It’s no surprise that friendships between two women are much different than those of two men. But what is surprising sometimes is how much a close female friendship can change over time and circumstances.
Single women, especially in their 20s and 30s, need each other. And really good girlfriends, the ones who speak to each other daily, become almost mutually dependant on one another for support and comfort.
This dependancy is natural and normal, but as a result, their friendships have sensitive areas — similar to those of lovers. Each woman leans on the other, and tries not to hurt the other’s feelings; but there are also jealousies, easy hurts and competitiveness.
What happens to these friendships when one or both women become involved in a different partnership, such as a marriage? The friendships remain important, if they really were all along, but the women become far less dependant on each other. And because the women have other people, like husbands, supporting them emotionally, their friendships can change and either fade or blossom in ways they never did before.
Now, scheduling becomes important so the contact is maintained. Busy women, involved with husbands, children and work, need to find the time to see or speak to old friends, so that the connection doesn’t become fraught with distance and disappointment.
But husbands and children don’t always appreciate those long, frequent conversations when mom is “catching up” with her old pal. Longtime friends learn to find the appropriate time to call, or to send a long e-mail.
However, after awhile, the friendship just doesn’t feel the same — and that’s when it’s time for a reunion.
I recently got together with an old girlfriend and college roommate who lives on the other side of the country. It had been more than three years and three new children between us since we’d last seen each other.
We quickly fell into our old dance routine: Her controlling the activities, as before, me helping her through the complexities of her daily life and relationships. But after a day or two, I felt a new strength in myself, maturity in both of us, and confidence in our decade-old friendship. I called her on some of her behaviour; she responded better than ever in the past.
We’re both grown-ups now, with many responsibilities, some similar and some not. Yet the old tie still works .... now we respect each other as separate strong women, as well as love each other for the years of being close friends.
It was a lesson to me for all relationships. No matter your age and your life situation, good friendships still have to be worked at. You can’t expect understanding for not staying in touch ... even during difficult times, a simple note or quick call would go a long way, and explain the temporary gap.
You can’t always travel to see a pal, but you CAN always reach out.