CAR­RIE BICK­MORE

says friends come for a rea­son, a sea­son or a life­time.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Car­rie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm week­nights, on Net­work Ten.

Irecently caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in six years. The last time we saw each other was in a pub in Lon­don in 2011. We’d been in­sep­a­ra­ble when we were at univer­sity in Perth.

Then life hap­pened. I moved to Mel­bourne and he moved to Lon­don.

It was so good to see him again. We caught up on our ma­jor life events. He had a child now! How could the guy who used to fall asleep with a half-eaten Big Mac on his chest af­ter too many beers be re­spon­si­ble enough to have a child? We had grown up.

As I walked away from the catch-up, I re­mem­bered a say­ing my mum told me when I was younger.

You have friends for a rea­son, for a sea­son and for life. I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate it then, but now I can see it is true, and they all have their place.

Think about the friends you met for a rea­son. It might have been through sport, dur­ing an ill­ness, or while trav­el­ling over­seas – you had a shared pur­pose. At the time you were in­sep­a­ra­ble, but now only see each other at shared events.

Then there are the friends you met dur­ing an ex­tended pe­riod in your life – a sea­son. It might have been at univer­sity, or work, or when you had young kids, or when you lived in­ter­state for a while. You spent those years joined at the hip, but the catch-ups now are few and far be­tween. Then there are those friends you’ve known for­ever. You met them dur­ing your formative years, or found them along the way, but they have re­mained by your side through it all – births, deaths, mar­riage, break-ups. You have pe­ri­ods when you speak often and then other times when you don’t see each other for years. But no mat­ter how much time passes, you just pick up where you left off. Th­ese are your friends for life. Friend­ships are hard to main­tain as you get older. Kids, work and life make time a premium, and catch-ups with friends can be the first thing to go. A life lived with­out close friends is a lonely, un­ful­filled life. But it’s about the qual­ity of those friends, not the quantity. A good friend is not some­one who re­mem­bers to say happy birth­day be­cause Face­book told them to, or who only calls if they need some­thing. A good friend may for­get your birth­day or not re­turn your call for weeks, but when you do meet up you feel bet­ter for see­ing them. Lighter, hap­pier, en­riched. Some­one who will leave a din­ner on the doorstep but not come in. Some­one who loves you just the way you are – whether you are grumpy, tired, busy or ab­sent.

I think too often friend­ships be­come a stress, a burden, a re­la­tion­ship built on guilt. And they don’t need to be like that.

It’s OK to have friends who are there just for a rea­son, or dur­ing a sea­son. It doesn’t di­min­ish that friend­ship; it just al­lows you to move on when you no longer have com­bined in­ter­ests, with­out the awk­ward­ness. It doesn’t mean you won’t have a laugh when you do cross paths again, but the ex­pec­ta­tion to main­tain reg­u­lar con­tact is gone.

The friend I men­tioned at the start is just that, a friend from a sea­son. A re­ally lovely sea­son. We shared some of the fun­ni­est times of life to­gether, but we don’t need to see each other ev­ery sec­ond week. There is no pres­sure from ei­ther party, no dis­ap­point­ment, no guilt. I know we will catch up again and en­joy ev­ery minute of it, but if that’s not for an­other seven years, that is OK.

And, you know what, the re­laxed na­ture of our friend­ship and the lack of ex­pec­ta­tion might just mean we ac­tu­ally be­come friends for life.

“A good friend doesn’t say happy birth­day just be­cause of Face­book”

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