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The Power of Friendships Between Women


KLZ 560 AM Radio Denver
Peggy Spiro Talk Show
(Resource Notes)


Why are friendships between women important?

What makes good friendships between women?

Should we have more than one best girlfriend?

How do we relate to our girlfriends at various stages of our lives?

What are some of the differences between women's friendships and men's friendships?

Should you give your girlfriend advice?

Can girlfriends be soul mates?

What about competition between girlfriends?

How do men feel about their women having female friends?

How does stress promote bonding between women?

How do girlfriends help us to live longer?

What happens when we get too busy to keep our friendships going?

What is the trend in friendships between women today?


Why are friendships between women important?

Having someone you can turn to in a crisis can be invaluable. The old adage, a friend in need is a friend indeed, sums up the essence of many friendships with other women.

Friends eliminate isolation and loneliness. Having a friend is what keeps us sane, make us laugh and allow us to be who we need to be. We empower each other and appreciate each other when no one else will. Sharing ourselves with another woman contributes to our emotional well-being.

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What makes good friendships between women?

Shared experiences, interests, and values along with common marital status are often found in friendships between women. Women willing to make a deep commitment to their female friends usually have a willingness to share important feelings, thoughts, experiences and support with each other.

Being present and listening deeply and compassionately to what our friends are sharing with us is invaluable.

Not keeping score can make a big difference. In other words, trusting the knowledge that over an extended period of time, all favors will balance out whereas neither of you will end up doing way more for one than the other does for you, and knowing that it really doesn’t matter anyway.

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Should we have more than one best girlfriend?

Many of us do. Different friends bring out different sides to our personality. For example, you may have a friend with wonderful taste in clothes and she becomes your shopping guru; how about that friend that loves going with you to funky restaurants that serve gourmet food; then there’s the really best friend that you can talk to about absolutely anything!

Through associating with a variety of different friends, you get to exercise many different sides of your personality. This promotes more self-awareness and allows you to become more of who you are.

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How do we relate to our girlfriends at various stages of our lives?

We may have different kinds of friends at different stages in our lives. For example, as a teen, we may have spent time with our best friend talking about clothes, makeup, boys, sex, and gossiping about our peers.

In our 20s, topics may evolve to include discussions about our relationships, jobs or college, plans for the future, and more "who am I" types of explorations.

The 30s friendships may revolve more around themes having to do with careers, buying a home, marriage, starting a family and so forth.

When we move into our 40s, both our friends and ourselves may be looking more at our values, what we want out of life, possible career changes, perhaps partner changes, going back to school for a graduate degree or starting a new business.

During our 50s and 60s, we tend to become more aware of seeking ways to get added enjoyment out of life, perhaps travel becomes a subject for dreaming and planning, remodeling our home might be under consideration, becoming more involved in doing volunteer community work may grab our attention.

As we continue to age, many of us find ourselves widows or otherwise single. Friends take on even more importance in our lives for companionship and sharing our concerns about aging, elder care, better health consciousness. We may be inclined to review old nostalgic memories of pain and laughter more.

You may be one of the lucky ones who still have a connection with your childhood best friend as you journey into the later years of your life.

One of the things you will probably have learned is that friendships often ebb and flow. There may be times when you drift apart; one of you gets married, the other is busy climbing the career ladder. Then one day, you reconnect only to discover the old feelings of bonding and rapport are still there.

Sometimes friendships are forged through a powerfully shared experience such as a disaster or other overwhelming crisis, and become long lasting.

Other times we may simply cultivate friendships of convenience such as a co-worker that we have lunch with or a neighbor who also has young children, or through a community project.

These friendships can be special and nurturing even though they may not survive a change in residence or job relocation.

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What are some of the differences between women’s friendships and men’s friendships?

With our women friends, we can talk about all kinds of personal things. PMS, child rearing, our personal growth journeys, ponder our relationships with husbands or partners, our families, and talking seriously about the meaning of life are just some of the things we may discuss.

These conversations may take place with a best friend while attending a movie, at home, shopping, at the coffee house, or at a bookstore.

Friendships between men, on the other hand, are much more activity oriented. Men tend to have bowling buddies, tennis buddies, and fishing buddies.

Conversation is usually not personal or intimate. Discussions may include sports scores, a sharing of tips for like-minded enthusiasts of antique cars or golfing experiences.

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Should you give your girlfriend advice?

Yes and no. If it is actually an opinion she is seeking such as which color does she look best in, then tell her in an honest and sensitive way. If she is going through serious relationship problems and asks you whether she should leave her partner, then be wary of giving advice.

The exception to this is if she is in an abusive relationship that is emotionally and/or physically violent, or damaging to her self-esteem then encourage her to seek professional help from a counselor at a women’s Safe House.

Most importantly, encourage her to express her thoughts and feelings while you remain her supporter. Sometimes, we women just need to ventilate to a loving ear, and in the process, we arrive at our own insights and decisions.

Encourage her to describe her feelings and to talk about the problem in detail. Avoid being judgmental or critical. Practice unconditional love and acceptance toward her.

If she becomes even more upset and it makes you uncomfortable, just hold firm in your support as you continue to motivate her in expressing her emotions.

Saying such things as, "Tell me more about that," or "How did that make you feel?" will help her the most. She will eventually calm down and move on through the crisis, thanking you for being there for her.

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Can girlfriends be soul mates?

The dictionary defines a soul mate as a person temperamentally suited to another.

According to some beliefs, a soul mate is someone you have been close to and traveled through many lifetimes with. Edgar Casey, a well-known prophet, stated that we encounter at least 35 soul mates in a lifetime. These may be lovers, teachers, students, mentors, best friends and family.

Soul mates are recognized through our feelings. There is an automatic feeling of instant rapport, you feel like you can trust them, you feel as if you can talk with them about anything and they will love you anyway.

In fact, you want to know everything about them, and they want to know all about you, your life, experiences, values and dreams.

Your lives can diverge, you may end up living at opposite sides of the country, yet when you get on the phone or meet in person, even years later, it’s as if you can pick up exactly where you left off without missing a beat.

Your soul mates are special people that you should love and cherish forever.

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What about competition between girlfriends?

Competition can sometimes be tricky. It can rear up over dating, looks, a job promotion, economic one-upmanship and so on. Jealousy and envy can lurk in the shadows and suddenly bring bad feelings into a relationship.

Being able to discuss these toxic feelings openly with each other can lead to compromise and acceptance. Also realizing that we each have special talents and strengths that make us unique and special and that each of us has our own path to follow can be helpful

Historically, friendships between women have been devalued and seen as frivolous and superficial.

Many women, especially from older generations were brainwashed into developing the competitive edge over their female peers. They were taught that it was important to be the most popular girl in class, the most desirable date, the prettiest, and so on. This meant doing everything possible to be better than the other girls.

Sadly, this kind of thinking can destroy a wonderful friendship between young and old alike. It needs to be tempered with a more philosophical, compassionate and understanding attitude along with a plan for positive action.

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How do men feel about their women having female friends?

Men who feel especially insecure may often discourage their female partners from having girlfriends. They may feel left out or jealous of the time spent away from them.

They may resent overheard laughter being shared by their partner with her best friend thinking they are laughing at him, or laughing over things that she doesn’t tell him.

Ideally, these men will share their concerns with their women and have their fears put to rest once and for all. Then just maybe his partner’s best friend may become his best friend too!

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How does stress promote bonding between women?

According to a landmark UCLA study, women respond to stress differently than men do. This is a stunning finding that has turned 50 years of stress research–most of it on men-upside down.

The catalyst for this research happened when two women scientists were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. They observed that when women were under stress, they had coffee and bonded while men isolated themselves.

History has shown that when men are stressed, they react with the "fight or flight" response. It was assumed that women responded in the same way. New research on women, however, has now established that women’s responses are much broader in scope then men’s.

It was discovered that when people are under stress, the hormone oxytocin is released. In women, oxytocin buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead–called tending and befriending.

As she follows this pattern, the studies suggest that more oxytocin is released which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. Estrogen also enhances it.

This calming response does not happen in the same way with men because testosterone–which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress–seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin.

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How do girlfriends help us to live longer?

Having girlfriends we can interact with on emotionally intimate levels help us to reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. Also, having friends help us lower age related physical impairments.

Having friends help us reduce stress-related health problems. When we are overcome with stress for extended periods of time, elevated levels of stress hormones can affect blood glucose levels, healing, bone density and the aging process.

The immune system is impaired and mental function can be compromised. Friends offer social and personal support, which can eliminate the harmful effects of stress.

Not having at least one close friend or confidant is as bad for your health as smoking or carrying extra weight, say experts.

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What happens when we get too busy to keep our friendships going?

Building a career, being a super mom, and taking care of her man can overwhelm any woman into putting her girl friends on the back burner. That is a mistake.

Women nurture and soothe each other with closeness, caring and emotional support. Being with a girlfriend is a healing experience we all need on a regular basis.

Make a commitment with your girlfriends to create time together. Perhaps you agree to meet for dinner once a month, or engage in scheduled weekly phone calls. How about planning a weekend away or day retreat at a local spa?

Email can help to keep a friendship intact; however, personal contact offers much more in the way of healing where emotions are shared such as grief, anger, worry and heartache, and a hug makes everything all right again.

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What is the trend in friendships between women today?

I see more and more women coming to the realization that friends and the quality of life are taking precedence over other ambitions.

Creating time for friends is gaining importance in bringing balance into busy lives. Being caught up in family activities does not take the place of girlfriends.

Women are beginning to recognize that they really can re-define and re-design their lives to include nurturing friendships with other women along with families and careers. Life coaches and alternative counselors are experts in coaching women on how to bring mind, body, and emotional and spiritual balance back into their lives.

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