The best friend blues

I adore this post by Sophie. Flat out LOVE it. I won’t witter on lest I write my own post to introduce it but suffice to say, Sophie, you’re hilarious and honest and ace. *fist bump of solidarity*

 

Reading an article about the film The Other Woman last week, I came across a quote from Leslie Mann saying something along the lines of “my husband’s alright, but it’s my girlfriends I couldn’t live without”. Not for the first time, not even the 100th, was I prompted to think about how I fit into this phenomena of bff’s. Something I’ve always known, but that only emerges more obviously as I get older, is that I am somehow missing the best-friend gene. Or at least the instinct that chick-lit and date movies would have you believe all women possess.

 

My best friend is my husband – tied up with all the cliched sentimentalism that implies, but it feels so intrinsic to being in love, and happens so unconsciously, it barely seems to count. (Though Leslie Mann’s somewhat overlooked husband might not agree there)

 

What I’m talking about is other people. I have a slightly sprawling, occasionally disconnected group of friends who I think are the bee’s knees, the dog’s whatsits and all that is brilliant about, well, human beings. Despite a dizzying combination of backgrounds, outlooks, personalities, quirks and flaws, they all have the most crucial things in common. They make me laugh, they really do care, they are patient and encouraging in equal measure and being around them is fun and easy – two days or two years since the last time. And I hope they feel I offer just the same back.

 

The thing is though, wax lyrical all I like, my friendships never look like they do in films. I think there are three main things going on here:

 

1. I am almost pathologically useless at picking up the phone to call a single one of them. I remember in a particularly dull school holiday saying to my Dad that I wasprobably going to call someone, I was just working out who I’d get ‘good phone reception’ with. This was in about 1996 and on a landline. Worst excuse ever. But 30 years of a very odd habit later, it’s a tricky one to shift. Once I’m chatting away, I’m happy as Larry, but getting there’s the thing. As meeting up face to face gets harder, and What’s App messages don’t quite make the grade, I rely on the continued understanding of my friends that its not me being anti-social or uncaring – just a bit phone-averse (ie funny in the head).

 

2. A change creeps in once you’re reluctantly settled into your twenties that you are never warned about, but is by turns liberating and heart-breaking. People you used to drink Bacardi Breezers with, the ones who you used to MSN message all evening then natter to all day at school, aren’t all your friends anymore. Even the friends you made at your last job drift away. We seem to shift in the way we see the world over time – the way we treat people; our habits and behaviours; the way we communicate and socialise. So sometimes we start to grate on each other and if the annoyance doesn’t lessen we eventually let go. Sometimes you only realise after-the-fact and feel a sudden loss. Sometimes, worst of all, it’s one-sided. A twisted kind of unrequited love that leaves you in a horrible mind-tangle, whichever side of the fence you happen to be. All of this is damn hard. And strange. The people in your life chop and change and it makes you think about the one’s you really must keep hold of. Hence this blog I suppose.

 

3. The crux of it: I’m just not that girl. I’ve never confided the gory details of my lifes and loves to someone else because that’s just not what I do. I’ve always enjoyed having a varied group of friends around me because that’s just who I am. I’m happy with meeting up infrequently because that’s no problem when I’m in it for the long haul anyway. I probably don’t let my friends know how much I love them until we’re all drunk, because I’m that cliched. But aren’t I meant to spend every single Friday night with my best girlfriend, drinking Pinot, waxing our legs, laughing about embarrassing sexcapades (awful word, sorry, but that’s my point), crying about nasty bosses, venting about lazy husbands? God, the thought makes me cringe. As for the real-world version of best friends, well I can see the appeal, I honestly can. Having a go-to person who goes-to you in return. Never having to realise there’s a big thing going on that you haven’t asked about in a while, that you haven’tthought about in a while, because there’s a News24 style ticker tape of fun updates making your phone trill every day.

But I’m not built that way. My friends and I will muddle through I know. Hopefully this is old news to them anyway, just a status quo they’re perfectly fine with. But people like me – not a Carrie Bradshaw, not a creepy hermit, just something in the middle – are a little under-represented out there. And it sometimes makes me worry. But maybe there are there more ‘me’s out there? Does this sound at all familiar?

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships
17 interesting thoughts on this

17 Comments

  1. Posted June 9, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I remember my dad saying to me, back when I was in sixth form and having “best friend” problems, that he thought programmes like Friends were bad for my sense of perspective as that wasn’t really what adult friendships were like. I think about that fairly often.
    A while ago I wrote on here about how lonely I felt during a bit of a difficult time. I suspect that some of the feeling came from a sense that I should have had that person you describe, the best friend, and a bit of a sense of sadness that I also don’t. I don’t know where that comes from, but I suspect that my dad was right and that for most people don’t have the “best friend” in the same way as the stereotype.

  2. Posted June 9, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Hit-the-nail-on-the-head familiar. Thanks for making me feel like it’s ok to be me!

  3. Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Yep same here, I have various groups of friends from different times of my life and whenever I see them it’s like no time has passed. But we don’t hang out together every night and rarely speak on the phone. In fact I really don’t phone anyone that much, which would come as a huge shock to my mum and dad!
    My best friend lives a couple of hours away and I know so much less about her life since I moved away, consequence of leaving your home town I suppose.

  4. AlexmrsM
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    This. I love this, it’s more or less how I feel! Except that I know I am a bit anti-social and get very uncomfortable at the thought of big gatherings (friends or family alike).
    Ditto with the husband being the best friend, he is the only one I tell every little thing to with no fear of being judged.
    Love this post
    X

  5. Sophie
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Totally Linsey, I didn’t mention in the post but I can chat away on the phone with my Mum literally for hours. If they hadn’t witnessed my oddness as a child they wouldn’t believe a word of this!

    Thanks for the lovely comments guys, good to know it doesn’t all sound bonkers (and that I can officially blame Jennifer Aniston!).

  6. Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Something i struggle with too, the people that i really felt like that with all moved away after uni and although we get on great when we meet up we don’t have that same relationship anymore and i really miss it. Xox

  7. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Totes normal!!

    I never phone my friends (though I have to say, the ones with iphones do get the occasional facetime which seems less scary somehow!).

    And if you’re weird for not doing the friday night waxing etc then so am I (and I suspect millions of other girls).

  8. Kate G
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m also crap at phoning friends. I even shy away from Skype and I’m not a facebooker – which given all my true friends and family live abroad is a bit of a rubbish habit have, though I feel I make up for it with frequent messaging. So I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in that.:)

    Never done the gory “sexcapade’ sharing, waxing etc either – urgh. Give me a girls lunch with cocktails or a rainy day in with tea and biccies any day.

  9. Posted June 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Even people who DO have bffs find they drift in and out of friendship intensity depending on life stage. I’ve definitely felt more adrift from close friends now I’m a mum, but true friendship comes in peaks and troughs. It’s constantly evolving. Even those who have a Friday night wine-fest (I used to!) don’t have it forever. I admire those who have close emotional relationships with their other half – I think that makes up for a lot. I don’t really have that with my husband so tend to lean on others – my mum mostly to be honest – so that makes friends particularly important to me.

    Px

    • Posted June 12, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Yes. Peaks and troughs it is. My actual bffs and I surreal fairly rarely but we don’t have to because of that final “f” for forever. They’ve recently *all* had babies, I’m not at that stage so though we’re all happy for each other, and it’s been nice seeing some of them bond as they’re now closer in their lives, we’ve got less common ground to talk about right now. We still love each other. I’ve got other newer friends too who are currently in drift (new relationships, planning weddings etc) and I think accepting the ebb and flow is okay. Like you say if you’re in it for the long term its okay. I’m starting to realise that with the friends I made just before I moved 500 miles away from them!

  10. Fee
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Things have got weird for me the last few years – I used to have a lot more of the close friends in the Friday night Pinot sense but when I stopped being able to do that stuff things changed a lot which makes me wonder about those friendships and what they really were. I now have a close core of less than a handful of friends (and a wider group of acquaintances I guess), all from different groups. I am much better one on one than in a big group so I think that works better for me.

    And as you are one of those close core (Hi Sophie!), you know that it works perfectly for us ticking along seeing each other every couple of months as I think we’re similar in that sense. You were one of the people who pulled me along the last couple of years and visited me when I was on bed rest and never shied away from my not very appealing deep sadness and anxiety – so even though we don’t have that ticker tape of updates, you’re a pretty amazing friend.

    Mwah xxx

    • Sophie
      Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Thanks hun :) Funnily enough it was partly a lovely sunny morning spent with you and Max that prompted me to write this.
      I feel immensely lucky to have you in my life – and to play even the tiniest role in that beautiful little boy entering into the world – it just takes a mutual understanding of all this funny friendship business. The people around you knowing that you can care just as much even if you’re not a constant presence, if that makes sense?
      With some friends you never doubt that, I just occasionally worry if it’s not always going to be true of the other aforementioned brilliant human beings.
      Perhaps its not such a mystery after all, just something we usually don’t say out loud.
      Mwah right back at ya! xxx

  11. Lexie
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Um yes, that is exactly what it is like!

  12. Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Agree with a lot of this post -in particular the phone bit. I really, really hate using the phone. Text/email/Whatsapp is way better but obviously not the same for long heart to hearts…

  13. Emma
    Posted June 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh how glad I am you have written this post. This is exactly how my life is. I’ve always wanted a BFF capital letters, big hugs, call you every day and tell you everything BFF, but i’ve never had one and as I get older actually I don’t mind so much.

    My husband is the BFF i’ve been looking for all my life and hopefully he’ll be there forever. But my friends are scattered and I have different people for different parts of life who don’t necessarily know each other but whom I love dearly anyway. And I don’t think I mind anymore because to put it bluntly, who wants to be the odd one out in a huge group of girlfriends when you can be one on one with a lovely select few when it suits you.

  14. Laura
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I could have written this myself and it’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one. I hate talking on the phone and having a Sex and the City type group of friends who talk every day seems so alien to me. Thank you for writing this and making me feel a bit more normal!

  15. Jenny
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I used to phone one of my friends occasionally, I would always be desperate to get off the phone after a while but not sure how to end the call, She admitted she doesn’t like talking on the phone either.
    I used to have a best friend when I was a kid, until she turned on me and bullied me. That pretty much did for my self esteem and I was friendless for a while, then when I started to meet new people I was never confident enough with them to claim anyone as my ‘best friend’. Agree about friendships going through peaks and troughs. Most of my friends are from secondary school, I’m now 30 and although we might not have as much in common as we thought we did at 17, we have a shared history and are comfortable in each other’s presence. I’m quite shy and awkward and don’t think I’ve made a new proper friend since university – I was a bit embarrassed that on my hen night there were only my school friends and one uni friend (the other two are men). I’m hoping the school friends will last!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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