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Why Female Friendships Can Be Complicated (But So Worth Holding On To)

Aging | Health

Just yesterday, I was supposed to meet one of my best friends for lunch. She is the mother of two small children and a stay-at-home mom. I’m a mom to a teenager and I work full time.

That morning, I texted my friend to let her know I’d only have an hour to spare. What followed was a surprisingly upsetting text message letting me know that I wasn’t making enough time for our friendship and if this was all I was prepared to invest, it was implied, that maybe we weren’t the kind of friendship she thought we were.

To be honest, I was completely floored. This was one of my best friends for a number of years after all! I thought we understood each other blindly without having to explain why we’re not in touch all the time.

I knew we didn’t spend a lot of face-time but that never changed my perspective of who she is to me; one of my closest friends and confidantes. I replied with a fiery message of my own. A job well done, I might add. Great.

The whole thing got me thinking, as long, angry text messages will do.

Why do we, as women, have these high expectations of one another?

Shouldn’t we be the ones with the ultimate understanding and compassion for each other? Aren’t we all in the same boat here? Trying to raise children, have a fulfilling career, work on our relationships with our partners, maintain a healthy diet, squeeze in yoga, maybe do some charity work…the list goes on and on and on.

Why do even our closest female relationships require all this effort?

The truth is, as women, we value time spent with each other. In the company of our fellow women, we are free to laugh, cry, vent, all in one sitting. If I did all that within an hour with, let’s say my kid, a coworker, or even my husband, it would become a Woody Allen comedy at best. At worst, one of them might suggest a long stay on a quiet, remote island.

Toxic friendships aside, women friendships may be our highest good.

Children move out, lovers may move on, but our tribe — which may have taken years to build — is here to stay.

Whenever my life became unbearable, frightening, dreadful, it was the women who empowered me. I’m not saying I haven’t received support from the wonderful men in my life too. They’ve been great problem solvers!

Women, however, reminded me, that I myself am strong, brave, smart enough to fix what is wrong. It was women I spent hours on the phone with crying my eyes out, and women cheered me on, when I needed cheerleaders. Always.

Also, as adults, it’s actually not that easy to create meaningful long-lasting friendships anymore because our work and family time simply don’t leave enough time to “hang out” and get to know each other without a deadline. Ever notice how you seemed to have endless time for that in your teens and twenties, thereby, creating the female friendships in your life today?

Solid Female Friendships Don't Come Easy Anymore

With life speeding up not just with age but also with over-digitalization of practically every aspect of our lives, solid friendships don’t come easy. Sure we have Skype and Whatsapp and can stay in touch with friends in New Zealand but we might never actually see her, like, ever!

Add to that the fact that social media is turning us all into viral personalities — omnipresent but rarely present — well, you get the idea.

My friend and I went the old-fashioned route. We picked up the phone and arranged to meet the very next evening. As is the case for most of us, here was a clash of expectations and misunderstandings that had built up because we simply weren’t participating in each other’s lives that much anymore.

No, it isn’t easy to meet our friends even on a monthly basis sometimes. No, spending tons of time together does not mean a friendship is a good one. Making time for the women in our lives, however, is the best investment we’ll ever make.

It's like having stock investment in something like Google or Apple…only way better because when those stocks take a downturn, you’ve still got a friend.

Image Credit: Paige Yeaton / Nathan Rose

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