“If a friend isn’t there when you need her, what is a friend?”
-“Women’s Friendships, In Sickness and In Health,” The New York Times, April 25, 2017
Friendships—especially female friendships—can be, well, complicated.
We all want great friends. Those girls we can brunch with, giggle over the phone with, shop with and sometimes just hang out with and talk all night over a glass of wine.
But so often, life gets in the way. Or our own personalities and hang-ups make us hang back or even take offense. And sometimes—and unfortunately—we can be downright nasty to our friends.
“Women compete, compare, undermine and undercut one another — at least that is the prevailing notion of how we interact.” That’s according to Emily V. Gordon, an author who wrote about women’s competitiveness in a 2015 NYT article.
Gordon writes about hating other women in her social group—the “brash, gorgeous creatures … [who] owned every single room they entered.” But then she discovered something:
“Once I found myself in a bar bathroom alone with them and, feeling cornered by their spectacular perfection, mumbled something. One responded by complimenting my coat; the other started talking about the guy she was there with and how he was acting funny. I saw them for who they were: magnanimous, charming creatures, but also kind and obsessive and weird. My negative view of them had nothing to do with them at all.”
There are good and bad people everywhere, but it’s an idea worth considering: As women, are we sometimes reacting to an idea of other women based on our own skewed perceptions and insecurities (because we all have them!), rather than reality?
And if that’s the case, how can we be truly good friends and be there for one another—especially as our lives change?
Many women say it’s easier in their 20s to make—and keep friends. After all when you’re young and single, there’s so much more time for those brunch dates, movie nights, Taco Tuesdays and more. And time can be a great maker or breaker of friendships.
The flip side is that it can be easy to take these fast friendships for granted and over time forget to nurture them. We start dating seriously, and it becomes natural for brunch and movie nights to be reserved for our significant other.
We get married, and in the bustle of creating a new life and new routines, we head home after work instead of to cocktails and dinner with friends. Everything becomes far more scheduled and much less easy. Then add kids to the mix, and you might look up and realize you’ve only been out with a friend a couple of times in the past month—and that was just a lunch date.
But although age has a way of limiting time with friends, in other ways, it can make you a better friend. Those lessons from childhood on how to be a good friend can finally come to fruition: As we settle into ourselves—with the added bonuses of confidence and maturity—we take ourselves less seriously and become more open to new ideas and friends. In many ways, we become less selfish too.
Still, to be a great friend—one who’s there, in sickness and in health, and in spite of the busyness of all of lives—like anything you want to achieve, it has to be a priority. So schedule those brunch dates again—even if it has to be a month out. If your husbands are friends, do a couples night. Have a playdate. Visit when your friend is sick, and celebrate when something amazing happens. Text regularly, share books, interact on Facebook.
And take a moment to do the unexpected. Send a sweet card, bring a little gift to the next dinner party, snap a photo of something you know your bestie would love and send it.
Be there, in all the little ways and all the big ones. Because taking the time to be there is what friendship really is all about, no matter what age you are.
Another way to be a good friend
Encourage your friends to keep up with their health screenings.
To find an OBGYN or schedule an appointment at Augusta University Women’s Health, visit augustahealth.org/women, or call 706-721-4959.
To find a primary care physician or schedule an appointment at Augusta University Health, visit augustahealth.org, or call 706-721-2273 (CARE).