February 22, 2010
Female friendships, Housework at its Best
Friendship is a complex endeavor. Much like housework, it takes attention to detail, it needs a commitment of time, and you have to be committed to it all day, every day. Typically, women friendships are throttled with even more accessories, (shoes, spatulas, dress makers) dips, valleys, and sometimes mountains to climb then male relationships.
Generally speaking, male friendships are filled with collective grunts around a ball and a can of beer. They are simple and easy and hardly filled with drama. You rarely hear of a man having a falling out with a buddy (unless there is money involved). Women however, are doomed with drama within their triangles of social gatherings. We are groomed from kindergarten to forge relationships that can sometimes look like an ancient monarchy. Each woman takes her place in the female social circle that can escalate, irritate and desecrate if she is not suave at mediating and resolving. Especially if there are three women, then it can become a real Boston Tea Party fighting their way in the fierce female food chain.
Two women can remain in tact, four women can stay a group forever, but three women is a dangerous mix. Because if ever two of the women have a falling out, then the third is forced to pick one over the other and she is usually going to lose a friend over her choice causing the threesome to turn into a two some which eventually leads to a lonesome. See? I told you we were complex creatures.
Years ago I heard a caller chime into the Dr. Laura program complaining about a girlfriend and wanting to cut her out of her life completely. Dr. Laura suggested, that maybe she should consider not cutting her out, since her complaint was not worthy of total isolation, but consider reinvention. If there are rough patches, there’s room to redesign this union on new terms.
I have a friend who is convinced there are three types of female behaviors categorized as Uppers, Downers, and Straighters. Uppers are friends that bring you up to a positive level; they are your cheerleaders with enthusiastic and cheerful dispositions. Downers are on the opposite scale, and can be people who have a pessimistic view on life. They can be draining and high drama. But they can also give a person a realistic look on life, which is why some people are drawn to them. And Straighters are those women who are driven, ambitious and determined to chase life with conviction. They typically like the uppers to keep them from overdoing it.
In the mix, I’d add four kinds of friends that can be any of the female behaviors discussed above:
Rockers, Keepers, Glee-ers, Scorners.
Rockers are friends you would not typically speak to on a daily basis, but should the need arise, they are there for you, picking up your kids from carpool, delivering a meal, or listening to your latest fight with your hair stylist without any judgment. They are women who are the boulders of our lives, the dependent forces we need when we can’t rely on anyone else to get the job done.
Keepers are the soul sisters that you see once in a while and tell your deepest secrets too. You don’t need much time with your Keeper, maybe a weekend a year to get caught up. (Preferably an all nighter) The bond of silence and the code of discretion is the utmost rule in this dynamic. Keepers are lifers, meaning they are in your life forever, and never ever remind you of the tales you told.
Glee-ers are the girlfriends who have no strings attached but can give you the best time you’ve ever had. They are those friends who are great vacation buddies, restaurant “dates”, or shopping pals who know how to just have fun. You wouldn’t confide in them or tell them your intimate stories, but that’s what’s nice about Glee-ers, cause you can be gleeful with them without any vulnerability, responsibility, or intimacy.
Scorners are those friends that typically never last. They are people who are jealous, angry and fraught with so much envy they can literally spend every day planning your demise. They can start off very charming. They can woo, pursue, and coax you into friendship and just when you think you have a legitimate bond they cut you off at the knees and sabotage other relationships you have built as well. Stay away from these, the Scorner is one to be reckoned with.
Although we are complex creatures filled with relationships that can cause us fierce obsessive thoughts, years of therapy, and lots of exhausting analysis, we are also creatures who can find comfort in knowing the power of a female bond is like no other. It should be cherished, and it should never be taken for granted. And so what if we can’t just find easy connection through a grunt, a ball, and a beer can, what we do have is everlasting, special and incredibly exceptional because when the right friend does come into our life at the right moment, it can be the greatest experience and gift.