Having Girlfriends

It really easy to focus on how awful and terrible and judgey women are with each other.

You know what though? Let’s not.

In all the hoopla of all the woman-centered angst going around in the media and on the Interwebz these days — do we really need to talk about another critique of American parenting from a French feminist? REALLY? — every now and again a little comment will crop up.

It usually goes something along the lines of, “This is why I’m not friends with other women. Because they are grown up mean girls/catty/competitive. They act all friendly to your face, but will cut you down behind your back.”

To which I say, “You need better women friends.”

Since my youngest days, I have had a core of good girl- and women friends. If we have any one thing in common, I think it’s that we value people and we value being nice to people just because it’s nice to be nice. Not to get a leg up, not to be a popular girl, not to brand ourselves on social media.

Do I always have great relationships with all women all the time? No. My best friend in the world and I had a falling out in 8th grade. We got past it, and continued to be incredibly close friends, and we still see each other when we can (she lives in California now), but I remember the pain of the feeling I had been replaced by another girl.

I had a very close friend who in the past five years stopped talking to me. That, too, was a painful time, but I know why she severed our friendship — not because I was a bitch or because I flaunted my “lifestyle” or went out of my way to make her feel bad about herself. It was kind of by default that being around me made her feel badly. She wanted things I had, and being around me reminded her of that, which hurt. Why should she do that to herself? I miss her very much, and I sincerely hope she is doing well, but I don’t want to be a source of pain for her.

And I still encounter women who don’t like me and I’m okay with that, too. We don’t all have to be BFFs.

Good women friends don’t hate you because you are beautiful or thin or have nicer clothes or a better paying job, or conversely because you get to stay home with your kids, or have nicer hair or are in a successful marriage — or, or, or.

Good women friends — good friends in general, really — are in your corner, have your back, are rooting for you. We are there to cheer you on, as well as to give hugs and hand out wine or chocolate when necessary.

I hope I am a good friend. I try to be. In the past few years, I have made other good women friends because of social media. And it makes me happy to know that along with N, M, and H, and along with the women from college that I still see at Cook Forest and/or Girlie Weekend, that now I have fun women to hang out with: drink wine, learn to make pie (they are willing to teach me, anyway; I haven’t quite managed to get my butt to #PieFest yet), and go see The Hunger Games with. They make me happy to be around.

I know when it comes to girl and women friendships, my children, like me, will have rocky times. Not because girls and women as a group are awful — but because people are different, and value different things, and have different goals or needs. And that’s okay — I will continue to say it: You don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you.

But I do hope that when it comes down to it, that when the rubber meets the road, that they have solid friends who are girls and women around them. For all the reasons I love my friends. For voices to cheer and for shoulders to cry on. For wine and movies and laughter.

What do girlfriends mean to you?

16 thoughts on “Having Girlfriends

  1. Just about everything. That’s what they mean. They mean sharing happiness as well as burdens and making life’s road much more pleasant to travel. Great post, Dawn. So many rocky roads along the way to learn from. I’m not looking forward to some of it with my daughter but we will get through it together. I’m going to share this post. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Amy! I know, I’m nervous about seeing my daughters through the teen years especially. I think half the reason I have this site is so I can write my thoughts about this stuff down for reference. So that in the (near) future, I can see what I was thinking when we’re in the muddle!

  2. Amy is right. Girlfriends mean everything and I thank God for the internet because without it, my closest friends would not be nearly so close nor would I even know who some of them were.

  3. I realize I’m coming at this from a different perspective, but aside from my best buddies from back home, all my best friends are women. I think it’s good to have a circle of friends that have a different perspective than my own, which is useful when seeking advice on dealing with their “sisters.” It’s also nice not to have that undercurrent of macho bullshit to deal with, that is often found with male friends.

    • When I was younger, I was skittish about being friends with women, I will admit. I liked having a lot of male friends. But — with age comes perception — what I enjoyed with my male friends was the sexual tension, the “will we or won’t we” of some interactions (especially if they involved alcohol). Part of that skittishness came out of my own insecurity, my own need to grow into my skin as a woman friend. There are undercurrents to all human interactions, and our ability to cut through the BS is, I think, what leads to genuine friendships with like-minded people. πŸ™‚

  4. Girlfriends mean the world! I am so grateful to have so many strong, supportive, talented, funny, and faithful girlfriends in my life! including you, RPM! and I second Cari’s comment…so thankful for the internet so I can stay connected to them, no matter where they are πŸ™‚ xoxo

  5. My first reaction was how I preferred male friends to female, but then I remembered/realized that even though I hung out with three guys at my last job (my work husband and work boyfriends) and would often complain to them about things in my life, I never shared anything really “deep” as I do with a few close girlfriends. So, yeah, having girlfriends is important. And I think that when you have a really good friend, time and distance are not really a barrier. I love that I have a few girlfriends whom I talk to once or twice a year, and it works.

    • I’m like this too, facie. I workplace friends/buddies tend to be men, too. And I have friends I only get to e-mail with and see once or twice a year, and it still works.

  6. […] my being, a writer. Before I was a woman, before I was a wife, mother, before even probably I was a good friend, I was — I am a writer. I wrote my first poem in fourth grade, and that pretty much set my […]

    • Seriously. If another woman is complaining about how all the womenz hate her, she’s doing something wrong, whether it’s hanging out with the wrong women or not being a good friend herself. She needs to figure that out, because girlfriends rule.

      • Again: WORD. I am so *over* the whole women-hating-women stereotype, especially when it’s said in a way that implies that I’m just supposed to agree that this stereotype is somehow a biological/societal obstacle that we just can’t avoid. Sure, it exists, but so does the men-hating-women and women-hating-men thing. It’s pretty simple: don’t hang around haters of any gender and don’t be a hateful person, and you’ll probably have some really great friendships all around. (And: Girlfriends rule!) πŸ™‚

  7. I could never understand the whole I hate women attitude from other women. I have always had close male friends, but girlfriends are like air. I wish I had more.

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