This post has been brewing in my head for a long, long time. Nothing in particular sparked it, but many little things prodded me to think a lot about it.
I am not a gal’s gal. Growing up, I preferred friendships with guys because there was no drama involved. My mom is a lover of the drama, and I knew this at a young age. There was always some falling out she was having with someone, but then they’d be best friends again a month or so later… Until the next round of drama. It was all very confusing for me and seemed like such a waste of energy. No thank you!
I had to learn on my own how to be friends with women, and more importantly, how to be a friend to women. Guys didn’t require much at all out of friendship – all I had to do was show up to have a good time. It was awesome! Eventually though, I grew older and maybe wiser and realized that real, deeper friendships would be needed for the long haul. Eventually, we all couple up and male/female friendships usually fizzle in the interest of focusing on our own romantic relationships. When that fizzle happens, what are we left with if we have no friends of the same sex?
So, once I was in my mid-20’s, I decided to make female friendships a priority. I still had male friends, but my primary friendships were with women. I really struggled with these friendships but usually persevered. I did not make my mom’s same mistakes, but I made several of my own. For instance, I would easily lose touch with old friends left behind in Chicago because they were out of sight and out of mind. This was a remnant from my days of being friends with guys – they never cared if you checked in just to see how they were doing. Women like to be thought of. Who knew? I also said a lot of hurtful things that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. I tell it like it is and figured that’s just me – but it couldn’t just be me with women. We’re sensitive creatures and until we really know one another, it’s best to not always call it like you see it. Again, I didn’t know that!
I am proud of the friendships I have now. I have a lot of friendships, both IRL and URL, and most are rather solid. I know that each friendship fulfills different needs of mine, just like my friendship fulfills different needs of my friends. It’s weird to think about it this way, but I have different “categories” of friends:
- Closest of Friends – I trust these women with the details of my life. I tell it like it is with these women – they can take it and value that- just like I value their candor with me. These women know when B and I fight, what we fight about, the ugly things I said to him, and how things shake out. These women never hold this knowledge against me or B. I can count these women on one hand – they know who they are. They know that they are cherished. They also know that I have their backs in return – I would do anything for them.
- Great Gal Pals – These women are easy to laugh with and share much with. Things don’t get near as intense in conversation with them as they do with my closest friends, but conversations flow easily and two ways. These friends make life fun and easy, and entertaining. These friends are fun to banter with on FB or in comments of blogs. I feel very free and light with these friends.
- Mom Friends – The name of this category seems pretty lame, but it is what it is. These women make me feel good about my parenting, or rather, my failings as a parent. Ha! They make me feel normal. They make me feel sane. They help fill my days. We all help each other out when needed or just desired – I would watch their sick kid in a heartbeat so that they could get their other kid to some activity or appointment. We laugh about our husbands, we talk about poop, we silently mouth the swear words to each other in conversation. As I was writing this post, a group text conversation with my mom friends got a moms’ night out scheduled for next week. See? Sanity!
Many of my friends fall into 2 of the above categories at once, which I think is normal. I like how my friendships with women have shaken out. I like that I have so many different types of friends, all enriching my life in many ways. I like knowing who I can turn to for what needs, and I like being a support system for my friends. I don’t need to be super close to all of my friends, but I do need to always be a good friend to each of them in the way they need me.
I have no time in my life for drama. I am not my mother – I don’t particularly like drama. I like interesting stories and situations, but drama is just not my thing. I’ve learned how to let go of friendships that bring no value to my life, especially when they bring nothing but drama. I have been surprised by some of the friendships I do have (like a super fun gal pal on FB who was in my high school class and although we got along well, we were never what I would have called FRIENDS), and I’ve been surprised by some friendships that have fizzled. I don’t spend time analyzing either type of situation – I just go with it and enjoy each friendship for what it is, what it brings to the table, and what I bring to their table.
It’s a good place to be, and not a place I ever thought I’d be back when I was hanging out with all of those guys. I mean, let’s face it – those guys would have been happy to talk about poop – but only their own. Bring up the topic and contents of a little person’s poop with any of those guys, and they would have run for the hills. So not what I need and value right now! 🙂
January 7, 2014 at 8:42 am
It seemed to me even before this post that you had a pretty solid group of girlfriends and I think that is so important. I have a core group of friends IRL too, but none of them are moms which makes it a bit harder. Some of them are still single even which makes it even harder to hang out or be on the same schedule. One of my best friends is due with a baby girl in April which I’m super excited about! But I know I need to continue working on my relationships with all my friends to keep it strong. Just last week a friend from high school came over for several hours. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off. I love those types of friendships. I’m happy to call you a friend and (think) I fall into one or two of the categories you mentioned! 🙂
January 7, 2014 at 10:30 am
I 100% could have written this post as well!! I had a group of close girl friends in high school, but there was always drama, and even then I preferred my guy pal friendships. In college and my 20s I made an effort to have 1-2 GREAT girlfriends, and other than that it was always me and the guys (and then me and Charlie and the guys). Honestly, I’ve had to work hard to cultivate a couple of friends in that “closest of friends” category the past couple of years, and other than that Charlie and I hang out primarily with 2 of his buddies that he’s known since childhood that still live here. Jord & Linc are mainstays in our life – they honestly are closer to Stella than most anybody in her life, and I love that she will grow up knowing of the solid friendships and low drama in her parents’ lives.
January 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm
Yeah, guys are easier. That’s for sure! In college my circle of friends was about 80% male and it was great – so little drama!! But at the same time, we definitely do need those girlfriends because for as little as guys demand they also don’t offer as much as girls in many ways.
Anyway, I’m glad that you “figured out” how to be a good friend. I’d say, not just good but great!!!!
January 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm
this was my evolution in life as well, it’s taken great energy to learn how to be a good friend and I always wish I were better at it! I have two good friends left from college, but I love that we can pick up where we left off whenever we see each other. I love my mom friends too. Women seem to offer so much more depth than men and many of my hs guy friends fizzled bc I found they all had ulterior motives.