Friendship has been a powerful tool in battling the loneliness of lockdown.
For Stacey Sharpe and Cara Jones, it’s been the difference between isolating alone halfway across the world from their loved ones and splitting a bottle of wine with a ‘soul sister’.
“Female friendships are definitely the most important thing,” Scottish paralegal Stacey tells 9Honey.
“Honestly, we’ve been each other’s rock during this time,” British-born Cara adds.
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The pair, who both relocated to Melbourne from the UK, met each other in 2016 in a way that’s conventional for romantic relationships but seldom seen in friendship: on a dating app.
At the time, Cara was living with her brother while Stacey was with her partner on the opposite side of the city, and both were searching for a fresh circle of female friends to share their new lives in Australia with.
Googling ways to “meet friends”, they discovered Bumble’s BFF function – a platform allowing people to connect with each other in a platonic way.
Having scrolled through profiles of people who loved “yoga and outdoor activities”, Cara and Stacey admit they were drawn together over their mutual love of “gossiping and having wine.”
Stacey, who never even used a dating app, admits, “It was a bit weird at first, but we agreed to meet up, and went drinking.”
The pair met up at Melbourne’s Southern Cross station and told each other what they were wearing, Cara explains.
“It was all a bit strange but I’m glad it happened,” she adds.
Picking a rooftop bar, the duo hit it off instantly.
“I knew I met someone who was like me and wanted to live life like me,” Stacey explains.
“When we both met up in person, and we had such a good day, it was almost a relief.”
The pair even had a moment that brought them extra “luck” in their friendship.
“A bird s— on us during our first hang out and I guess it was all uphill,” Cara laughs.
“But from there, Stacey became the friend I do everything with.”
The two expats used the app to find more like-minded friends to join them on their escapades.
“In Australia, you find a lot of people have their established circles,” Stacey explains. “So we created our own together.”
Cara adds, “When you move somewhere new you want to explore it, but you don’t want to do it alone. We managed to make our own network.”
When lockdown struck Melbourne the first time, the pair were already living together and filled their home with board games and a heavily stocked wine fridge.
Stacey, whose family had to return home to Scotland early due to coronavirus restrictions, admits her friendship with Cara helped her through the difficult period.
“When your family live on the other side of the world, it’s the hardest thing ever to say goodbye. Cara really helped me through it,” she says.
“We’re each other’s family here,” Cara adds.
Taking turns cooking dinner, cleaning the home and even crying and comforting one another through stress of COVID-19, the pair have become inseparable and credit each other as the most powerful support during both Melbourne lock downs.
Cara admits she “actually missed” Stacey on the one day she went to work after months stuck inside.
“We’ve gotten so used to laughing and having fun every day, it was weird to not have her around!”
With Melbourne under a second round of lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the city, the pair are looking forward to “having a dance again” and exploring their new city when restrictions lift.
Plus, they’re worried about their wine supply.
“We only have about four bottles left,” Stacey laughs.
Since the first round of lockdown began in March, Bumble has recorded a 48 per cent increase in women using its Best Friend mode.
Today marks International Friendship Day.
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