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Why You Can Count Your True Friends on one Hand

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RETIREMENT PLANNING COUPLES
alamy

I am a demanding friend I do admit. I expect too much. I always did.

As a child I'd be terribly disappointed when a playdate was cancelled or when Maisy or Poppy decided she was no longer my best-est friend.

I'd like to say I've changed but I haven't.

Life gets harder as a grown up and you need to be able to count on people. Especially when the proverbial s*it hits the fan.

When my father passed away I had loving support from lots of people but there were very few who were present for me emotionally and physically. In truth people don't like illness and grief in general - so it takes strength and courage to stand at the bedside of someone ridden with cancer for whom a smile means the world.

My best friend (my now husband) however moved heaven and earth to come. On the day my dad died he dropped all and jumped on the last Eurostar to London on the coldest day of the year.

He was meant to arrive around midnight. Two am struck. Still no beau. I started to panic - I had just lost my Dad so this couldn't be happening.

My poor beau was on the Eurostar that got stuck in the tunnel for 17 hours due to frozen weather conditions. He arrived with us 2pm the next day having suffered no sleep, extreme cold and worst of all for him no food. He survived on my mum's Xmas present, La Duree macaroons which he shared generously with his fellow passengers.

Today you can easily tell yourself you have great relationships and friendships as you twitter, text or bbm all the time. Or that you have over 1000 Facebook friends. It gives you a false sense of being liked. Its a lot easier to bang out 140 words than offer a shoulder to cry on.

When you need something from one of those people watch how quickly they disappear back into the cyberholes like frightened rabbits.

I remember once moaning at my therapist that I was all too easily disappointed by people. He reminded me that in one's life one really only has a very few close friends who stick by you through thick and thin.

The most telling experience for me was our recent wedding. I have found real love later in life after more downs than ups in relationships. I had all but given up on love. Then, bam, I met my soul-mate. We fell hard and fast so getting married was such an obvious next step.

We wanted to reunite all our friends and families - offer them a weekend they would never forget. My Greek and British family united with my French one. My Irish pals with their antipodean cousins.

It was incredible to witness my dearest and beloved gay yoga friends - the gay angels or 'gangels' - scrimp and save every last penny to fly from Sydney to be with us. Not only that they filled the day with their effervescent love - hugs for all, confetti bubbles and then later gay pride clubbing accessories for the dance floor.

Or my eccentric and very connected spiritual healer friend who had never set foot out of Australia made our wedding part of her new journey around Europe. She did sound healings and connected us with the forest spirits and brought a whole new dimension to the day.

Or my Irish and New York friends who came to my first wedding who decided to stay extra days to hang out with us.

Or my best woman, a most amazing single mum, who travelled for 20 hours with her five year old daughter.

Or my sister in law who didn't travel far, but who has health problems and sprained her ankle that morning trying to put on her best heels.

I was, if I'm honest, disappointed by some people who did not show. People for whom I would make a huge effort for if the boot, or wedding shoe in this case, was on the other foot.

But I learnt an invaluable lesson on that day. Everyone who was meant to be there was there. It was a metaphorical sieve and I got to find out who are my real friends, the people I need to cherish with all my heart.

Friendship has to be an exchange. It cannot be a one way street, that's self sacrifice. As someone recently told me "if someone wants to be a part of your life they will make the effort to be in it, so don't reserve a place in your heart for someone who doesn't make the effort to stay".