The Importance of My Women Friendships

One of my closest girlfriends ghosted me about a year ago. The last time I saw her, she introduced me to her new “boyfriend” as her “best friend forever”. Since then, I haven’t seen or heard a word from her. We shared confidences, took road trips, met for lunch or coffee regularly, and we were a support system for one another. I went through her divorce with her – emotionally and in court, helped her move twice – packed boxes and carried them together, and encouraged her through mid-life college as she prepared for a career post-divorce.

According to Deborah Tannen, author of You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships, women are far less likely than men to explain why they break up with a friend. The reason is that women prefer to avoid confrontation, so our friend doesn’t have the opportunity to defend herself. I get that, but I do not like it. When I was in therapy, I learned that being assertive doesn’t have to be confrontational. I believe in communication and giving a voice to my feelings. It isn’t always easy! I actually believe in giving the other person a chance to “defend” or explain themselves. I have found that sometimes I make assumptions or misunderstand another person’s intention or motivation. Listening might provide a reason for second chances. I don’t ghost people.

I recently shared how I had to set boundaries with a friend, who is in active alcoholism and unwilling to get help. This was truly difficult. I didn’t want to hurt someone who is already hurting. On the other hand, I don’t have to allow someone else’s behavior to hurt me. I believe in self-care, self-compassion, and self-preservation. It is potentially, the end of another friendship. But, I haven’t given up on her, yet.

I need women in my life. I can talk with my girlfriends in ways that I can’t talk to my husband, because frankly, he doesn’t respond like a woman. Let’s face it, men are different than women, and that is okay, even a good thing. My husband, like most men, wants to fix problems, and he doesn’t want to have conversations about feelings, unless they involve him. And he doesn’t want to spend two hours at a coffee shop just chatting about life and whatever tangent a conversation takes.

According to Kristen Fuller, M.D., in a Psychology Today article: “[As] women we thrive on strong relationships with our girlfriends, such friendships give women an outlet to share their problems, thoughts, feelings, and triumphs with those they feel a close bond with. … women feel they can count on their friends to pull through for them no matter what they are struggling with in their lives. Women are each other’s emotional support system.” Yes, yes and yes!

I cherish my women friends, whether they live close by or far away. Two of my closest friends live in different states. They walk through life with me. They laugh with me and cry with me. They give me hope when I can’t seem to find any. They are there for me during good times and bad. And I reciprocate, because that is what friendship is about. Having close women friends makes my life better. It makes me happier. And research suggests that it might even help me to live longer. That’s a great benefit I hadn’t even counted on.

Photo: One of my friends and I are reflected in the sculpture, Heart’s Desire, by Gloria Vanderbilt, at Grounds for Sculpture.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Me too. I had to break up with a friend and it was very difficult. I did it because she was in a very destructive relationship that I believed (after nearly 20 years) was literally killing her. I was 900 miles away by the time I broke up with her, and her anguished phone calls were unfair to me. I didn’t “ghost” her; I told her and I told her why. Her response to that was to mail me a letter and tell me she would be friends with me on certain terms. All that did was confirm that I was the sob-sister, not a friend. I didn’t and don’t miss her because I realized I wasn’t a “person” to her at all. Just a function.

    Our lives are like grass in a stream in a way. We are moved by currents we don’t control. Romance, marriage, relocating, new jobs, but some of those friendships remain precious. Some of my women friends from the past — some of them I cherish very dearly though I’ll probably never see them again. Sometimes they just don’t work out. I treasure the women in my life now. I know it might not be “forever” but that’s OK. ❤

    1. Robin says:

      Even when a friendship goes south or becomes toxic, or someone is self-destructive, it is difficult to break up, especially one that lasted almost 20 years.

      I love what you said about control, like grass in a river. ❣️

        1. That’s funny because when I wrote “stream” I was thinking about my local river.

  2. Reblogged this on I'm a Writer, Yes, I Am! and commented:
    I like this a lot. I treasure my female friends very much, but they don’t always work.

    1. Robin says:

      Thank you for reblogging my post, Martha!

      1. It’s a good message. 🙂

  3. Yes the only person I ‘ghosted’) I’ve never heard that word used in that context before by the way) was a woman I’d been friends with for years, but she was very manipulative. She tried to split me and my husband up. I stopped seeing her but he kept going out for walks with her and her husband. We talked about her and decided that her behaviour was out of order so I decided to blank her. No explanation. (but I think she knew why).

    1. Robin says:

      “Ghosted” is usually used in reference to dating, especially dating apps, but I think the term fit well enough. — That sounds like an awful friend. Manipulation is one thing, trying to split you and your husband up is quite another. Sounds like you did you and your husband a favor.

      1. Yes it’s over ten years ago and I’ve never regretted it.

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