Female friendships are complex. Now I’m going to stereotype, outrageously, but – as we all know – most stereotypes are there for a reason: they’re based on experience.
Men tend to have less friends than women. They go through childhood/ teenagehood/ young adult life with some close pals, pick up a few more along the way, drop off a few along the way. Until they get to middle age by which point most men seem to have, somehow, lost all their friends. And now their friends are the partners of their wive’s friends.
Middle-aged men may have an annual beer with an old mate at the pub – but otherwise, the men in their lives are through business or their lovers (wives/ girlfriends etc).
Women, on the other hand, go through childhood/ teenagehood/ young adult life picking up girlfriends, dropping a few, picking up a few more. They go to uni and meet some more: drop some of them, keep some of them. Then they start work and meet some more ladies, befriend them, change jobs, stay in contact with the old pals, make new friends. They make friends with their friends’ friends, friendships bloom in toilets, they chum up with the new neighbours.
The men in my life would say that their friendships are a lot less complex than mine and I would agree. 1. because they tend to have hardly any friends, lower probability of problems arising when you only have three pals and 2. because men expect less of each other.
But this isn’t a good thing, necessarily. Yeah, so men might not start arguments with each other quite as often, or stop speaking to each other. But that’s because they’re more likely to bury their head in the sand when there’s an issue. Women like to talk things through, sort out issues, work out why they’re not getting along so well – and to try to resolve the problem.
Apparently, women are four times more likely to seek counselling than men. That’s not because they have more issues (they don’t) but because they’re better at talking. Why’s that? Because they spend their lives confiding in girlfriends when facing a dilemma.
I’m not saying no men confide in other men, all men are friendless – or that all women have hundreds of girlfriends who talk to each other all day everyday – but I’m saying, generally, women are willing to put more into establishing, maintaining and fixing friendships. And because of the effort they’re willing to put in, they feel they deserve a certain amount of effort back.
So it is a complex issue. But as time goes by, I realise more and more who my real, trust-worthy, reliable, positive, precious friends are – and keep them close. Those friends on the periphery are good too, for the odd meet up. And there’s always space for more lady friends in my life.
There is little that is more important than female/female friendships. They’re complicated and occasionally precarious and deep and sometimes bitchy – but they’re such a valuable part of a woman’s life.