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If only I had a magic wand....

If I only I had  a magic wand… … I would instantly turn myself into a more confident and less fearful person.  Someone a little more like the person I married. … I would find a way...

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Unless your girlfriend just gave birth to a litter of puppies, you should never use the word “bitch” to her.

I’ve had good friends, bad friends, absent friends, constant friends, careless friends and friends that are actually enemies in friend-clothing. UCLA published a study that suggests that girls are better at friendships, learning early how to bond and support one another.  The study proposes that in times of intense stress, most women “tend and befriend”. In my experience, this bears true.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes girls the warm and fuzzy sex.  I’ve seen girls generate more cruelty in the name of friendship than Steven King could pen in the scariest novel of human horror.  Watch a 13-year-old “girl clique” in action and you will understand completely. And friendship abuse isn’t limited to adolescents, either. I’ve seen grown women that make these girls look like kittens with baby teeth.  What makes the fairer sex so ruthless when it comes to dismantling the very relationships she built?  And what makes the friendships go so terribly wrong?

Maybe one reason that women shred their friendships like quilt scraps is because of unfulfilled expectation.  One thing I’ve learned from being married for what feels like seven hundred years is that in most cases the person I love can be guaranteed NOT to respond like me, act like me or even think like me.  And from my extended stay in marriage-land, I’ve learned that even though this is a bit frustrating, it’s also pretty cool.  Besides he’s a guy and I don’t even expect him to “get it”.  Yet, girls often don’t extend the same generosity into friendships.  FRIENDS are SUPPOSED to always be on your side, see things your way and generally agree with you all the time – even if you’re dead wrong.  Right?  Realistically, though, is that even possible?  Sure, I back my friends and support them, but it’s not likely that I will agree with them all the time.  Nor is it realistic to expect the same from them.  Friends disagree.  It’s a fact of life.  And that can lead to hurt feelings, spiral into disappointment and end up in a place where claws are extended in a hissing contest.   

I’ve also learned that in the grown-up land of kids, husbands, jobs and hair maintenance, our girlfriends often end up on the backburner of priorities and that can lead to some pretty frustrated expectations as well.  For some, it only takes a week of “friendship neglect” to make the other feel completely abandoned, especially when communication breaks down.  Of course the level of time that it takes to jump from being “besties” to feeling “kicked to the curb” is complicated.  It depends a lot on the level of friendship involved, the maturity of the relationship and the insecurity of the one left waiting.  For example, I have a best girlfriend and we talk almost every day – except when we don’t.  This is a long, long friendship that has been around since dirt was created, so there’s not a lot of insecurity involved.  If we lapse into a few weeks without contact, neither one of us resorts into ripping up each other’s photos and vowing retribution on the house of the other.  However, I have other, newer friendships that don’t possess the same maturity.  If they “disappear” for too long, I become a jelly-fish of anxiety wondering… “Does she still like me?”  “Did I offend her?”  “Does she think I’m too fat/stubborn/ugly to be my friend?” (OK, maybe that last one is another issue completely, but you get the idea.)  After these question bubbles start forming, it’s just a short leap off the emotional diving board into downright infantile cattiness which at the least resorts into sticking out my tongue as her perky, little car drives past.

Another thing that is toxic to friendship is catty competition.  This one is exceptionally destructive because it plays against our baser nature to try to “best” the rest of the gals in the room.  “Besting” leads to jealousy which deteriorates relationship faster than salt on the undercarriage of a sedan.  It’s insidious and mean-spirited at best, and at its worst brings out the very nastiest in human behavior.  Instead of fostering a connection that feeds each other, it simply creates an environment of one-upmanship.  I’ve seen this derail many a relationship.

Female friendships are complicated.  At their best, they feed the soul and nurture the potential for greatness in each other.  At their worst, they are… the worst.  As we look at how friendships can go wrong, it’s easy to pick out preventions.  Some of them are simple, such as a quick call or text to an absent friend to say, “I know I’ve been busy, but I miss you and promise we’ll get together soon”.   Sometimes, it requires simply agreeing to disagree.  And sometimes it’s taking the advice from our mother when she used to warn us to “play nice”.  After all, unless your girlfriend just gave birth to a litter of puppies, you should never use the word “bitch” to her.

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18 Responses to Unless your girlfriend just gave birth to a litter of puppies, you should never use the word “bitch” to her.

  1. amy garner says:

    When you are developing these “newer” friendships it can seem to feel like a newly dating couple. Does she like me? Does she think I’m too needy? When will she call?
    Isn’t that crazy??

  2. Lisa says:

    OMG…I read, “don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes girls the warm and fuzzy sex” and I thought… with a woman is usually warm and fuzzy….holy cow. RE-READ and correctly file that as warm and fuzzy GENDER.

    I lost the woman I believed to be my best friend when my separation/then divorce happened. I realized that the defects in my marriage were oddly mirrored in my friendship: two people who capitalized on my sense of being responsible for everything and willing to scurry around and try whatever was necessary to make THEM happy. After those two dominant relationships ended, I found new friends who do GET me and LIKE me just as I am, mistakes and flaws and all. And I learned I am no so flawed as I had been lead to believe by my “best friend”.

  3. Amy Gump says:

    It DOES, doesn’t it?

    I totally remember how it was when we first became friends. We just seemed to click. I’m so glad that you’re my friend and I love you more than I can ever say.

  4. Amy Gump says:

    It’s devastating when you feel like you’ve put so much trust in someone you thought was a friend but turned out not to be. It makes you feel so bad about yourself. I’m so glad that you’ve been able to move on and replace the “enemy in friend clothing” with true friends. Count me as one!

  5. Heidi says:

    I basically knew about many of this, but in spite of this, I still considered it had been practical. Good job!

  6. Amy Gump says:

    Thank you, Heidi!

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  • Whale or Mermaid?

    Mermaid or Whale?

    I "borrowed" this from a friend. It's an email that was circulating a few years ago. Don’t know who wrote it so I can’t cite the contribution. If you find out, let me know.

    Recently in a large city in France , a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid

    or a whale?”

    A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.) They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia . Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs.

    They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

    Mermaids don’t exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don’t have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them … where is IT? Therefore, they don’t have kids either. Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

    The choice is perfectly clear to me: I want to be a whale.

    P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies.

    So we aren’t heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.

    Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, "Good grief, look how smart I am!"