Online friendship has a whole new meaning to it. We have friends we've never met, voices we've never heard. We can reveal intimate thoughts and feelings to total strangers, we can blog to an unknown audience about our marital and family problems.
But do we actually make friends any more these days? You know meet the type of people you just gel with? Does your partner get on with their partner? Can you just chat freely anytime of day or not? Can you turn to them in a crisis?
I have a childhood friend for 42 years, who is on my facebook, but we don't really interact anymore. A school friend for the past 34 years, who I lost touch with for a 10 year period but we just picked up where we left off. I've a former neighbour who is a friend of 25 years, who I see regularly but we don't chat online. Our kids have known them longer than anyone else apart from family members.
I have another friend met through one of the kids, of 18 years, who I can also talk to about anything, at anytime. The same with another of 16 years.
I also have a friend who falls into in the above category, who I met at Uni 20 years ago.
My husband has a couple of lifelong friends of 42, 33 and 25 years and one met through work and a shared love of music for 3 years.
We both know each others friends very well and their partners and families, we share mutual confidences and we can call on them and vice versa in an hour of need.
These friendships are often strained by the distance from where we live in Dubai and several other, long term, friends have fallen by the way side as our lives have changed.
Since joining twitter in 2009. I've made lots of new friends, people that I no longer interact with online but meet up with when we're in the UK. My husband also knows these people and calls them friends, when I asked him to help me list the number of people we know, message, visit, go to the pub with, I was surprised at how many he named and how quickly.
But new friends, one's met in the last 8 years, since we moved abroad have been harder to find.
We know none of our neighbours over that time, with 2 country moves and living in 4 different houses.
We do have friends though, real people, from our time in South Africa, met through the kids and through charity work. They were and still are very important in our lives and we visit at least once a year and they visit us and we chat often on whatsapp.
But in the last 4 years since we moved to Dubai friends have been harder to find. I've no job, the kids have left home, our neighbours move frequently and in fact in the past 8 years I've only learnt the name of one of them.
I have met people in the dog park, but we meet up only once a week for coffee and a chat and our lives remain separate the other 6 days of the week.
There are two other couples we know here in Dubai, both met online and we all get on. We're planning a holiday to America with one set this year, sometimes we see them often, other times it's several times a week. The other set we just meet once a week at the pub quiz.
All the friends in the UK are reasonably local to where we have our base. They make an effort to meet up with us, they initiate the meet ups when we visit, many have been to at least one of our homes since we've been away and all have put me, my husband and a combination of kids up over the years, collected us from airports, been on the door step in an emergency, helped with obtaining documents we've needed, run errands, had our post delivered, looked after our flat. We've been involved in their lives as well as them in ours, births, deaths, marriages and christenings.
I don't actually need anymore friends, the ones we have are the best in the world. I just need a few of the above closer to where we live. Someone to meet for a coffee, someone who just pops in or I just pop to theirs. Someone to walk the dog with, stay over when Peter is away or me at theirs. Someone to shop with, talk crap with snd just generally provide me with a bit more company and share the good and bad with, without waiting till I've flown 3000 miles.