What should you do when a good friendship goes bad? Oliver Keens has the been there before and has some thoughts and reflections...
As a student, I first realised that quality trumps quantity after I developed scurvy from only shopping at Poundland. But it wasn’t until I was 27 that I realised a friendship should be like a nutritious Waitrose salad and not a multi-pack of Frazzles.
Being super young and super sociable in London means it’s possible to accumulate friends as quickly as you can say ‘sesh gremlin’ . But my god, you pick up some wrong ‘uns along the way.
Now I’m not a great exalted member of society, like a rabbi or Anthea Turner. But there’s one bit of advice that I’ve been sharing lately to friends in their twenties: soon, those dickheads you accumulate, those annoying friends-of-friends who always seem to be around will definitely disappear. It’s great news, really. For me, it happened quite naturally at first. I hated having to spend Saturdays watching rugby in pubs so, vooosh, out went the poshos. I hated being talked over at dinner parties so, voooosh, out went the lawyers. I hated ketamin so out went the Bristolians (that’s a joke obviously, I love ketamin).
What I don't tell them is that it gets way harder, post-30. At the extreme end of defriending, I developed a moral code that sat at odds with the casual racism and sexism of my old school friends. Where they saw banter, I saw bigotry. There’s only so many times your non-English mum can be the butt of someone’s ‘jokes’, for example, no matter now many formative experiences you went through, right? Thank you, next – as Ariana Grande would say.
Over time, I realised that so many London friendships are rooted in long-term shared experiences (mainly the big institutions of our lives like work, school or uni). We’re bonded by that feeling of having once been in the trenches together, but it doesn’t half make things feel stale if all you ever talk about are past glories.
So lately, I’ve embraced newer friendships like never before. Joy is joy, and if its being sparked by someone you’ve only known a couple of weeks then go with it. Having one exciting new thing in common is better having 100 old, endlessly raked-over memories. It also helped me to think about what I truly love in a friend and came up with one simple criteria: anyone who can have a 5am conversation at 7pm. From there, it was easy.
It was my birthday last week. I had five friends around me. It was fantastic.