In my hazy, heady teens and twenties, when money equalled fun and weekends meant hangovers and lie ins, my friends were my world. Who I was, where I went, what I liked, bought, drank and ate was defined by my mates.
Then life moved into a new orbit. I got a steady job, bought a house, had a baby. The world turned on its axis. My friends moved further away. They got married and had babies too. Everyone was juggling. Time and money became limited.
A couple of weeks ago, I realised that it had been months since I’d connected, really connected, with some of my closest friends.
Sure, things change. People move on. Some friendships aren’t forever and that’s OK. But the thought that I wasn’t making my friends a priority was a shock.
I was losing them. And losing out.
The positive effect friendship has on health and wellbeing is well documented. Those with a close circle of friends (not Facebook friends — real-life friends) are happier, less stressed, and less likely to form addictive habits. Studies have even shown that those with good friendships live longer.
I know it’s not always easy to fit friends into our busy lives. But like anything worth having, friendship takes hard work. This is what I’ve learned recently.
Be smart, be brutal and choose your friends wisely
You can’t be friends with everyone, and you can’t maintain every friendship you have ever had. It’s not mean — it’s reality. You’re busy. You’ve got no time to fuck about, so surround yourself with people who make you feel good — who you admire, respect and love and who feel the same way about you.
Don’t try and find the time: make the time
When confronted with my crapness recently, I cried “time-poor”. But it’s not good enough. Everyone’s busy. If you say “I’ll try and make time”, time will pass and weeks will pass and months will pass. And eventually your friendship will pass. So connect now. Make time. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, you’re both worth it.
Accept your friends just the way they are
Some of your friends will always be late. Some of them may be terrible listeners. But the latecomers may be the best listeners, and the bad listeners may be the ones that always come through for you in a crisis. We are all flawed. Perfectly flawed. Accept and embrace your friends’ shortcomings and celebrate their strengths. Unless you are perfect, you can be pretty sure they’re doing the same for you.
Look for the best in your friends, and tell them when you see it
Tell your friends you love them. That they are great friends/parents/children/grandparents/cooks/artists/listeners. Be each others’ cheerleaders. Make the time your have together fun and positive. Keep the whining to a minimum and the laughter (and wine) flowing.
Love yourself so others can see that you won’t accept anything less
Lead by example. If you are loving and kind to yourself, you will attract people who are loving and kind. It’s simple law of attraction stuff (c’mon, we’ve all read The Secret). Self love is the key to loving relationships. Open the door.
So be flawed. Be fabulous. But be a fucking good friend. It’s what makes the world go round.
I’m glad you’re my friend drawing by sam brown, explodingdog.