Anytime anyone says “friends” my mind immediately pictures the guys from the Inbetweeners mocking Jay - “Ooh friends” paired with a sarcastic thumbs up - to the point where he turns the tables on them and starts jumping on the guy’s car (screaming “friends” again) just to prove that he’s not friends with the guy. Now, this kind of behaviour has less to do with obvious friendship than overt jealousy, but it completely sums up how weird relationships with friends are. And how territorial we can sometimes get when someone tries to steal our place as bestie!
Think about it for a minute. We meet someone, and somehow we decide that we want to be friends with them. Sometimes this happens by random happenstance (you get paired up to do a project together and find out you like each other), sometimes mutual friends introduce you (Liz this is Jaimie, Jaimie this is Liz, you’re friends now), sometimes they’re holdovers from our childhood (Star Wars club 4eva), or you meet over the internet because of mutual interests (Tumblr is a weird place, full of weird and awesome people). Whatever the cause, you keep talking to each other, you keep hanging out together, and even when they’re annoying you keep coming back for more.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about how as we get older it becomes more difficult to make new friends, and while I won’t disagree with that, I find the fact that we self-select more and are less willing to put up with poor behaviour to be an interesting phenomenon. I don’t mean becoming more bitter and jaded (we’re already that), but that we’re more able to recognize when people are genuinely good friends, even past their inevitable foibles.
For me, this comes down to simple behavioural patterns.
The friend who consistently makes plans, but cancels them equally as consistently; the friend who complains about their partner to your face, and then sends you the “you look hot” text after leaving your company; the friend who ditches you when they start dating someone; the friend who only stays in contact when you live in the same place, even with the advantages of social media - those aren’t particularly good friends. Sometimes they’re downright bad friends, when the behaviour becomes systematic.
The friend who remembers your best friend’s name (and asks how it’s pronounced) even though they’ve never met; the friend who plots world domination with you, even though you’re both too lazy to follow through; the weird friend, who owns their weirdness and encourages yours; the friend who you don’t talk to often, but who makes a point of being supportive when you do; the friend who tells you all their horror stories, knowing that you won’t judge them - those are the best kind of friends. They’re the kind of friends who make you more than the person you think you are, and who will inevitably be the ones who play important roles in your life.
Of course, there are all kinds of mitigating circumstances. People have lives and they get busy, but when we’re adults it becomes stunningly obvious who’s willing to make time (even if it’s just an emoji-filled text message) in their lives and who’s there only when it’s convenient for them. We’re no longer thrown together by circumstance, so actions speak louder than words. I’m lucky I guess, in that the silence of many of my friendships reads well - it acts as the calm before the storm, and once it breaks we become the thunder and lightening that shakes the world. We might look like manic children (or teenaged Valley Girls) to some, but I guess that's just our version of jumping on cars!
images from Tumblr; video from YouTube