I am not a great girl friend. Actually, when it comes down to it, I’m not that great at being a girl in general. And it’s becoming apparent enough now that even I’m noticing, which means it might be time to make a change.
I mentioned last week that things in the friendship department have kind of fallen to the wayside due to work/life balance and internal growing pains. What used to be a long list of fun acquaintances in my recent call log has dwindled to approximately 3 humans who aren’t work associations. My phone used to ring daily for evening dinners and drinks and I hardly had time to fit in all the activities I’d planned with a variety of groups on the weekends. These days, I’m either spending my weeknights on the road chatting mindlessly with strangers at hotel bars over dinner or wolfing down a hastily prepared dinner in front of my tv, and it’s almost guaranteed my phone doesn’t make a peep on the weekends. Truthfully I stay so busy and tired, sometimes I don’t even notice until Sunday night.
While being comfortable alone is a positive, there is something to be said for too much of a good thing. Humans are pack animals. We crave interaction and connection, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m so starved for human touch that at this point getting my hair done feels like getting to 3rd base on a date. Women in particular are naturally more inclined to need intimacy, sharing and exchange of emotions to feel fulfilled, while men could just grunt at each other for 4 hours of a ballgame once a week and be perfectly fine.
I have always been more of a guy’s girl. Since I was a kid, I always found it far less stressful and way more fun to be one of the dudes. There’s no catty gossip, you always know where you stand, we like the same crude comedies and horror films, and in place of hours of shopping and yoga classes (which I despise) we can eat artery-clogging food and drink good booze (which I thoroughly enjoy.)
The problem with being one of the guys is that they treat you like one of the guys- 24/7, 365. It is totally forgotten by everyone else that you are still a woman with female needs and emotion and, while I’m always down for a rip-roaring good time, I also need to have deeper connections within my friendships. I don’t care how close you are with your guy friends, there are some things they are simply incapable of understanding or executing when it comes to women and that is why you need at least a few really good ladies in your life.
This was slapped in my face hard in August when my dog of 17 years passed away. It was and still is the most devastating trauma I’ve experienced; as of this publication I’ve yet to have a day where I haven’t cried at some point. And while all my friends for the most part reached out with condolences, I was shocked to receive gifts of sympathy from very unexpected girlfriends afar. These are ladies I don’t even speak to on a daily basis, but they understood on a deeper level the tremendous grief I was experiencing and sent me incredibly thoughtful pieces of memorabilia that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I can never thank them enough for that.
One way I can try however, is to simply be a better girl friend to people. These very masculine traits I’ve acquired from years of communicating with men don’t need to be employed with women in my life. I need to soften a bit, stop demanding the same “no-nonsense” mindset out of females that I get from males and develop better empathy and understanding. Reaching out to people who aren’t asking for help when they’re struggling can make all the difference in the world to someone who is hurting. Instead of just offering a “sorry” and moving on back to my life, I need to go that extra step to let them know they’re loved. And I definitely need to work on my total repulsion to physical touch. I’ve always been weird about touchy-feely displays of affection with anyone beyond very serious relationships; I’ve only ever hugged my very best friend twice in 31 years. But a big hug from a genuine person is a wonderful thing and I don’t know why I deprive myself of it. That’s probably more of a question for my therapist at this point.
Regardless of your gender, I don’t see anything wrong with all of us trying to be better “girl-friends.” Male, female or otherwise, this world could really use a little more empathy, caring and hugs from good people.