I know it’s been a hot minute since our last time together and I have thought about you everyday! The truth is that my little girl was really sick and as most mommas experience, I got the sickness as well – I even lost my voice y’all. So, if you listen to the podcast that correlates with this blog, you will hear that I am still not completely recovered. But I am here with you today because you are my friend and I wanted to show up for you!
Today, I want to spend some time talking with you – my best friend about friendships. So let’s just jump in! Have you ever said to yourself “girls are just hard to be friends with,” or “they are just so much drama,” or “I don’t have any friends or how to make them.” Let me take you back to 18 year old Brittany who had a really rough go of it her senior year of high school. I was at a new school – for a variety of reasons that are not important right now – and I made friends with the “cool kids.” I started dating a guy that did not go to our school which shifted my friendships. I no longer had the friends I had before; I was friends with the most popular girl in school and almost overnight we were not friends anymore. I felt really alone and isolated; I would eat off campus by myself for lunch. Sometimes I cry during lunch and I would cry almost daily on my way home from school. I could not wait to go . I say all this to say that friendships can be hard.
Friendship as an Adult
Now as an adult, a 35 year old woman, a doctor, an outgoing introvert in the world, there are certain things I look for in a friend. As I go through these things, I want you to think about what it is that you look for in a friend. One of the things I look for is fun which to me means that we can laugh over stupid stuff. If you know me, you know I can be on the more serious side so I really enjoy people who bring out the fun side of me. Another thing I look for is trust. I need to be able to trust a friend with my stuff and don’t feel like I have to have it all together. Oftentimes people think because of what I do for a living that my life is conflict free; friend, I am a person and I have stuff going on in my life, too. Being about to be myself in a friendship is huge; I need to know that you want me for me – not because of how you can benefit from who I am and what I do for a living.
Something else I look for is a low energy friend. Now let me explain what I mean by this because we can be high energy people who produce a lot of things but a low energy friend is someone who does not drain you. You don’t leave their presence and feel exhausted. You leave feeling energized and at peace. These friends tend to have low expectations of me. To be clear, I have high expectations of myself to be a good friend and I need friends who understand that I wear a lot of hats so I am not always going to text back immediately or be able to always be available (key word is always). It would be very hard for me to be a good friend if this is what is expected of me because I would always feel like I am letting you down along with a lot of pressure. And to me, if we are feeling pressure, then we are lacking some authenticity.
Commonality in Friendships
These are some of the things I look for when choosing friends. What do you look for? Sometimes this is why I think friendships are hard for women – women have friends they work out with, went to high school with, or moms groups. I think it’s great to have commonality and similarities when it comes to friends and it is often what drives us to friendships. Long term, if you tend to be someone who talks about other people behind their back, I am probably not going to be friends with you even though we have commonality. So while commonality is a great place to start, it is not always the most reliable factor in choosing friendships. I believe that you want friendships with people who add to your life as you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. What do you look for in friendships? Let’s get clear about this so that you can have the friendships you desire, not just friendships by default.
When we think about our friendships maybe some of them were just for a season like our high school friendships or maybe you were friends with someone because you worked together but when you changed jobs, things changed with that person. Friendships shift over time and that is ok.
Why Female Friendships are GREAT
I am not one to harp on the negative; the counselor in me just won’t allow it anyways. So, let’s for just a few moments chat about why female friendships are great because they are! Female friends get things that your guy(s) just doesn’t get. Debra Tannon did some research and found that women tend to talk more often at greater length and about more personal topics. I don’t know about you but I have more words than my husband (and he’s in sales and likes to talk). Most women have more words than the men they are in relationship with. As women, we talk about fashion, our feelings, and even our periods in great detail. Men tend to shut down when we do this with them.
Women also tend to validate better and are more interested in your emotions. This is not to say the man in your life doesn’t care about what you are feeling but they tend to not go there as naturally. Women are also awesome in that they will feel with you! Now to be clear, I will never advocate that you take up another’s offense as I think that is extremely unhealthy behavior. And there is something powerful when a girlfriend says “I feel _ with you” and not allow any change in their own behavior to be affected or directed towards said offender. Women provide a camaraderie that men tend to not.
How to be a Friend
Many people have never been taught how to be a good friend or never had it modeled. In order to have a friend, you have to be a friend. As you continue reading, I want you to think about “do I do these things?” and “do I have people in my life who do these things?” Good friends are the kind of friends who reach out and say “I want to see you.” Good friends pursue. Good friends also ask questions; they want to know more about you, your family, your career, your goals, etc. When you ask good questions, you know what is actually happening in their life. Good friends also say yes. For the people who I am close with, I try to say yes to as many things as possible which means I have to say no to some other things. And when you are trying to make friends, you need to be a yes person.
Side note, I do think it is hard to be close to more than five people at a time. You may have a capacity to maintain close deep relationships with more and good for you!
Also, we must approach things with an open lens. Sometimes the people we never thought would be our friend actually end up being one of the people closest to us because they have things in them – character traits – that we actually need more of in our life. When we are not open, we are actually viewing the world through a tiny box but if we get curious about who others are, their interests, their talents, etc we can begin to expand that box. Another thing that makes a good friendship is a relationship where both friends win. A good friendship is free of competition because we both want each other to win. We make ourselves the loser when we compare. When you shine, I shine. When I win, you win! Do the friends I have in my life want me to shine? Do I want the friends in my life to shine?
I want you to know that you don’t have to believe that women can’t have good friendships. Friend you know me, I always leave you with questions to ask yourself. I really want you to think through these questions about you as a friend, who you are, how you are showing up, so that you can have the friendships you want to have and be the friend you want to be.
- What are the key things I look for in a friend?
- Am I the kind of friend I want to have?
- What have I been believing that has kept me from having the kind of friendships I want to have?
- What can I do TODAY to show up as a great friend?