Years ago, when I was suffering through a rotten breakup, the thing I wanted most was a girlfriend I could meet for drinks or ice cream sundaes or something to commiserate.
Problem was, I didn’t have any of those kinds of girlfriends in my life. Making an unfortunately too-common 20-something mistake, I’d neglected my individual friendships while hanging out with other couples with my boyfriend. When that relationship imploded, I felt the weight of my mistake, and vowed to correct it.
I started hosting hen parties at my apartment, inviting some smart, interesting women I knew to come enjoy food, drink and conversation. Slowly the group expanded and I cultivated deeper individual friendships with some of those ladies.
As a result, I am blessed to have some women in my life who I can call at 7 a.m. when I’m sobbing – and while I’m grateful this is not the only reason we’re friends (in which case, I’d have to ask Aetna if they’re covered therapists) it seems to me a pretty good test of whether you’re friendly acquaintances or real, deep friends.
Recently I’ve pulled together some small groups of ladies for soul-searching brunches to talk about our life goals and what’s holding us back. I’m profoundly grateful to know women who say yes to the invitation to let down their guard enough to talk about their ambitions and fears in a group setting, and even better, to share encouragement with each other and question and probe to try to help each other move the ball.
None of this is to diminish the role in my life of my guy friends. I’ve long had a number of male friends in my life, and in some ways, I understand their world better. You don’t typically have to read the tea leaves to figure out what’s happening in your friendship with a man — if he’s ticked off, he’ll probably tell you, then get over it next time you have drinks. Then again, most of my guy friends don’t seem to get ticked off about that much as long as there are drinks.
I’m just especially grateful to have had the chance to pull some smart, funny, considerate ladies into my life, as it’s enriched me to have some friends who understand marriage or the workplace, for example, from a woman’s perspective. And it never hurts to have some girlfriends who can help you go shoe shopping, either.