Inspired by Lauren Laverne’s brilliant piece on this very subject, I decided to write about those friends we’ve all encountered over the years – but sometimes sort of wish we hadn’t.
1) The inconsolable one
“Are you feeling a little better now?” you ask, with a hopeful smile. “No,” they reply gloomily. Your heart sinks. You’ve just spent three hours hashing out what has quite frankly transpired to be an entirely inconsequential and fairly average problem, and even your best attempts to cheer this friend up HAVE NOT WORKED.
Example conversation with the inconsolable one…
You: Why don’t you just try and see how it goes? I’m sure it’ll be better next week when things calm down at work.
IO: I can’t. Things are never calmer at work.
You: Well, maybe it’s time to discuss it with a manager, then? That might help – and you’ll get things off your chest, too!
IO: No. My manager never listens to me.
…and so it goes. The trouble with IOs is that they don’t respond well to positivity. I am TERRIBLE at forcing myself to be positive, I know that, but IOs are real-life Eeyores, and all the ‘Come on! Let’s go get ’em!’ ideas you throw at them just get flicked sadly back to you without a word of thanks. Ever.
2) The show-off
Did you know I’m going to see Wicked in London at the weekend? I was invited to the show as a VIP because they saw my blog. They might want me to do some social media stuff with the cast. It’s no biggie, of course, but I am planning to bring it up in every single conversation we have between now and the end of time.
(That was a lie – no-one reads my blog and I haven’t seen Wicked since 2011. But didn’t you hate me for a second?)
The show-off is a real pain in the ass. They often fall into several ‘mediocre friend’ categories, namely ‘the liar’ and 3), ‘the one who knows nothing about you’. This is partly because they tend to stretch the truth somethin’ AWFUL and also because they spend so much time talking about how fantastic their life is and how many amazing things they have planned at the weekend that they forget they’re talking to an actual person who might like to mention something about themselves from time to time.
3) The one who knows nothing about you
I personally think the mark of a good friend is your knowledge that they would score full marks on All-Star Mr and Mrs if you ever became a celebrity couple (Brittany, I’m lookin’ at you). What is Sophie’s favourite colour?* What makes Sophie angry? What is Sophie’s plush mouse named? These friends are rare, but they’re great.
You know what’s not rare? The kind of friends who bombard you with information about themselves and make what is in my opinion the worst social-interaction-error of all time: not caring what the other person has to say. It never fails to astound me how many people don’t ask questions, or even listen. They literally talk AT you – some of them even point their finger at you or say things like “Now the thing you need to remember is…” as if they were some sort of esteemed but arrogant university lecturer. WE’RE THE SAME DAMN AGE, ADAM, TAKE YOUR PATRONISING FINGER-WAGGING AND SHOVE OFF.
Sometimes I will replay conversations in my head and get really post-chat irritable. If I spent as much time talking about myself as other people do, I really wonder if these conversations would ever end.
*The favourite colour thing was a trick question…I don’t really have one. Probably blue, if I HAD to choose in a primary school life-or-death situation.
4) The one who’s always “stressed”
Queen Mindy Kaling once said: “I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. Going on and on in detail about how stressed I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No-one is going to say ‘Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.'”
Oh, Mindy. Why are you always right? It’s one thing to bring up a tough time or to have a little grumble about how busy work is the moment – but when your friend is constantly talking about how stressed they are, it’s as if they’re trying to suggest how easy things must be for you. Everyone is stressed. Everyone works hard. Everyone has a ‘lot on at the moment’. Stop talking about how much you need to do and DO IT.
5) The awkward one
I feel awful for being mean about the awkward friend. They try their best. But they’re the one friend that you just can’t get comfortable with, no matter how hard you try. You always pray that your other friends won’t leave you alone with them, but they always do, and you have to sit on the sofa and make conversation about the weather or something similar. The topic is so dull and the talking so forced that you wonder if awkward friend thinks of you as the awkward friend, or if things are always this uncomfortable when they’re on their own with someone.
Example conversation with AF…
Me: *Pretends to enjoy a funny something-or-other on my phone*
AF: So, how’s work going?
Me: Yeah, really good thanks! Lots on at the moment, but it’s all good. H-how’s it going for you?
AF: Yeah, pretty good. Busy too, though. I think I might be in line for a promotion.
Me: Oh wow, that’s amazing! When will you find out?
AF: I guess in a few weeks. Yeah, should be good.
Me: Yeaahhh…should be good.
Is it me? AM I THE AWKWARD FRIEND? Am I just unable to ‘click’ with this person? Does everyone else pick up on the awkwardness and talk about it quietly when I leave the room? I don’t know. Maybe I will have to make more of an effort with awkward friend. Maybe we should go for coffee this weekend and try to get better acquainted. SHOULD BE GOOD.
Do you have any friend categories to add to my list? What grinds your friend-related gears? Comment and lemme know…