Building Female Friendships
For the longest time, I didn’t make friends with other girls.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want to make friends with them, but because I found it hard to relate to the way girls socialised. From talking makeup and fashion to going to the toilet in groups, I just didn’t get it.
This was kinda odd as my early friendships were fiercely female. I grew up playing with nine cousins, all girls save for one, and went to a single-sex primary school.
But since attending a co-ed secondary school, I realised most of my friendships were friendships with dudes.
Wanting to be one of the guys
Maybe it was because I saw how guys seemed to have more fun, running down the school hallways and playing pranks on each other. Or maybe it was because I thought it boring to ‘sit like a lady’, and to be content with laughing at jokes the guys cracked.
Whatever it was, I somehow internalised the idea it was better to be one of the boys than one of the girls.
I formed friendships with my male classmates and deemed them to be more real than my ‘hi-bye’ female acquaintanceships.
I’d say things like, “I like how guys are so straightforward and no bullshit”, and “It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with the girls, I just get along so much better with guys”.
I thought girls were ‘stupid’ for being overly fussy with how they looked, too over-sensitive, and too concerned with ‘thinking about everyone’s feelings’.
It made me question if it really was that important to have female relationships, since the guy friendships I had were easy and effortless.
Realising the importance of female friendships
Then came University. In between wild partying and endless mugging, I emerged with a better understanding of who I was as a person. In turn, it affected the types of friendships I chose to put my energy in.
This shift in the way I thought made me realise why I enjoyed hanging out with guys so much. I liked how I could swear and cuss, and make crude jokes ‘with the bros’. I liked the idea of having a battalion of men who had my back and would beat up any guy who broke my heart.
Most of all, I liked hanging out with the rough-and-tumble boys because they made me feel braver, cooler, and funnier than I was.
I only dismissed friendships with other women because developing female friendships would mean giving up my position as one of the guys.
Benefits of female friendships
In the recent years, I’ve made a more conscious effort to socialise with other women.
Rather than being filled with drama, I’ve found female-female friendships to be less complicated than male-female friendships.
Staying over at your girlfriend’s house? No problem. Going on an overseas trip with your gal pals? Okay, have fun. When hanging out with girls, you never have to worry about others judging you for ‘crossing the line’ or if it’s ‘too much’.
A friendship between women is often encouraged, and no one would find it odd if you hung out with other girls all the time. This is also why you can spend the whole day out with your girlfriends without your mum leaving you 292875328 missed calls.
Also, it’s more likely for female friendships to last a long time. Between women, friendship itself is often the end goal, a crucial trait usually lacking in guy-girl friendships.
While I’m not saying it’s impossible for guys and girls to be build lasting friendships, I am recognising how it’s more difficult.
I’ve had more than a few friendships end prematurely because of unreciprocated romantic feelings. Sometimes, jealous significant others can further complicate matters, and the right thing for the ‘third party’ to do is to step out of the picture.
On a superficial note, female friendships can be more fulfilling because of the shared experiences of womanhood.
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of many guy friends who can relate to how painful period cramps feel, gush with equal enthusiasm about cute guys, or know how “I’m fine” is sometimes girl code for “I’m breaking down but I’m trying to be okay”.
Realising all this made me aware of how female friendships were equally, if not more important than male friendships.
Finding Your Girl Gang
To me, strength is what defines womanhood and part of being a strong woman is to support and empower others around you.
By limiting myself to male-only friendships, I had essentially denied myself a crucial part of being a woman, and from building a strong, support group I can laugh, cry, and lean on.
It took me years to comprehend the traits of fearlessness, ambition, and straightforwardness I had for so long admired in men, were traits I too could embrace as a woman.
And when I realised that, it showed me how silly I was, trying to set myself apart from other women by putting them down.
As the quote goes, “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”
So if you haven’t already, I hope you find your girl gang.
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