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Friday, 14 July 2017

What makes a friend?


I’ve had a lot of people in my life who I’ve called friends. Some good, some bad, some incredible; some I’ve fallen for and vice versa. I’ve always felt that the word ‘friend’ is used sparingly. Most of us use Facebook. I currently have 476 friends on Facebook, but most of those people are not my friends. They're people I went to school with, or currently go to uni with. Acquaintances. My closest girl friend doesn’t even use Facebook.


As I’ve grown up I've come to understand the value of friendship a lot more. I would describe a friend as someone you respect mutually; who loves you platonically, who you spend time with and can confide in. In our lives there will be few people who we’ll really feel that deep emotional intimacy with.

What about relatives? Two of the closest people in my life, who I’ve grown up with and love dearly (and at times have hated dearly), are my brother and one of my cousins. But you can’t choose your relatives. Not everyone is close with their cousins or siblings. I have two wonderful siblings; an older sister and younger brother, and many cousins. But family is not the same as friendship. Family is deeper; you’re bound by DNA.

However, many would say that true friends become family. My closest female friend and closest male friend both feel like family to me; I’ve known both for years, have never quarreled with either of them, and love them unconditionally. Love them like they’re my brother and sister. I think when you know someone for a long time you develop a sibling-like companionship for them.

Friendship is beautiful but it can be ugly. The media likes to go on and on about romance; rom-coms, Disney films, Fifty Shades of Shit – but I believe friendship is just as complicated as romance. Films like Mean Girls and The Clique showcase my primary school experience of being friends with the mean popular girls and tagging along to them, desperate for their approval. They’ll tell you they’re your friend and then make fun of you and leave you out of things and make your life a misery.

Female friendship can be spiteful. Arguments, falling outs, drama; loving each other one minute and hating each other the next. I saw all of that in primary and secondary school. I suppose that’s typical of young girls. I have no toxic female friendships today, but I know what they feel like and they can destroy you emotionally. One of my closest friends in secondary school growing up had a lot of bad mood swings which made me frequently unhappy. We’re still friends and I love her and vice versa but I feel like that will always scar me, along with all of my other bad experiences with people.

Friends can often be situational; you befriend someone because you’re both in the same class at school, or you go to martial arts together, or you’re in the same prison block. Those types of friends often don’t last. You’ll bond over the shared thing in common, and then when it’s over you’ll never speak again. Hence why a lot of people stop talking when they leave school. Is it sad? Maybe it’s normal, but what I’ve realised is that it definitely is a thing in London. I think in smaller cities, because you’re around the same people all the time, it’s easier to stay in contact. Because London is so large and people are scattered around, you become less likely to see people.


There’s the case of befriending someone as a child because you live on the same street or your parents know each other. The girl I’ve known the longest in my life became friends with me because her mum and my mum met at baby massage class. She hates me now because I post ‘hurtful’ things on Facebook. (I’m aware I have controversial opinions, but to be that petty?) We were never that close; we hung out a lot and I liked her and she was fun, but it wasn’t ‘deep.’ I feel like childhood friendships are superficial and when you get older friendships become more meaningful; it’s less about having a playmate and more about being there for each other.


I’m always redefining friendship in my head. I think if you’re truly friends the love will be mutual. I’ve had people I barely know describe me as their friend. There are different levels; some friends you’ll be closer to than others, but a friend is a friend at the end of the day. A friend in need is a friend indeed. 

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