Therapeutic Time With Girlfriends
Wednesday - September 22, 2010
As I was having lunch with a good friend, a woman I’ve known for a number of years, I had a mini revelation: Women are good to each other. And not only that, they are good for each other.
We were talking about our plans for upcoming trips. She’s going off to Japan, I’m venturing a little closer to home: Seattle. But here’s what we have in common: Both of us are leaving the men at home.
It’s not that we don’t love our families. Of course we do. And I’ll miss my husband and son - a little. But after all, I’ll be gone a mere five days. Blink and I’ll be back.
My friend and I basically agreed: Trips are fun without the guys and without the kids. We can do a lot of girl stuff. We can drink and act silly. We can shop without feeling rushed or guilty. Heck, we can do all our sightseeing in big department stores, if we want, and no one is going to judge. If our friends don’t want to do what we do, they’ll go off and do something else and we’ll meet up later. It’s all good.
My friend and I discussed, over kalua pork quesadillas and Cobb salad, important things, like how women actually help keep each other emotionally and physically healthy. Didn’t research find a while ago that men are happier when they’re married, and women are happier when they have a lot of friends? It’s the connections that are important to us, and let’s face it: We really can’t get all the satisfaction we need from the men in our lives. Women share a different kind of bonding - more emotional and, in some ways, more intimate.
One thing we’re able to do more freely when we’re with our friends is talk. And boy, do we talk (I see you guys nodding your heads and shuddering). I am not referring to gossip. Contrary to the old stereotype of the bitchy, catty female, neither my friends nor I take pleasure in tearing people down.
We connect with each other in a lot of different ways. We can be raunchy with other women in a way we can’t be with men. We moan about how fat or how old we feel, or how tired we are. We grouse (good naturedly, for the most part, although sometimes not) about the husbands and about the kids. We go on and on about shopping and food. We complain about work and - ugh - diets.
Of course, we’re not one-dimensional and we’re not shallow. We can and do talk politics, social issues, philosophy, the arts and, yes, even sports. But perhaps most satisfying of all, especially when we’re with our closest female friends, we talk about our feelings. Men say they don’t mind that, but after awhile you see them squirm. They’re just not into it. And really, it’s OK.
The ability to open up and bond on an emotional level is, I believe, a gift. It can be a double-edged sword, but I prefer to see it as a positive. It’s like therapy without the hefty bill, security for the soul. It’s intimacy and love and support. At its best, it’s honest. To be a real friend, you have to be willing to tell the truth, even if it hurts.
I have had, and still have, great, true and deep friendships with men. But let’s face it. Except for a very few exceptions, women are just more fun to take shopping. Sometimes, you need a little girl time.
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