In Praise Of… Female Friendships

Sometimes you meet people and you just know. You know they’re everything you want to be: brilliant, compassionate, hilarious, articulate, engaged and gorgeous. When you’re young, you seemingly meet these people every single day and you cling to each one like a limpet.

Now, with my prescription, rose-tint-free glasses on, I can see that shellfish moves are a bit like advanced Bikram – they were great once, but perhaps you’re just not built for them any more. Plus, once you’ve got some life experience under your belt, you realise that kind of perfection is often just an illusion.

The female friends I surround myself with as a properly adult woman come from all walks of life and bring a solidity to my world. Without a doubt most of them have the traits I’ve mentioned above, making them the best company I could ever hope to have. They offer advice when asked, and listen when they aren’t – I try to do the same in return.

What we’d never ask of one another is for unfaltering commitment at every turn. When I was younger and seeing female friendships on television (hello, Sex and the City), I wondered where I’d gone wrong.

These women seemed to live with what almost seemed to be a bond more akin to romance than companionship. It turns out it wasn’t me that was malfunctioning. Like much to which we aspire, these friendships were a fiction.

This is my truth about female friendship. There is no such thing as one person – or even one type of person – who can be every friend you need in your life. There’s the women who do the same type of work – you’ll definitely have a bond and need their wise counsel from time to time.

Then there are those who are in a similar type of relationship. They might be divorced or an empty-nester or someone who’s late to the parenting game. They get where you’re at.

There’s the friend you may not even have considered except that she lives just around the corner and is equally as fond of a long walk followed by a cup of coffee at the first light of day.

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The 1988 classic Beaches showed us the power of continuing childhood friendships (Image: © 1988 Walt Disney Productions)

It’s true that many friendships involve a ritual – a monthly movie date, book club, gym classes – but they aren’t always robust enough to withstand being taken out of the environment. Which is fine. Just because your friend also has an appreciation for Sandra Bullock’s oeuvre, doesn’t mean she’ll want to engage in your other interests, whether they’re hydroponic gardening or American politics.

There are the friends you’ve had forever. Your life circumstances have changed, you might even have changed, but you share a common history, if very little else.

Of course, there are friendships you can’t imagine life without. These are the friends you can call at any time, about anything, and be sure there’ll be no judgement. Sometimes it can take a few life lessons to realise not everyone in your life can be that friend.

Thankfully, I have three in my life, but they look nothing like television BFFs. Two live in another city, have very different lives and we can go for months without speaking (that will be my hatred of phones). But when we get together – either as a pair or a triumvirate – those months disappear and we pick up where we left off. We do much laughing and even a bit of crying.

Another has a crazy life, with teenagers and multiple jobs and a swag of friends who share a similar existence. But I love all three as fiercely as I love my own family. They are rare humans and I thank the gods we found each other.

Sorry I haven’t called in a while, my beautiful friends – love you!

Have you got friendships that have stood the test of time? Share your story here!

(Feature image: © 1996 Paramount Pictures)

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