I still remember my friend opening one eye as I lit my breakfast, groaning, ‘shit, I’m going to be here when I’m 30, aren’t I?’ I finished my cigarette deep in thought. Wasn’t that the plan?

Tania Edwards

Tania Edwards

Of course she was right, she was crashing round mine at 30. But the good times don’t last forever. Someone gets bored. Or married. We’re cautioned from an early age to prioritise friendships over boyfriends, which makes sense when we’re 14 and no one wants us to take our ‘true love’ too seriously. But adulthood is all about taking romance too seriously; friends are there to hear the details.

In our 20s, dating habits are established. People can be broadly categorised as serial monogamists or perennially single, as early risers or late-night drinkers: some people want a nest, others want a Sambuca.

In our 30s crisis strikes. The serial monogamist is waiting for a proposal that isn’t coming. The perennially single is running a marathon; instead of drinking nine pints a night they’re avoiding housemates they hadn’t noticed before, wondering why they’re still renting. As the first divorces creep into the social mix, the perennially single start dating.

Break ups can throw everyone. The flaw that takes down a friend is rarely the obvious one you can’t believe she gets away with (like her verrucas, or her opinions on the Middle East), it’s something neither of you realised was a fault, something previously irrelevant, like vertigo: the kind of vertigo that only struck when she was told to bungee jump into a canyon on Valentine’s Day. You want to be sympathetic, but you liked that guy. If you’d been there, you’d have pushed her.

If break ups are confusing, true love is even harder to fathom. It’s difficult to pull the right face while your friend mindlessly tickles the earlobe of a hirsute accountant whose tongue sits limply on his lower lip, his mouth always open. To be honest, it’s a struggle not to be sick. This is the struggle you face when you want the ‘best’ for someone important to you. They are going to find something to date and when they do you better fill his hairy paw with pork scratchings while he describes his meat sweats or you will lose the one you love.

Of course, if you’re lucky you will have a chance to inflict similar pain on your friends and family. You too, will enjoy a routine of hurling plates out the window, or low-level bickering over croquet: you might even make the situation worse with children. Romance is the suspension of disbelief. If you want your friendships to survive it: get used to lying.

Tania is a happily married ex-smoker and mother of two. She is taking her new show, Don’t Mention It, to Monkey Barrel 2 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 2nd-25th August (excl 14th) at 4.00pm. 

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