I consider myself lucky. I hang out with a bunch of guys who’ve known one another for most of our lives. We’re talking two decades worth of shenanigans, give or take. I didn’t think it was very significant until one of our girlfriends pointed out that it was rare to have close friendships that last this long. Looking back, it’s a wonder none of us has killed another yet.

From afar, we looked like a pretty happy bunch who got along extremely well. If you scratched past the surface, however, you’ll spot the cracks. Over the years, those cracks spread, and last year, they threatened to cause some serious damage.

Having hung out with one another for that many years, we’ve been able to identify the things we don’t like about one another. But instead of confronting the person we’re unhappy with, we’d often chosen the despicable route of bitching about them.

Yes, I’m fully aware that we sound like a bunch of teenage girls, and I’m not proud of it.

One of the men got married in December, and in the months leading up to his wedding, he decided that he wanted to speak to everyone to air his grievances and make his peace before embarking on a new phase in his life. As you can imagine, this caused some serious drama because nasty things that had been said about one another were uncovered. One guy was particularly hurt by the rude revelations. I was partly to blame, and trust me, I did not feel good about myself at all.

This incident sparked a series of one-on-one meetings among the guys to bury whatever grudges we’ve had between us. Some conversations were tougher than others, but by the time the wedding rolled around in December, our group felt new. The wedding was the start of a new phase for the couple, but it also felt like an important milestone for the collective.

One important thing we learnt through this whole saga was that we often took one another for granted. We never talked about our feelings because it isn’t the manly thing to do. If you have a close group of male friends, this probably sounds familiar to you.

One of those issues that was eating me up without my realising it was this. For a long time, I’d felt frustrated that I was one of two people who were repeatedly left with the tasks of organising hang outs, throwing dinner parties and planning holidays. But instead of calling out the lazy a**holes for it, and making them take their turn, I chose to bottle it all up and martyr myself. It was bad because it spawned a lot of negativity.

If you’re unhappy with your friends about something, tell them about it. Put aside the machismo for a second because life is too short to be angry with your friends. A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with a friend and he shared that he’d recently lost a friend to an accident. They’d just been texting the day before and the conversation trailed off because my friend forgot to reply. The regret hit him pretty hard.

These days my friends and I are a little better at talking about our feelings. It may take a beer or two, but we’re a lot more comfortable with it now. Last year truly challenged us but I’m glad we got through it and that we’ve progressed as a group and as individuals. Here’s hoping that it’ll set us in the right direction for the next 20 years. AM

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