Friendship Service Level Agreement (SLA)

I’m texting with Kim. Interrogating her about how she balances the demands of family, job, hobbies, friendships. We’ve talked about this a thousand times and I still think she’ll have the answer. She doesn’t.

Mostly I complain about my intense guilt. The guilt I feel when a friend who I love asks “when can we get together” and I respond “Ummm…I’m not sure” or someone says, “let’s have a play date” and I say “YES” when in my mind I’m thinking “ when the heck do we have time for that?”

We start to joke about how much easier it would be if there was some set of friendship rules that dictate the parameters of friendships. Being in the tech industry I suggest the answer is a friendship service level agreement (SLA). She enthusiastically agrees. We brainstorm.

I exclaim, “this would be a great blog”. She enthusiastically agrees again. I must be on to something.

So here they are. Friendship SLAs as defined by an overworked, exhausted chic who apparently has time to blog but no time to answer the phone, return texts and emails, or agree to play dates, girls night’s out and other fun activities.

Friendship Service Level Agreements

1. Communications

The following communication parameters apply to each person involved in said friendship.

1.1   Phone Calls

All phone calls will be returned within 48 hours. Any of the following factors could delay call backs up to 2 (or more) weeks:

  • Extensive travel by the husband during which time mom is in survival mode
  • Child(ren) with: stomach bugs, pink eye, strep throat or other contagious illness
  • Unhappy temper-tantruming children
  • Time-sucking work project(s)
  • Time-sucking life project(s) – including but not limited to: selling / purchasing a house, major redesign of a room or house, anything involving the PTA, child-related milestones that require preparation

1.2 Text messaging

All texts will be returned in less than 12 hours. The following factors will delay text backs:

  • Phone is lost
  • Phone is slimy (due to sticky kid fingers)
  • Too many texts – or group texts – delay response time.

1.3 Emails

Emails will likely have a same-day response but:

  • Please limit email to one big topic per day
  • Expect no more than 4 back-and-forth exchanges on each topic. If more discussion is needed please pick up the phone. See above.


2. Getting Together

The following parameters shall be adhered to if we stand a chance of getting together

2.1 Play dates

Requests for a play date will be honored at the next available date. To ensure a speedier response please:

  • Provide up to three date/time options keeping in mind:
  • Remember that mom and dad work. Therefore weekday play dates are only an option if you are offering to pick up my kids.


2.2.Girls night out

Requests for a “girls-night-out” will be subject to:

  • Husband’s travel schedule and/or grandparent or other child care provider’s ability to be with children.
  • The amount of work required for the night out. A night of drinking wine and chatting will get a quicker response than a night that requires (a) effort (b) reservations or up-front payment
  • Night’s out will happen sooner when approached like this, “Let’s go out on [date] at [time] to [location] instead of this, “I’d love to see you. When can we get together? Where should we meet? I only eat [list dietary restrictions]”


3. Conflict Resolution

All conflicts will be resolved using the guidelines below.

3.1 Assume positive intent

Friends will always assume positive intent. A pause after “when can we get together” shall not be interpreted as “she hates me and never has time for me”. Instead such statements will be interpreted as, “wow, she is so busy she can’t even express her excitement to get together.” Unless you violate SLA 3.2 bullet 5in which case the pause means “are we really going to talk about THAT again?”

3.2   Help! [fill in super-urgent-problem that has nothing to do with me here]

Your problems will be addressed in the following manner:

  • Before stating your problem indicate your intent: (1) venting (2) coaching required (3) solution required
  • Then state your problem providing the necessary details ONLY
  • Venting will be limited to one 20 minute session with a follow up 20 minute session if required
  • If action is required to solve the problem, take said action before raising the problem again for discussion
  • If a problem is brought up for a 2nd time but no action has been taken, no further discussion will be allowed
  • If I violate any of the above simply hang up on me.


The fine print

If you are a friend of mine who read this blog and is offended you:


Like this blog? Follow me on twitter.


2 thoughts on “Friendship Service Level Agreement (SLA)

  1. Sadie says:

    I love this concept and there are so many things I want to comment on…

    First, can we create family SLAs too? One great one I had the other day was “If you want me to do something around the house your sentence should start with ‘Could you please…’ and end with a question mark – not be a negatively phrased statement about what I’m NOT doing. Next time you say “You’re NOT…” the response you will get is “You’re right, I’m not.”

    I know the idea of using SLAs in a romantic relationship sounds anything but romantic, but in all honesty, I need them to keep me from going insane. A delayed response back to a text message during an emotionally vulnerable moment can send me straight to the cuckoo farm in a spiraling mess of “Is he mad at what I said? Maybe he’s sick of hearing about this. He hates me. Oh no, he’s going to leave.”

    Actually, I do talk about this stuff with my partner all the time… “Can we just agree that if either of us perceives that something is going wrong in our relationship we have to talk to our partner honestly about it and give him or her an opportunity to improve before considering ending the relationship?” A break-up should be the last solution, not the first, and should never come without ample warning and an opportunity to address the perceived problem. Again, positive intent and the fact that your partner truly cares for your well being must be assumed.

    This probably seems like it goes without saying to many of your happily married folks, but for those of us who have been riding the dating roller-coaster it needs to be said. And you know what? It feels even better to have it written down! Forget about the pre-nup, what we need are relationship SLAs! “Here Honey, before we get married, I’d like you to sign this… It’s a contract detailing the service levels we are required to adhere to throughout the duration of our relationship…”


    Well done as usual, Jill!


  2. Kim says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! Hilarious. Jamie was reading it this morning too lol!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s