When thinking about my good friends, quality is infinitely preferable to quantity in my book. Unlike Millennials who seem to think that having thousands of Facebook friends and Instagram followers means they are popular. And I am backed up by science – apparently it is proven that 150 friends is the most any of us can actually cope with. And, how many of us can honestly say we have that many friends? This brings to mind the only memorable piece of advice my father ever gave me: “You can count your friends on one hand. All the others are acquaintances.”
Next month I will be making the four hour drive to go and visit my oldest friend Penny. We are, frankly, neither of us very good communicators and I’m ashamed to say that several months can whizz by without us having a catch up. But, from the millisecond we are in each other’s company, it is as if we have never been apart. Conversation flows, we hug, we smile, we giggle, we laugh. What prompts me to say this is that it brings to mind quite how precious genuine friendships are.
I think it is true to say that, when you are part of a couple, a certain amount of compromise is essential. You may find yourself roped in to spending time with someone your partner thinks is hilariously funny, witty or generally good company. One man’s meat can so easily be another’s poison, so it’s not surprising that you might find this person’s humour childish, their jokes banal and that they bore the pants off you.
I have never had a Best Friend. (Cue violins). You know, one particular person who you do everything with and can call at any time of the day or night to discuss your trials and triumphs. To be fair, although I appear to be very open about everything, in actual fact I am quite secretive about what’s really important to me. So it’s never been high on my ‘to do’ list to have a bosom buddy to contact the instant that something amazing/ghastly/amusing/spooky happens to me.
So, am I unusual? Or simply unpopular? If I’m honest, I think I prefer to have several close-ish girl friends (all of whom I like very much but for different reasons) for the various parts of my life: my business partner, cinema buddy, walking companions, those I hell raise with (not very often these days!), one for bitching, one for philosophical conversation, one who prefers popcorn / Top Gun and another for sushi / a visit to the V&A. These wonderful women rarely get to meet each other. In truth, I’m not 100% sure they’d get on.
I realise that these platonic female relationships are great for sharing all those feelings, thoughts and experiences that so many of our male counterparts don’t seem to have the faculty to listen to properly. The support that only another woman can seem to give you apparently creates more serotonin which in turn promotes a feeling of wellbeing.
However positive these very close relationships can be, when they break down for any reason (they are much thinner than you, shag your husband, betray a confidence) it can be absolutely devastating. At a girly lunch recently, the subject of best friends came up. Three out of the four of us had had a traumatic break up with a close girl friend at some point in our lives and we all freely admitted it had shaken us, was a serious long term loss and something we still got upset about on a regular basis.
Anyhow, having said all the above, I have a massively big birthday coming up and, after much thought, have decided to let it slip by. Well, not exactly go unmarked. That would be a bit depressing. But who to celebrate/commiserate this milestone with? Well the two people I realise are now my absolute best friends (yes, after all these decades I now have not just one, but two!) They just happen to be my relatives – my son and Marvellous-Mother-In-Law. And I couldn’t be happier. Or, unfortunately, younger!
If you’d like to read more from Grace, you can do so here.