“But Danie, you know women like that.”
“CATTY! Once two women in a room, there’s gonna be competition. Somebody will envy the other woman’s hair, or dress or nails or something.”
“C’mon! It’s not like that all the time. I’m a woman… I know!”
“Right! But 90% of the time it’s like that tho.”
“You know, I admire your female friendships.”
“Thanks. I love my girlies.”
“You being a genuine friend is impressive. You know, with all the stigma that women can’t be friends or that they are always fighting one another.”
shocked face “Oh… I see.”
These scenarios were pulled from very real conversations I have had with two brothers in my life. Needless to say, in both conversations I sadly realized that men also believe to some degree that the stigma and stories are the part that represents the whole. I have heard and witnessed it said by women but this was new for me to hear that men thought it too. That’s disconcerting! Honestly, the comment about being impressed at my being a genuine friend stung like rubber-band snap to the skin and I was quite annoyed. I know he meant no harm by it but still! Why should genuine girlfriendship be heralded as something almost miraculous? I mean, men have bro-codes and bro-mances tighter than gridlock and it’s nothing that compels people to feel impressed. Cute they are but perfectly ordinary. Aren’t good friendships between women just as normal and common in society?
Women can’t be each others friends!
Look, I get it! Women are emotionally hardwired and can be temperamental with each other. Put any more than one of them in a space and there is a chance it’s going to be a crying, yelling, misunderstanding, negative vibes-catching, all-out scratch-fight mess of a situation that will lead to an on-going feud for years to come. So said The Real Housewives of Atlanta. If that’s how it has been for some you ladies reading this, then yes, maybe it is true to this effect. However, though I have experienced some female fall-out in my life (mainly in my pre-teen and teen-age years), this is not, and I repeat NOT my reality today! And the same is true for many other ladies out there. But I would be a monkey’s uncle if I go around either assuming or propagated this idea. Women not being able to befriend one another is just not a true reality. I am neither saying nor less counting that many ladies, myself included, have experienced first-hand the hurt and loss of a female friendship we once held dear. ish happened and it was probably the worst kind of ‘break-up’ we have ever had to endure. But, for one to believe that cattiness will be the result of every other female friendship in their life is a limiting and isolating way to live. I want to address this.
As women, we all intrinsically know how incredibly valuable other women are in our lives. We look at our grandmothers, mother, sisters and aunts as pillars of strength, deeply nurturing and full of love and support. We love her because she seems to understand and as we get older, she gets us and we get her alittle more. Why? Because she is a woman and so are you. You are living out very similar situations that she has faced at every stage of life. The same is true for the non- familial women around us. They are women and so are you. In each of them lie the core qualities that make them valuable and so do you. Instead of looking up to her in a vertical mother- daughter relationship, we are looking across to her in a horizontal woman-woman friendship.
We are the same.
There is an activity conducted at a women connect group called Girls Night Out Barbados that encourages seeing the women standing infront of you as your mirror. A simple exercise really but it has a profound effect on the mind. Without going into much detail, two women who are strangers, stand holding hands and speaking to each other as though they were looking at themselves in a mirror. Only positive words are to be uttered. The premise of this exercise is founded on the fact that the woman you are looking at, in more ways than one, is exactly like you and will endure many of the same things you will. Immediately we realize, she is not my enemy but my ally. We may be in different places in our lives but we are fundamentally the same. Through communication and mutual respect, we can gain this understanding and eventually we begin to say thing like ‘if I was in her situation, with her background and her reality, I probably would have done the same thing (or worse lol).’ Or even if we can not see ourselves responding the same way, we can always find a similar situation in our own lives when we had that same response. Identifying with each other on the mere fact that we are women should unite us and being to change our perspective.
If I understand me, then I can understand her.
In every relationship, the one thing we all crave is to be understood. Who better to understand how women function than a woman. Clearly men have a major issue here when it comes to old adage ‘woman are so complicated’ and they are some delicate areas of womanhood that men will never truly be able to relate to. It’s not their fault. They are just solaces that can only be found in female friendship. Bae won’t always get it but your girlfriend might! Being able to rest some of our heaviest burdens and questions on the shoulders of girlfriendship requires trust and transparency. Many times it is when we are vulnerable with our hearts that we find understanding hearts coming to our rescue. Where I may have an issue, someone else may be able to shed some light and that works both ways. When it comes to good protocol, do what you would like others to do for you. We all want the same things: share, listen, be heard, be understood.
So if we are the same and we fundamentally want the same things, then by theory a mutual coming together in friendship should work, right? Yea, but friendship like every other relationship is a two-way street that demands action on both sides. Each of us is responsible for our own actions toward the other woman and that we have to be mature about.
And on the point of maturity, allow me to offer a few words.
To the woman who is female-friendship jaded: FORGIVE HER!
Whoever she was and for whatever she did. Forgive her! Own the hurt you feel and then actively address it. It may mean you get to have a civilized conversation with her or you may have to forgive her on your own without the apology you want. Needless to say, it is on you to do something constructive about the hurt you feel. Let it go, change your perspective and give other women a chance to affirm the benefits of good girlfriendship.
To the woman too afraid to be hurt again: ASK!
Ask for what you want. If you see a lady you admire or would love to connect with, muster up some courage, get off your butt and go introduce yourself to her. Let her know what you like in her and then ask if you can be friends. I have actually had to do this exact step before and fortunately, to this day, I have not regretted asking. A humbling step but so worth it.
To the woman who feels like good girlfriends are a myth: CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE!
Stop allowing yourself to revert to stinking thinking. I personally will not allow myself to give into the notion of women not being able to get along, especially sisters in Christ! I actively refuse this idea every time in comes into my space. They are just some thoughts I don’t allow and that is one of them. You can choose to believe in the good of people rather than assume the worst.
To the all of us who want good girlfriendships in our lives: BE THE FRIEND YOU WANT!
When misunderstands come, deal with them as you give each other the benefit of doubt until clarity can be found. Check offense when it comes and examine it before you fuel it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to apologize at very honest girl chats. There is a whole lot that can be said here but it can me summed up like this: Add and be added to. Give and be given to. Support and be supported. Care and be cared for, etc, etc, etc.
I think it’s time this false idea died or fades into background of the bright examples already around us. Shout out to all you ladies living this out! We are doing this! Let’s Girlfriend together! #JCMD