The power of friendship…do you have good female friends? Are you a good friend to others? Women tend to take time investing in their female friendships. How many times have I heard from clients “I couldn’t have got through it without my friends.”
Women can be a huge support to each other, and female friendship is like no other bond, particularly at a time of crisis.
That strong social group sweep into action and our girlfriends form a protective umbrella when life gets hard. According to a study by the University of California, women bond in times of stress and “tend and befriend.” We have a strong urge to reduce the distress of a fellow sister.
So when does all this start? I see many teenagers and young women who are struggling with extreme anxiety caused by “Mean Girls” at school, university, and work. At this stage, there is a competitive, ugly streak that can create malicious behaviour and toxic relationships. Why is it all so complicated?
There is more emotional intensity with relationships between women than there is between men. Women confide in each other, however, they can also be extremely competitive and jealous of each other and this can lead to conflict. There is often a strong expectation and so when things don’t work out, a huge disappointment and a feeling of being let down. When women fall out it is not unusual for them to stop talking completely. It can feel devastating because they have put so much of themselves into that relationship. This tends to happen more with younger girls and women, but sadly it can happen later in life too which can be particularly painful to bear.
In adulthood, our close female friends have (on the whole) become a safe harbour. There is understanding, solidarity, and laughter. A study in “Oncology Times” found that women are more likely to survive early-stage breast cancer if they have a strong social group of female friends. However, it takes time, commitment, and emotional intelligence to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of the Sisterhood from those early teenage days to adulthood, and even then it’s not always plain sailing! Sharp edges, competitiveness, agendas, and prickly moments can surface at any age!
There is a natural ebb and flow to friendships as we go through the different stages of our lives. Things do change as we find partners, have children or not, and our female circle changes as a result and some cannot carry on as before. Situations create opportunities and some women you meet along the way will stay with you. It can be a wonderful bonus to meet someone new when we least expect it and this can happen at any age. So it is always good to be open to new female friendships.
These friendships are not immune to jealousy, boredom, or betrayal and some girlfriends will fade away. There will be others that, despite the challenges, stay the course. No-one can be the perfect friend and it’s not about the length of years, it’s about finding that connection and balance, taking responsibility, and understanding what that friendship means to you. Emotional intelligence is key.
How Hypnotherapy can help with friendship
Hypnotherapy is an empowering therapy and can help you to find ways to manage anxiety caused by a friendship breakdown. I can help you to understand your relationship needs, improve existing female friendships, and to take positive steps in making new connections. So if any of this resonates and you are struggling with anxiety or loneliness, then please do see the support I offer and get in touch.