It gets complicated. Everyone loves to have someone they can have the heart to heart with …every woman needs that connection.
Women are connected in so many ways … the women’s “tent” where understanding was lent, lessons learned, and experiences shared …. amongst generations and peers … acknowledged the bonds between us as women. Sadly today, more and more women speak of being “friendless,” having acquaintances but no-one they trust.
Women compete with one another for men, they play games, they are friends with one another for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with liking someone. We all get to the place where we are fed up and don’t even try to have meaningful relationships with other women.
I know for myself – the biggest complaint people who know me have, is that I don’t share. I don’t open up and let people in. And I don’t. Trust does not come easy.
When I counsel marriages you look at what the intent of both parties are. If one person is coming with the intention to save the marriage while the other does not care about saving the marriage … you have nothing to work with. It is the same with friendships … unless you find two people totally committed to the friendship … It does not work. I look for evidence that someone even wants a relationship before I ever go down that road. The evidence is not in the words they speak, it is in their actions.
Perhaps it is television that creates this illusion that a friendship should be perfect, and if it is not, we should bail at the first sign of trouble. We certainly do that with marriage. We want immediate perfection and if someone cannot measure up to that (and who can) we say they do not love us, they are worthless, and we walk away and start a new relationship.
I think it comes from a whole range of issues. Women struggle with self-esteem and being raised in a world where popularity is a competition sport with one person crowned queen, no prisoners taken – just dead bodies littered on the playing field, women are not used to playing as a team or in making anything a joint venture. We have been systematically isolated and made to feel it is us against the world. Hence we friend women we hate, just to be popular by association, or to get a leg up. We friend women we fear in hopes we do not get left behind. Our friendships become more about what that person can do for us than they are about us doing anything for them.
We use our beauty, and men’s weaknesses to do the same. We learn the game of being successful but we spend little time on self-actualization … and the many messages of our upbringing and society hammer that ambiguity onto our heads as our crowns are awarded. If our husbands fail, it reflects on us. If our children fail, it reflects on us. If we can’t Martha Stewart our homes, Oprah Winfrey our empires and Cindy Crawford our fashion selves, we are losers. It is almost as if once we insisted we be allowed to do it all, we raised the bar so high we either suffer permanent nose bleeds from trying to keep in contact with the bar or broken bones from our many falls …
It is still not OK to be ourselves . . . to embrace what it means to be a woman. We are trying to be the tough man and throwing out the best of who we are as women in the process. It costs us. It costs us our sisters, our mothers and our girlfriends … and it costs us ourselves.
Finding a woman who becomes a real friend can be the most delicious of life’s experiences … to be able to stop measuring the weight of every word and just be yourself, knowing the other understands and allows that sometimes you are grumpy and say unkind things but that is not really the way you feel … can be very healing. We all have the need to share, good and bad, to just talk things out, to be ourselves.
Friendships take time and commitment. People like to think that these things happen and it is all magical but it isn’t. There has to be trust. There has to be a commitment and respect for each other and to the relationship so that the things that happen to you – the upsets and the hurts, are just incidents that do not impact on the actual relationship. Many people think they should bail as soon as a friendship encounters some problems, but these are the times when you can really forge bonds that cannot be broken. We all get tired of each other, angry, upset over something said or done, but by communicating and working it through you usually break a barrier to a deeper understanding.
Women also need to be okay with those relationships that are for a season or a reason and to accept that when that season or reason passes or no longer exists, it is okay to let go and move on. It does not diminish what was or mean that either of you are a failure. It just means that it is time to move on and that is always a wonderful confirmation that you are alive and moving forward!!