Why you need a 'big friendship' in your life

Updated 7:02 AM ET, Tue August 25, 2020

(CNN)Even though their shared love of "Gossip Girl" sparked a friendship that changed their lives forever, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman are here to tell you that lifelong bonds don't have to be about what you and the other person have in common -- often, it's the opposite.

What began so magically after a mutual friend invited them to a watch party for the prom episode grew into a relationship that has helped define their adulthoods and careers. It hasn't always been easy, but their friendship has endured in part because of their ability to disrupt what linguist Deborah Tannen has called "the story of sameness," the way some friends -- especially women -- bond over their similarities. It turns out, these friends needed to forge a bond defined by their differences, and an ability to communicate about them clearly and repeatedly.
The casual observer might think something like this would be easy for two successful women already famous for being friends. Since 2014, Sow and Friedman have co-hosted "Call Your Girlfriend," their popular podcast with hundreds of thousands of listeners per episode, where they explore life, culture, politics and more through the lens of their long-distance friendship. (Though they both lived in Washington, DC, when a mutual friend first introduced them, Sow, a digital strategist born in Guinea and raised in Nigeria, Belgium and France, now lives in Brooklyn. Friedman, a journalist originally from Iowa, lives in Los Angeles).