I have some really great girl friends – the girls that I grew up with at home in Canada, and the lovely ladies that adopted me into their lives when I lived in England. I love love LOVE THEM, and I’m pretty sure that you would, too, if you met them. They are fantastic – loving, supportive, witty, funny, smart as hell (there’s not a dumbass amongst them), and they love me, too….which is just the best. I can happily report that with most of them, we’ve never had arguments – we may disagree about some things, but…we don’t argue with each other, there’s no drama or fighting going on, nothing. I would like to say it’s because we are above that shit, but…truthfully, I just think we can’t be bothered. Life is too short, we get over things and move on….it’s beautiful.
I’ve mentioned before my problems with making friends in San Antonio – I’m sadly coming to the conclusion that the problem must be me, which makes me feel really badly. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but clearly….it’s something. I was reading an article on my beloved Jezebel today entitled “How To Be Friends With Another Woman” (written by the amazing Roxane Gay) – it’s really great, please be sure to read it – but here’s the gist of it:
1. Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be toxic, bitchy or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to SLOW women down.
1A. This is not to say women aren’t bitches or toxic or competitive sometimes but rather to say that these are not defining characteristics of female friendship, especially as you get older.
2. A lot of ink is given over to mythologizing female friendships as curious, fragile relationships that are always intensely fraught. Stop reading writing that encourages this mythology.
2A. The female friendship in Sheila Heti’sHow Should a Person Be? is actually awesome and powerful. If you read it as otherwise, ask yourself why.
3. If you find that you are feeling competitive, toxic, or bitchy toward the women who are supposed to be your closest friends, look at why and figure out how to fix it and/or find someone who can help you fix it.
4. If you are the kind of woman who says, “I’m mostly friends with guys,” and act like you’re proud of that, like that makes you closer to being a man or something, and less of a woman as if a woman is a bad thing, see Item 3. It’s okay if most of your friends are guys but if you champion this as a commentary on the nature of female friendships, well, soul search a little.
4A. If you feel like it’s hard to be friends with women consider that maybe women aren’t the problem. Maybe it’s just you.
4B. I used to be this kind of woman. I’m sorry.
5. Sometimes, your friends will date people you cannot stand. You can either be honest about your feelings or you can lie. There are good reasons for both. Sometimes you will be the person dating someone your friends cannot stand. If your man or woman is a scrub, just own it so you and your friends can talk about more interesting things. My go to explanation is, “I am dating an asshole because I’m lazy.” You are welcome to borrow it.
6. Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.
6A. If you’re having a rough go of it and a friend is having the best year ever and you need to think some dark thoughts about that, do it alone, with your therapist, or in your diary so that when you actually see your friend, you can avoid the myth discussed in Item 1.
6B. If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this, without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome. Men invented nepotism and practically live by it. It’s okay for women to do it too.
6C. Don’t tear other women down because even if they’re not your friends, they are other women and well, this is just important. This is not to say you cannot criticize other women but understand the difference between criticizing constructively and tearing down cruelly.
6D. Everybody gossips so if you are going to gossip about your friends, at least make it fun and interesting. As a corollary, never say, I never lie or I never gossip because you are lying.
6E. Love your friends’ kids even if you don’t want or like children. Just do it.
7. Tell your friends the hard truths they need to hear. They might get pissed about it but it’s probably for their own good. The other day my best friend told me to get it together about my love life and demanded an action plan and well, it was irritating but also useful.
7A. Don’t be totally rude about truth telling and consider how much truth is actually needed to get the job done. Finesse goes a long way.
7B. These conversations are more fun when preceded by an emphatic, “GIRL.”
8. Surround yourself with women you can get sloppy drunk with who won’t draw stupid things on your face if you pass out, and who will help you puke, if you over celebrate and who will also tell you if you get sloppy drunk too much or behave badly when you are sloppy drunk.
9. Don’t flirt (too much), have sex, or engage in an emotional affair with your friends’ significant others. This shouldn’t need to be said but it needs to be said. That significant other is an asshole and you don’t want to be involved with an asshole that’s used goods. If you want to be with an asshole, get a fresh asshole of your very own. They are abundant.
10. Don’t let your friends buy ugly outfits or accessories you don’t want to look at when you hang out. This is just common sense.
11. When something is wrong and you need to talk to your friends and they ask you how you are, don’t say, “Fine.” They know you’re lying and it irritates them and a lot of time is wasted with the back and forth of “Are you sure?” and “Yes?” and “Really?” and “I AM FINE.” Tell your lady friends the truth so you can talk it out and either sulk companionably or move on to other topics.
12. If four people are dining, split the check evenly four ways. We are adults now. We don’t need to add up what each person had anymore. If you’re high rolling, just treat everyone and rotate who treats. If you’re still in the broke stage, do what you have to do.
13. If a friend sends a crazy e-mail needing reassurance about love, life, family, or work, respond accordingly and in a timely manner even if it is just to say, GIRL, I hear you. If a friend sends you like thirty crazy e-mails needing reassurance about the same damn shit, be patient because one day that’s going to be you tearing up GMAIL with your drama.
14. My mother’s favorite saying is “qui se ressemble s’assemble.” Whenever she didn’t approve of who I was spending time with she’d say this ominously. It means, essentially, you are who you surround yourself with.
Good stuff, eh? Last week, I had a surprising experience with someone who I thought was my friend – and even though, in the grand scheme of life it’s SO not a big deal, it has bothered me and hurt me quite a lot. When I was at my last school, I became quite friendly with one of my co-workers. I liked her a lot, her kids came to the Wee One’s birthday party, we went to their house and birthday parties, it was all good stuff. I got my new job after school had ended for the year – and she heard about it from someone else before I had the chance to tell her (it hadn’t even been confirmed yet – my parents didn’t even know, for Christ sakes). She sent me a snotty text message about my new job, and that was it. I responded, sent her a number of messages over the summer – nada. Now, we know that I’m a person who likes to give others the benefit of the doubt, and I try to always think the best of people – so I assumed that something was amuck with her phone, and that was why she didn’t reply. Last week was the first week back at school with kids, and I sent her an email on our work system, wishing her a good year, hoping that her first couple of weeks back had gone well, and telling her that I missed her. Not only did she not respond, but she deleted the message and then EMPTIED THE TRASH. (our email system at work lets us track such things) I could not believe it – her actions seemed to be among the pettiest I’ve ever seen. I was so irritated I wanted to pick up the phone and rip her a new one, but…that’s not me. I avoid confrontation whenever possible, and I don’t care to yell at people if I can possibly help it. (After 17+ years in Education, and having to discipline a million kids and give them shit and call them on their crap, I guess I just don’t care to deal with it in my personal life) Instead, I left the email I had sent her open on my desktop for a while, just to be sure that I hadn’t sounded bitchy or something (I hadn’t), and then I deleted it and emptied it, too. There was absolutely nothing to be gained by me keeping it around as a constant reminder of yet another person who had done me wrong. I’m chalking the whole thing up to experience (although I have no idea why she is angry with me) – actually, let’s chat about that for a minute, shall we? Is she upset because somebody else told her about my new job before I did? Who cares!! Get over it, girl!! Be happy for me that I found a new job that I’m better suited for and moooove on! Perhaps she is angry because I am leaving that school (and all of its troubles) – and she is not. If so, well, then I’m sorry, but…that wasn’t a healthy environment for me at all, and I had to go. Also, she could move on, too, if she chose to – she chooses to stay. So – suck it up, Buttercup. As for any other reason she could be pissy – I have NO idea. I just know that her behavior would have been petty and childish had it come from a teenager – let alone a woman in her early 40s. I’m just done with the whole thing.
Finding a supportive female friend is becoming more and more rare, it seems – why is that? Why must women be so competitive with each other? Why must we build ourselves up by tearing those around us down? It’s vile behavior – and something that us smart girls should know better about, don’t you think? I’ve written before about The Incredible Bitch Blog (love her) – she wrote a post a few months ago about Crazy Women at Work…be sure to give it a read, it’s good stuff, and it reminds me so much of all of the crap that women do to each other in the workplace. And WHY? What is the point??! We should be working together to help each other advance, and not purposely sabotaging each other in an attempt to play a giant game of one-ups-manship! It’s ridiculous!!! Come on, girls…we’re better than this! Let’s act like it!!! If in doubt, give the lovely Caitlin Moran’s book “How To Be A Woman” a read, or, if you’re pressed for time, look over my review And be nice to each other…come on. Life’s just way too short, friends.