The importance of female friendships

kiumo on Flickr.comSynchronicity at work. At the same time I am reading a book to review about life long female friendships, I get the following email from B, a Silver & Grace community member:

I have just two women in my life who “get” me and I know would have my back in any circumstance and I theirs. There is nothing like it. I would not know what to do without these two great women and the strength they have given me in my worst times of need and have returned the favor, as well. These are the women who the men in our lives don’t “get” because they don’t understand. Sisterhood means so much more than blood lines!

There are many studies that point to the health benefits of female friendships. Cancer patients with strong female friendships have a higher survival rate. Having close friendships lowers our blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol . As well, we are better able to manage stress.

I have to admit, I was not one for sisterhood. Late in high school, I belonged to a gaggle of girls, and we were inseparable for two years. But after graduation, we went our separate ways. I consider one of them my dear friend to this day, but we talk on the phone a couple of times per year, and make the effort to see each other once a year. But we have no idea what goes on in each other’s lives on a daily basis, so we don’t turn to each other when the life gets to us. Another older woman is near and dear to my heart, but again, our interactions are rare.

A group of women at work have been friends forever. They go on vacations together. Their families socialize on a regular basis. And they are each other’s constant comfort and support. I am honoured to be on the fringe of this group, but I have to admit that I would not want to move into the inner circle. I think I would feel claustrophobic.

However, while I might not have lifelong best girlfriends, I have always turned to women when I need to sort something out. Be that parenting, relationships, or career. And now, I am really starting to understand the benefits of sisterhood.

It all has to do with peri-menopause and menopause. Seriously, no man can even begin to discuss mood swings, insomnia and fluctuating libido with anything other than an “Oh my god, my wife has gone insane” response. Women, on the other hand, respond with “Oh, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.”

Going back to B’s email, I like to think that the women currently in my life ‘get’ me. Maybe it’s because I am an open book. What you see is what you get, so people either like me or they don’t. But either way, they don’t have to peel back any layers to see the real me.

As for ‘having my back’, this is interesting. I have a very strong group of very dear male friends I turn to ‘to have my back’. My two brothers, Mr Very Right, and several incredible men I met through work. They have always rallied around me in a time of need, and I would jump through hoops of fire for them. But I can honestly say, there are now women I would turn to, and I hope they would turn to me. And I will even go as far as to say I would probably turn to them first, before my wonderful boys.

To be honest it is a trust thing. Up until my forties, I didn’t really trust females. Crazy, but true.

In public school and most of high school, I wasn’t very cool, so, my female friends were pretty fickle when it came to friendship. They would hang out with me when no one else was around, but dump me like a hot potato when a boy was involved, or the cool crowd showed up. My adopted sister and I were fiercely competitive on many fronts, and just as we moved beyond this in our early twenties, she died in an accident, so I’ll never know where this might have led. And throughout my thirties, I never fully trusted my partner, suspecting there was another woman involved. Ten years of suspicion were confirmed when an affair with this woman ended our relationship.

But life is different now. I am settled and content, and as I tune into my own gifts as a woman, I recognize those same gifts in other women. And I am passionate about celebrating these gifts of sisterhood.

Silver & Grace is a product of that passion. Thank you, B, for sharing your thoughts and prompting this post. This is what the Silver & Grace sisterhood is all about.

Silver & Grace Approved Books

Looking for a great book on female friendships? This book has the Silver & Grace Seal of Approval as excellent resource. It can be purchased through Amazon.

The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

For other Silver & Grace Approved books check out Eliza’s Recommendations.

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