A friend for every oc­ca­sion Friend­ship types that work for you

We might have lots of ac­quain­tances on so­cial me­dia but in the real world we all need solid friend­ships to en­rich our lives...

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

We all need our friends, but who’ll al­ways be there for you? The bestie you’ve known since school may still be around, but get­ting through life’s bumps rel­a­tively un­scathed means hav­ing a team of cheer­lead­ers. And mak­ing new friends in midlife can come as a lovely sur­prise. The chatty fel­low dog-walker who’s never seen you with make-up on. The work­mate you can al­ways call on for a tip­ple and a laugh. The neigh­bour who drags you to Zumba…

Friends come in many forms and they re­ally mat­ter to our well­be­ing. “Friends can lift us up out of mis­ery, buf­fer us from pain and give us per­spec­tive, help­ing us be hap­pier and live longer,” says psy­chol­o­gist Sam Owen.

As our friend­ship needs change along with our life­style, we can end up with a va­ri­ety of friends for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. They may only know us in one con­text – or have chap­ter and verse on our dark­est se­crets. We asked the ex­perts to talk us through four midlife friend­ship types – and how to make them work for you…

‘We clicked straight away – it’s a bit like fall­ing in love’

‘It’s an easy, un­de­mand­ing friend­ship’

Na­talie Haver­stock, an en­ter­tainer, 42, lives in Lon­don with her hus­band John. She met beauty en­tre­pre­neur Clau­dia, 50, at a net­work­ing lunch.

I met Clau­dia four years ago when she joined Sis­ter Snog, a women’s busi­ness club I be­long to. She was seated next to me at lunch, and I soon dis­cov­ered what a laugh she is – and as I was the only other per­son at the ta­ble who wanted more wine, she saw me as a kin­dred spirit!

Clau­dia be­came a close friend within a very short space of time. It was to­tally un­ex­pected and a won­der­ful thing. If ei­ther of us has a prob­lem or some­thing to cel­e­brate, we’re quick to get in touch. She’s been go­ing through a di­vorce and when she’s down, I say, “Come on girl, I’m tak­ing you out.”

I thought that I didn’t have time for any­body else, but ac­tu­ally when the right per­son comes along and you click, it’s a bit like fall­ing in love.


When you form an in­stant bond with a new friend it can be in­tense. “This type of con­nec­tion can de­velop rapidly, due to the recog­ni­tion of one­self in an­other,” says An­jula. “This in turn can fuel the de­sire to share emo­tions, strength­en­ing the feel­ing that you’ve truly found some­one who re­ally un­der­stands you.” This can be par­tic­u­larly re­ward­ing if your ex­ist­ing friend­ship cir­cle doesn’t “get” an as­pect of you. Says Sam: “We some­times at­tract peo­ple who ful­fil a newly dis­cov­ered part of us.” How­ever, these in­tense feel­ings do calm down. “This is when you start to no­tice dif­fer­ences,” says An­jula. “How­ever, if you are able to ac­com­mo­date the dif­fer­ences, then this friend­ship has po­ten­tial to last.” Pre­sen­ta­tion ex­pert Sta­cia

Keogh, 57, lives in Mar­low, Buck­ing­hamshire, with her chil­dren De­clan and Kayleigh. She met jew­ellery de­signer Ja­nis, 54, at the lo­cal health club nine years ago.

I’d known Jan­ice for a long time be­fore we met prop­erly – I just hadn’t re­alised it. One day I was at a lo­cal fete and she grinned: “Hi, I know you from be­hind!” For years, she’d been in the row be­hind me in a fit­ness class at the Mar­low Club.

When­ever we have to grab a part­ner and do some wacky squat thing, me and Jan­ice work well to­gether as a pair, al­ways gee­ing each other on and chat­ting be­tween moves. Un­like some peo­ple we are both com­mit­ted to ac­tu­ally do­ing the classes and break­ing a sweat. We en­cour­age each other to go for it, whether in life or work­outs.

When­ever we see each other at the club or around town we stop for cof­fee. It’s an easy, un­de­mand­ing friend­ship. Be­ing a sin­gle work­ing mum, the gym is where I go for the adult con­ver­sa­tion I need. With

Ja­nis I can just be my­self.

Be­cause we’re not in each other’s pock­ets and it’s only go­ing to be a brief con­ver­sa­tion, we get straight to the point. And once you’ve been in the chang­ing rooms to­gether, there’s noth­ing left to hide!


Hav­ing a shared in­ter­est – whether it’s fla­menco danc­ing or dog walk­ing – gives you an in­stant bond, and while your chats may be brief, they can be pretty in­tense. “Of­ten we can feel a stronger bond when we’ve shared an ex­pe­ri­ence, and be open in a way we can’t with older friends be­cause we’re not car­ry­ing bag­gage with us – they sim­ply see us as we are in that mo­ment,” says Mel. Keep­ing this re­la­tion­ship in its con­text can be the se­cret to its suc­cess. “Be­ing able to leave it in the room and go your sep­a­rate ways takes the pres­sure off, so you can en­joy the time spent to­gether and ap­pre­ci­ate the pos­i­tive value that this dy­namic may bring,” says An­jula. >>

‘We will al­ways look out for each other’

As­sertive­ness coach An­toinette Dale-Hen­der­son, 48, lives with hus­band, Steve, and her two daugh­ters in Kent. She met Heather in East Sus­sex, where they both grew up. Heather now lives in the US.

I’ve known Heather since I was 16 when she started dat­ing my boyfriend’s best mate. As we got older we’d dump the boys and take the bus to the seafront where we’d down a bot­tle of peach sch­napps be­fore hit­ting the night­club.

In our late teens we went In­ter­rail­ing and we al­ways looked out for each other.

Heather moved to Con­necti­cut in 1999. Her hus­band, Pete, grew up there and they both wanted to move back. Be­cause of the dis­tance it’s not like we can just pop over for a nat­ter, although we man­age to meet up at least once a year through work trips. Our con­ver­sa­tions are so easy and com­fort­ing.


The “com­fort food” of friend­ships, she’s the keeper of your dark­est se­crets. No mat­ter how in­fre­quently you meet, you al­ways find it easy to pick up where you left off. “You’ve gone through grow­ing pains to­gether – and come out the other side in­tact,” says An­jula. “And the fact that this friend­ship has sur­vived gives our mind very pow­er­ful mes­sages about our self-worth,” says Sam. But long-dis­tance friend­ships need nur­tur­ing. “If you only call on them when you’re in trou­ble, you can make a long-dis­tance friend feel like an agony aunt,” says Mel. “So give each other reg­u­lar qual­ity time, whether that’s FaceTime, on the phone or in per­son.”

Pho­tog­ra­pher Lucy Wil­liams, 45, lives in High­gate, Lon­don, with her hus­band Chris. She met re­tired ge­og­ra­phy teacher Gill, 69, when she moved into the flat below her.

I’m Flat A and she’s B, and over the 11 years I’ve lived here we’ve built a fan­tas­tic friend­ship. We’d al­ways chat­ted on the stairs but got close when I or­gan­ised the Big Lunch for our road six years ago. Gill’s both in­tel­li­gent and funny – and I soon dis­cov­ered how much we have in com­mon.

Apart from reg­u­larly be­ing on the same pub quiz team, we also just pot­ter around to­gether shop­ping, do­ing bits in the gar­den or cre­at­ing art.

For me, Gill is an amaz­ing friend and sup­port. She helped me make my bou­quet when I got mar­ried last year and even did my dress al­ter­ations. She was also a mas­sive sup­port when I was go­ing through ovar­ian can­cer treat­ment, check­ing on me daily and bring­ing me cake.

Be­cause she’s up­stairs we see each other al­most every day, even if it’s just for a chat in the hall­way. Life sim­ply wouldn’t be the same with­out her.


A cheery face to say hello to can make your home feel more spe­cial, es­pe­cially if you live far from loved ones. And a hug on a bad day can be very pow­er­ful. “Some­one sup­port­ive close by can help al­le­vi­ate so much stress from your life,” says Sam. The chal­lenge is to main­tain firm bound­aries, says An­jula: “Be­ing able to see what is go­ing on in your life may en­cour­age in­tru­sive­ness, or judge­ment of your life­style – but kept in its place, this friend­ship can work well.” w&h

‘When I was ill, Gill checked in daily and brought me cake’

Na­talie (above right) and Clau­dia formed a close friend­ship within a short space of time

Sta­cia (far left) and Ja­nis bonded at their lo­cal fit­ness clubThe Shared-In­ter­ests Friend

Heather (far left) and An­toinette have been friends since their teens

Gill (left) and Lucy love liv­ing close to each other

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