(Illustration: Sam Taylor)
Science says that only half of your friends might actually like you. So it's official: the reason that one person never replies directly to you in your group Whatsapp chat is because they think you're a huge dickhead and would really rather not be friends with you. They only tolerate you, in fact, because a deeply unlucky series of events led to them meeting you through a mutual friend, and now they're near-enough contracted to spend time with you.
So that's nice to know: lots of your friendships might be a lie.
But how do you tell if that's the case? Guesswork? Data analysis of exactly how many times certain friends have or have not liked your Instagram posts? No: the best way is to just ask people straight up if they like you or not. You might not like the results, but that's life – sometimes the people you thought were your friends actually despise you and don't ever want to see or speak to you again.
To put some of our writers in horrible situations, we asked them to get their best friends to review them: to give them a rating out of 10, to ask them about the last time they were bitched about, and to ask if friendship is a real thing that exists, or just a construct that we all go along with to make ourselves feel better.
Hussein met Stuart at secondary school. They were both part of the crowd that never got invited to the cool kids' house parties, but they always lived in hope. Here, Stuart reviews Hussein.
"I'd give you an 8 out of 10 in terms of how good a friend you are. Generous for someone who celebrates my birthday by writing 'cunt' on my Facebook wall. I haven't seen you much since we left school, and obviously those days were different; we were geeks trying to be cool. You were the brown version of Will from The Inbetweeners and I was, apparently, Simon, for reasons I still don't know. These days we are older, wiser, more alone.
"I do remember you were very socially paranoid at school in relation to friendships and being part of social circles, which got a bit annoying sometimes. But you also have some good features: even when we don't chill for years or months, it doesn't really matter, since it's the same as before when we do meet up or chat.
"You asked if I think friendship is an authentic thing, and I do: some people you have super deep relations with, share a lot of buried stuff, and with others you have a history of good times and laughs. Doesn't matter if you've not been in touch for a long time; as soon as you meet again and not much feels different, save physical wear and tear, then I think those people are part of this human construct we call 'friendship'. You don't have to share your entire life with someone to consider them a proper friend; you just have to have them in your life at some point every so often."
Salma and Rosalynne met on the first day of university and ended up being flatmates for two of their undergraduate years. Rosalynne has some very compromising photos of Salma that she's threatened to unveil if Salma doesn't come to visit soon. Here, Rosalynne reviews Salma.
"Your worst traits are: you say you'll book train tickets to meet up, but then you flake; you have a temper and can hulk out; you can get into a whole separate world with your twin sister, which tends to be quite excluding; you don't have masses of self-control; and you can be very annoyingly loud, but that doesn't generally bother me, and I'd still give you a 10 out of 10 as a friend. I don't trust that you'll keep appointments – in fact, the last time I bitched about you was when I complained about how you probably won't turn up to something we've organised – but I'd trust you with secrets and money.
"You are a great friend, though: you cheer me up when I need it and let me complain and rant. You get me to try different things and to think outside of my usual preconceptions. I'm sure friendship is a real thing, and I think honesty can be the key. I think the deepest kind of friendship is when you have no secrets with them and they know everything – but I don't think you need that deep a trust to be a 'true friend'; you just need to genuinely like someone and like hanging out and want the best for them. I hope we'll stay in touch forever. I'm personally terrible at keeping in touch with people, but I want to improve on that, so I am gonna go full out optimism and say YES; I think we will stay in touch. Not because I 'feel' like we will, but because I plan to put in the effort to stay in touch with you."
Sam and Joel met at a mutual friend's dinner party. They were both really, really pissed, and Sam refused to believe that "Joel Golby" was Joel's real name. Now, they live together. Here, Sam reviews Joel as a friend.
"I'd score you a solid 8 out of 10, just missing out on a nine because sometimes you don't do the dishes enough and I'm oddly protective over the sink. The last time I bitched about you was Sunday morning - I was hungover and cranky, and you were drunk the night before too, and I turned to my girlfriend like, 'I bet he's made a right mess in the house.' And you had – although, to be fair, you were guilty about it and cleaned it right up.
"Bad traits: although you've recently been much better, you can be stubborn and moody and slow to open up when you've got a problem. I've essentially beaten that last one out of you now, so it's all good. You can also be very rude to people. Oh, and there may have been a time when I thought you'd rather be there for other people, but now you're cool; I feel like you've got my back.
"The redeeming feature that outweighs all that negative stuff? I'd say your sense of humour. People want to be around you because you make them laugh. I'm quite jealous of that, if I'm being real. Even if you've been a cunt and upset people, they always seem to forgive you, like, 'Ah, but he is well funny, though…"
When Lucy was working at a lads' mag she met Charlotte, a PR, at her badly organised office party. Lucy was very rude about Charlotte's polo neck, offered her a cigarette and asked if she wanted to be best friends. Shortly afterwards, Lucy showed Charlotte her tits. Here, Charlotte reviews Lucy.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say you're a 9.5. Nobody's perfect. Your worst trait is that your honesty has no filter, which I enjoy until it unexpectedly hits a nerve. Like, you've described my face before as 'featureless'. The other day I put on a pair of terrible polyester trousers that made me look like a zookeeper and I thought of you laughing at me in them, which did amuse me because it hammered home how truly terrible they were. Also, you can be a gobshite, a massive show-off and, when you're drunk, you're a fucking sloppy texter.
"That said, every time I talk to you, I enjoy myself. You're always up for doing something, you're open and generous, you're full of ideas and I feel happier for being around you.When I met you, I immediately thought you were my kind of person: boisterous and funny and fun, but as I then discovered, also very thoughtful and driven. I've defended you a few times when you've fallen out with our other friends, but then I've also bitched about you. The last time was probably about six weeks ago. You've been sleeping with this guy who you keep saying you don't like, but I think you're lying. I can't shake the feeling you're into him, because you're very cagey about him and that is not your style."
Harry and Oobah have been friends for as long as they can remember. Their finest hours stretch from them reenacting Nirvana videos in front of an imaginary camera, to more recently returning to their hometown and, at 5AM, drinking whiskey in the graveyard all their grandparents are buried in.
"The most recent time I bitched about you was when you got your hair cut for a piece and complained theatrically to everybody you saw until it grew a little bit – but it still looked good. That annoyed me for some reason, and I spoke to people about it, trying to put a negative spin on it. I couldn't – you have good hair.
"I don't trust you and you're terrible at time-keeping; I'm not sure I've ever been anywhere when you've been on time. Then, whenever you do show up, you act as if we're both late and then start rushing me when I've been motionless for about ten minutes. Also, your volume when you're excited – that's even worse. But then, you are pretty funny. I'd still give you a 9 out of 10 review as a friend."
Simon and Ellie met while working in the same bar. Ellie says Simon can't spell but tells the best stories and cooks her peng food. Here, Simon reviews Ellie.
"On a scale of how much I like you, I'd say an 8 out of 10. You can be lazy; I was bitching about you last week for not recording a voice memo, just because you were being stubborn. But then I do trust you, and you're kind, funny, talented and sassy, which are all positive features than outweigh your negative ones."
Nathan first met Dan on their first weekend at uni. Dan had his top off in the park and was trying to fish a football out of a pond. They've since moved in together. Here, Dan reviews Nathan.
"I'd give you a solid 8 out of 10 as a friend, on par with my mum. Your worst traits, in particular order, are: leaving cupboard doors open; being a sore loser; asking the same question a lot. i.e 'Who's Rudimental?'; not hanging the shower mat up; saying that someone is being 'salty' or 'hammy' when they are just objecting to your stupid opinions or ill thought-out plans; and turning a blind eye to monthly bill money, then asking for £120 for the previous year's water bill in one payment.
"The last time I bitched about you was a couple of weeks ago. It was the weekend after we had the big row about you buying cheap passata, which ended with you calling me a wanker. You'd also taken an obscene amount of time in Tesco deciding what type of chocolate you wanted.
"That said, I hope we'll stay friends into our old age. I've invested far too much emotional energy into this friendship for it to be pissed away by one of us sleeping with the other's future wife and then never speaking again."
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