Women and Friendship

“Choose a woman who chooses you” were words spoken by David Deida in reference to intimate partnership. I’m finding them really helpful in the context of female friendship.

One of the reasons I’ve noticed that friendships between women can go awry is not at all in a lack of love or caring, but in a difference of visions for the relationship. Just like in intimate partnership, when one person “wants more” than the other, expectations can unconsciously be created. Maybe we should treat friendship a tiny bit more like partnership where we discuss each woman’s vision early on for how she’d like to see the relationship develop. This could clear up a whole mess of misunderstanding about where friendships “are going”.

Lifestyle and family obligations play a huge role, as does the number of deep friendships someone already has in close proximity. For example, if a woman has many close friends nearby and a busy family life with lots of demands on her time, she may not have the desire or space to form another deep bond. In contrast, someone who recently moved to an area who has a lot of flexibility in her schedule, and doesn’t know many women locally yet, may be very interested in a new, substantial connection. In recent years, I have tended to fall into this second description.

It’s not about the amount of time spent together, really, it’s about what each woman is looking for and the capacity she has to create it. Does she want friendship the same way you do, and what does that look like? Maybe some additional defining of specifics could be helpful. Not to make friendship too clinical, but just a little maybe. It could be beneficial in saving from a lot of misconception and hurt later.

It’s all assumption and expectation leading to disappointment which would be great to avoid but, let’s face it, can happen. It’s hard to see coming, at least it has been for me. I’ve sometimes found myself wishing for a deeper connection than a woman friend is interested in or can offer. I have been disappointed at times realizing that I’ve done it to myself because I formed unconscious expectations. I may have assumed that we had similar visions for friendship and capacities for it, but given our respective lifestyles, wishes and demands placed on our attention, the differences were too great.

It doesn’t happen with all friendships, I’ve noticed, but in the ones where the connection creates a longing for more in at least one of the women. That’s when it may be good to be more conscious, more aware, even cautious, and take steps early on to reveal potential misunderstandings. Our clear consciousness of our own intentions in friendship can be a great gift to other women too in preventing confusion.

So I come back to those words, choose a woman who chooses you. It’s a matching up of sorts. There’s no right or wrong way in friendship, just similarity, difference and degrees of these. My feeling is that, like intimate partnership, friendship works best when women choose each other with a similar wish for depth and connection, a similar capacity to offer themselves and, ideally, when each friend chooses a woman who chooses her.