On female friendships

Charlotte over at https://mypixieblog.com/ has given me loads of things to think about lately.  She’s written a couple of posts on female friendships and I thought it was time I did one of my own.

I think alot of us can agree that an amazing friendship is one of lifes gifts that you treasure.

I have a friend I’ve known since I was five and we are still in contact 31 years later.  She lives overseas (moved many years ago) and I miss her but we make do with FB, e-mail and Whatsapp.  I don’t need to tell you it is not the same as when she lived down the road.  Literally – her parents and mine were in the same road.  We shared the magic of Father Christmas, went to the same Sunday school, shared the excitement of starting our first jobs after college.  We attended each others weddings and there are so many times that I wish she didn’t live on a different continent but I’m thankful for technology which helps with the distance.

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Then some friends come into our lives as adults.  6 years ago I was at a cousin’s birthday and I got talking to one of the other ladies at the party.  We just clicked instantly – I think it was over her handbag and she went on to become a really close friend.  A wonderful shopping partner who will find the top or shoes you are looking for, in your size in seconds (plus she loves the same shopping mall as I do).  She is organised, makes solid plans and doesn’t let you down.  Doesn’t take friends for granted and these days that is a huge deal.

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These are two friendships that I’m highlighting to show that the time you know a person isn’t everything.  But what I find as an adult is that I’m far more selective as to what I put up with because I know what a healthy friendship entails.  These fabulous ladies have taught me this.   They have both been genuine, thoughtful and kind from the moment we met.  And so have the others who I’m proud to call friends and who I enjoy spending time with.

When I look back at a few friendships that didn’t make the cut, I can instantly see why.  One person was doing all the taking.  Or there was a toxic element (a huge turnoff for me).  Or the introvert card was played.

Let me explain that last one as I’m also an introvert.  I like my space in a friendship but when I say I’m going to something I’m there.  There are things I don’t enjoy yet over the years did because I wanted to be a good friend.  Like sitting in rush hour traffic to get to birthday dinners.  Sitting through hours of movies that were not my cup of tea.  Going to my least favourite mall on the busiest day of the week.  It didn’t matter what I was going through or what sort of week I’d had.  I DID it.  And was it reciprocated?  In some cases no.

There is a huge difference to being a genuine introvert and a lazy and rather shitty friend.  And boy have I had my share of the latter in the last few years!

And then there is the friend who acts like your best pal but is really just there for the season.  Don’t expect anything deep or heartfelt when you go through a rough time.  When I lost my gran and was grieving a friend knew this.  Instead of sending a single message of comfort she gave endless updates regarding her move to another country (complete with photos of her new house and how she’d decorated the rooms).  I’d lost someone extremely important to me and was in a lot of pain and I realised that I was not dealing with a friend – I was dealing with someone that collects friends and makes them feel like they are nothing more than a number once the season is over.

Sometimes a friendship has run its course and it is time to part ways.  I’ve read a few blog posts about this so I know it is something alot of us have experienced.

Or there are times you might feel dragged into doing things that don’t interest you and saying no seems impossible.

This happened to me many years ago.  Instead of just being honest and upfront I  made flimsy excuses after losing too many Friday evenings to dinners which hubby and I didn’t want to be part of.  We tried being polite, we tried to postpone as many times as possible.  We blamed flu for months (perhaps my punishment is getting such bad flu each and every winter ever since).  When it was our turn to organise the dreaded dinner (a monthly chore we dreaded) we’d leave it for as long as possible but hints were not received.

I should have been honest and just felt incapable of saying what we feel.  I drew the line one afternoon making the weakest of excuses not to meet for lunch that weekend and got caught out when I posted something on FB.  Instead of feeling bad I just felt relieved and thankfully a rather one sided friendship fizzled out.  It is particulary difficult when it is with someone you cannot avoid.  A mutual friend in your circle you know you’ll see loads of.  A colleague.  A friend of your family etc.  You don’t want to hurt feelings but you can only make so many excuses.

It is a complex area of our lives – female friendships.  When they are going well it is wonderful.  When they hit a rocky patch, it feels horrible and can drag us down.  I see a lot of people hang onto friendships far after they’ve expired and it can be difficult to know when that moment arrives how to handle it.  We invest time and energy into friendships but they need to be healthy to flourish.

What about you?  Can you relate?  Do you find female friendships are always rewarding?  Or do you experience certain friendships as tricky at times?  Are you able to cut ties with zero guilt and move on or do you hang onto expired friendships because saying no is too difficult?

Please share your thoughts on a subject close to the hearts of many of us.

xxx

15 Comments on “On female friendships

  1. i ditched toxic relationships long ago (good riddance!) and will only keep those around me who lift me up and treat me the way i treat them. it also helps that as i get older, i speak my mind so i don’t bother to side-step something if it’s bothering me – i just come straight out and say it and we discuss it like adults.

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    • That is a very healthy way of dealing with something that is bothering you. Often it seems easier to keep quiet and let it simmer beneath the surface but it isn’t good in the long term. Friendships should add joy to our lives not deplete us of energy and happiness.

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  2. Most of my go-to friends are ones I made as adults. I am still in contact with a couple from school but it’s a casual, quick catch up on Facebook periodically but it’s not like I’d give them a call if I needed help with my children or something. But I have Tammy and Amy who are easily my best friends and I know if I called them right now they would come help me, no questions. I have a lot of other good friends that I can ask with smaller things and that’s nice too. But I think sometimes we grow as people and just like with a partner, sometimes we just don’t grow together and that’s OK.

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    • Friendships definitely change as we grow older and circumstances change. Some friends you know you can count on and it is always good to have those in life. I’m glad you have pals who you can call up and ask to help. Sometimes asking for help is a challenge in itself – I know some people would rather struggle by themselves than reach out.

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  3. well, obviously this is a post I really relate to 🙂 But yea, here’s my thinking–you know what a good friendship entails because you have those in your life. And you know how to be a good friend because you can clearly point to examples of people you’ve carried along the journey–sometimes for decades! The flighty friends that drain your energy and leave you feeling unhappy, unsatisfied, unfulfilled… those aren’t real friends. And someone who is too self-absorbed in her own life than to extend her sympathy when you lose someone close to you… ugh, that hurts, but maybe it was for the best. I always find that sometimes life closes certain doors to welcome new opportunity–and better friendships–in its place ❤ Because time is a precious commodity, and it's best spent with people who appreciate what you mean in their lives.

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    • Time is a very precious resource and I don’t think we all realise this until we are older. Genuine and caring friends have shown me what a true friendship is about. So my reasoning is why waste time on flighty folk who collect friends or who treat them like numbers.

      I think some women like the idea of having friends but aren’t keen to put in any time or effort into being a proper friend. I’ve seen lots of times someone act like a pal only when it suits them or they have time on their hands or they want to seem social. The work involved in being a proper friend is too much for some and life is too short to have those draining my energy and taking my time.

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  4. I love this post. I’ve definitely had friendships end in the past – mostly female friendships, but one friendship with a guy too. I’ve definitely found the people that I know that will be there for me and I can rely on. I have some friends that are more casual, but that’s okay too. You don’t need every friend to be a best friend…as long as the people are treating you well and you enjoy them when you’re with them, you know? That’s awful about the friend that didn’t express sympathy over your loss. Definitely a selfish person on her end, and you’re probably much better off not having them in your life. Some friendships definitely turn toxic and that’s not good! I have a hard time letting go of people though – I don’t want to upset people, and I have this anxiety about not being liked, but I’m working on it.

    -Lauren

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    • Thanks Lauren – it was a topic I’ve been wanting to post about for some time.
      I agree some friends are just casual and one expects less from them but as you say the basis to a good friendship is treating others well – the way we’d like to be treated. It is never fun when a friendship ends but I’ve learnt sometimes it is for the best. I agree that upsetting people is a huge worry of mine so I try to be polite but sometimes hints don’t work! I find confrontation unpleasant and so I’d rather just quietly let an expired friendship fizzle out rather than say what I’m feeling.

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  5. You and your friend you’ve known since you were 5 really remind me of me and my friend who I’ve known since we were 3! We’re even all blonde! I wish I could upload a photo to show you! Like you two, me and Jazz grew up in the same block of flats and have stayed in touch when we moved to different cities and later to different countries. The best bit is we can always pick up where we left off and I know we’ll always be friends. Some of my oldest friends are my closest – from school and uni – simply because we have so much shared history and they’ve seen me at my best and my worst! I’ve definitely become more discerning about the friends I make as I’ve got older and have learned that sometimes there is a reason and/or a season that people come into your life and that’s OK too. I am always so grateful for my friends – I’m very lucky to have them in my life!

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    • It is really special to have a friend you’ve known for so long! I’m so glad that you two can just pick up where you’ve left off when you catch up. Some friendships just feel effortless and the distance doesn’t impact it. I agree that we become more discerning as we get older because I think we realise how precious time is and that holding onto a friendship that doesn’t bring happiness or make us feel good is a waste of time and energy.

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  6. I love this post, especially the bit in which you differentiated between an introvert and a shitty friend! Amen to that.

    As a guy, this is different for me. I’ve never really had a best guy friend. Any best friend I’ve had has been female. This post was eye-opening for me, not only because of my own experience but also as a father to three girls. I’m grateful for the tightknit friendships my daughters have forged. Some have ended and some have faded; they each have friendships that seem destined to last a lifetime, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

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    • Thank you Eli – I realized that this year and it was a game changer! There are only so many excuses one can!

      That is wonderful that your daughters have close friendships with friends they can count on. Friendships that last a lifetime are priceless and I’m sure you must be so glad they’ve found this early in life. It really sets the benchmark for future friends that your daughters will make and they will know the importance of a healthy friendship.

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  7. Thank you for the writing! I had a woman I considered a friend, 20 years, just shit on me this year and I am done. She reaches out through text, we are her youngest son’s god parents but she sent me very mean messages through Facebook and has never said any of this to my face or apologized. It was very distressful to me and my husband. They are couple friends. In reflecting on this “friendship” I realized she never asked me to do anything with her, she is always very, very busy, and some of her comments around me and others were mean digs. She would treat me like I was dumb. Now, how do I ask for my house keys back?! Oh, our husbands are friends and work together. Adult friendships are hard.

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    • Oh gosh 20 years is such a long time – sorry you’ve had to go through this. It is always hurtful and yes I know what you mean adult friendships can be really hard! The fact your husbands work together and they are both your friends makes the situation quite tricky.

      I really do think that as great as social media is, there are times it complicates friendships and has potential to make things awkward. I don’t think our parents and grandparents generation went through as much angst as we do with friendships.
      All the best, I hope that things work out and thanks for the visit.

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