Husband and I made the five hour drive down to Salcombe, Devon on Friday where we spent the weekend with some old friends of ours. Not a massive house party, just the four of us in their lovely fisherman’s cottage, bang in the middle of what must be one of the prettiest coastal villages in the UK. What prompts me to tell you this is that, apart from having a brilliant time with them, it brought to mind how precious good friendships are.
Quality is infinitely preferable to quantity in my book. Unlike teenagers who seem to think that having thousands of Facebook friends 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.”
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.
So, when you spend time with mutual friends whose company you both genuinely enjoy (and, more importantly, who like you just as much) it is a rather wonderful experience. We are lucky enough to have several sets of friends, like the ones in Salcombe, who we do not see frequently but, when we do meet up, have a totally relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable time (and probably way too much to drink!). It genuinely feels as if we have seen them yesterday, even if it was actually six months ago.
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. For a start, although I seem 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 best friend to contact the instant that something amazing/ghastly/amusing/spooky happens to me.
I realise that these platonic female relationships are great for sharing all those feelings, thoughts and experiences that our male counterparts just 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 shag your husband, are much thinner than you, 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 admitted it had shaken us up and was a long term loss, something we still thought about from time to time.