I came across this video with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (the picture, obviously, is not of them because of copyright issues), who have been friends for decades. Besides the comic element they both bring to the discussion, they make some very good points about the importance of women having a strong network of female friends. I can attest to that. My women friends are very important to me. We raise each other up, we don't compete or compare, we support, we give and take advice, we share experiences, fears, triumphs, tears, laughter and all on a different level than we would with our significant others. That doesn't mean we have lousy relationships with our partners. Actually, our girlfriend relationships are complementary to the ones we have at home.
Here are some interesting tidbits on the importance of maintaining your female friendships:
- the need for community is part of our female DNA - we're more social, more community-focused, more collaborative and less competitive
- women with strong female support live longer - men who are married tend to live longer than their single counterparts. However, there is no difference in longevity between married and single women. The difference for women lies in whether they are connected to other women. Having female friendships extends out lives.
- our stress is reduced when we have time with our girlfriends - when we have 'girl time', our bodies produce oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, which will reduce the stress level.
- these phenomena are also present in the animal kingdom. When some male animals are stressed, they will run to the females in their species but when the females are stressed, they will run to other females for comfort.
- self-esteem increases - when we spend time with our girlfriends, we feel better about ourselves.
- health - when we don't have female companionship, we are at higher risk for health problems.
The sad fact though, is that friendships are waning. We have gotten so wrapped up in our own stuff that we are not making time for important relationships. Without these relationships, we lose out on the opportunities to support and be supported, to empathize, to be part of a community or just get a hg when we need it.
Say what you will about social media, but I have reconnected with more than a few girlfriends from the old days. I appreciate those friendships so much more now than I did when I was young. We have all lived very different lives but there are a lot of similarities we share. We connect on a much deeper level than we did as kids. Most of us have had significant life changing events that make us appreciate the people in our lives so much more.
The bottom line is, having the support of your female friends does not diminish your family relationships and may actually serve to enhance them. Your girlfriends provide an outlet to vent your frustrations, share your joys, fears, sorrows and can help you gain perspective in a situation where you may have lost yours. So nurture those friendships...you might live longer. At least you'll be happier in the time you're here.
As a health coach, I work with women to find their power to overcome health challenges and live a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.