“Women rely on friends. If you’re lucky like me, you have a built-in best friend called a husband, but I will always need my female friends, and I think most of us do. We simply can’t exist without the connections to other women. That’s where we draw sustenance and find safety.” From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

I found myself getting jealous and petty while reading the chapter on friends. Women…ugg…I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with them. I don’t find it easy at all to be friends and can count on one hand all of my close female friends. Lately, I’ve found myself asking why.

I’ve come to the startling conclusion that it’s because I am not a good friend. I find it easier to be friends with men because they don’t ask anything of me. They don’t need me to be there. They don’t cry much. They don’t want to gossip or worry over what other people are doing. They drink more. They aren’t afraid of driving somewhere. And I’ve never had a male friend say that a hiking trail seems a little too hard or scary.

It’s about me. My ego is strong and gets in the way of my relationships with women.

I keep thinking of reasons why men make better friends than women, but I’m only making excuses and being defensive. I do crave the camaraderie that I see other women have, that ease of conversation and bonding that I see my mother and aunt have with their friends. I have had that relationship with a few select women over the years, a few of which have broken my heart and/or drifted away. I’ve been sitting here thinking what it is about them that I love so much, and I can’t put my finger on it.

There’s nothing like a great lunch date with my close female friends. It’s usually a one-on-one thing. I’ve never been much of a group activity kind of person. We don’t do much. We meet someplace for coffee, food, or drinks. We wander around stores looking at things. We walk at parks. Sometimes we meet at each other’s houses. We talk about all the things that are driving us crazy and then decide next time we’ll be more positive, only to go right back to, “Oh, my lord, and then this happened…” And when I leave, I feel lighter, like a confession but with a friend that smiles and says, “Yeah, me too.” I’m not alone.

When I hear about friends that go on family vacations together, women’s retreats, or cruises, I get a little envious. These women have parties together, watch each other’s kids, who knows what else. But then I remember that I don’t like those things. My friends, those women I rely on for strength when I really need it, or at least a good joke, or an inappropriate laugh? Those ones that don’t flinch when I say something off-color or mean just to vent frustration and then feel bad about it…they are out there, just a text away. And they’re just like me, ready to help when they are called upon, but otherwise living their own lives, struggling to get their own shit together.

We’re all different. We all have different needs and those needs change from time to time.

I think she’s right. We do rely on these relationships, and we should seek them out and foster their growth in the same way we do with our other relationships. Like her, I’m lucky to have a “built-in best friend” called my husband, a few wonderful male friends I rely on for company and perspective, AND a few female friends that I simply could not live well without. I’ve been neglecting that part of my life and wondering why those relationships were failing me…hmm…time to reprioritize!

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”