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Why Sharon Horgan's story of 'unrequited love' with a female friend strikes a chord

‘I thought about her all the time.’

IF YOU’RE UNFAMILIAR with Dolly Alderton’s podcast, Love Stories, let’s quickly catch you up.

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Well, first off, the clue is in the name. It’s about love in all its guises; first love, unrequited love and everlasting love; the lot.

Second off, it’s a two-person exchange, with Dolly having interviewed numerous high-profile individuals, including Marian Keyes, Stanley Tucci and Lily Allen, over the course of the series.

This week, Dolly was joined by Sharon Horgan, whose story of unrequited love is likely to strike a chord with anyone whose teenage friendships felt equally – if not more intense – than any romantic relationship.

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❤️LOVE STORIES WITH SHARON HORGAN❤️ interviewing @sharonhorgan, a longtime hero and inspiration of mine, was a proper dream come true. In her episode, she tells me about the true blue love she has for her mother, how a fellow teenage girl was her first real heartbreak, her everlasting love for Kate Bush and why writing is her true passion, and one that’s heightened by the fact it took her a little time to commit to. We also OBVIOUSLY talk about Catastrophe, one of my favourite TV shows, but annoyingly we recorded it months ago so I didn’t get to grill her on that FUCKING phenomenal and enigmatic ending. Probably a good thing though as if I had seen that ending before I chatted with her, I would probably have locked her in the recording studio and would still be talking now. Link in bio. Please rate review and subscribe to give the series a boost!

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Friendships formed during your teenage years felt – at times – like life rafts, one of the few things capable of providing you with a sense of security amid constant turmoil.

By that same token, friendship fall-outs in adolescence felt all-consuming, insurmountable and enough to make you question yourself, your life and your whole damn existence.

When they felt good, they felt great, and when they felt bad, they felt like more than enough reason to give up completely.

Sharon recalled an ‘intense’ friendship she developed with a girl named Roisín when she was 13, telling Dolly: 

It feels cruel to call it ‘unrequited love’ because I think we were crazy about each other; it was ridiculous, we used to write poetry together and we had nicknames for each other; Edith and Simone. We’d sign letters to each other with those names.

“It was close, way too close. I guess the unrequited thing came from the fact that she was the alpha in the relationship so I was always yearning for her to need me as much as I needed her.”

“I think genuinely deep down she did, but it was never obvious to me when I was a teenager,” Sharon added.

Sharon recalls one particular moment that seemed to define the gulf that began to appear between them.

“She discovered men younger than me,” Sharon explained. “I was very aware of them, but she seemed to go from nothing to very full developed almost adult relationships, so that kind of threw me.

The first proper guy she fell for; I was like ‘I’m so happy you got together with Cormac’, and she was like ‘Yeah don’t be a gooseberry’. That was the first thing she said to me.

Despite this, Sharon maintained her friendship despite knowing that it wasn’t an equal relationship.

We stayed friends right up until we were 18 and then drifted apart, but that broke my heart that we drifted apart. She went to a different university to me and I really mourned the friendship because she was sort of my everything even though I got short shrift a lot of the time.

This ultimately played a part in how Sharon reacted when her friend made an effort to make contact some time later.

BAFTA Craft Awards - London Source: Ian West

“When she got back in touch about a year later, I kind of felt ‘No, it’s too late, you left me’. It was weird, it was like a reaction to a lover coming back,” she told Dolly.

I remember her calling and it was like this amazing thing and she was like ‘I’m in London’ and it was supposed to be this incredible surprise and I was cold and I could hear her voice faltering and I was giving it the big ‘I’m in London now and things have changed’.

In spite of this, Sharon chose to meet Roisin, but it only further highlighted their differences.

“I went along to meet her at some sort of squat party and she didn’t show up,” Sharon told Dolly.

She told me years later when we did meet as proper adults that she just couldn’t. It was just too much. She couldn’t deal with – not that I had the upper hand – but suddenly not the ‘adoring I’ll take whatever scraps you’ll throw me’ kind of friend.

“She did write me a letter after she didn’t turn up, a really heartbreaking letter. Just kind of explaining why she drifted away and why she never got in touch and it all totally made sense,” she added.

Sharon told Dolly that she thought about Roisin ‘almost every day, saying: “I thought about her all the time and then you just stop and then it just goes away.”

After years, the pair reconciled and reminded Sharon why they were drawn to each other in the first place but acknowledged the intensity of teenage friendship is sometimes too much to maintain as an adult.

Tell us, can you relate?

Poll Results:

100% (632)
No, not really. (288)

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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