I’ve written a post before about why women need girlfriends but as we look forward to the New Year I think it might be time for another one. I have met so many women lately who tell me they don’t have real friends and my heart breaks a little every time I hear that. I have heard horror stories of relationships gone wrong or exasperated stories about not being able to find women to befriend because they have… gotten married, gone through a divorce, had kids, quit their jobs… (actually you can insert whatever life change you can think of here) but no matter what your life circumstances are having true authentic real-life friendships is so important.
Relationships enhance our quality of life and there is nothing better than having a group (no matter how small that group is) of women who are there for the cheers and the tears.
If growing your friendship circle might make your resolution list, here are some tips to help you create or enhance your female friendships.
Join something (in real life)-I am not one to bash online relationships because I have met amazing people who I’ve shared real authentic heartfelt conversations with. Some that I have had the pleasure of meeting in real life felt like old friends right away because the emotional connection was already there. But for the sake of this post, I am encouraging you to get out and physically join something where you are meeting people face to face. Joining a club, taking a class at your gym, local art studio or even volunteering at child’s PTA will ensure that you are meeting other women who you at least have one thing in common with. Nothing brings people together more than uniting over a common cause and it doesn’t matter if that cause is making mediocre art while sipping wine or community activism. Just get out there and do something with real people.
Choose wisely-Now that you have put yourself out there, let’s talk about being able to choose. One of my go-to lines is that you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. First, let me say that this does not apply to toxic family relationships, but I am talking about your annoying uncle who isn’t as funny as he thinks he is or the aunt who gives backhanded compliments. However, friendships are so wonderful because you get to pick them! Be picky (not snobby), choose people not just based on proximity (i.e are in this group together) but based on true connection. If you are a feeling person like I am you are probably going to know right away if someone speaks to your heart. If you are more of a thinker make sure you are thinking on the same wavelength. There isn’t anything wrong with having small differences but I believe friendships are more fulfilling when your core beliefs are similar.
Remember that balance is key-In order to have a friend you must be a friend. Friendships have to be balanced. As a counselor and a helper, I often find myself attracted to people who I believe “need me”. I have a bit of a savior complex, but I have to remember that it’s important for me to have people in my corner who I can depend on too. If you have a friend who only contacts you when she needs you, that friendship is imbalanced and will start to feel like a burden after a while. If you are that girl… make sure you are reaching out to your friends regularly too. Ask how they are doing every once in a while, don’t wait until you have a question, request or problem to reach out. I don’t think most people mean to operate this way. They just aren’t giving their friendships the attention they deserve. Make sure you are being intentional with your friends. Life gets busy for everyone but reach out every now and then and let your friends know you’re thinking of them too. Friendships are about quality not quantity so make sure you’re giving or getting the quality deserved.
Be forgiving– we are all human and humans will inevitably say or do something that upsets your apple cart if you spend enough time around them. This brings me back to my tip about choosing wisely. You don’t have to take every little thing that someone does to the heart. Most things people do or say don’t have much to do with us anyways. People see things from their own level of experience or understanding but if it’s something that you can’t let roll off then address it. Let your friend know that they have upset you. They might not even realize that they have stepped on your toes. You have to be able to work through friendships the same way you do other relationships in your life. If you do feel the need to walk away from a friendship, do so gracefully. Keep in mind that how you end a relationship says more about your character than theirs.
And remember that it’s okay to keep trying until you get it right. As a counselor, one thing I always hear about counseling services is that someone “tried it once and didn’t like the counselor”. Would you get your hair done once and not like it and never get your hair done again? Of course not. You’d just try a new stylist. Now, I realize that it takes a lot more of an emotional toll to trust a stranger with your innermost thoughts than to get highlights, but you know where I am going. If you want or need something in your life you have to be willing to give it a few tries. Just because you got burned once doesn’t mean it’s not for you. Friendships are just like intimate relationships in that way. Keep looking until you find your girl squad!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on female friendships!
Until Next Post,