Historically, amazing things have happened when women banded together in friendship to make change. Just think of the suffragette movement or the powerful groups of women trying to make equality for the sexes a real thing.
On television, we especially love the friendships of Monica and Rachel on Friends and Leslie and Ann on Parks and Recreation. While they’re all very different, the four characters have one thing in common – their friendships remain solid, despite the ups and downs of the story line.
In a culture that largely pits women against each other, building female friendships that allow both participants to be their authentic selves without fear of being judged is a radical act. And indeed, on the journey to finding the friendships we all crave, there are bound to be some mismatches.
Just like how we all must learn to authentically love ourselves in order to enjoy romantic love, we must also be able to recognize the signs that a friendship is bringing us down more than it’s lifting us up. Oftentimes, these chains are hard to break, but they’re essential to make the space for the friendships that are truly going to fill you up in life.
Why Is Making Friends As An Adult So Difficult?
It seems harder than ever to make those kinds of friendships in everyday adult life. The majority of friendships in American society are situational – predicated on an activity that you do together on a regular basis – and are likely to end when that situation passes. Think of your work friend from a past job – you thought you were so close but then, when one of you got a new job, that friend disappeared from your life. Or what about your best friends from school? You talked about being friends always only to find that three months after graduation you never talked any more.
Social media feeds are often littered with these types of friends – people you knew at one point in your life, whom you merely follow peripherally, liking photos of weddings you weren’t invited to and babies you’ll never see in person. While I do believe you can have authentic friendships on social media, it is too easy to pretend at friendship online, and it’s not so easy in real life. However, we believe it is worth every bit of effort because real friendships, with friends you actually see, whose babies you actually play with, are so much more enriching.
The thing about friendship is that it’s more similar to dating than we first think. Movies and TV make it seem so easy, but there’s a certain combination of compatibility, commitment, hard work, and luck in the friendships that seem to sustain over time. Even if you’re feeling rather friendless, when these friendships work, they are some of the most fulfilling relationships out there. Studies show a link between friendship and positive health outcomes like longer life expectancy, better brain health, and many other benefits.
Tips for Building Your Female Friendships
How do you go about finding good friends? Being open to opportunities to meet potential friends and knowing yourself are a pretty good start. When you begin by being your own best friend, you’re in a better place to be able to objectively seek out the types of friendships you want to nurture.
Quality vs. Quantity
Think about how much time you have to offer to a friendship. You don’t need to be best friends with everyone (and you probably won’t want to be), but you likely have time to fully work on at least one or two good friendships (you honestly don’t need many more than that).
Your Friends’ Friends
Consider the people that your friends have in their own tribe. You already know and like your friend, so there’s a good chance that you might like some of the other people this person knows.
The Long-Lost Acquaintance
We all have a collection of dormant friendships – those from school, childhood, or a former workplace – that have the potential to be reignited. Try reconnecting and you might just find a rewarding friendship waiting to happen.
Don’t discount your work friends, gym friends, or friends from your book club. Just because they only exist in that group now doesn’t mean you have to keep them relegated to only that part of your life.
Make the First Move
Yeah, it's no fun, but someone has to do it. Try making it fun and casual, then see what happens.
Try Something New
Have you wanted to join a book club or take up a new hobby? You never know who you might meet if you venture out of your usual haunts.
When women reach out to one another in friendship, amazing things happen. Recently, two iconic female friends, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, spoke in a TED Talk about their own female friendship. It may just remind you how grateful you are for all the ways close female relationships have touched your life (and still do). We gain a lotmore by banding together than by remaining apart.