Friendship — What is it?

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How many friends do you have?

Can you count them on one hand?  Two hands?  Both feet, too?  Or are you thinking about your friends on Facebook and count them in the hundreds?

What is a friend?

The dictionary definition is:  a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Well that sort of makes sense, so I guess the 200+ friends some of us have on Facebook  could be classed as a friend but are they actually?

That dictionary definition doesn’t quite cut it for me.   That could define a family member.   Or a celebrity that you see on a regular basis.   By that definition I could count Boris Johnson or Caitlin Moran amongst my friends.

But what does the word “friend” mean to you?

For me it is somebody I could call, in tears, at 3am and know they would be there for me.  Either on the phone, or jumping in the car in their pyjamas and driving to pick me up from the police station , the A&E Department or giving me a hug because something awful has happened.

So I will ask my first question again:  How many true friends do you have?

I have less than a handful.   And I am not ashamed of that number.   It’s about quality, not quantity with true friends isn’t it?

In fact when I really think about it I would say I have three.   Three who without hesitation would be there, and have been, and who would know that I would do exactly the same for them.

I think that friendships have changed hugely in recent years.

We now have “online friends”.   That often has a seedy connotation but I really don’t think it should.   Some people don’t believe you can have good friends online, but that a friend can only be that in real life.   But I have to disagree.   I can think of several people I have met on Twitter, who I have fabulous conversations with, sometimes over a shared interest, or just because they are slightly bonkers too.   Some I have yet to meet in real life but that doesn’t make the friendship any less credible.

Then there are the “distant friends”.   Still good friends but circumstances mean you don’t get to see them very often.   I haven’t seen a very good friend of mine for over a year.  But I know she is there and I know I could pick up the phone to her tomorrow and it would be like we spoke last week.    I don’t need to be in constant contact with her.  We have been friends for 20 odd years and that will never change.

Or how about “work friends” who are sort of the opposite of the above.   The people you see day in day out at work, may even go to the pub at lunchtime with them but actually, they aren’t friends.  You wouldn’t want to see them out of work and whilst you are saying to them “how was your weekend?”  you aren’t really interested in the answer.

Long gone are the days of making friends at primary school, staying with them at secondary school and then all going to work for the same local employer, or drinking in the same pub.  Until we marry the local lad and have kids that go to the local school and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Not one of my friends is somebody I knew at school.   My friends are an eclectic bunch of people I have lived near, worked with, met through my children, or through Mr B.   Or have met online, some going on to meet in real life, or who are still online buddies but definitely on my list of “must meet soon”.

And if you are reading this, I count you amongst my friends.   Maybe leave me a comment and let me know which one you think you are!!   Or let me know what friendship means to you, I would be interested to hear.

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  • I would say that I have 2 or 3 great friends. I know how blessed I am to have such magnificent creatures in my life. Genuinely don’t know how I’d have made it these last few years without them.

    You, dear MummyBarrow are one of them. You are ALWAYS the first to offer to help, to see if you can contribute, fix, heal, and I love you for it. I am blessed to know you, and honoured to have you as my friend.

    • Yeah, thanks for that. Crying now. Not waterproof mascara. Meeting with our main client in an hour. Streaky face.

      Right back at you MummaMonkey. You are awesome. One of the bravest people I know.

  • Nicely put! I have a couple of people that I know I can absolutely, without hesitation, call on at anytime and that suits me! It IS about quality over quantity, that’s why I’m not bothered about how many twitter followers I have! It’s nice that people find me interesting enough to follow, but I’m only gonna follow back the ones that interest me!
    I do consider some of my on-line friends as real friends and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of them! It makes their tweets come alive, when you can put a face and voice to them!
    I do have lots of mates, but a mate is not the same as a friend, it’s a different dynamic! You socialise with a mate, you don’t get attached to them!
    You are my friend, Tanya! I know that if I ever needed help, if you couldn’t do it, you’d try and find someone who could!
    If you really want to know what a friend is, take a look in a mirror, she’ll be the one staring back at you!

  • That would make me an online friend, in the slightly bonkers twitter pals subset. A timely post, as I’ve been thinking a lot about this very issue this week, and feeling guilty too. *Toddles off to phone best pal* x

  • I have one friend I couldn`t live without and we fully intend to grow old `disgracefully` in the same retirement home, racing zimmer frames,drinking gin and chatting up the young male nurses etc! She lives 45 miles away so we don`t see as much of each other as we would like but she is always there for me. I also have a darling friend in Fleet whom I would do anything for but nothing replaces the `Bestie`.
    I love my `friends` on FB, How else would I keep in touch with my long distant cousins, nicknamed FC`s (favourite cousins), keep up with the gossip from the youngsters from our local (great bunch of guys & gals) and laugh out loud at the crazy antics of our next door neighbours!
    Friends for life or friends for 5 minutes, they`re all important in their own way.
    Thank you Tanya for reminding us and I think its time to send a text to tell her how much I love and miss her.

  • you are a great friend who I know I can tell anything. We haven’t seen each other for a while but the holidays are nearly here. We need to go out mummybarrow xxxx