Friday, February 1, 2013

Better Friendships Among Women

Better Friendships Among Women

Shelley Hendrix

Up until about 100 years ago, and maybe even fewer than that in some areas, women did pretty much everything together. They raised their children together with the help of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends. Women were there for the younger women in their lives as mentors and helpers as the young women stretched their wings to become wives and mothers themselves. The young women brought with their youth a fresh perspective on the world around them. Women living life together is a beautiful thing. The women in generations before ours who lived in a community were intentional about getting together often to share their lives with one another: quilting, sewing, cooking, raising children, talking and sharing life.

As our culture has changed, and we have become much busier as a society; as families have crossed the country and even the globe, separating us geographically at the very least; this has dramatically changed. This isn’t to say that life has changed for the worse; it is simply to note that it has changed. With this change has come the challenge of finding and maintaining healthy relationships with other women. I meet women all the time who tell me how much they long for a true female friend to share life with. Let’s face it, husbands, boyfriends, and brothers are great, but there is something in all of us that really wants a special friendship or two with other women.

A study done a few years back by UCLA showed how friendships among women differ greatly from the friendships among our male counterparts. This study revealed that for us, close friendships with other women are key to our overall health and vitality! Not having close friendships with other women can take years off of our life expectancy! Having close friends can be the source of strength needed to get through some of life’s biggest challenges and greatest crises. So it would make sense that we should all have at least one “BFF,” right?

For most of us, though, friendships with other women remain shallow at best and nonexistent for most. What I’ve discovered in my own life, and as I’ve listened to women over the years, is that most of us have learned to protect our hearts from other women because we’ve been betrayed and rejected in the past. We have decided it’s just too risky. For others, it’s just the reality that life is busy—we’ve got careers, children, a husband, community activities, church responsibilities, school events, soccer games, football games, cheerleading practice, band concerts, a home to maintain, doctor’s appointments—oh my—just putting that list together makes me want to take a nap and it’s no where near complete with all the responsibilities we have! So it makes sense that we allow friendships with women to be put on the backburner. But I believe when we begin to recognize how vital these relationships are, and as we choose to be intentional to find ways to connect with someone we enjoy spending time with and talking with, we will begin to see how much more manageable all of these other responsibilities become.

If you have close friendships, count yourself truly blessed, and never take those friends for granted. Take some time today to tell that friend or those friends how much they mean to you. If you realize after reading this that your friendships are on the shallow end, why not take the time to initiate taking that friendship to a deeper level? And, if you are in a place where you can’t really name one friend, then my challenge to you is the same one I often tell my teenage daughters, “If you want friends, you have to be a friend first.” Maybe today is the day for you to take a risk and put yourself out there to be someone’s friend. You never know, you might be just the person another woman has been looking for herself.

The bottom line is this: we all truly want friends, and we all need them, too. What a difference we can make in our communities and families when we, as women,  decide to stick together and make the world a better place than we found it.

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