A Shoutout To The Low Maintenance Friend: This Is Why You Matter

We’ve been through a lot together – and even more apart.

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We were two when we met. I don’t remember that moment, but I wish I did.

Her family moved into the house opposite mine, and it was a blessing we were the same age. Our parents were pleased: we could entertain one another with made-up games in the garden and hours spent crafting in her loft. They probably didn’t realise then, that 27 years later, we’d still be going strong.

She is my oldest friend – the one who’s been there so long that she’s a part of me. She has effortlessly slotted into my life since those toddler years – and it’s comforting to know that in a world where clashing diaries keep so many people apart, our friendship is enveloped in the surety that we will always be there for one another.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve been through some of life’s biggest challenges together – navigating puberty, first kisses, exams, university, first jobs, careers, leaving home, and then both settling our lives in the same city. And in all that time, nothing has changed. We still laugh till our bellies hurt.

There’s a belief that best friends – our closest and dearest – are a certain “type” of friend: the one who knows every detail of your life, at the exact time it happens; the one who you speak to every day, who you see every week. But friendship is vast – and the reality can be very different.

The low maintenance friend is the one who is there indefinitely, but may not pop up in your life regularly. She’s the one who understands life gets busy, and that it may be a month before you can catch up. But when you do, it’s always – always – as if no time has passed. Her value is no less than the friend you see every week – even if it’s the friendship that rarely gets the recognition it deserves.

And when push comes to shove, she’ll be there in an instant.

I can recall countless times over the years that has been true, but most vividly two years ago – 24 hours post break-up. I was standing, bewildered, in Clapham Junction station at rush hour. She and I hadn’t spoken in a few weeks. Maybe a month. Perhaps even more. I texted her: “What are you doing Wednesday?” She was seeing her boyfriend, but asked why.

I gave her a shortened account of the break-up, plus my frantic but necessary need to go to the theatre show I’d booked for me and him that Wednesday night. “I’ll be there,” she said. In the weeks that followed, she laid in bed beside me countless times while I tossed and turned – and gave me nothing but love.

I hadn’t messaged her the minute we split, and she wasn’t clued up on the ins and outs of the relationship, but there was a mutual understanding that no matter how much time had passed since we’d last met up, she’d be there.

We don’t have to be with each other all the time to know we love and care for one another. We don’t get offended if the other doesn’t reply the same day. And we don’t have “friendship rules” or expectations that require us to meet up habitually.

But when we do, we take catch-up sessions to a whole new level, with hours and hours of updates about our lives. We’re like-minded, non-judgmental, and will champion one another to the end – whether that’s from afar or in person.

We’ve been through a lot together – and even more without each other – but I know, hands-down, she’s on my side for life.