“A group of girlfriends provide a lifeline that is unlike any other”Michelle Obama
A few weeks or maybe months ago, I asked people on my TL to share what they thought about the quote “women are their own worst enemies”. As expected, a lot of women shared stories of betrayal by friends and other women, experiences with female bosses and supervisors, etc. I wouldn’t say I was very surprised by these replies. A lot of women have horror stories to share about their relationships with other girls. A lot of men also have this belief that women hate each other, and women friendships are catty, fake and filled with gossip and betrayal.
Do I blame them? NO!
Up until very recently, I shared some of these beliefs. The media, most especially the so called reality shows, does not help with this either. Female friendships have been stereotyped and portrayed in bad lights. I have however taken time to read, reflect, and understand the reasons why I held on to that narrative, and I like to think I have come to a better understanding of the beauty of female friendships and female collaborations.
Personally, I have always been a girls girl. I have loved and enjoyed female friendships all through my life. I feel most comfortable when I am with a bunch of my girlfriends. Female friendships have always just been very organic and natural for me. I mean there is always this underlying sense of camaraderie. The fact that we share similar experiences, go through similar things with our bodies, and most often have the same struggles, whether it be boys, school, career, marriage, or dealing with sexism and gender inequality. My female friends have always offered me a wholesome and safe space. A space and place where I can be whatever version of me I want to be. Goofy, serious, silly, troublesome, ITK, holy, you name it lol. And of course, this post is dedicated to them?? .
My personal experience with female friendships is however not universal. According to statistics, as many as 60% of women are distrustful of other women because of their past experiences with women. That’s 3 out of every 5 women! And that bugs me.
So in that light, I am sharing a few tips to cultivating and maintaining great female friendships.
1. Be intentional about your friends i.e choosing your friends.
Making friends and maintaining friendships as an adult can be hard. We are set in our ways. We are busy trying to navigate our lives, careers, relationships, marriages e.t.c. Reaching out to new people may not feel natural, or may feel like a lot of work. But that is the more reason why we have to be intentional about the people we have in our circle. I first heard about this concept on Michelle Obama’s podcast. The concept of not waiting for organic friendships but being intentional with people we accept into our lives. If you see someone that has a trait you admire, be it their work ethic, their faith, their values, their beliefs, their fashion sense… etc, reach out to them and forge those friendships. If you want friends that read more, join a book club. See someone at work that inspires you? Invite them for coffee. Be intentional about the people you choose to be in your circle. Don’t just sit around and hope the right friends will come to you. Being intentional about friendships also involves getting rid of friends that you have outgrown, friends that pull you back, that are toxic, that dim your light or that disturb your peace. Get rid of them!
2. The vibes you give is the vibes you will get
Yes, you want good friends, but then, are you a good friend? The energy you release is the energy you will most likely attract. If you are a back biter, a gossip, an envious person.., you might attract friends that have similar attitudes. So watch out and work on the vibes you are giving.
3. Do away with the mentality that women hate women.
See hehn, when you have that kind of mindset, where there is no problem sef, you will see problem. That mindset puts you in the defensive, you start to have what they call confirmation bias i.e the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports your prior beliefs or values. So get rid of that mindset and keep an open mind on female friendships.
4. Be ready to give and take
Friendships should be reciprocal. Don’t just think of what your friends can/should do for you, think of what you can do for your friends. Let me rephrase JFK’s words by saying: “Ask not what your friends can do for you, ask what you can do for your friends” (I was feeling myself after coming up with this quote o, so I hope you are clapping for me now ??)
5. Deal with your insecurities
One of the biggest causes of issues between girls/women is envy. There is this competitive spirit that comes from the mindset that there is not enough space for 2 women to shine. It could be because of the way we were socialized. Because of the society we grew up in. From not seeing enough women at the top, so feeling like we have to hustle our way there and there is no room for more than 1 woman. It might also be from the mistrust that comes from past relationships. All these issues can lead to insecurities that might affect your present and future friendships with girls. So, deal with these issues first. Lemme plug one of my girlfriend’s book at this point, “Hello Year 25” by Temi. One of the nuggets in the book talks about jealousy and why feeling jealous does not necessarily mean you are a bad person, you just gotta ask yourself why you are having these feelings and deal with the root cause. PS: If you haven’t checked out the book, thou art dulling. lol. Check it out HERE.
6. That it does not work does not mean women hate women.
Don’t give up on female friendships based on one experience. I mean, you don’t give up on men after one heartbreak na ( Yes, I am pulling that card, lol). Give girls more grace. Give each other grace. A lot of women and girls are dealing with so much pain and trauma that might reflect in their attitudes and actions. So be graceful.
Many of these tips have helped me, and some of them I am still working on incorporating fully into my life and relationship with my girls.
I’m going to end by saying this:
Women have always stood by each other. They have always fought for each other. The feminist and gender equality movement have been championed by women. We have always had each other’s back from time past. Let us remember this when next we want to throw out the “women are our own worst enemies” card. Remember the times girls and women have gone out of their way to help you, to support you. All the times your girlfriends have hyped you up and given you that ginger you needed. The times they joined you to cuss out a guy that broke your heart, or the times they brought out their aso- ebis and made your special day even more special. Remember the times a woman stranger has given you a pad/tampon when you really needed it, or that time a woman helped you tuck your bra strap in, or spoke out for you when you felt lost. Remember all these instances and many more where women have stood by you, and by each other. Remember this and then start letting go of the mindset that women hate each other. All that does is just stifle healthy and impactful collaborations with other women.
Thank you guys for reading and share your thoughts with me in the comment section??