‘Sorry, I sucked’: Covid has ruined great friendships - and it’s time to make up | Emma Beddington

The pandemic made us isolated, and often a little bit weird. It’s time to get in touch with old friends and forgive everyone’s lapses

I have been brooding on a Twitter suggestion that we should introduce a Covid “friendship amnesty”: a mutual agreement to forget our recent shortcomings as friends is definitely needed.

Even in normal times there’s a truism that you can only succeed at two out of family, work and friendship; pandemic pressures have left many of us feeling we are failing at all three. I have, however, maintained an unbroken record of daily crisp eating and watched approximately 260 hours of the intense Australian cookery show My Kitchen Rules, which is something, I suppose.

If Hallmark produced honest cards addressing our friendship failures over the past 18 months, I would definitely buy: “Our most recent exchange in June 2020 ended with me saying ‘Let’s definitely get a drink next week – I’ll message you.’ I don’t really know what happened, sorry.” Shamefully, I also need: “Congratulations on your baby, whose gestation I entirely missed. She looked beautiful in the picture I scrolled past in a dread-tinged daze last week.”

There might be a market for more delicate ones, too: “You said something odd the last time we met, so now I’m too worried you’ve gone a bit Naomi Wolf to get in touch.” Or: “Your apparent ability to breeze through a global pandemic photogenically unscathed is stopping me making meaningful contact (instead, I have viewed all your Instagram stories).” Perhaps a bleakly universal: “Sorry, I sucked” would cover most bases.

We have found ourselves philosophically at loggerheads with those we thought were soulmates, while gulfs in our material and relationship circumstances felt more unbreachable than ever. We’ve all gone through something transformational – loss, anger, existential questioning, developing an elaborate fantasy life involving Pete and Manu, the judges from My Kitchen Rules – so it’s no surprise that friendships have become strained or withered.

But the new, peculiar versions of ourselves we have become need the friction of human contact and difference to sand off our weirdest edges. That’s what friends are for. So in the interests of collective sanity, how about a one-off cancellation of friendship debt? Let’s get Bono on it.

  • Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist


Emma Beddington

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The social biome: how to build nourishing friendships – and banish loneliness
All your daily interactions with others, big and small, make up your social biome, and the pandemic has severely damaged most of ours. Here’s how to reinvigorate it

Moya Sarner

24, Mar, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Socialising again is hard. Just ask the friend whose visit I ruined | Emma Beddington
I had spent 10 months looking forward to our get-together. And I blew it, writes Guardian columnist Emma Beddington

Emma Beddington

08, Jun, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
My friend won’t physically distance – so I will have to distance from her | Arwa Mahdawi
We’ve probably all broken a few lockdown restrictions. But there are some who have treated this deadly pandemic as a joke, writes Arwa Mahdawi

Arwa Mahdawi

01, Jul, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
Need a bit of a lift? Get down to your local and watch old friends being reunited | Adrian Chiles
Coming out of lockdown is befuddling, but it’s moving to witness people excitedly greet each other after so long, writes Guardian columnist Adrian Chiles

Adrian Chiles

27, May, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Five intimate friendships is the optimal amount – I scrape two | Emma Beddington
Research tells us living near our loved ones makes us happier and strengthens our relationships. But is that possible, and how can we be better friends if not, asks Emma Beddington

Emma Beddington

09, Apr, 2023 @1:00 PM

Article image
I’ve struggled to make friends since moving abroad – and it’s making me lonely
I do my best to attend social events and I’ve taken up regular activities, but I can’t make new relationships stick. How can I improve my chances?

Anita Chaudhuri

18, May, 2023 @11:00 AM

Article image
‘It feels unconditional’: the secrets of lifelong friendships - according to lifelong friends
Friends are essential to our health and happiness, and even affect how long we live. But how do you keep a relationship alive when you are living in different places and can barely make time for yourself?

Emma Beddington

08, Mar, 2023 @6:00 AM

Article image
Kiss off: does Covid mark the end of the passionate, impromptu snog?
According to a new poll, all manner of everyday occurrences are now over for good – from sharing crisps in the pub to swapping gym equipment

15, Feb, 2021 @5:17 PM

Article image
The rules are easing, the sun is out – and I have forgotten how to socialise | Zoe Williams
Just about all I can remember is that recounting the plot of whatever box set you’re watching isn’t even low-quality chat. So why do I keep doing it?

Zoe Williams

04, Apr, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
'A letter tells someone they still matter': the sudden, surprising return of the pen pal
In the pandemic, many have rediscovered the sheer pleasure of writing to strangers, with new schemes spreading hope and connection around the world

Morwenna Ferrier

23, Mar, 2021 @10:00 AM