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Why childhood friends are 'a tonic' when it comes to adult life

From reminding us where we came from, to offering a realistic perspective, here's why we need to keep old friends close 

Female friends talking in cafe
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
Updated: April 29, 2024
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A few years back, as we closed our boots and drove our separate ways after a weekend together, I had an overwhelming feeling it was the last minibreak my school friends and I would be taking together.

We all live in different corners of the UK and have different lives, with dogs, babies and busy careers distracting us from our friendship. And while I still loved them all dearly, spending a whole weekend together seemed off the cards, and I was okay with that.

But several years on, I found myself missing them and how easily we slip back into each other's company. I think they felt the same, as out of the blue we decided to spend Easter weekend together – baby, dog and partners in tow.

Talking with friends can help share the burden© Getty
Time with old friends nourishes us

Anyone who has been on trips with friends in adulthood will know planning it is not easy. First off, there's finding a weekend you can all make work. Then there's choosing a destination that suits everyone's location and budget, and then there's planning activities that appeal to new parents, child-free attendees and couples with dogs. It's no wonder weekends away in our thirties and beyond are far and few between.

To make the whole experience as pain-free as possible – and actually relaxing, given it's a holiday after all - we booked our Easter trip to dreamy holiday home Fair Skies in St. Merryn, Cornwall, through Perfect Stays, who offer incredible homes from home in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. 

Not just amazing properties, with coastal retreats and woodland cottages, Perfect Stays also offers a concierge service to book all your local activities, meaning you can truly relax and properly catch up with your old friends - read on for our thoughts on our Perfect Stays experience (Spoiler: it was amazing!)

But first, I wanted to write about how glad I am we made the effort to book a weekend away, because spending time with our childhood friends when the playground is a distant memory is actually very good for us.

"There are lots of reasons why childhood friendships might be difficult to maintain: geography being an obvious one - however if we can stay in contact there are many benefits," confirms BACP registered therapist Susie Masterson.

Why are childhood friends so important?

1. They chart our lives

"Maintained childhood friendships are unique in that they chart both the highs and the lows of our lives," says Susie. "Though family relationships can be close, they can often be too close for us to feel really seen as adults."

"Friendships that endure from childhood offer us continuity, comfort and shared memories that stretch back years, if not decades," adds fellow BACP-registered therapist Madeleine Kingsley.

2. Nostalgia

"Spending time with childhood friends provides us with a space to reminisce about positive shared experiences," Susie continues. "We bonded over music, films, sporting achievements, makeup and so much more and we can revisit these shared memories."

Madeleine agrees on the importance of shared history, noting: "Old friends are as deeply invested in their shared past as in each other’s futures. New friends are more like newspaper headlines- you know their story in brief, but you can never fully comprehend the context or complexity of their growing up years.

Two women colleagues laughing while standing in a cafe at their workplace. One of the women is holding a take out hot drink cup.© Getty
Childhood friends help us tap into nostalgia

"You can’t conjure up the smell of her mum’s baking brownies, the tears shed over her first bad boyfriend, or the trouble she caused humming through German lessons. You won’t have exchanged crop tops, revision notes or first crush confidences – all those emotive hopes and anxieties of emotive adolescence."

3. Reconnecting with ourselves

"When we connect with childhood friends, we are essentially reconnecting with and reclaiming ourselves," Susie says. "To be known by someone throughout different stages of our lives affirms our identity. It tells us that we matter."

Another BACP-registered therapist Charlotte Fox Weber agrees, adding: "An old friend can also bring out mischief. We need reminders of how to play and find humour, and reconnecting with a friend can be a tonic."

4. Another perspective

"The shared memories with childhood friends can be meaningful, but so can the differences in perspectives," points out Charlotte. "Your friend might remember another side of something you went through and offer a contrasting viewpoint. Piecing together details can add insight and have nostalgic value.

5. We have a shorthand with old friends

"There’s a shorthand with someone you’ve known since you hung upside down on the garden gate that gives them a quick understanding of your tears and trials," says Madeline. "They’ll be the one you turn to for wise words and consolation when you’re grappling with partner or offspring angst.

"Having the intimate measure of you, old friends can make pretty good therapists, though they are less likely to be impartial or to challenge you – the upside of that is that they will always - or almost always - have your back."

Two friends laughing together© Getty
Old friends offer another perspective on problems

Perfect Stays review

We stayed at Fair Skies in St Merryn in Cornwall and not only was it the most beautiful, high spec home with a huge garden and hot tub, it was also the best equipped holiday home I have ever stayed in.

Normally when I want to make a meal for my friends during a weekend away, it sees me using all kinds of bizarre utensils to try and cobble together a feast, but Fair Skies had everything you could possibly need, from hand blenders to food processors, to endless types of wine glass and bowls for nibbles.

open plan kitchen with doors leading to the outside
The Fair Skies kitchen was the dream locations for a wine tasting

Holiday homes often come with three mismatched plates and the odd pasta bowl, but Fair Skies had stylish crockery just begging to be used for a dinner party, and one of my friends was especially delighted by the fact there were two dishwashers – very helpful in a house that sleeps up to ten people across four sumptuous bedrooms.

Your own space

Anyone who has been on holiday with a big group will know sometimes you need time out, and rather than having to squirrel yourself away in your chosen bedroom, Fair Skies had two living rooms, as well as the open plan kitchen living room, so if you wanted a moment alone to read or watch TV, there was ample space for solo time.

cosy looking room with fireplace
The snug at Fair Skies is perfect for retreating to with a book

The concierge offering

The concierge is on hand for any bookings, offering insider knowledge and local expertise, so you don't have to rely on Trip Advisor reviews.

They can arrange for a private chef to swing by, or send a spa therapist over to deliver a massage, but we used the concierge to book a wine tasting, which saw local resident Jess Nelson come over last minute on Saturday evening, bringing a selection of English wines for us to try.

open plan  kitchen with doors onto garden
The outdoor space is ideal for al fresco dining

Jess was full of knowledge, we were full of wine, and it was the perfect way to spend an evening when the wind was howling outside. We had a luxury experience without leaving our lovely holiday home, and I can only imagine how amazing the wine tasting would be on the house's generous patio on a summer's evening, sipping Cornish wine as the sun goes down.

At the end of our stay at Fair Skies, we were truly sad to be leaving – while you sometimes miss home comforts when you're away, every single thing was thought of by Perfect Stays, and I wish we could have stayed put in the house for another week – that's how dreamy it was.

Fair Skies, from £2,415 per week, with short breaks from £2,215.

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