Friendship Counselling: Would You?

Ever ended a friendship screaming expletives at the back end of a departing hatchback? Yeah, me too. We might need therapy.

Mar 1, 2013 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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Hello, I’m Robyn and I’m a serial befriender. I’ve had more best friends than I’ve had boyfriends, and each friendship has ended as traumatically as any romantic relationship; often more explosively, and frequently in a car park. I put this down to THESE FACTS:

1. Historically, I’ve had more male friends than female ones, so I’ve always yearned for someone who shares clothes and emotions, and who won’t greet me by getting me in a headlock and ruffling my hair while shouting “WOY-OY” in my ear.

2. I tend to befriend girls with cars.

Of course, when you pair emotionally unstable manic pixie dream girls (my serial best friend “type”) with borderline sociopaths (alas, me) whose natural response to conflict is abscondery, you should expect things to go poof. Which is why, long ago, I became resigned to these sorts of intense friendships sparking and fading like distress flares in the night. I called them “one-night frands”.

But now it seems that friendship counselling is a thing (WARNING: this is a Lucy Cavendish Mail piece and the URL actually contains the phrase “emotionally lacerating”).

Yep – you and your buddy can now get together with a counsellor to thrash out your frustrations and imbalances, figure out the issues lurking beneath the surface tension, and ultimately mend your friendship. So should _I_ have done that? Should I have sought resolution, and hung onto these friendships instead of letting them slip through my fingers?

Join me as I flip back through my Mental Scrapbook of Deceased Friendships. It’s not creepy or weird at all! It’s got tea-stained decals on, look!

Best friend #1: Emily
What brought us together
: We were six. Our mothers told us to.
What tore us apart: My family leaving Sussex for the USA.
What was really going on: One day I put on my best cowboy costume, strapped a water pistol to my hip, rode our Russian Wolfhound to the local sweet shop, and held it up. Unfortunately Emily was on holiday at the time and never quite forgave me for going without her.
What I’ve learned: Chanting “we’re arguing again” like children from the credits of a horror movie can resolve conflict at six, but not 30.
Chances of reconciliation: 2/10

Best friend #6: Christy the guitarist
What brought us together:
We wanted to be the next Sleater-Kinney
What tore us apart: We were actually the next OH GOD MAKE IT STOP.
What was really going on: Unimaginable neediness. Once, Christy threw a strop because I had a party and “only invited her once”.
What I’ve learned: Don’t trust anyone who owns six copies of I’m OK, You’re OK
Chances of reconciliation: None. Christy was fucking nuts.

Best friend #7: Peter
What brought us together:
A shared love of Boards of Canada, randomness, and utility trousers.
What tore us apart: The 1990s ended.
What was really going on: Fresh out of relationships, we both needed a buddy for a while. Then we found other people, and didn’t.
What I’ve learned: Sometimes friendships end amicably.
Chances of reconciliation: 4/10

In retrospect, I’m happy with the way things have turned out. I have lots of close friends and one closest, if not best, friend – Ellie (who, you may remember, wants a ghost to punch her in the face).

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We’ve fallen out over the years; there’s the time I told her to “dial down the crazy” when she was upset (sociopath, remember?), and the time I drunkenly got angry and tried to storm out of hers at 4am, and she screeched “you CARN’T, you’ll get RAYPED”, but we’ve always recovered by going on road trips, or to the pub.

Plus, Ellie put me up for a year when a long-term relationship fell apart. I think I once made her a cup of coffee. It all works out. And if it doesn’t? I’ll definitely consider friendship counselling.

Even though I KNOW the first thing Ellie will do next time she sees me is get me in a headlock and shout "WOY-OY" in my ear.

But what about you? Would you counsel your way out of a friendly spat? 

Follow Robyn on Twitter @orbyn