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I wonder why one of our favourite invitations or goodbye salutations is “We must catch up for coffee.” Of course, coffee doesn’t always mean literally coffee! It is a general gesture expressing a friendly way to end an interaction or just sometimes something we say without thinking! However, it can refer to the pleasures of having coffee as one of the intimate exchanges of friendship. So it this statement carries with it inherent ambivalence, especially because it could mean something else again, romantically!
When we “catch up for a coffee”, it’s of course not about just drinking a beverage together for no reason. (In the case where it's said in lieu of "see you later"). It’s about making time to connect. It’s about essentially saying to the other person, “You are important to me. I think you are worthwhile, and I want to take the time to make space in my life, so we can enjoy the bond we’ve established.”
When we “catch up” via text or on facebook, it is a gesture also that the other person is quite important to us, but when we take time “to have a coffee”, it’s like putting the friendship on a whole new higher level. This is because we are saying we consider the other person and our relationship with them important enough to set aside a time and a place to meet. In the world of fast and “efficient” communication exchanges, such catch-ups are being increasingly placed in a category of something we just don’t have time for. So, the first point I wanted to express is not to underestimate the nurture we to a friendship by actually having a coffee and not keeping it in the class of a statement that doesn't really mean anything.
When we tell another “we must catch up for coffee” and the person is valuable to us, it is important that we follow through on our invitation. (That is, if the other person also puts your friendship in a similar basket of you being just as worthwhile to them). Otherwise, “having a coffee” is increasingly put into the I believe, sad arena of “just an empty gesture”. It almost has become just something you say in lieu of “good bye” when you don’t mean or have any intention of wanting to catch up. Of course, I often do the same myself and say "we must catch up" but then I find myself wishing I expressed myself more authentically.
However, sometimes I say it, kind of meaning it. It's kind of like I want to have coffee, or perhaps that person is someone who is an acquaintance. I would like them to be a friend, and catching up would allow me to get to know them better.
Also, of course, many of us say it very authentically, but due to the busyness of our lives, we often don't actually get around to doing it, or we resort to a technology-based communication in lieu, say email.
However, even if it's twice a year, making time to actually catch up for coffee can really speak loads for the friendship, because it does take more time, energy and planning. When you do catch up for a coffee (or another ‘hot beverage, as Sheldon Cooper would say!), it is a way of saying “you are important and valuable enough for me to set aside time to really connect with you.
As an additional afterthought, may I add “The Three Monkeys” is an atmospheric, eclectic and amazingly peaceful place to have a coffee (or other drinks) and small meals and desserts! It’s situated on Boundary Road, West End.