Cultivating female-centric friendships is one of the most important journeys in a woman’s life. However, as essential as it is to our growth and development so many of us have lackadaisical friendships and/or are engaging in negative relationships for the sake of “friendship”.
Society would have us believe that female relationships are either sad interpretations of Sex and the City or riddled with cat-fighting. For some this is true and while I’ve definitely had my fair share of catty friendships, I’ve come to realize that the friends I consider the closest are an immense part of the fabric of who I am and who I am to become. They are my female soul-mates. The Thelma to my Louise, the Edina to my Patsy.
The Real L Word
Let the world tell it, Oprah and Gayle have been getting it on for years. Is it so hard to believe that two women can truly connect and love one another from a place that is supportive, caring and non-judgemental. This is not to paint some Utopian picture of female friendship. Every friendship has its issues, but its how we deal with those issues that show the true measure of your friendship.
I’ve been blessed to have had several female soul-mates through elementary school to my current friendships. Women that have been my biggest cheerleaders, dealt with my mood swings (woo chile) and let me be me even when I wasn’t sure who that was. In return, I’ve tried my best to give them my support, to be a shoulder or listening ear and to strive tirelessly to put a smile on their faces. We may not talk every day and may not share every detail of our lives but when you need them they are there. To me that is what real friendship is about.
Feeding your Friendship
It’s easy to rest on the laurels of time or history when it comes to friendship. But in order for a friendship to grow to “Rocking Chair” status (a friend who when you’re both 90 you’ll be on the porch in your rocking chairs together) you have to nurture it and feed it with truth, honesty, experiences and unconditional love. When I think about my most satisfying friendships these were the common elements that connected us.
Keep it Real
Yes ma’ams and up your butt friendships really irk me. If you wanted a lap dog, you’d get a puppy. Friendships are about being able to tell someone they’re pissing you off and hold no punches. Honesty is queen and a friend who would rather praise me than tell me when I’m being a douche bag is not a true friend in my book. There’s something to be said for not wanting to hurt someone with the truth, but if it comes from a place of love that shouldn’t be an issue.
Nurture your Secret World
The beauty of girlfriends is in the inside jokes, the crazy stories and things that the you share. It’s that secret world and the laughter that inhabits it that makes the relationship so special. The fact that you can go shopping and pick out the perfect outfit for one another or can have the simplest time in a highway rest stop people watching. It’s like a secret society that the two of you are privy.
Have friend, will travel
My fondest experiences with my gals include either an airplane or a car ride. New surroundings are like a jolt of electricity to sisterly endeavors. Taking your friendship on the road unearths idiosyncrasies and adds new dimensions of comfort and ease to your relationship. Plus getting lost together and car dance parties are a religious rite of passage in the Church of Sisterhood.
Sharing Everything is not a Prerequisite
When I was younger, I believed that a best friend was someone you shared all your secrets with. I’ve since abandoned that Cosmo theory in favor of something more mysterious. For me it’s not about knowing every detail of a person’s life, it’s about the experiences that reveal everything you ever needed to know about a person. Girlfriends are a piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be contingent upon whether you dish the dirt or not. And if a pal is sticking her friendship stick where it doesn’t belong, tell her and she should be courteous.
Celebrate your Differences
While similarities and fate may have bought you to your female soul-mates, it’s the differences that sustain you. She’s a little bit country, you’re more gangster rap, but your unique styles are what make the friendship rich and full of variety. I joke that I’m the Katy Perry to my friend’s Rihanna. The funny girl to her sex kitten and guess what, it’s respecting those differences that allow us to be fully appreciate each other’s unique light.
A Word on Frenemies
Mean Girls is the totem for female friendships gone wrong. Backbiting, fakeness and cruelty are characteristics associated with women befriending women. While we’d love to believe that those things are not true, they are and at times female friendships can seem like more trouble than they’re worth.
While I don’t believe in throwing people away, I’m not an advocate of friendship for friendship sake. If there’s a girlfriend in your life who continuously rubs you like a cheap pair of corduroys, take a step back. As we mature and go through life, we outgrow people and sometimes circle back. If a friendship is making you feel bad or not nurturing you the way it once did, taking a step back is not only recommended it’s required.