Intense Female Friendships

female friendsI’m on a project of digitising my scribbles and morning pages at the moment. It’s quite a stroll down memory lane, I must admit. Also, another proof of how faulty our brains are when it comes to remembering things that happened. I could swear I never felt or thought certain things and yet, there they are in my journals proving me wrong. I probably would have been more surprised about it, if not for a book I recently read. I have written about the excellent “Mistakes Were Made. But Not By Me.” in my post zloty baby’s Toolbox for Becoming a Better, Happier Person and it explains a lot about how imperfect we are.

The memory that triggered me writing this post was a reminder of a long gone female friendship. There’s an entry in my journal from 6 years ago that describes me climbing to bed with this person because I was too terrified to sleep in my room after watching a horror movie together.
You may raise your eyebrow reading that but friendships between females sometimes get pretty intense. In fact, I shared a bed with most of my close female friends at some point. More so whenever I was single, for sure. Perhaps female friendships of this sort can sometimes serve as a kind of surrogate relationship?
That person, after all, used to be my +1 who went with me wherever I went. If one of us appeared without the other, people would ask where the other one was. It did feel at times like being a non-sexual couple.
The ending of the story additionally supports the surrogate relationship theory. Things had been tense between us for a while until it turned out that that person was, in fact, one of my frenemies. When drunk during a party, she tried to illicit interest in a new love interest of mine (now my husband) to the point that he confided in me that he was feeling uncomfortable with her attentions.
To this day I don’t know whether the jealousy was about me having someone closer to me than she was or whether it had to do with the fact that I had someone pretty awesome interested in me.
Some mysteries are meant to remain unresolved, I suppose. A BFF to coffee friend shift was impossible in the eyes of such treachery and we parted ways in the atmosphere of unspoken hurt from both sides.

Another dramatic resolution of a similar intense friendship happened to my dear co-writer #englishrosiee. Her initially innocent friendship became pretty intense as a result of the two ladies moving in together. Our blog artist was then in an on and off relationship with her once serious boyfriend trying to figure things out for herself. Unfortunately, the person in question was not a true friend, helping her out through a tough time but rather someone who enjoyed her friend being somewhat helpless and lost. When our future Bumble Global Connector Bee (fingers crossed!) stood on her own two feet again, it became apparent that she was dealing with a single white female scenario in her own life.

Such things do happen but they’re exceptions. What happens to most intense female friendships is much more sad and less dramatic than that. We simply grow out of them.
When I think about my strongest friendship from middle school it was certainly made stronger because we’d been through a lot together. However, we had a hell of a lot in common too. To this day we keep in touch regularly, but… And there’s a big BUT, as Dolly Alderton mentioned in her book Everything I Know About Love the love is there but the familiarity isn’t. We simply don’t spend time together, miss out on events in our lives and sometimes when we meet, as happy as we are to see one another, an awkward silence creeps in.
Sure, we live in different countries but even if this doesn’t happen sooner or later one of women involved in an intense female friendship gets a boyfriend (or a girlfriend). Doesn’t matter how much effort you or them put into seeing friends, things just won’t be the same (unless of course the relationship is casual and not great). A good partner naturally replaces the bff as a first choice for holiday, partying and curing hangover.
If it’s not a boyfriend, sometimes it is an all-involving job or a new group of fabulous friends who don’t remember us from the times when we used to be a kid.
Life happens and life makes us, and the friendships we used to have, change. It’s a bit sad but it’s also good because:

caterpillar

Intense female friendships just can’t always stay the same and if they do, it’s actually a sign that none of the people involved is growing. You can still keep in touch with people you care about and make sure that they don’t disappear from your life entirely.

Because of circumstances during which the intense female friendships are formed, I’m not sure whether they happen to sorted adults. After all, if we don’t have a partner, we have a job we like or a passion or a million of interests and things to do. Perhaps it leaves no space for the kind of friendships we would naturally form in the past.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that there are the things we stop talking about when we grow up so it naturally hinders the depth of the friendships we can form.
Our circumstances change too. It’s easy to find your people when you’re still at some level of education but later on when people get responsible jobs, get hitched and have kids, they’re also less likely to be willing to just spend a day with a newly met person on a wine farm and then proceed to drinks with another random they’ve just met.
Making friends as an adult is a lot like dating because we’re much more careful whom we’re going to spend time with. With less time to waste, we’re more careful about what we do with it. Not an immediate friend match with a person you’re chatting to? Swipe left, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. I’m clearly not the only one to see that because there’s a version of Bumble aimed at making friends!

To sum up, intense female friendships are often formed in youth or in other circumstances when we have too much time on our hands. They don’t always end bad but be careful whom you befriend. When they’re good, they’re really good and they’re something to keep at a lower intensity level for life.

It’s time for you to speak up, Dear Rinsers! Are there any boys in the audience who can tell me whether guys have an equivalent of intense male friendships? Ladies, did you have such experiences? Do share the positive and the negative ones. I’m also curious whether you agree with my reflections on the topic 🙂

 

 

 

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4 comments

  1. After said experience that you mentioned I’ve been more careful with the female friendships I’ve formed. I’ve tried to do a have a number of solid female friendships rather than one intense one. As friends around you, 1. start to get boyfriends, 2. get hitched and 3. have kids. You start to see less and less of them, so it’s nice to have some single friends that are more available on short notice – for example when you want to book a groupon and need a plus one for an activity.

    On a couple of occasions, I’ve found myself getting close to having another intense female friendships and it does kinda of scare me when I find someone is criticizing other aspects of my life, other friendships I have, or just giving me all sorts of general advice that I never really asked for on matters they have no experience on. But thanks to the episode you mention, I now know to pull away and create some distance.

    People may disagree with me on this one. The other thing I’ve learnt to do is ‘boxing’, by this I mean trying to keep my friends in separate boxes and allow limited mixing. Its nice to have different friends for different aspects of your life – gym friends, friend friends, coffee friends, work friends, running friends, drinking buddies. etc. Each understands you in a different context and I find I change my personality, or expose different aspects when I’m with different company. Sometimes if you mix say a coffee friend with a drinking friend it doesn’t always work so well because they see a different part of you that the don’t necessarily like.

    My parents are critical of how I change friends on a regular basis. I do think our generation is more fickle about these things. But I also don’t see the point in holding onto something for the sake of things. It doesn’t always need to end badly, sometimes things just fade out. It’s nice when you do catch up but you don’t need to talk everyday like you once did. Change is good, you just need to manage it carefully so noone gets their knickers in a twist.

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    • I don’t entirely do “boxing” but I think everyone does to some extent and I do it much more after the event from your life, actually. If I meet people up I prefer to know that they’ll get on well. For instance, I was not too happy when a colleague bamboozled her way into an exhibition that we went to. She may have been a pleasant work acquaintance in not such a pleasant work environment but not necessarily someone I’d be actual friends with. Unfortunately, boxing has a big disadvantage and wait for your wedding to see how split you’ll feel among guests who refuse to socialise with those they don’t know (it’s a CT thing…). I used to organise a lot of parties but now I just find it too exhausting to try to keep people entertained when they form their little groups of well-known characters. A dinner set up when people are forced to socialise is better but then you have to be careful who you choose.

      Do your parents have actual friends, though? I don’t mean family but friends? Cause from what I see in my family, the older generation had some friends back from the old days they see maybe once a year when they organise a bday party but not much more than that. I think that solid adult friendships may be a new thing because people settle down and reproduce (tfu tfu ;)) later in life and also once they have a family they have more options to socialise because women are more mobile, couples share household chores etc.

      I think moving on is a sign of maturity and whatever doesn’t serve you shouldn’t be in your life. But then some people think that you owe people and just for the sake of something that happened years ago now you must hang out and be bored forever. Go figure.

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  2. ‘Boxing’ isn’t always 100% possible because naturally there are occasions when different parts of your life will overlap. But, it does make life easier on many levels. Maybe it’s the clique’y Cape Town vibe rubbing off on my though. Who knows? I suppose in theory you should just be careful who you mix and match and hopefully as we get older we become better judges of character and realise someone who might be abrasive or clash with others.

    Err, yes my parents have FRIENDS because I refuse to believe I can have genetic connections to many of these people that were lurking around during my childhood. I also think its very much a cultural thing to, as my parents hail from a small island everyone knows everybody it seems and even more so when you are off the island. So whether their are a pillar of the community or a felon – if they come from the ‘island’ they automatically become your ‘friend’ and stay like that for evermore. And although I a have a particular fondness to ‘Brits Abroad’ especially when I’m away from home (i.e. the chav type of Brit), our generation is generally more fickle, and less attached. Like Tinder vibes, we pretty much know new friends can be lost/made quite quickly so we are less attached to hoarding people for the sake of it. I know I sound brutal, but I think this is the reality that we are dealing with.

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    • I guess it has to do with how one chooses people too. There are these friends you like 90% of the time but piss you off with some stuff and those for whom the ratio is more like 70% and 30%. Sometimes the only reason why you’re friends with someone are circumstances or a common goal. And then it’s difficult to explain to a 90% friend why you’re friends with these people that don’t look so cool.

      Yes, well, I don’t know whether we’re truly more selective than our parents. Mine keep in touch with the few good friends they’ve had forever + their partners friends. I don’t see my mom using Bumble BFF not only because she’s not great with technology but because she’s a workaholic. Working HARD is a value for her, while now people try to work SMART and enjoy life more so they need more friends for it… The older generation did so many things differently that it’s hard to just link it to one thing such as us being a “swiping” generation.

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