The One Friend Challenge

What if you only had one friend for an entire year?

Just one friend in whom you would confide. One friend to go out for coffee dates, shopping dates, and movie dates. Who liked all the same cafes, stores, and films, obvs… One friend who would hopefully get your dry sense of humor, but could also have deep conversations when you were hit with the urgency to discuss life’s deepest meaning.

Just one friend who knew which side was your best for selfies, and could help you wax that tricky part on the back of your leg. Just one friend who would sing along to Top 40 hits and not be embarrassed if you sing a little (a lot) off key.

Just one friend to do it all.

Do you know this person?! I don’t!

But here I am.. living the One Friend Challenge for an entire year. Ladies and gentlemen, here is my friend, and this is my story:


The One Friend Challenge- Could you handle having only one friend for an entire year?! That's what we're doing while we travel the world together!

Choosing to go on the road for full-time duo travel is tricky business. There’s flights to book and accommodations to find and itineraries to plan.

But one thing that a would-be traveler seldom considers is the magnitude of the role their travel partner will play along the way.

I assumed that spending 24/7 with my husband would be a challenge, in some abstract way.  But we already spent so much of our free time together that I figured it would only be the stress of traveling that would open us to more conflict. Little did I know that having Tyler as my One Friend would be enough to send me over the edge. He is amazing and interesting, but he just can’t cover every friendship need I have.

Did you see my leg waxing need listed above?!

Tyler has come a long way in understanding my personality and anticipating my needs during our four years together. And I’d like to think I’ve done the same for him. But I’m pretty sure the “forsaking all others” part of marriage vows did not mean you enroll in the One Friend Challenge for life.

For us, a year is going to be our limit. We’ve already decided that after this year of full-time travel we’ll return to our habit of basing ourselves in one place for a year. Even though a year is hardly enough to develop deep relationships, it opens up a world of possibilities for human interaction outside our marriage.

So far, we’ve made it about four months in the One Friend Challenge and it’s hard to imagine that I’m prescribing our success for a year-long limit. Can we make it!? I hope think so.

The thing about picking a good spouse and choosing unconditional commitment is that you have 30% higher chance of succeeding at the challenge. (That may or may not be a totally accurate statistic…)

Tyler is my partner through life and he’ll be my One Friend for every major milestone of my life, and all the mundane moments in between.

While I’d rather have a girlfriend to go shopping with, and I would certainly prefer my sister to confide in every once in awhile, Tyler is learning to love Top 40. And he’s long ago given up on a professional duet career.

I wouldn’t recommend the One Friend Challenge to anyone, but it’s been eye opening for me. If you’re married… make an effort this week to deepen your relationship as if you were entering the challenge, relying on your spouse for a friendship need that you wouldn’t normally think of asking of them. You might be surprised! If you’re dating, consider what it would take in a partner to be able to meet the challenge should the situation arise in your life. And if you’re single, just thank the Lord that this is one thing you don’t have to worry about! (;

Would you survive having only one friend for a year? How do you think you and your spouse would fare?

  • kimberly oyler

    I worry about what I’m going to talk about if I have to ride with someone for a hour. CANNOT IMAGINE A WHOLE YEAR. but hey! 4 months down, 8 to go. you got this!

    • Haha yes. I like to think I can handle conversation ideas for up to a month… but so far we’re still chugging along four months in! Thanks for the encouragement 😉

  • Alonda Tanner

    “..make an effort this week to deepen your relationship as if you were entering the challenge, relying on your spouse for a friendship need that you wouldn’t normally think of asking of them.”

    I don’t know if I could handle the one friend challenge. But I can certainly accept this challange!! Inviting my husband into deeper areas of my life. This has really got me thinking.

    • Thanks for commenting Alonda. So glad our inadvertent “one friend challenge” is helping you think more deeply about how to invest in your marriage!!

  • This is incredibly interesting. I would have never thought to do something like this, but I like reading your thoughts, hearing your heart behind it. I look forward to reading more. I hope and pray it is a rich and wonderful and learning experience, girl. You’ve challenged me a little bit, and it’s nice. 🙂

    • Thanks Chelsea! But just in case you got the wrong idea from my post… I didn’t set out to do the “one friend challenge” on purpose! It’s just a side effect of our choosing to travel full-time together. I’m still learning a lot from the experience though 🙂

  • When we lived in China, Angel was my only ‘old friend’ for a year–but you’re right, the act of at least staying in one place allows you to really meet new people and at least make some new connections, though they may not be the tightest connections, it still helps. The new friends we made in China were awesome, though we really had to rely on each other throughout the year. I’d never be the kind of person to thrive in full-time travel. I really like having a home base and community!

    • I’m so glad you had each other to navigate a new place. It helps a ton to have at least one person who knew you before/outside of your new circumstances! And it is definitely a challenge to travel full-time. I wouldn’t say we thrive in this lifestyle either… I don’t know if I’d say anyone could “thrive”! We’re made to be in community. But for us, the benefits outweigh the challenges for a short time. It’s always a give and take 🙂 We all have to make our own decisions based on our priorities, I guess!

  • Honestly, I’d say we inadvertently took on this challenge when we moved last year (almost a 1.5 years ago, now!). I went through a period of situational depression, and with no family or friends nearby, he was my one friend (and vise versa). It was very very hard… but it’s taught us how to (sounds silly) but how to not get sick of each other! We had to navigate those tough days when my depression turned what could have been a great day into something really sad.
    Now that we’ve made more roots here, we’ve built up a good social life balance. But that challenge was overall very good for our marriage. Those hard times make the good times really shine! I’m glad to say we’re past that season, but I can look back with such a grateful heart for my lifelong friend 🙂

    • Oh man, that sounds so tough. I feel you! I went through a similar dark season, but during the year my husband and I were engaged and were having trouble finding a group of friends that we both clicked with. During our last move (when we lived in Anchorage for a year) we very quickly found community and built genuine relationships that I think will last a lifetime, even now that we’ve moved on. I know that’s unlikely to happen again so smoothly, but it was just the encouragement we needed to know that we could find kindred spirits wherever we land 🙂 Thought Tyler is an amazing friend, I know I need more than just him for a full community!