The F word: Why friendship can be the best relationship you ever have
Every single year on the fourteenth of February I receive a love note. Yes, even the years when I have been more single than a McCain’s-meal-for-one I have received a Valentine on Valentine’s Day.
They began as cards, then letters, then they morphed into emails, texts and Facebook messages. But every single year they come, without fail, to remind me that I am loved.
They aren’t from an amorous beau, a persistent pursuer or a serious stalker. No, they are all, every single one of them, from my best friend.
It’s a little ritual we have. No matter our location, time difference or marital state, we never fail to send a Valentine to reaffirm our friendship.
You see, I come from a strong friend family. Yup, a friend family.
In this era of instant gratification and short attention spans when people are dismissed, unfriended and abandoned just as quickly as they are ‘added’ there is a group of women whom I have been closely bound to since I was twelve.
We’re an eclectic bunch of spirited, intelligent and stylish senoritas but we all have one thing in common; our friendship. And we’re not about to give that up.
When Thelma and Louise clasped hands and floored their car over a cliff to avoid jail it was the ultimate symbol of sisterly solidarity. Thankfully, none of my friends and I have been driven to this finale, but we’ve been there for each other in every ‘drive off the cliff’ moment of life.
We ‘turn up’ for our friendship. We live on three different continents and yet we have been there emotionally for each other through every break up, break down, job loss, illness, injury, success, death, birth and marriage.
As the chorus line in Friends goes: “I’ll be there for you…” and we are.
As one of the most popular shows exploring friendship in the modern era, Friends is a great example of how people who are polar opposites can maintain truly meaningful relationships with each other just by committing to their friendship.
Four other characters who celebrated friendship as we do and who belonged to the most ‘of its time’ program about female friendship is… well it barely needs an introduction does it?
Sex and the City and the friendship between Samantha, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte was breakthrough TV when it launched. And sure, although at times vacuous, simplistic and frivolous, there was something about the way those women connected, the way they prioritised their friendship family that my little girly gang has always identified with.
We weren’t the only ones. When the final episode of SATC aired, women gathered all over the world to throw parties celebrating not only the show, but their friendships.
Kim Akas, a lecturer in film studies at the London Metropolitan University says the program has given women… “permission to have female friendships that are more important than anything else.”
Now I’m not saying that biological families aren’t important, nor husbands, children and partners. What I am saying is that friendship provides a richness to life that may not be found elsewhere.
There’s something incredibly intimate, nourishing and safe when you are held in the cradle of a friendship group that spans decades and sprawls back to before a time you even truly knew yourself.
When the poet John Donne suggested that ‘No man is an island’ he may very well have been talking about us, minus the man bit. Because the most enduring loveliness of having such a strong group of friends is the thought that we are never quite alone.
So girls, I say thanks. And in the words of Thelma to her rather psychotic friend Louise, I want you all to know that: “No matter what happens I’m glad I came with you.”