I’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:
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 🙂