As kids, our lives revolved about friendships. Making and keeping friends was easy and part of life. But as we grow-up so many things change. Education and jobs take up more time. We add the role of partner and mother to our list. Life gets busy. But what about friendships? Let’s take a look at the importance of successful women friendships as adults.
The Importance of Friendships
Wired for Connection
As humans, we deeply crave connections with others. The feeling of belonging has been an instinct from the beginning of time. Humans depended on each other and needed to be part of a tribe to survive. Today we are still wired from human interaction. When we don’t feel like we belong, it can create a lot of anxiety. On a biological level, our brains are wired to think that if we don’t have people around us, we could die.
Today, friendships are an important part of our life. Whether we have a very small circle of close friends or a larger tribe, we need those relationships. Have you ever taken time to evaluate your friendships? Take a few minutes and ask yourself questions like this. . .”What are the friendships I want to continue investing in?” “How can I be a better friend?” “Are there friendships of mine that have served a purpose for a period of time and now it is time to let go and move on?” Taking time to reflect on our friendships helps us to evaluate what we are pouring our time and energy into. This reflection is a part of self-love. When you take care of yourself and are striving to be the healthiest version of yourself, that is self-love.
Ladies – We Need Each Other!
I live with 4 men. Well, actually I live with my husband, and my three sons who range in age from twelve to eighteen years old. Growing up, I had a very close relationship with my mom and sister. I have memories of endless shopping trips, girl talk, and fun. Now,we rarely see each other due to the hundreds of miles that separate us.
It was always my dream to have a daughter but God must have laughed when sending me 3 high-energy, physical bundles of ruff and tumble. Because of this, feminine connection and my female friendships are extremely important to me. These friendships rejuvenate me, inspire me and give me the resilience to come home. Kidding…not kidding.
Successful Women Friendships in Adulthood
Friends and Acquaintances
Recently I listened to The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo. Episode #413 “Success and Friendship with Aprille Franks” really hit home with me. Brooke and Aprille discussed the differences between acquaintances and friends A friend to some people may be defined as someone you do intimate things with like traveling or spending holidays together. Many people may be connected to you but you may consider them acquaintances and not friends.
You may have different types of friends…your childhood and college friends, your work friends, your mommy friends, or maybe even your good-time gals. Often times these friendship groups do not intermix. For me, I do have these groupings of friends. I seem to keep 1 or 2 good friends from every period of my life. My girlfriends mean everything to me and so I wanted to learn more about how I can be a better friend.
Friendships Have Value
I also listened to the HERself Expert Podcast hosted by Amy and Abby. Episode #145 was on the Importance of Adult Friendship. They interviewed Dr. Marisa Franco, a friendship expert. I recently started following Dr. Franco on Instagram and I am LOVING everything she is saying!
Dr Franco shared some great “a-ha moments” such as this: when you are younger you think that romantic love is the only love that matters. In my 20’s when I wasn’t in a romantic relationship, I assumed I was unlovable even when I was surrounded by the love of my friends. Friendship is not a 3rd Class relationship. Friendship can give you the love, acceptance and fulfillment you need. . . if you surround yourself with the right people.
Dr. Franco also referenced research that says we replace half of our friends every seven years as we grow and change. When I first heard that statement, it seemed a little radical, but as I reflected there have been several deep friendships of mine that have sort of fizzled away – not because of fights but rather because life got busier or I don’t do the same activities that I did years ago. Quite an interesting thought.
In addition, Dr. Franco shared that the rates of loneliness are on the rise and very high. If you are finding it a challenge to start or maintain healthy friendships that meet your needs, you are not alone. It is more typical than you think.
How to Have Successful Women Friendships
#1 Be Confident in Yourself and What You Have to Offer Your Friends
Assume that people already like you. This thought will actually lead you to being more open and friendly. There are actually studies that show when people had the thought that they were already liked by others, their energy was more inviting. People who did not have this thought came off as cold and uninviting.
What about rejection?
The fear of rejection is huge for most people. There is actually a term called Negative Forecasting Error. This means we assume that things are going to be worse than they actually are. The fear that comes with these thoughts, actually are a blockage to possibilities. Put yourself out there and take a chance. Learn what triggers your negative thoughts if someone does not respond to your text, call or invitation. It is better to put yourself out there than to not try at all.
Are You Missing Out?
When people avoid life to avoid fear and nervousness, opportunities are missed. When it comes to the fear of rejection, some people respond with anxiety, nervousness and questioning. Other people respond to rejection with anger – pushing people away. Instead consider using positive self-talk. Say “I am worthy. I believe I have something to offer in this friendship.” Work on building a mindset to overcome rejection by practicing positive self-talk daily.
#2 Assess Yourself
Are you a good friend? How do you want to show up as a friend? Honest? Truthful? Do you show affection to your friends by telling them how much they mean to you? Are you secure enough in yourself to be genuinely happy for a friend’s success?
#3 Be Honest About Your Intentions
What do you need in your friendships? Have you communicated that to your friend? If a friend hurts your feelings, do you share that? Saying something like “It matters to me that we talk. It matters to me that we connect.” will help your friend know you need their support and energy.
Do you need boundaries with a friend? You can set boundaries in a loving non-confrontational way. Saying something like “Hey, I am really at my best before 9 pm.” This is a subtle way to let your friends know maybe there are better times to call you and 10:30 pm is not it.
#4 Nurture Your Friendships and Make an Effort to Touch Base
Marriage, children and other life transitions can change friendships. You can keep your friendships healthy when you are in a busy season by checking in and coming up with creative ways to see a friend. If you exercise or go for a walk, invite your friend. Do you need a work accountability partner, ask a friend?
Think flexible not fragile. Relationships can have ebbs and flows. When there is an ebb, it doesn’t mean the friendship is over. Remember to focus on your friend and what you can give them to help them in their life. Something small like sending a text, a funny GIF or a check-in voice mail could really mean a lot. Make your friends feel seen.
#5 Have a Friendship Ritual
Maybe as friends you have a weekly 30 minute Friday night check-in call or you plan a fun activity (bowling, crafting, shopping, lunching, axe-throwing…the list can go on and on) once a month. Have special friend rituals like a Friendsgiving, Galentine’s Day or a Holiday Bake-Off. These special times are something to look forward to especially on a gloomy day. They are also a great way to keep you connected when the day-to-day gets busy.
#6 Be Positive, Consistent and Vulnerable
These are known as the Big 3. Having positivity, consistency and vulnerability will help you have depth in your relationships. Being positive and vulnerable cements connections. No one really wants to hear negativity and complaining all the time.
When you are positive and surround yourself with uplifting people, your stress can actually decrease and you will have better coping skills during hard times. When you are vulnerable, you are real and authentic. You are letting down your walls and encouraging others to do the same. Being vulnerable helps you find people who will accept you for who you really are.
#7 Be Your Own Best Friend
You have a lot to offer. Are you taking care of yourself? Do you have access to a healthy community? You can be the juiciest peach, but not everyone always wants a peach. And actually, believe it or not, not everyone is looking for a new friend.
I remember several years ago I loved making friends. My motto was “the more the merrier”. I was out to lunch with an old friend and we were discussing this. She told me she had enough friends. I was shocked. I didn’t even know that was possible. But years later, as my life has gotten even busier and I have several core groups of beautiful friends, I do understand more.
Therefore, you may not be able to always depend on others for support. There may be times when you have to dig deep and find your own resilience to power through things. Without this self-confidence and resilience, you are not able to share what you have within yourself. Show up bigger in the world. You can do it.
I wish I had know all of these things in my 20s. After I left Michigan State University – a place filled with thousands and thousands of people my age, I moved to Ormond Beach, FL to teach a block from the beach. Back in the mid 90s the area was very transient. People always seemed to be moving in and out and to make matters worse for me, it seemed like I was one of the youngest people around. I could count the number of people of people I met in their 20s on one hand.
I had a best friend there and we did absolutely everything together, but to be honest, I was always looking for romantic love to complete me. Looking back, I wish I had known back then, that I needed to work on being my own best friend and that the friend I had in Melisa was one of the greatest gifts when I lived there.
Friendships are important. Friends are a social support group that can actually help you show up better in your other relationships in your life. When you are confident in yourself, positive, vulnerable and your own best friend you are working on creating and nurturing a better relationship with yourself and that will help you have successful women friendships in your life.
Looking for ACTIONABLE Tips on mending friendships? Check out my article “Do You Make These Friendship Mistakes? 8 Quick and Easy Ways to Handle Friendship Conflict.”
Resources to Check Out
- Dr Marissa Franco, Author of the book Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make And Keep Friends
- Why Friendship is Just as Important as Romance | Marisa Franco | TEDxEustis |Youtube
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