It is a recommendation I make often. Though it is often overlooked, it is vital to our mental and emotional well beings as women. Call it a village, a tribe, or simply a group of gals… women need ’em.
But why? There are many articles out there written on the topic, all outlining important reasons for maintaining your female friendships. Anthropologically, women have relied upon women for their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In hunter/gatherer days, women would be in the village with other women and children while men went out hunting. Women relied upon one another for survival and support. 19th century women often relied almost exclusively on other women for their emotional and mental needs, as marriage was often a mere social contract. This history has shaped the way our brains function, relate to others, and what fuels us.
I often hear the response, “I just don’t seem to get along with other women.” This is a response I understand. Heck, it was my excuse for not having chick friends for years. I had an assumption about other women, an assumption that led me to believe I was just different from them. Bound to an eternity of only having male friends. What was it that created such a barrier? For some women it’s feeling as though they don’t enjoy stereotypical female things, like shopping, nails, and wine. I’ve heard others express women are too dramatic, untrustworthy, or gossipy. Still some rely too heavily upon romantic partners, and end up struggling when an argument arises.
It’s time, ladies. Time to stop assuming the worst of other women, perpetuating negative stereotypes, and believing we don’t need one another. The world is harsh enough-it’s time we stick together more.
Truth is, your brain is missing a vital nourishment without a village. We’ve come a long way, but our neurological system is shaped by our history. We have more oxytocin in our system than men, which fuels our “tend and befriend” tendency and allows us to rebound faster from conflict. Research has also found that married women are more unhappy than single women, and married men are happier than single men. Why? Men rely upon one person for their emotional support, whereas women rely on a tribe. Women typically process and cope with difficult times through communicating and sharing with others. When this is blocked, they aren’t as resilient in the face of trouble. This is seen even in the case of cancer, where it has been found that women with more friends have a greater chance of survival, even when those female friends live far away. Simply having friends is protective.
Having friends helps us stay in touch with ourselves, our career goals, and our community. If you’re struggling to find your village or are afraid you “just can’t get along with women,” take a deep breath. Finding your few fabulous friends takes time and a bit of courage. Of course, you won’t get along with all women. The good news is that you don’t have to. Be on the lookout for friends who share your same interests, goals, sense of humor, or personality. Don’t like getting your nails done? Prefer hiking? Then seek out friendships that encourage outdoor fun instead of pampering. Stay true to yourself. As you do, you’ll be able to find the women out there who can meet you wherever you are. Believe me, they’re out there.
For me, it was a tribe made up of successful, independent, world-traveling women. As the years have gone on, the friendships have grown and changed. With practice, befriending women has become a more natural venture for me. I can enjoy a good pedicure as much as a gritty hike. And whether my friends live close by or on the other side of the world, I’m always comforted knowing they’re there.
The odds of finding such a tribe in this time and culture can feel insurmountable. With social media fueling disconnection, women are ever more isolated. How do you locate those women to nurture your spirit? It’s up to you. This is where the courage piece comes into play. You can utilize social media, like Meetup, to look for activities and groups that engage in things that are more up your alley. You could go volunteer somewhere, or simply look for the women in your every day work or school. It might take a little courage to strike up conversation or invite them to an activity with you, but what do you have to lose? I get it, the fear of rejection is fierce. Yet, the power you give it is just as important. Release your fear by focusing on your ultimate goal: finding people who are good for you. If someone declines or gives you a cold shoulder, you know they might not be a good fit for the job (and that’s okay!).
If you need more support going out and gathering your tribe, consider counseling (individual or group!) to help you along the way. Feel free to reach out.
Believe in yourself,
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