There’s Oprah and Gayle. Victoria and Eva. Rhianna and Melissa. Cara and…whoever is relevant at that particular point in time. That’s squad goals right thurr. These ladies are showcased by the media as exemplifying what best friends are all about. But, even though we bandy the term around, how many of us are actually a part of a ‘squad’ with real, solid, ride or die best friends, who can be relied upon to have our backs at the drop of a hat? And how many of us feel like we have reached a point in our lives where we have lots of friends, but no BEST friends?
Throughout primary school I can remember having 2 or 3 best friends at any one time, although these were sometimes different people depending on whether it was term-time or school holidays. Some of these friendships were carried through to secondary school, and I went through a good few years hanging around with the same couple of girls. However, once we got to sixth form, the game changed. You see, I attended an all-girls, convent, secondary school and, in case you need reminding, undiluted girls can be very, very good, but they can also be very, very bad. To make matters worse, the year we moved up into lower six was the year our school decided to begin accepting boys. This was the beginning of the end of any kind of sisterhood. It became every girl for themselves and the so-called ‘mean girls’ truly came into their own. I can cite various examples of girls being struck out of groups, for the most ridiculous reasons, but I won’t do that now. The point is, things changed. Then we went on to work or to university, and there was yet another group of friendships to get my head around. Don’t get me wrong, I still have friends from primary and secondary school, and even from university. These are friends that I meet up with for breakfast, dinner or drinks, and some of them I am very close to, but, for some reason, I still don’t think of us as best friends.
When I picture best girlfriends, rightly or wrongly, I picture two ladies (cos three’s a crowd, innit?) who probably dress alike, like the same things, know the same people and go to the same places…together. And they either currently live or have lived together at some point too. And they finish each other’s sentences. They’re together more than they are apart. So, basically, something like the relationship that I have with my husband, The Photographer, but without the kids or the “how’s your father”. Now, I know that’s not how it has to be, and it’s certainly not what it is like for the millions of besties out there, but, for some reason, I have that in my head.
And once upon a time, before the kiddies, I had a similar kind of relationship with a handful of ladies. During the week, we would meet up at each other’s workplaces and go to the deli for lunch. At the weekends, we would go shopping together during the day and then clubbing at night. We would spend hours at each other’s houses. We would get drunk together and chat sh*t together and laugh at each other’s boyfriend choices, but it was cool. I would call them up at all hours of the day or night and we would chat about the most intimate details of our lives. There was no WhatsApp or Facebook, and text messages cost at least 25 pence each, so we would use our free T-Mobile to T-Mobile minutes (cos it made sense all being on the same mobile phone network back in the day – all hell broke loose the day I decided I had to move to Orange!) or call each other’s landlines. I would know everything about them and they would know everything about me.
Now, it just seems so much harder to do all that stuff. There is the obvious challenge of meeting up when everyone is working or raising kids or has moved out of the area or to another continent. Then there is the ease with which we can catch up with each other without ACTUALLY catching up. I 100% blame social media for this. Instead of bringing friends closer together, for me, it has pushed us further apart. It became easier for me to communicate en masse via BBM and then through WhatsApp, rather than to make individual calls to everyone in our group. While I was on Facebook, I no longer felt the urgent need to call to find out how my friends were doing because I could see their status updates every day. I left Facebook to force myself to pick up the phone or to arrange a meet up, but then I discovered Instagram. And made yet another set of friends! AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!
So calls, have become less frequent and catch ups more occasional. And when we do catch up, there is so much more to cover and not nearly enough time, so we never really feel like we finish the conversations properly. I find myself asking more questions to understand the background to the story because my friends assume that they have already told me, but they haven’t. Then I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t know important bits of information that they allude to but don’t go into detail on, because they assume that I do, or even should, already know. But I don’t. And if they’re not telling me, who are they telling?
The causal “oh, didn’t you already know?”, or the flippant “I just assumed she would have told you” from someone who I definitely do not consider a close friend about someone who I do consider a close friend hurts. At this point, I’m not entirely sure why. Is it due to envy because my friend considers someone other than me close enough to tell these things to and to tell them first? Or is it annoyance at myself for letting the relationship drift to the point where I’m no longer the first to know? Or annoyance at my friend for not making the effort either? Perhaps it’s a bit of ‘all of the above’. I’m aware that I probably sound quite needy right now, so I’m going to turn that round. All I need to do is remind myself of the times when I haven’t told my friends about something important that has happened in my life, because I had a meeting at work to prepare for/ had to take one of the kids to the GP/ had to sort out a family issue/ had a school parents’ night out/ had to do some other random stuff. On those occasions, I didn’t hold information back from them intentionally, it was just that life got in the way. It doesn’t mean that I love them any less or them me. On the contrary, it’s probably because we’re so close that it doesn’t affect our friendship. Because, when we do eventually catch up, all that needy crap just floats away and we still have the best time. We still have the same interests. We still have differences of opinion. We still talk about the men in our lives. We still have belly laughs. And we also have something else. That ability to block everything and everyone else out and just 100% enjoy each other for the short time that we have. Together.
And, the fact is that we still do make an effort to get together, no matter how long it takes us. Therefore, perhaps, now that we’ve come to the next phase in our lives, the friendship has evolved into something else. Perhaps this is what a best friendship is like now. Having that concentrated feeling of being together, but for short periods of time and less frequently. Because maybe we’re not always available at the drop of a hat, because maybe we have [lots of] other things going on. But, when it really counts, we are there – 100%.
So, in answer to my question right up there at the top, I guess that would be me.
What about you? Do you have a bestie? Has your relationship changed at all over the years? And is it possible to make a new best friend later in life?
PS. Please excuse yet another stream of consciousness post. I really do find that this blog helps me to think through my issues. It’s totally cathartic and I love it! Just wish I could get my arse into gear and ‘do’ it a bit more often. Story of my life…*sigh*