 3. I’d probably be in the 7, 8 range. You said something when you were talking about your notes that made me think of the story of when I met my very best friend. I was married at the time and he wanted to introduce me to this female friend he had, and he told both of us, “You will love each other.” We both said, “I don’t need any more friends. I’m good. I have many close friends. I don’t need to meet this person.” We both told him that. He was insistent, “No, you guys are going to love each other.” This is one of the two good things that came out of my marriage because she became my best friend. We met and it was this instant attraction. From the day we met, it was love at first sight. We became best friends. That was many years ago. She moved away but we have a weekly conversation on the phone.

I’m writing down a note because I had three tips and now, I had a fourth that I crossed off and I’m bringing it back from the dead because of this. I’m going to call back to this story. Even though she lives in another state, you’re in different places in life, you have a weekly call and then you travel together sometimes.

We do, and she comes to visit. She hasn’t convinced me to go to Missouri yet, but she misses Colorado. She comes back to Colorado too. Yes, we do travel together also.

No offense to my Kansas City or St. Louis readers, no worries. They understand. How long ago was that?

Many years ago.

You’re clearly good at maintaining these things. We’ll return to that story. Any other reactions to hearing about this? You say 7 or 8, I have many more, but I also have spent huge swaths of my life as a single person. I’ve moved through the world, I’ve lived in many different places, done different types of jobs. I pick people up along the way. I’ll talk a little bit more about why I think I’m able to do that.

This is true because like you said, you’re on the move a lot. When you’re having those like Semester at Sea, of course, you’re meeting when you traveled it as a student, and when you worked it.

It worked at both times, but yes, nonetheless. There are things about magical moments that help supercharge friendships.

Experiences things together.

I have those peak experiences with someone. Now, you have this keystone thing that you have in common. This is why people went to college together. They have college memories. You even work together with someone, you have those memories, you have that thing that connects you.

I’m thinking of a friend I met in prenatal yoga. We were both pregnant taking yoga together and we saw each other weekly. We started talking and we became great friends.

The interesting thing is now, because you were in the same place in life at that time, developmentally, you continued. Your kids are about the same age.

They were born a day apart from each other.

They’ll be graduating at the same time.

They’re teenagers at the same time.

Their divorce is around the same time and so on. 

No Solo’s going to save them.

Why are friends important to singles? We’ve already alluded to some of these things. I wrote down, “You choose them and they choose you, unlike family.” There’s a mutual choice. People say, “You can’t choose your family.” Usually is when someone’s in jail, has stolen money from you or in rehab, “You can’t choose your family.” It’s also, “You can’t break up with your family.” It’s harder to do. In a time where people are mobile, people are moving around and singles are more mobile than non-singles.

I moved to Colorado, I had no one I was close to. I had acquaintances. I had maybe people, coworkers, but I didn’t have that person. I didn’t have my emergency contact. At various times I’ve been at a doctor’s office and wrote Julie Nirvelli, unbeknownst to you as my emergency contact. You’re like, “Pete’s in the hospital.” Singles don’t have the one person who’s expected to be there all the time. They need the ones to quote Bella DePaulo from episode two. I asked Julie to come up with three tips for developing remarkable friendships. I’ve come up with three, but because it’s my show, I have four now to get back to your story. I’m going to still have you go first.

We touched on it and I have listened more than you talk.

You’re doing a great job at that here. I get in trouble sometimes people are like, “I wish you would let your guests talk more.” I’m like, “I know, but I did a whole day’s research preparing for that episode.”

Listen more than you talk, which is combined with make someone feel important. By listening, you make people feel important. Like you were saying in that situation where people are bashing their other friends, you’re listening more than you’re talking and you’re gathering information. I don’t know what stage of a new friend we’re talking about when you first meet somebody or somebody along the way, but everyone wants to feel important. A key part of friendship is my remarkable friends make me feel important.

It connects to what we were saying about these improvisers who are listening in order to create something out of nothing. You don’t have to fill all that time talking. I want to go on record for something like this is not Peter and Julie system to trick someone into becoming your friends and nine steps to meeting your best friend. I’m not saying this is some ruthless cutthroat system, but as I like to say, it helps to have a plan. 

Be thoughtful about it.

If you’re struggling to make friends, then it’s especially worthwhile to think it through and be intentional to live an intentional life. When you were in college, you could stumble your way into friendships. Everybody was in the same place. You’re living on a floor with 50 other people and so on. As you get older, it does get harder. People aren’t as available. They’re busier. They are like, “No, thanks. I already have plenty of friends.” I always joke to guys talk about how I forced my friendship on people. They’re like, “He didn’t know it, but he was going to become my friend.”

That might be what happened to me.

I wasn’t forcing with you because you were easy about saying yes to things. If you weren’t going to your unbachelorette party, you would have gone in and went down the street.

Even though I never watched sports and it would have been just a time to hang out with you and get to know you.

My guess is you would have said something like, “I’m not into watching sports, but I know a great hike. The next time you go on a hike, why don’t we go?” Which would have been yes and-ing, or no and-ing in a healthy way. I’m going to say the one that I thought of, and that is, friendships aren’t about love at first sight. What it is, is there might be that instant like you were talking about, this guy goes, “You two need to meet each other.” You meet each other. There is a connection, spark, energy, appeal, and attractiveness, “I like that person.” I’ve had that happen a lot, “I’m impressed by it.” That’s fast. The rest of it is slow because you can’t figure out trustworthiness after being with someone 3 or 4 times. It takes time. Friends are developed. You can be born into a family and those connections are all there, but friends take some time to develop. The idea is, “Be patient. It can be slow.” You don’t have to get this all sorted right away.

Slightly off-topic, but why do people not date that way? That is such a good analogy for, “Take it slow, get to know somebody. You wait and see if they’re trustworthy,” not just talk and I’m lecturing myself now.

I’m like, “Julie, I don’t have this problem.”

Don’t just give them trust. You need to let it unfold and see what kind of person that is.

If you look at the list of criteria that I have for a good friend, it is also for a good lover, a good partner that has romantic intimate elements to it. The only difference between a friend and a sexual friend is you bang the ladder or they bang you however you want to define it. That was my quick addition back in. What do you get next?

I have, which we’ve been talking about is uncover common interests, but not just interests like mountain biking. That’s easy for me to connect with somebody, but also common experiences. Say someone’s parent passed away or something where you can have a vulnerable, deeper connection and get to know someone through that vulnerability. Not just interests but experiences as well.

My connection to this one is your friend doesn’t have to be everything to you. I have different friends for different things depending on the problem I might have, the thing I want to celebrate or the thing I want to commiserate. I make one call versus another call. I have friends that I call for dating advice. I have friends who I call for work advice. I have some friends I call for a hike. I have other friends who I call to go out, have coffee, and sit for three hours and talk.

Which is the experience piece where you and I don’t connect on mountain biking, which is an interest of mine, but we connect on experiences.

We were telling this story. I convinced Julie to cut the nine-item list from a dating profile down to three items. For the first item, I was like, “What’s the most important thing?” You said, “I go mountain bike.” We’re still friends even though the most important activity in Julie’s life I have zero interest in. What is the second item? 

Live music.

Guess what? 

You don’t like live music.

I love music. I love going outside. I love going out. I just don’t like the combination of those two things.

In our sixteen-year friendship, how many times have we been to Red Rocks together? It was once.

I mostly went for the tailgating beforehand. I would say this, Red Rocks is my one exception. For people who don’t know Red Rocks, it’s between Denver and Boulder. It’s a 10,000 seat outdoor venue musically. It’s amazing. It’s one of the top ten places in the world to watch live music. I will go see a band that I’m so on just because it’s Red Rocks. The third thing was something that was completely inappropriate. I had this double entendre and made men have to pay attention to Julie’s profile. It’s up to you, Julie if you want to say what it was.

Nobody better steal it.

I’ll tell you this. Most people don’t have the cajones to steal this one.

It’s cockfighting

It took a little convincing for Julie to put that one in there because A, she’s not a cock fighter and B, she doesn’t go spectate cockfighting or any sports for that matter. Also, I don’t either so we don’t share that in common. That was one of the best dating app profiles you’ve ever had.

It’s been hysterical.

I’m going to go with mine now. Mine’s a little bit deep and it’s three letters, TRY. You don’t stumble into remarkable friendships. They require work in the same way that any other valuable relationship requires work, remarkable friendships do. I wrote down a couple of things. It’s like, “Make plans.” Some people are better about making plans than other people. If you’re like, “I want him to be my friend.” One great way is to call him and say, “Do you want to do X?” Try by making plans. The other one is to look for potential friends. That’s, keep an eye out. When you go to a dinner party, there’s someone you’re like, “I had a nice conversation with Joan.” Maybe you reach out to Joan and just tell her you had a nice time talking to her, or invite her to coffee sometimes. The idea is most people don’t sizzle. If you find someone who has some sizzle, it’s worth it to pay attention. 

We have a mutual friend who happened in this very scenario.

Who is that?

I was moving from Boulder and I hired a moving company because I was moving to Denver. One of the movers was the nicest, funniest, coolest guy. After we loaded the truck when I was moving to Denver, we were moving all this stuff into the house I had purchased in Denver into the garage because the people needed to stay there for two more weeks. He said, “If you need help moving stuff from the garage into the house, I’m happy to give you my number.” I was like, “This guy is such a nice guy. He needs to be in our group.” His name is Terry. He listens to the Solo episodes, even though he’s not solo.

Big shout-out to Terry. He is one of our number one supporters.

That is one of those examples of pay attention. He’s seemed like a great guy. He’s been a great friend and he unfortunately also moved from Colorado so I don’t see him that much.

You remain in touch. That’s a good one. I’ve had this happen where you say, “To try, look for it and make plans.” This one is a little more challenging and it’s Pete specific more than, and as I say, “Call people.” The phone is a great way to maintain and develop connections with people. The text doesn’t do it in the same way that what we’re doing in conversation. Part of the reason that I have such a big network is I make calls. I call people out of the blue and you know who I keep calling? The people who pick up the phone, the people who call back because it has that reciprocity, it has that cooperation to it. The nature of the conversation with the things I talk about with my friend in Maine is different than my friend in Minnesota. Depending on the time of day, what’s going on, I may call one or the other first that’s there. That was my next one, TRY. What do you get next?

What just popped into my head is one of your sayings. My third one was, be aware of red flags. This goes back to what we’re talking about. Is someone trustworthy? When someone is not honoring you or feeding your soul, then they’re not a remarkable friend and it might be time to part ways. You’re saying that you use it for dating, which applies to this, “Slow to hire quickly to fire.” Taking your time and when someone is crossing some boundaries or not feeding your soul, then it’s time to cut them.

Do you want to tell your story about firing a friend?

It’s a long story. It’s relevant and I can summarize it. I became more aware of her selfishness. We had so much fun connecting on many levels, mountain biking, being single, our daughters’ the same age. She crossed a line. She got upset with me and sent a nasty text, and that was upsetting to me. She tried to backpedal a little bit, but not that I can’t forgive somebody for making a mistake, but it’s been leading up to this. She also is the type when she gets a boyfriend who dumps her friends.

There’s a series of behaviors that don’t suggest. 

When the boyfriend goes away, she wants the friendship back. When she’d get a boyfriend, it would leave a huge void for me because we were close. It’s like your guest, Amy from the Relationship Escalator episode said, “When people do that, why would you keep investing in that friendship?”

It’s tenuous. They’re not reliable. I don’t think you’re slow to hire quickly to fire with your friendships. I’m not sure that is as important. It should be slow to hire slow to fire with a friend in the sense that you give them a chance, it’s like, “Slow to hire, medium to fire.” 

We did have a conversation about this, and I said, “I feel abandoned when you get a boyfriend and you disappear.” She had that conversation gone differently. Maybe we would still be friends, but she didn’t take responsibility. She didn’t hear me. She wasn’t listening to what I was saying. I said it in a kind, loving way. She got defensive and said, “I would think a good friend would give someone the space to explore that relationship.” Of course, you give some space, but you don’t want to be completely dumped as a friend for the five months you’re dating this guy and then you come knocking on my door again. We did have a discussion about it. It didn’t go in a way that I felt was worth continuing the friendship.

You were good about setting a boundary in that way and could stand to a little bit more in life as someone who’s seen the repeat of these things.

Working on the boundary setting.

This is something that I have to point out for people. One of the inspiring things about Julie is you’re in your middle-age years, and you’re still working on yourself. You recognize you have flaws, you have challenges, you have patterns that don’t always serve you and you’re still working on them instead of throwing up your hands and wondering why things don’t always work out. I compliment you for that. We have another mutual friend who is getting divorced and he has not been in my life much since his marriage and his family and so on. Julie said, “Are you going to take them back?”

They used to be tight besties.

What did I say? “Yes. I’m going to take him back. I love him. I understand but I wouldn’t let it happen again.” If you’re reading, you know who you are. I’m waiting for the call. I like that a lot. What’s interesting is my advice is almost in contrast, is almost contradicts yours. There’s a slight difference. Mine is, accept flaws. Your friends don’t need to be perfect. Not in the way that maybe you want your life partner to be perfect. To me, as long as the person energizing, trustworthy, reliable, supportive, cooperative, however, we’re saying it, they can be flawed in a lot of other ways.

Maybe they’re a little bit cheap. Maybe they’re a spendthrift. Maybe they have some annoying qualities. Maybe they’re not good in a group, whatever that might be. In college, I had a friend say, “Pete, you have a high tolerance for strange people.” I said, “Thank you.” I’m not sure they meant it as a compliment, but I took it as a compliment. I’m like, “Yes, he’s a weird dude,” but anytime I call that guy and say, “Do you want to go to the gym? Do you want to go out for a drink?” He says, “Yes.” He shows up, he’s present and a good time. He’s someone I can talk to and he’s all those things. I don’t care that he’s a weird dude. It doesn’t affect me negatively. In his weirdness, I wouldn’t bring it around someone who the weirdness would affect. Our two-piece of advice can co-exist and what do you think the differences?

This is perfect that you brought this up because this friend who I fired, I was already questioning our friendship before the nasty text came.

This is an hour-long story. The issue is this text is not the only thing. It’s a straw.

I had decided, “She has these flaws, but the good outweighs the bad, and I’m willing to accept her as she is and not try to change her.” The texts then came and I was like this, “I can’t put myself in the situation where I get blasted in a text. That’s not okay with me.” It went on, it was a series of texts. I agree with you that recognize the flaws, accept someone as who they are. If they’re just crossing the line or pushing your boundaries, then do what you need to do.

As Liz Lemon on 30 Rock would say, “That’s a deal-breaker.” There are some of those things. First of all, we already do ourselves a disservice in our dating lives for the people who are dating and looking for something more serious, looking for something which I find someone real. Other relationships aren’t real, there is one relationship that’s a real relationship and all the other ones are not real. That’s insulting. The standards aren’t as high because you’re not spending 24/7 with this person. I do believe, “That person can have flaws, but do I want them in my foxhole? Do I want him on my team? Do they have my back?” I can keep coming up with metaphors. If people need me to decide yes or no, that’s there. The last thing is, and I should cut it out of here, but it’s a nice way to put a bow on this conversation. It goes back to the guy who said, “You two need to meet.” I say, “Introduce your friends, but don’t expect them to become friends.” The idea is that this is a team, “How good is it when I introduce friend A to friend B and they become friends. Now, we’ve got the three of us, a trio.”

Three Musketeers.

I have a friend who says he or she is a PLU, People Like Us and not like us and that they look like us, but have our attitude, belief, and way about the world thing.

One of our peeps. That’s what I usually say.

If you have two people like that, why not introduce them? I’m on the lookout for that. If my friend who I believe has great judgment thinks this way of that person, I’m going to give that person a try. Anything else that comes to mind as we’re talking about these things?

I don’t think so. We were going to talk about ideas for future series. We covered what makes a remarkable friend and how to think about friends.

Let me try to recap a few of these things. Friendships are about choice and they are clearly important because they’re part of this network. Not only do friends provide entertainment, but they also have utility. They help you move when you need to move. They help euthanize you when you need to be euthanized. They can step in and provide a valuable space in life that used to be reserved just for family or for a partnership. They’re especially important for singles, for a mobile single who may be going to new places, and so on. We haven’t used this word, but developing friends is a skill you can develop and something you can work through by trying it while also maintaining good standards for what you expect of this person.

The most important thing is holding yourself to these standards or higher. If you expect your friends to be reliable, you better damn well be reliable. If you expect your friends to be trustworthy, you damn well better be trustworthy. If you expect your friends to be fun, try to be fun. I want to be careful about fun because I have friends who have deep, serious conversations sometimes. It’s not joyous, jovial, and jokey all the time either. That person is important to me because there’s that magnetism that’s there. As a result, this skill takes work and development. One of the grossest things about marriage is that it allows people to be lazy. It’s like, “I got this locked down.”

It’s like, “This person is my everything.”

Friendships don’t have that. They require constant maintenance and so on. What I want to challenge the reader is, think about a friend of yours that you think is remarkable and pick up the phone, give them a call and make some plans. Give them a call and say, “How are you doing? Tell me everything.”

Can people leave comments and say, “I reached out to my friend?”

If you’ve had this experience, you should join the Solo community at PeterMcGraw.org. It’s invite-only, but it’s a short three-question thing. I’ve been accepting everyone into the community. You’ve just been invited to. I would love to hear from people who say, “I reached out to a friend I haven’t talked to you in a long time.” One of the striking things about remarkable friends, it’s like not a day has passed. It’s such an incredible feeling to have.

I hope people do that. That’s fun.

I’m going to do a few more episodes around this topic. This is a great kickoff defining what a friend is thinking about the criteria. At least these are our criteria. Other people might have different criteria and talking a little bit about the process and the pitfalls. Part of the reason that we are such good friends is because of our soloness. When you were married, we still were good friends, but at least your solo attitude helps a lot in that way. I’m looking for those opportunities to try to build communities where you can meet other people who are like you. I’m doing little things. We have a new Instagram account called @Unapologetically_Unattached the longest Instagram account handle out there and I’m doing profiles of people. We have the Slack channel and so on. I encourage people to sign up for those things. That’s just dipping a toe in.

The profiles are fun. You had a guy from New Zealand and it was interesting to read about him. I thought it was cool.

It’s inspirational, that’s energizing. Julie, as always, I appreciate you.

Thank you. I appreciate you too. Thanks for having me on again. These are always fun.

I’m going to give you a break for a while. I’m afraid you go to demand a contract. Everyone, I hope this was helpful and we’ll catch you next time with the next installment of How to Make Remarkable Friends.

Have a great day.



Important Links


About Julie Nirvelli

SOLO 61 | Making Remarkable FriendsJulie Nirvelli was born and raised in San Jose, CA and earned her college degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has lived in Colorado for 16 years. As a strong, independent and fun-loving person, Julie embraces the solo life. A frequent contributor to Solo, she recently launched her new business, Bachelor Girl Productions


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the Solo community today: