If we went by what’s on TV and the media to describe the dynamics of female friendships, we’d think women are conniving, back-stabbing, and nasty to each other all the time.
There are very few portrayals on the screen that paint a positive picture of relationships between women that build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
Outside of the screen, there’s a bit of both, and by the time a woman is in her thirties, she’s probably had to walk away from more than a few emotionally draining friendships.
The good news is that, as we grow older, we are better equipped to pick better friends, and that those female friendships can sometimes be irreplaceable.
Women need space from each other sometimes
There is an advantage to not being able to meet our friends all the time. Having to make an effort to maintain those relationships while balancing a busy life builds more stable relationships.
We don’t have to share everything with our friends
Keeping some of our life private, particularly our love life is often the best way to go. Friends can, sometimes even well-intentioned ones, help destroy good love relationships.
Sharing every personal detail exposes us to other people’s opinions and judgment, which is good on occasion, when we need to get an outsider’s honest perspective, but we get what we ask for. Plus, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of seeking approval from others or bragging.
We need to stop having such high expectations of each another
We have all had friends who:
- Forget important dates and birthdays
- Cannot keep a secret
- Are too busy to help us
- Criticise us while “just trying to help”
- Constantly call when they need something
Given that some of these things are more bearable than others, we can’t push everyone away for anything we disapprove of. We have flaws of our own as well.
Sometimes enough is enough
If criticism and put downs are a regular part of the relationship, or if we are not able to get past a betrayal, there comes a point where we have to take a step back to safeguard our emotional health.
Friendships are more important than we give them credit for
Friendship doesn’t get the cultural veneration it deserves especially female friendships.
According to a lecture at Occidental College delivered by sociologists Lisa Wade and Caroline Heldman (available online), most women pay more attention to finding Mr. Right than to forging long lasting relationships with other women.
Even if a wonderful partner can provide support in a time of need, women can empower women in a way we don’t give ourselves enough credit for.
Making time for our female friends, and trying to support more often than judge one another, although hard, is one of the best investments we can make.