On friendships

I try my best not to regret things in life, or spend too much time mulling over decisions that I’ve made.  But I think it’s inevitable that, as time goes by, you look at the things that have changed in your life over the years – for better or for worse.  I have been thinking a lot about friendship over the last few days – in particular thinking about friends that I no longer have; either through us gradually growing apart, moving away or (on one occasion) an unsolvable disagreement.

When you’re very young, it’s easy to make or break friendships without any worry or stress. (In fact, I think the older we get the more we complicate things!) If you wanted someone to be your friend, you could just ask (you might even do so by passing them a note with yes/no/maybe tickboxes – did anyone else do that?!) And if that person then proved themselves to not be a very good friend, well, then you’d just tell them you didn’t want to be their friend any more.  Now, I’m not suggesting brutal honesty is always the best policy, but when you find yourself in a situation where a friendship isn’t really working out, it’s a difficult one to deal with.

I’m a great believer that any relationship should enhance your life and make it better, rather than causing any complication or stress.  This might seem really obvious, and simple, but it’s actually only over the last few years that I’ve begun to realise that you don’t have to put up with people who constantly bring you down.  It is also difficult at times to realise who your true friends are – mainly, I find, because sometimes the ones who are your true friends are found in the most unexpected of places.  True friends present themselves when you have problems that need solving, or you need someone around, and it’s only about you – not about them.  True friends are the ones that remember your birthday, the ones that offer to bring round magazines and lemon Fanta when you’re poorly.  They’re the ones who will drop what they’re doing when you need them – and not try and make you feel bad about it.

But I think the hard part comes when you know in your heart of hearts that you have a friend that wouldn’t do any of those things.  When you have a friend who makes you feel bad just to make them feel better.  They wouldn’t be that person who turns up with a bag of popcorn and Pretty Woman on DVD when you feel down (because they’re too busy).  They are that person who always forgets to ask if you’re okay.  That person who forgets your birthday but expects you to chip in to the celebrations for theirs.  That person who doesn’t want to hear about your boyfriend, because they don’t have one at the moment.  Because when you’re 26, well, you can’t just say “I don’t want to be your friend anymore,” can you?

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