The Downside To Having A Quickie BFF

Meeting someone you instantly get along with can be exciting, but beware of getting too close too fast.
by Jennifer Benjamin
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In Hollywood, chicks seem to become BFFs (Best Friends Forever) almost instantly, and their alliances fizzle out just as fast. Plenty of real girls participate in full-throttle friendships, too—sometimes with similar results. "Instant best friends give you a sense of belonging," says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends, True Friends. "Still, quickie relationships are often built on superficial interests—like shopping or partying—so they may not have what it takes to go the distance." Learn about what makes and breaks zero-to-sixty twosomes.

In Constant Touch

What's behind the need to attach immediately? "If you just broke up with someone or you are in a vulnerable situation like a new job, having a friend that you're in 24/7 contact with can make you feel more stable," says Jan Yager, PhD, relationship expert and author of Who's That Sitting at My Desk?

In fact, excessive interaction is a key characteristic of fast friendships: You feel so drawn to the person that you can't get enough of them, like a new boyfriend or even a drug. "You may find yourself spilling intimate secrets, abandoning old friends you no longer have time for, or obsessively calling your new pal before making any and all decisions," says psychologist Sharon Lamb, EdD, author of The Secret Lives of Girls.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter facilitate fast friendships by enabling people to stay connected. The irony? "Although you may be 'talking' to each other all the time and feel like you're really bonding, it's not the closeness you get from person-to-person contact," says Yager.

Best Friends For Now

The thing is, just because a chick's a blast to hang out with doesn't mean the bond has legs. "True friendships are built on a solid foundation of trust, and that doesn't evolve overnight," notes Yager. "It can take months, even years, to figure out what kind of character she has. You may think you know a person, only to be hurt when she shows her true colors."

When Lisa, 28, started college, she immediately latched on to Nina. "We became close very quickly, and I shared a lot with her. Then, about a month later, I found out she'd been talking about me behind my back, making fun of my promdi roots, my clothes, even the way I talked. Turns out she was a social climber—once she'd made other friends, she didn't need me anymore."

That's not to say you and your new Siamese pal can't form a lasting bond. The first step: limiting face time to a few days a week. "If a friendship's solid, it can survive a brief absence," says Isaacs. "Use those breaks to hang with old friends you've been neglecting."

Also, make sure you don't disclose intimate info until your new buddy has proven herself trustworthy—the last thing you want to do is give a false friend ammo to use against you. Finally, avoid having too-high expectations. Take your new friend at face value and, over time, you'll eventually be able to gauge whether she's a fair-weather pal or a friend for all seasons.

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