Many years ago I used to work in a bank with a guy named Gerald*. We spent a lot of time together in a boring job, and socialised outside of work hours in the local pub most Fridays. We worked together on and off for about a year. We were verging on being friends but always remained work colleagues. I liked him. We got drunk a lot, smoked a lot and laughed a lot. On our last day of working together we went out to the pub after work and got very drunk. At the end of the night we were going our separate ways for the last time. We shook hands and he said, whilst smiling, 'I never liked you.' I laughed. He said it again. We both laughed. He said it again. He was laughing, but he was dead serious. Then we parted. It took a while – I was pretty drunk – for it to sink in. When it did I was stunned, hurt and confused. And a decade later, well, not much has changed.
Even now, I have a tendency to lose rather than gain Facebook friends and when it happens, because it happens without a word, without a reason, without a notification, it still hurts. There's something about friendships which can be deeper than sexual relationships. Partners can come and go but a friendship should stand the test of time. It may take a few months to get over splitting up from a boyfriend or girlfriend but the split from a close friend can take years to heal, and perhaps never will. And can't be readily replaced. Most people seem to seamlessly move from one relationship to another but it's not like that with friendships. With separating from a partner, the cause is usually
known and plain – though still painful, the cause, whether it's an affair or boredom or bad sex or whatever, it's a quantifiable, definite thing. But
with a friend, unless you've had a specific argument over a specific
issue, the cause is less concrete, and can be more hurtful. After all, the friendship is not based on looks or sex or anything superficial like that, but a deep rooted kinship. But anyway, people drift apart. That's life.
Previously on Barnflakes:
In the Golden Fleece
*Not his real name.