Do you have girlfriends? No, seriously…I legit want you to sit back and take a moment to ask yourself this question. Do you have strong relationships with females in your world with whom you have contact on the regular? Most women don’t. So, if your answer is no, you’re not alone.
If you were hesitant to commit to a yes or a no, my guess is that these relationships are probably somewhat existent, but you aren’t nurturing them the way they should be. Am I right?
Lack of girlfriend relationships can be attributed to a variety of reasons. Don’t have time, don’t know anyone, have kids, don’t want to deal with drama, don’t want to be judged, been hurt and don’t want to go down that road again…the list could go on and on.
The number of women I talk to who don’t have relationships with other women is astounding. The number of women who tell me they would rather hang out with men because it’s easier also baffles me.
Yeah, yeah, I get it…men are cool and can be great pals AND I don’t think they can fulfill a certain need for connection that we have as women no matter how hard they try. This statement may rub you the wrong way, and that’s ok. I’m not dissing on men. We need those relationships too, that’s just not what this article is about. Hear me out…
A circle of women is a powerful thing. Girlfriend relationships play critical roles in our lives. Having real, authentic relationships with other women is a necessity for our growth and feelings of support and connectedness.
Women who don’t nurture relationships with other women are missing out on the beauty girlfriend relationships have to offer. This can lead to a greater feeling of disconnection, isolation, fear, and needing to “prove” ourselves. So let’s break down why they are so important even further.
Top 6 reasons we must have girlfriends
1. We were created for relationship.
Deep, vulnerable, REAL relationship. We actually NEED to be connected to one another. To be in true community with other women gives us the courage and power to be able to step into who we truly are. Our instinct is to connect. Yet often we isolate ourselves in fear of not fitting in, not being accepted, not measuring up.
NOT being connected perpetuates these fears. When we are interacting with other women in a vulnerable way on a regular basis, we can see that we aren’t alone. There is nothing wrong with us. We are NORMAL.
When we’re isolated, we end up creating surface relationships through places like social media. We all know what social media can do. These surface and “fake” personas encourage us to withdraw more…and you can see the cycle going round and round. We’ve got to get into authentic relationship with one another. Seeing a snapshot of each other’s life on a screen is not relationship.
2. Men cannot provide the same type of connection.
So many women turn to their husbands or significant others and expect them to behave as a girlfriend. Men’s and women’s brains are scientifically proven to be very different from one another. A great article by Scientific American (find it here) breaks down the differences and suggests that males may excel at motor skills, while women may be better at integrating analysis and intuitive thinking.
After working with couples in therapy for years, I’ve seen over and over again that women are better at anticipating the needs of others and need to verbally process. They see more shades of gray, while men are more logical and want to fix a problem. This can cause huge conflict in relationships when the woman expects the man to think exactly like her, and vice versa for the man.
Women need to process with other women. They need to cry and eat ice cream together, nurture one another, and care for the needs of each other without having to be asked. If this is a role you are expecting your husband to fill, you will be consistently disappointed and he will feel consistently defeated for not being able to behave as you desire.
3. Girlfriend relationships improve our other relationships.
We can’t depend on one person to meet all of our needs. Whether or not our needs are met begins with ourselves. Then extending from there, we must seek relationships that are healthy, mutual, and positive. So often I see women focusing on only one relationship at a time; either the relationship with their spouse/significant other, one “best” friend, their children, or a professional relationship.
Let me tell you this…that’s WAY too much pressure for one person. Having multiple relationships from which we can fill our invisible cup makes us better in every relationship we have. We then have an abundant cup to pour from and don’t have to worry about it continually running out.
4. We can be truly understood.
As much as I’m sure we would love them to, our hubbies don’t understand periods, childbirth, breastfeeding, how exhausting being a mom can be, and floods of emotion we can’t even totally grasp ourselves. Sure they can empathize with us to the very best of their ability, but they will never fully GET IT. Nor should they.
Other women have been in these trenches. They’re fighting right alongside us in a way that only they can understand. This is where we can look at another woman and see the tired look in her eye, the yoga pants, holey sweatshirt, and days of unwashed hair and say, “Girlfriend, I GET you and I’ve been there.”
Grace is extended in abundance when we’re fully understood. This not only allows compassion for one another, but a quicker extension of that compassion and grace to our own selves.
5. We learn to embrace differences.
When we can realize that our sense of connection doesn’t ride on one person or one type of person, we can open ourselves up to see a person for their strengths. Too often we try to make people into who we want them to be rather than allowing them to just be who they are.
When we can embrace differences or our relationships we end up looking around and finding ourselves having a friend who’s great at laughing, one who’s great at listening, one who gives great advice, and one who’s always up for an adventure. The pressure to be ALL things melts away and we can relish in the joy of our differences and imperfections rather than seeing them as a problem to overcome.
6. We learn how to show up.
As much as we need girlfriends, other women need our friendship as well. They need our stories, our experiences, our uniqueness. When we enter into healthy relationships where we can be vulnerable, supported, and seen and understood, we not only show up for others differently, we also learn to show up for ourselves in a whole new way.
Our girlfriends give us the courage to be who we are. Flaws and all. It’s in this space that we are whole and know that we can show up for anything – even the hard stuff.
Our village is SO important! I hope your village is overflowing with amazing girlfriends and that you’re able to prioritize these relationships in your own life. They will make you better and you will make others better by showing up for them.
If you need some encouragement to step out and build these relationships, check out another blog post here on Northern Colorado Moms Blog called “Friendships in Your 40’s.”
We need each other. It’s time to rally together as women and lift one another up. There is no room for anything less. We are all amazing and deserve authentic, real, supportive connection!