Tea and cake for two

In a frantic, screen-led era, we explore what it means to enjoy slow friendship, with deep connections and meaningful rituals that last the test of time. 

Friendships are a vital river in the landscape of life: a meandering current that ebbs and flows always present but often overlooked. It’s easy to let these relationships slide as we get older and “things” (children, careers, house moves) get in the way. 

Slow friendship is an antidote to this effect, allowing a less intense but deeper connection with those we love the most. In an age that already feels frantic, slow friendship acknowledges that we can’t always commit the hours we once did to bonding. Instead, it pivots around a series of small, yet important, gestures that keep the flame of friendship burning, amid life’s comings and goings. 

Here are a few easy steps to making the most of slow friendship, for pals you truly cherish. 

  1. Share cookbooks with your favourite recipes

    Letterpress recipe archive box

    A tasty dish can speak a thousand words – so the next time you find a recipe that you love, bookmark it and pass it on to a friend. The nice thing about this approach is you get to share your favourite well-thumbed cookbooks, while picking out ideas that exactly chime with who someone is. It’s a more tangible and thoughtful equivalent to sharing a web link, and you can add Post-its in the margins with your own annotations, thoughts and tweaks. 

    Object Story pick: Letterpress archive box for storing your favourite recipes

    Since food is a major love language for many people, cookbook trading in this way is sure to pave the way to deeper connections. But even if you and your buddy are not into cooking, you can do the same with actual books – highlighting your best-loved quotes or excerpts. 

  2. Write your friend an old-school postcard

    These days, it’s all too easy to like a friend’s Instagram post and consider your job done for the day. Taking the time to write an old-fashioned postcard is a step against the tide – a statement that says you do really care. You can have a lot of fun choosing your favourite card, whether you’re abroad on holiday (receiving post with a foreign stamp mark still brings a strangely child-like thrill) or opt for some retro print that captures your shared history together. 

    Object Story pick: Letterpress postcards for sharing messages of love

    It’s the words that count, however. When you think about it, it’s crazy that we reserve saying how we really feel about someone until some formal occasion (a wedding, a big birthday) – or even in tribute after they’re gone. This is your chance to celebrate the unsung beauty of the everyday, with an unfiltered tribute of everything you love about your friendship. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but it will also spark pure joy. 

  3. Spend an afternoon in the garden or park together

    Perhaps the biggest misnomer about friendship in popular culture is that it has to be constant (weekly cocktail lunches) or somehow jazz-hands overt (a girls’ weekend in Morocco). While these events are great, real life doesn’t typically allow time or money for such extravagance. 

    The fact is, proper friendships don’t need props to sustain them. So, the more you can strip away in your outer environment, the deeper you’re likely to go. A few hours together in the garden or local park now and again is a great opportunity to do exactly that. 

    Object Story pick: Enamel mug for a cuppa in the garden

    The appeal of this format is that it’s nice and relaxed – there’s no pressure to plan ahead, months in advance, no huge expectations, and nor do you have to be able to afford it. You can also bring along kids, dogs, or cuppas as required. And then, with nothing much going on around you, you’ll have the space to properly catch up.  

  4. Take a trip down memory lane

    Letterpress Polaroid Archive Box

    Slow friendship is mostly a signal to get away from your phone; but occasionally, tech feeds into it. For example, if you have access to an “on this day” feature, you can use it as an excuse to send your friends pictures or videos from years gone by. 

    This is a lovely, easy way of celebrating the shared experiences that most friendships anchor around. With longer friendships, it’s a delight to wander down memory lane together, with a dose of nostalgia in the mix. It’s also a nice means by which to make your friend feel seen and heard. 

    Object Story pick: Pocket notebook to jot down your memories in

    For instance, you can share videos of them with their children as a reminder that they are lovely Mums or Dads; or past moments of achievements (marathons, new jobs, passing a test) that reinforce how great they are. You never know when someone’s going through a hard time, so these little shares might mean more than you know in buoying along their day. 

  5. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, call them

    Women, in particular, have a tendency to minimise our pain – we say, “It’s nothing, really”, or “XX is busy, I don’t want to trouble them with my problems.” Yet, there is a huge connection to be had in the ability to be vulnerable, and lean on your friends when you need them. In fact doing the opposite – clamming up or trying to appear “on-form” – can be alienating, because there’s no scope to truly go deep (or your friend might feel bad because your life seems perfect and theirs is not).

    The nice thing about unloading on a friend is that it is inherently reciprocal. The more you share, the more they’ll be willing to, as well, and your friendship grows its roots. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and be the one always offloading your problems with no space for your friend to do the same (not least because this also corrodes the concept of slow friendship). 

    Object Story pick: Incense sticks for late-night chats

    But if you get the balance right, being willing to share in this way – by physically picking up the phone, ideally (rather than a WhatsApp message) – can be hugely rewarding. It’s all part of the tapestry that slow friendship brings. 

July 30, 2022 — Anna Brech