It’s been a long time. Joy-Anna Duggar has had her best friend, Carlin Bates, by her side through a lot of big changes in her life the past few years, and fans of both Counting On and Bringing Up Bates have taken notice of the young women’s lovely friendship. But how did they even get to be besties? Let’s take a look at how Joy, 22, and Carlin, 21, became such a dynamic duo.

How Do the Duggars and Bates Families Know Each Other?

Joy’s dad, Jim Bob Duggar, explained how he met Carlin’s parents, Gil and Kelly Jo Bates, during a 2012 episode of United Bates of America. “Back about 15 years ago, I went to a conference, and I walked in and I saw this family with, like, seven or eight kids sitting around a table,” Jim Bob, 54, said. “And I said, ‘This kinda looks like my family.’ That was Gil and Kelly Bates. And we’ve been friends ever since.”

Carlin Bates Joy Anna Duggar Bestie Before Austin
Courtesy of Carlin Bates/Instagram

Did Joy and Carlin Meet on Counting On?

The two young women have known each other for a long time if that story of how their families met is accurate. They run in similar religious circles, and probably saw each other at a lot of other events and conferences when they were young.

So they didn’t exactly meet on the Duggar family’s TV show, but the Bates family members have made several appearances on it over the years — long before Joy was even thinking about getting married to her husband, Austin Forsyth, who she considers her other “bestie.”

Were Joy and Carlin in Each Other’s Weddings?

Yes! Carlin was part of Joy’s wedding party when she married Austin, 25, on May 26, 2017. And when the Bringing Up Bates star married her boyfriend of two years, Evan Stewart, on May 25, 2019, Joy was in her wedding, too. Joy was actually accused by some fans of out-shining her best friend at the ceremony, but Carlin seemed nothing but thrilled to have her bestie by her side for her big day.

Carlin Bates Joy Anna Duggar Bestie Before Austin
Courtesy of Carlin Bates/Instagram

Do Joy and Carlin Still Hang Out Now That They’re Married?

Yes. In fact, Carlin rushed to Joy’s side when the Counting On star sadly miscarried her second child, Annabell Elise. She even did Joy’s makeup and hair so that her friend could take some family photos for Austin and Joy to keep to remember their daughter.

Now, Carlin is expecting her first child, and we’re sure Joy has been nothing but supportive for her best friend as she prepares to become a mom herself. Do you think Joy’s kids will consider their mom’s friend an aunt, and vice versa with Carlin’s little ones? Heck, they’ve got plenty between all the Duggars and Bates siblings and sisters-in-law Joy and Carlin both have in their lives — why not add in another auntie?

Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at