Friendships


Cover of "Best Friends"
Cover of Best Friends

We have a column in the paper called Single and the City.

It’s one of my favourite features as it speaks to younger people, and perhaps women in particular. It’s light-hearted – usually – and has a sort of, cleaner, Sex and the City vibe. We’re a family newspaper!

The identity of the writer(s) is generally a mystery, but I do write it the odd time myself.

Despite not being single, or perhaps because I’m not, I find the whole concept of ‘dating’, or whatever we call it here, endlessly fascinating. I don’t understand ‘hard to get’, or ‘the rules’, and I don’t see why people just can’ t be honest with each other! But I absolutely adore observing the love lives of people around me, and the entanglements they get into, or don’t get into.

When I do write the piece,  I tend to focus on slightly different issues, things that are more about all our lives than, necessarily, about romance. And the latest one I’ve written – which hasn’t appeared yet – is about friendship. Specifically, female friendships.

Writing it, with a limited word count and a particular theme to adhere to, really got me thinking about friendship, between adults, and how it changes as you get older.

I find the whole notion of female friendships absolutely fascinating. Women have different visions of friendship to men, and friendships can be incredibly intense, and really involved.

The thrill of making a new friend is something that never dissipates. I love meeting new people, and meeting people I click with is always something very special.

But for some reason, it’s not normal to say so. Women are allowed – no, encouraged – to waffle lovingly about a new man they’ve met, praise him, adore him, raise his babies, stay with him… sorry, that’s Lady Gaga. But you get me.

Why are we not allowed to be so honest about our platonic friends?

I moved to Cork just over a year ago. In that time I have been really lucky; I have made a few very, very good friends.

The best friends are not always the ones we know the longest – my mother has always told me we have friends for different times in our lives, for different reasons, for different activities, and as I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve discovered that this is true.

In different places I’ve lived, I’ve had cinema friends, theatre friends, whinge and a cup of tea friends, work friends, and only some of them are people you hang onto.

It’s only when you meet someone you really click with – with enough common interests, outlook and experiences – that you find the kind of comfort that you get with your very old friends. I think it must be related to life experience and the fact that your oldest, school or college, friends, have had the most similar experiences to you. Meeting someone, later in life, who has the same frame of reference as you and has lived their life in a similar way using that reference, is quite unusual.

One of the new friends I mentioned above said to me, wonderingly, on what I suppose you could call our second date (there isn’t even terminology for this stuff!) “isn’t it amazing to be making new friends at this age!”

I’m in my 20s. She’s in her 30s. We’re not exactly pensioners.

But it is amazing. And it was even more amazing that she was honest enough to say so – that kind of emotional honesty is part of what made us click, I think.

As  someone whose job relies hugely on personal contacts, and networking, I find it continually surprising how much people focus on networking without acknowledging that a core ingredient of networking is your ability to make friends.

Twitter is a case in point. If you’re not nice, and positive, and friendly, in general, people don’t want to know. It’s a quicker, slighly more to-the-point, version of making and breaking real life friendships.

I’m often told I’m a good networker. Part of it I put down to being an only child; if you’re the only kid in the room without a brother or sister, you find someone to talk to, and you find them before someone spots you on your own.

Life doesn’t change that much – these days it’s not so much about bonding over the guy from Superman or Narnia to stop the bigger kids picking on you – it might be  the guy from the latest networking group meeting, or the fantasy world our politicians live in, or picking wallpaper samples together and exchanging references for hairdressers.

But the fact that, at any point in your life, it’s still possible to meet people you can giggle with like you did as a kid, and share the serious stuff with too, is really worth celebrating.

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6 comments

  1. Lovely article, really interesting topic and well written. So true as you move through life you have great genuine friends you hang on to and those relationships have so much history and things that do not need to be said , they just are that way. Love it!!! Olive

  2. Hello, great article, prefer it in this format than what went into the paper. I understand completely about finding new friends! It’s a bleeding minefield, and I’ve had my excellent luck and my poorer luck. Having said that, everywhere I’ve lived over the last few years I’ve been lucky to walk away with one or two people I’m delighted to be able to call friends. Some people find it difficult to loosen the attachment to their old friends to really allow them appreciate their new ones but as you’ve pointed out, there’s space for everyone depending on what you’re both looking for from the friendship.

  3. I lived for a year in Bristol and found it so difficult to make new friends. It was like dating! plucking up the courage to ask someone to meet for coffee or a drink; hoping they enjoyed the outing as much as you did; waiting for them to call; the fear of rejection etc

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