Apparently there is a brand new dating app, Hater, which matches couples based on their mutual dislikes. Hmmm. This has got me thinking about my friends, who all pretty much hate the same things I do.
Friendship is all about shared dislikes. You make friends precisely because they can't stick the same things as you, whether that's cycling holidays or almond milk lattes. I'm pretty sure that's what friendship is, day to day: checking in to update the list of things that offend and annoy, and confirm that we are on the same page, together.
Beards, ghastly. Nespresso, over-rated. Her new husband, as suspected, not nice at all. Neighbours with a wet wipe habit, hateful. Ooh, feel better already.
Friendship is lots of things but key among them is the warm fuzzy feeling of confidence that what grinds your gears is also grinding theirs. It's the difference between easy-peasy light acquaintances and We Get It friendships. You can't bond with people over your mutual likes. "Ooh I love prawns. Me too. I love India. Same! And Tom Hardy… yeah... and Adele…"
This level of discovery might be appropriate between teenage strangers in a bus queue. It gets you nowhere. What do you hate mate, that's the interesting question? What brings you out in hives?
If you want real connection you need to establish some pet peeves in common. We're not talking about nasty stuff, rest assured, just the little hates, the telling ones.
Hate bonding (the only real bonding) is discovering you have a shared sensitivity to beanies worn at the table and Bluetooth earpieces. It's both of you wincing at mothers shouting "good job" when their children make it safely down the slide. It's taking against those elbowy running couples and privileged people dropping their Hs, and anyone who is heading for the Burning Man Festival.
It's countless small and medium-sized dislikes - zumba, dog shows, athleisurewear, people interfering with your signature salad dressing, teeth veneers, people (mainly women) who pretend they find stockings and suspenders "more comfortable", late life male ear piercings, unsolicited critiques of recent films, especially La La Land. (This one has become particularly unbearable. It's like Brexit. Everyone is supposed to have an opinion and be prepared to argue it while the opposite viewpoint shouts you down.)
That's the basic cement of the friendship. Then, if you want to make it into the circle of trust, you need that breakthrough moment when one of you says, "I can't sit through any more of this", and the other one thinks, "Thank you, Lord. And I thought it was only me."
In the season premiere of Girls, which returned to screens last week, Lena Dunham's anti-heroine Hannah observed: "All my friends define themselves by what they hate. I don't even know what any of my friends like. I just know what they don't like."
Hate bonding has a deeper function, too. It's how you know you are on the same wavelength about everything. Because the collected hates of a person are what reveals their beliefs and values. Who hasn't thought with a terrible lurch, "Oh God, they hate the wrong stuff, I have made a terrible mistake", when faced with smokers being banished into the rain. Paring the fat off the beef. Turning off the Eurovision Song Contest. Complaining about the church bells in the village.
And these are the people, by the way, who almost certainly love all the right things. You can't trust the love list. Oh no. Everyone loves David Bowie. Everyone cares about whales. It's what they don't like that gives them away.
Meanwhile, hate bonding is more necessary than ever because there's so much pressure to get on board with the loving consensus. Every week there's another set of 'must loves'. We had to love Meryl Streep, and hygge, and now it's going to be Prue Leith, tipped to replace Mary Berry on the revamped Great British Bake Off. What you really need are friends who are prepared to say: "I always hated Bake Off. I am certainly not going to give it a go now." It just makes you feel less alone.