#30before30,  life

#30before30: cultivate female friendships

#30before30: cultivating female friendships
(photo by Simon Maage via Unsplash)

Since I fell a little behind in January, I’m doing a double #30before30 post today to catch up! February 13th is unofficially “Galentine’s Day” and tomorrow is V-Day, the holiday everyone loves to hate. I thought this was a great week to talk about a couple of #30before30 topics that I think every twenty-something woman has struggled with at some point: friendships and romantic relationships.

First, since in honor of Galentine’s, let’s talk BFFs. I feel like keeping up friendships as an adult is kind of hard, compared to when you’re a kid.

For starters, society has made women feel that we have to be in fierce 24/7 competition for everything. We’re competing to be prettier, land the better guy, or edge out our neighbor for a promotion. And then there’s the divide between the singles and the “smug marrieds”, as Bridget Jones put it, the face off between moms and those who are childfree by choice, and the modern Mommy Wars.

There’s also the issue of time. Between careers, education, relationships, motherhood, and all of our side projects, it can feel like there’s never enough time to cultivate proper friendships.

But here’s something I would like my younger self to have known: investing in those female friendships is so important, and so worth the return. I had almost no female friends in my early twenties because I was so busy, and I figured I was independent enough to not “need” them.

Yet no matter how independent you are, there comes a point when you’ll want to have that support circle. People tell you to “marry your best friend” but where does that leave you when your relationship hits a rough patch? (And I promise it will happen, no matter how awesome things are with your mate.) You’re going to want your girlfriends there to give advice, lend a shoulder to cry on, and just generally support you.

Your girlfriends are the ones who cheer you on when things are going great and lend a hand when things aren’t so hot. They can understand what’s going on in your life in a way other people can’t. They remind you that you are badass and valued when you’re struggling to reaffirm that to yourself. And you know what, a lot of experiences (like travel) are just more fun with a buddy, period!

I think people put a lot of emphasis on finding your ride-or-die relationship, but having ride-or-die friendships is just as important. Being a part of a network of strong women who lift each other up helps everyone win at life.

It doesn’t mean you’re going to love each other 24/7. Just like any other relationship, you’re going to disagree, maybe even fight. You’ll need to be able to say “I’m sorry”. There will be times you’ll need more support from your friends, and there will be times you’ll have to sacrifice more for them, too. Friendships take work, and you can’t except it to be all girls’ nights in and beach days.

I know creating and maintaining adult friendships can feel like a looming, mysterious task. But I feel like a lot of that mystery falls away if you follow some of the same rules you would apply to your dating life. Consider:

  • You don’t tolerate negative vibes in romantic relationships, so why are you tolerating them in your friendships? Drama, gossip, people who are untrustworthy or who don’t invest in you as well—cut them out.
  • Quit fretting about how to reach out. All you have to say is “You seem really cool! We should grab coffee!” Just stop overthinking it. You’re never going to know if someone is “friend” material if you never make a move.
  • Pencil it in just like you would date night. You schedule plans with your boyfriend, so give that attention to your friendships, too! Plan regular movie dates, gym sessions, whatever you enjoy together. Make that time to connect, because time flies, and a vague “we’ll hang out someday” is going to turn into “never”.
  • Put in the work. You shouldn’t be friends with someone who makes you feel like you’re difficult to love, but don’t get lazy and expect your friends to make all the effort to make plans, etc. Strong friendships involve give and take in equal measure.

Stop treating friendships like they’re a frivolous thing. When life gets rough—and it will—those friendships will be the most valuable thing in the world, because that love and support will keep you going when you don’t have your own strength to draw on. And when life gets amazing—and again, it will! I promise!—you’re going to have a lot more fun celebrating with your circle than all alone.

So there are some thoughts on friendships for Galentine’s Day! I’ll post up part two tomorrow, talking about some things I wish I had known about romantic relationships in general when I was younger!

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