There are 4 truly damaging myths about friendships that are holding us women back from creating and enjoying these most fulfilling relationships. Get over them and get on with finding meaningful ones in your own life.
- Every woman has either a BFF that she has been friends with since childhood/high school/college or a tight-knit group of quirky, well-dressed besties, and these kinds of friendships last forever.
- Regardless of which of those options women have, they talk to their friends several times every day.
- While the women themselves might be complicated, their friendships are not.
- If a woman’s life doesn’t look like this, it is because there is something fundamentally wrong with her.
Does your life look like this? Mine certainly doesn’t, and while I am sure that there are some women who genuinely have this kind of experience and these kinds of friendships, I am fairly sure those women are the exception, rather than the rule.
But how often do we stop to think about the validity of that portrayal of what female friendships looks like? Unfortunately, most of us don’t. We simply accept that this is what it is “supposed” to be like and that since our lives don’t look like this, there is something essentially wrong with us.
In truth, this perfect picture of how female friendship is supposed to work is really just an interpretation or representation of some of today’s most pervasive myths about female friendship. Buying into these myths and adopting this representation of friendship as the holy grail of how things are supposed to be is dangerous, for us and for our daughters. It creates an unrealistic and overly romanticized idea of what it means to have a friend and to be a friend. It sets yet another unachievable standard that most of us will never be able to live up to, and in truth, probably don’t actually want. And most importantly, believing these myths about friendship sets us up to miss out on the actual friendships that are available to us, simply because they don’t live up to the myth.
Let’s break that cycle by breaking down this idealized version of friendship into the myths that sustain it and get real about what our friendships are really like.
Myth #1 BFFs and Besties
The idea that two or more people can be “Best Friends Forever” may be one of the most damaging myths our society embraces. Don’t get me wrong, I know people who have found this kind of friendship and it can be real and when it is, it is awesome. But it is not a requirement in order to have a fulfilling life. The reason it is damaging is that it creates this idea that “real” friendships last for life and minimizes the significant impact more transient relationships can have on your life.
In truth, buying into the idea that you and your friend(s) will grow and change in ways that are always complementary and that will never lead you in different directions is unrealistic and may actually cost you your friendship in the end. In reality, friends come and go over the course of our lives and we are likely to have several people at different stages who feel like a best friend. Treasure each friendship for what it is, right now, rather than assuming it will always be there.
Myth #2 - Being Friends Means Being in Constant Contact (Facebook Doesn’t Count)
Honestly, I haven’t had this kind of friendship since I was in college and it was much easier back then because we all lived in the same dorm, took the same classes, and did the same thing on Friday night. And yet, I have found myself questioning how “good” my friendships are because I don’t have this kind of constant daily contact with the friends I would consider the closest. Unfortunately, even though it is not the reality many of us experience on a daily basis, the idea that this is what we should be striving for, that this is what it is supposed to be like, persists.
In truth, some days I don’t even have anything interesting to share with my husband, who lives in the same house, shares most aspects of my life, and does the same thing I do on Friday night. It is okay to have as much or as little contact as each individual friendship requires. Not talking every day or even every week is not a sign that you aren’t good friends; it is a sign that you are grown women with a busy life.
Myth #3 - Real Friendship are Easy to Sustain
The older I have grown, the truer this has become. There was a time that friendships just “were” and I didn’t have to work too hard to sustain them … it was called high school and had everything to do with proximity. But there is a reason so many people have turned to online dating to find a mate, in this world, meeting new people and establishing new relationships of any kind is hard work. Friendships are no different than romantic relationships in this regard. Unfortunately, many of us continue to believe that friendship happens organically, and that all you need is love to make a marriage work.
In truth, if you want to meet new people and make new friends, you are going to have to work to do so. And, if you want to keep the friendships you have and the connections you have already made, that is going to take work too.
Myth #4 – If Your Friendships Don’t Look Like This, There is Something Wrong with You
This is the most damaging myth of all because it simply isn’t true. We all have different needs and are at different stages in our life which means the things we need from others, including the kind of friendships we need, differs too.
In truth, some of us love having lots of friends, and some of us are more comfortable with one or two. All that really matters is that you have the type of friendships that work for you and that those friendships bring happiness into your life.