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.