‘I’ve Never Had A Best Friend’

'I've Never Had A Best Friend'

Maggie Ritchie

by Contributor |
Published on

Friends have always been important to me – because I know just how hard they are to make, and to hold on to. Growing up, I went to 11 schools as we moved around the world with my dad’s job every four years, from Africa to Spain to South America. I got really good at making friends, but I always had to leave them behind. Which meant that while I had mates, I have never ever had a best friend.

For me, having a relationship with one person who knows you inside out and always has your back was one that I could only fantasise about. When I moved back to Scotland at 16, I would look at the girls who had been best friends since their first day at school and feel such envy. I wasn’t lonely as such, but I longed for that kind of closeness with a friend who knew me more than anyone else. And maybe because I had never experienced it, it became more difficult to create as I went through important life experiences, such as going to college or becoming a new mum.

Then one day I met Zoe* and we hit it off immediately. We seemed to have so much in common: we were both in our early thirties and our husbands were both already divorced with children. We joked that we were The Second Wives Club and quickly became inseparable as we lived around the corner from each other. I really thought this was it. I had found The One.

So, a couple of years later, I was floored when our friendship broke up abruptly. Zoe had been acting a bit ‘off’ for a few days but I’d put it down to her struggling with the demands of a new baby. I wasn’t expecting the text from her saying she didn’t want her daughter to play with my little boy. In a tearful phone call, Zoe told me she still wanted to be friends but found the children’s squabbling stressful. A few days later, I bumped into her in the park and I called out to her with a big smile and, to my horror, she ran in the other direction.

For a year, I mourned the loss of our friendship and tried to sort out my feelings by writing my first novel about two best friends who part bitterly after a series of betrayals. It made me realise that I had expected too much from Zoe. I had wanted the kind of closeness I’d hankered after in childhood but, looking back, I had been forcing it. We weren’t really suited – she was shy, while I liked to be one of the lads.

Still, I learned a lesson that day in the park: close friendships can bring as much pain as they can happiness. It set me free. I now thrive on having a wide circle of friends who enrich my life in different ways. There are friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for life.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, one of my friends from Spain, Polly, called me up and told me off for not letting her know sooner. Last month, we met up in Paris to celebrate me getting the all-clear and spent a weekend laughing and joking. It was enough to let me know that, while I may not have a best friend, I do have true friends. The ones who are there when I really need them.

***Do you think you need a best friend? Let us know at feedback@graziamagazine.co.uk ***

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us