I hope this isn’t a disappointment, but this particular article is about one of the most sacred relationships that’s ever existed: the friendship between women.
From Ruth and Naomi to the Ya-Yas, some of the best stories ever written have been about the power and depth of the connection between female friends, and for a valid reason—women who have amazing friends can’t imagine life without one another.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about the special ladies in my life because I’m in a spot that makes my friendships exceedingly difficult to spend time on.
My family’s needs—and my own—leave almost no room for phone conversations, much less frequent girls’ nights out. Plus, many of my besties live far away and, well, friendship is something that needs tending to in order to continually blossom, much like a romantic relationship.
So here’s a short list I’ve compiled about how to love another woman—and how to offer ourselves as best friends.
1. Judge less, listen more.
Placing our own life’s experiences and personality traits onto a friend’s situation is not ideal.
Yes, it’s often nearly impossible to not take mental notes about how we would do things differently, but my suggestion is this: don’t only verbally judge a friend less, offer yourself the freedom to listen without needing to assess the information.
This is different than a friend hurting herself or someone else, and this is also taking into consideration that a friend is a healthy, positive influence in my life. Having these crucial requirements met—people are not the same.
Sure, I might never have said that out loud to my mother-in-law, but we choose the friends we do because they compliment us, not because they mirror us.
Enjoy these differences and try to really listen to her more and talk back—and even think critically and responsively—less often.
2. Have fun together.
Just like romantic partners need to go out and have fun together from time to time—in order to be reminded of why they like spending time with each other in the first place—it’s equally important for girlfriends to have fun together.
Not everything in a friendship has to be serious and soul-baring, and it also doesn’t have to be elaborate, expensive or overly time-consuming. (Seeing that many of my friends are young moms, we don’t have that as an option anyways.)
For example, one of my favorite things to do is meet my best friend for a yoga class. We both get to practice our yoga, and if we have time we’ll grab a coffee together.
Speaking of coffee, I often meet my other best friend for coffee before getting our kids from school. We usually have only 15 minutes to interact, but this time is hugely important in my life (I realize this when I have to skip out).
3. Look at her.
We get used to barely looking at the people that are part of our daily lives.
Make sure to take time to pause and look into a friend’s eyes when talking with her. Notice how she’s standing. Typically these little things can inform us about what a friend might not be saying.
4. Touch her.
People need physical touch. Especially when a friend is single or her partner works a lot—frankly, many of us need more human touch than we get.
Don’t be afraid to hug and kiss a friend on her cheek.
5. Be perceptive.
A good friend is not necessarily someone who makes over-the-top gestures. A good friend is the one who knows how I like my coffee.
She knows that when I haven’t been answering texts this means that I’m either upset or busy, so she checks in on me—possibly making “too many” calls and sending several messages (and she knows that it’s not “too many” for me).
And a good friend understands that it’s these little things that make you special to her and vice versa—and you celebrate these quirks together.
6. She can stand up to me.
An ideal friend is someone who, absolutely, doesn’t critique me unnecessarily. On the other hand, my dearest friends can tell me if they think I’m making a mistake or they can offer a piece of wisdom that they think would help me.
For example, I was finally having to deal with teaching my daughter to apologize awhile back and my friend chimed in, letting me know that a much healthier way to do this is to show young kids to ask others “are you okay?” rather than say “I’m sorry.” This teaches empathy instead of reinforcing guilt. Good to know!
And the best friendships? When I can reciprocate this. We’re on equal ground and we respect each other enough to be honest when necessary and no one is regularly feeling bull-dozed by the stronger personality.
7. Forgive her.
She will make mistakes.
I will make mistakes.
Everyone on God’s green earth will make mistakes.
If a friend is wonderful enough to be in my life, then I need to know to forgive her and, better yet, help her forgive herself too.
8. Stay out of her other relationships.
It’s fine and dandy to have friends in common—some amazing friendship circles work this way.
Still, I need to keep in mind that just because I don’t happen to like Suzie Q, she’s allowed to. I should stay out of her other friendships when they don’t involve me, and if I respect her, then I can respect the people she chooses to bring into her life, other than me.
Honestly—I don’t know how some women make it through life without girlfriends. I know that life, for me, would not be worth living.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” ~ Swedish Proverb
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum