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Monday, 30 July 2018

What is a friend?

Friends are extremely important to me, even more so since we embarked on our expat journey in 2011, in the absence of family, friends have filled the void.

Everyone has different definitions of what makes a friend and categorises some as best, close or acquaintances. A friend is loyal, honest and someone you can trust, it is a mutual but not exclusive relationship.

Friends can also be toxic which I've learnt at great detriment to myself. I've had 3 particular friendships throughout my life lasting each for almost 15 years, face to face friends, friends who have looked after one another's children, both turned to each other when times have got hard and celebrated the good stuff, but I noticed changes. Where they'd become too honest about me and my family, but not been able to accept any defence from me. As a true friend, I've given them the benefit of the doubt, hung on to the possibility of the friendship recovering, then each time they've quite literally cut me out of their lives. On the last occasion an actual letter was written telling me I was no longer welcome at their house after listening to years of having my children put down. I dared to criticise one of their adult children in their 'own home' and that was it, our friendship became 'unbearable' I realised after I read the letter how controlling the friendship had been, only interested in what was going wrong in my life, it was negative and I felt free.

I've made friends easily throughout my life, I'm outgoing, talkative and social. Some people find that over powering and are wary of me, but those who take the time out to get to know me, make life long friends.

I don't have a best friend, different friends fill different roles and those roles change as we change, as our children leave home, we move around and have reduced contact.

I had groups of different friends during my school years. I'm still in touch occasionally with one friend from the age of 5, but that's only through facebook randomly, her daughter now 28 is an instagram friend, so we see what one another families are up to but with little interaction.

I've work friends, former neighbours, the kids school friends and football club parents that I keep in touch with, but other than when I visit the UK or they come out to Dubai, these friendships are reduced to letter writing and messages.

I have 2 old school friends who I have regular online contact with and visit when I'm in the UK. 3 friends who were made through when the children were in school, 2 in the UK and 1 in South Africa. I have 1 friend I met in Uni and like 2 sets of married friends of Peter, whom I've known for the past 19 years and we see one another a lot, we just don't message outside of my UK trips often.

The rest of my friends have been met online, some I've never met, some I've flown 1000's of miles to visit, some I just message, some I write to some just pop up for time to time. Out of those online friends, I have 3 I see weekly when I'm in Dubai, 4 that I visit in South Africa who became real world friends and quite a few in the UK that I randomly meet for coffee when I visit. I spent last week in Germany with friends I made online 7 years ago and we see one another at least once a year, since I moved to Dubai and them over to Germany.


I consider myself to be fortunate, I have lots of friends around the world, each and everyone of them is special to me in their own way. Some of my friends know one another, some are purely online only, some made the transition to the real world, some I've yet to meet. Some are friends through letter writing only.

Each and everyone of them is valuable to me. I notice their presence, I notice their absence. Last year when my father died, my friends in real life and online got me through it. During this time I realised a facebook friend had been absent online, we'd arranged to meet that summer but had to postpone. I messaged her daughter who informed me her mother had died earlier that evening. I'm never too busy or occupied to have time for friends, even if in some cases, it's too late to do anything.

This is my best friend, my husband Peter, he who knows everything there is to know about me. The rest of you just get snippets.




22 comments:

  1. Lovely post :-) The value you have for your friends really comes through in your writing and I love that your hubby is your best friend, my hubby is my best friend too #BestBootForward

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    1. thank you, my friends are really important to me, especially my husband

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  2. As I get older I have been re-evaluating friendships. It isn't necessarily the amount of contact that defines a friendship but loyalty and support. I've also come to accept the inevitability that not all friendships stand the test of time and, often, I am the one to blame for that. Thought provoking post.

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    1. exactly, contact isn't the bee all and end all, it's being able to pick up where you last left off

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  3. As I sit here typing this I don't have any close friends other than my wife. I drifted apart from friends of my early 20s and when the children came along I was 100% the family man. Since we moved north we've made family friends, but in the 4 years we've lived here I haven't been out for a pint with any of them or anything else for that matter. I suppose I could try harder, but I'm no unhappy about it either. If Im happy, what's the issue?
    #TriumphantTales

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    1. as long as you're happy, it really doesn't matter how many friends one has

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  4. I guess as you get older priorities change; people concentrate on their family rather than friends and relationships slide, its only as the children become less dependant that they realise that the friendships have gone and cannot be repaired. However, there are also those friends who go through the same phases at the same time and get that you want to meet up but are so busy.
    This is where social media and whatsapp is perfect as you can keep in touch on the go - even in the bathroom when you get a minutes peace hahahah!!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

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    1. social media has become very important to me, but i do sometimes wonder if people would make more of an effort without it

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  5. What a life you have led and how fabulous to have such a diverse set of friends in diverse places too. Glad to be an online one and to have moved on after the blip. I have learned from you in this post - you are a wiser woman than I am and I have a lot to learn from you. You challenge and I like that - too many folks let me get away with things. And I love that your partner is your best friend and that only he knows the full part of you #BestBootForward

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    1. challenging cause me endless problems sometimes, but if i can't challenge someone's opinion then why am i friends with them in the first place?

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  6. I've been fortunate to have the same set of best friends since we were all very young, but a little unfortunate that we are now spread out all over the world. Its amazing how when we are all able to get together it seems like no time at all has passed #triumphanttales

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    1. that's great that when you get back to together it feels like no time has passed at all

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  7. A very though provoking post. I think friendships naturally change as we age, move and have families of our own. My very best friends are ones from childhood and when we meet up it's like we were never apart. However I wonder if we would meet up more frequently if we didn't have social media to keep in touch virtually? It is a double edged sword I think because I also have friends that I only know online #pocolo

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    1. I think social media makes us lazy but also does help to maintain long distance relationships

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  8. What an interesting post.
    Friendships change as we get older....I have 3 close friends who I met when my teen started nursery and we meet most weeks for coffee. A lot of my friends from my younger years I am in touch with on Facebook but I would say my fella is my best friend too x

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    1. it's great to have a variety of friends

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  9. People certainly do pop in and out of our lives. I think the people who've had the most impact on me are those I've met online including my husband. #keepingitreal

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    1. I'd say my closest friends are the ones i ended up meeting online. How lovely you met your husband the same way

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  10. Hi Suzanne, I don't have too many people I call friends, a friend has a quality that aquaintances don't. I can't be doing with high maintenance or unnessecarily demanding friends, but I will always be there when a friend need me. I recently had an old school friend get in touch to let me know her Mum had passed away (we weer close back then), it was literally the day after her Mum died and she thought tp get in touch, which meant a lot to me. We've chatted and I've done what I can to let her know I'm here if she needs me. A friend is someone who you can pick up where you left off as if no time has passed.

    Thank you for linking up with #keepingitreal.

    xx

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    1. that's lovely your friend got in touch with you when her mother died, i found i reconnected with friends in the same way who knew my dad

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  11. This is such a heartfelt post - in recent years when my health has deteriorated, I have really found out who my friends are. As you say "I notice their presence, I notice their absence" - real friends are worth so much.I have linked this on my reg feature Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You, Claire x PainPalsBlog #PoCoLo

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    1. Thank you for your comment and for sharing my post Claire, i really appreciate it

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