Female Friendships

Are your female friendships challenging?

Have you struggled to find the right crew?

Have you ever needed to “break up” with one of your female friends? 

Or have you gone into therapy because of a female friendship?

If this resonates, you are not alone. In my 25 years as a psychotherapist, I can’t even begin to tell you how many women have experienced these exact things. The pain and suffering of having not-so-great female friends landed a number of them in therapy long before any romantic relationship. 

But female friendships don’t have to be problematic. In today’s episode, I’m sharing the benefits of healthy female friendships, what they look like, and how to create them. I also share my own experience with female friendships and why I couldn’t live happily without my nearest and dearest pals.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

My Relationship with Female Friendships

I am the youngest of four sisters. I was raised primarily by my mother in a female clan-driven space with lots of community and support. My father was there, but not really present. 

Surprisingly, there was not a lot of fighting. I felt incredibly loved by my mother and sisters, and I remain close to them today.

I believe this early imprint has everything to do with what I have created in my life. My female friendships, relationships, and creating sacred spaces for women are as important to me as my marriage. 

Being in with a group of women you trust with your deepest struggles, who don’t judge you, who want you to win in life, and who are there for you through the terrible times is a privilege and a sacred space. If you don’t have this in your life, it is possible to create it. For more resources and ideas on how to develop healthy female friendships, download the free guide right here

In my opinion, the importance of female friendships cannot be overstated. I’ve had a lot of therapy clients over the years tell me something like, “I was friends with all the guys in high school, but I didn’t have good experiences with the women.” 

Online, there are a lot of influencers and therapists who say, “We have to stop cutting each other down. Women need to support each other.” 

This is foreign to me. If something good happens to one of my friends, I’m not covetous of what they have. You winning is me winning, right? If it is something I want, hopefully, I’m next, but you having something sure as hell doesn’t take anything away from me. And it’s not even about me. It just makes no sense for me to compete with my friends. 

Sidenote: there is a difference between jealousy and envy. If you are single and want a partner, and all your friends have partners, you may feel a sense of envy, but that is not the same as wanting to take it away from them. 

What Are the Different Types of Female Friendships?

First are the frenemies – people who don’t want the best for you…really. This is the friend we’ve all had who we hesitate to share good news with because they will either feel threatened by it or jealous of it. 

Second are the savior friends who are only good friends when your life is in the shitter. They aren’t there for you when life is good, but they will swoop in and save you when things go wrong. 

Third are female friendships where you play out unresolved injuries from childhood. I gave an example of this in Boundary Boss, as I had a client who had a female archenemy whom she hated at every job she held. She thought this was a normal experience (it is not). 

Through the therapeutic process of looking at the three Qs for clarity, my client realized these archenemies were actually about her older sister who bullied her as a child. She had continued to play out this scenario in her adult work life. 

If you find yourself in a groundhog day of bad experiences with female friendships, I invite you to ask the three Qs for clarity: 

  1. Who does this person remind you of?
  2. Where have you felt like this before?
  3. How or why is the behavior dynamic familiar to you?

These three Qs are in the guide, so if you are having a painful experience with female friendships and think you might be repeating an injury from your past, download it here

What Are the Benefits of Healthy Female Friendships?

Healthy female friendships provide a powerful source of emotional support and validation, especially when times are hard. This has a positive impact on your mental health and well-being as the ability to be voluntarily vulnerable is liberating and feels amazing. 

This sense of belonging is deep when you have healthy female friendships, which can help you feel less alone (and is an important factor in aging well). 

Your female friends can act as a sounding board, too. For example, I have a group text thread with my yayas (my oldest girlfriends from childhood), and we share our peak good and bad experiences daily. Whether someone is going for a job interview and needs support, or it’s someone’s birthday and we’re celebrating, we all know we are never alone in our suffering or our joy. 

What if You Struggle With Female Friendships?

Trust is an incredibly important factor in female friendships. There needs to be mutual trust that neither of you will say the meanest thing you can think of, even if you are mad at each other. 

You also need to ask yourself, what do you believe about female friendships? Do you think it’s normal to have frenemies or savior friends? What sort of female friendships did you witness or experience growing up? Were they healthy, or unhealthy? 

If you haven’t had healthy female friendships, it is possible to create them. There is a friendship assessment in the guide so you can see where your friendships are right now, along with resources for you on topics like toxic friendships, boundaries and friends, and where to find amazing women to befriend. 

Speaking of Holding Sacred Space for Women…

I have created an 8-month mastermind called Flourish. There is only space for 12 women (we are halfway full!), and it will help you navigate life’s challenges and achieve the success you want both personally and professionally. 

It is a safe and supportive space for you to share ideas, set goals, and hold each other accountable. It also allows you to tap into the collective wisdom and support of a group of like-minded, like-hearted women who are making a difference in the world.

We start at the end of February. If this calls to you, click here, fill out an intake form, and book a discovery call with me to figure out if this is a good fit for you. 

The truth is, I want everyone to have this experience of the female collective – the safe and sacred spaces we as women create for ourselves. It is my honor and privilege to create this experience for you. And if Flourish isn’t right for you and you are on Facebook, I invite you to join my free group there.

I want to know: how do you feel about female friendships? Are they problematic for you? Do you have deep, nourishing relationships with your female friends? What did you discover in your assessment (which you can download here)? 

I hope you have an amazing week reflecting on the friendships in your life, and as always, take care of you.

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