Ten tips on how to stay friends

When Helen H revealed that this photo has pride of place on the Friendship Wall in the Reflection Garden at the local Primary School, I didn’t know what to think. Or feel.

A mix of embarrassment, unworthiness, pleasure, bewilderment – how could we possibly be an advert for friendship? Is that what people looking in see? Great friends? Because yes, we are, but our friendship is far from perfect. It has plenty of ups and downs. Plenty of misunderstandings and frustrations.

It got me thinking. What could we possibly teach anyone about friendship? What have we learnt along the way?

  • Be honest. Which is tough because neither of us are particularly trusting but we’re learning.
  • Accept differences. Because there are loads!
  • Be free to do your own thing. We’ve learnt this. Helen H is into singing, photography and cycling. I’m into dancing, writing and running. There’s pretty much no crossover there.
  • Make time for each other. That’s a priority. The less we see each other and communicate, the more paranoia and insecurity and misunderstanding creep in.
  • Cherish the stuff you both enjoy. For us, that’s yoga, cocktails, clothes, films, family, fresh air…
  • Be loyal. Have each other’s back. Don’t overshare with other people about each other. Don’t speak for your friend when they’re not there.
  • Care about your friend’s happiness. Do what you can to make them happy and stand with them when they’re not.
  • Stick with it. We could have fallen out and walked away many, many times, but we haven’t because our friendship matters far too much for that. Not being friends any more is not an option.
  • Get over it and move on. Believe me, we upset each other on a regular basis. Hurt each other even. But we have to find a way to move on and not hold a grudge.
  • Laugh. A lot. At each other and with each other. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. There’s enough serious shit in life. We want to have fun where we can and when we can.

As I said, we’re learning along the way. We’re certainly not experts but we are committed to this because it matters.

Anything to add, Helen H?

Helen H: Hmmm, what can I add?  I agree with it all.  My friendship with Helen R means the world to me, I take it as seriously as my marriage. By that I mean that giving up in the hard times is not an option. Our friendship is worth fighting for and it took me many years and many friends to find that. And I love her the way I imagine sisters love. She drives me mad, when she hurts I hurt and a world without her is impossible to envisage. As Helen R says, we have had reason over the years to go our separate ways yet we haven’t. We don’t pander to each other, we say things the way they are, something we have learnt to do over our many years. And maybe the most important one, we are not in competition with each other. We accept our differences, even celebrate them.  We allow each other to be fully ourselves.

Oh and yes……Find time to laugh x



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