On Saturday night, over tea and a bottle of very nice wine, my friend and I got to talking about our long-standing female friends.
Women are complicated, I think we know that much. But I always assumed that as we got older, we would mellow out. That the gut-wrenching, screaming rows we had with our BFFs when we were teenagers would simmer down and make way for a new, mature style of relationship with no jealousy over who was hanging out with who, no guilt over letting somebody down or leaving them out.
For some reason though, our oldest friends still have a way of tapping into those old Just 17 feelings, and the smallest misunderstandings still make us feel like the world is ending. It's almost as if the point at which somebody came into your life is the age which you seem to revert to when you argue with them.
Is that too neat an explanation?
More likely the longer we've known somebody the more we care.... or the longer we've known somebody, the more they know how to push our buttons. Possibly the hurt actually says more about our own insecurities than it does the other person's behaviour.
My best friend and I have known each other for over twenty years, and we used to have horrible fallings out when we were younger - real claws-out screaming matches that left us both red-eyed and shaking with tears. They're few and far between now, but in times of crisis they rise up again, like forces of nature. About two years ago, after a particularly horrible row, we finally we decided we just needed to sit down and work out what we were both doing to piss the other one off, because we were pretty sure it was the same pattern every time, and it was getting frustrating.
It was gut-wrenching to do it. The hardest part was the realisation that all the things you fear about your character flaws are generally true, and holding your hands up and admitting to them is almost painful. The best part was not being judged for any of it by the other person. That requires total trust.
I'm aware that it sounds a bit hippy dippy self-help book, and it definitely wouldn't work for everyone, but since then every miscommunication has been quietly defused before any of the old habits have kicked in.
Whether we'll keep this up over the next 8 months of planning her wedding remains to be seen...
Do you still fall out with friends? Does it bother you?