I know quite a few women with great female friendships and I know quite a few women who have had no-so-great experiences when trying to befriend other women. And what I can say is this, the keys to establishing a great female friendship are 1) being a great friend yourself and 2) being able to spot the signs of "female friend potential." This means you need to be able to model certain qualities and look for certain qualities and attributes in your friends. Maybe you don't know what qualities to look for, maybe you're having doubts about a current friendship, or maybe you're interested in whether "you're" even being a good friend yourself.
Through experience I've learned a few valuable lessons about choosing female friends, as well as how to be a good friend myself. What are these lessons? Take a read and let me know if you agree. Here's what I've learned about choosing female friends:
1. TO AVOID GOSSIP-QUEENS
Gossip is a big issue among women. Women talk- sometimes more than we should. Men constantly joke about the gossipy nature of women. Yes, the behavior can be funny. But it can also be destructive. As "harmless" as gossiping can "appear", the harsh reality is this: habitual gossipers are insecure people who try to mask their inadequacies by fixating on the lives of others. And while many women will entertain gossip from time to time, nobody really trusts or really wants to be friends with a gossiper. I've learned that people (not just women) may "act" like they're cool with a gossiper, but they will never trust or take a friendship with a gossiper seriously. And rightfully so! I've learned to avoid women who gossip, and turn down invitations to gossip. Doing this has enabled me to recognize true friends and have more meaningful female friendships.
2. TO BEFRIEND WOMEN WHO RESPECT AND VALUE INDEPENDENCE
It's important to have friends that respect and value your independence. I've observed friendships and had former "friends" who wanted to behave like puppet-masters or put ridiculous conditions on the friendship like, "I don't like Nicole, and if you were my friend you wouldn't talk to her either." Maybe in grade school, this type of behavior would be understandable. But it has no place among grown women. A real friend values your independence and ability to make decisions on your own. And I've learned that if a woman ever makes you feel like you can't think for yourself or make your own decisions without her feeling "hurt" or "betrayed", then she's not really your friend at all.
3. TO BEFRIEND WOMEN WHO ARE THERE IN THE GOOD TIMES- AND THE BAD TIMES
I once went through a pretty bad breakup. I was an absolute emotional wreck and wanted to be alone so I could cry and sulk- but my girlfriend refused. I tried to act tough, like everything was fine, but she insisted that I crash at her place for the weekend. So for two days, I camped out at her place while she made my meals and entertained me with movies and games. At one point, the pain of my breakup resurfaced and I began to cry. What did my girlfriend do? She gave me a huge hug, some Kleenex, a pep talk, and even played therapist- which is pretty funny now considering that I'm the doctor. For two days, my friend took time out of her life to be there for me in my time of crisis. And I've never forgotten that kind gesture. My friend is a shining example of what it means to be a great friend and I'm lucky to have her in my life.
4. TO BEFRIEND WOMEN WHO HANDLE CONFLICT MATURELY
I've learned that a great friend knows how to resolve conflict in a mature manner. Furthermore, a great friend is someone who will not keep adding fuel to the fire when any type of conflict arises that may compromise the friendship. Disagreements and debate are just a normal part of friendship- but pettiness, disrespect and spitefulness are not. Watch how your friend (or potential friend) handles conflict. Are they a peacemaker or are they a fire-starter? The way they handle conflict will clue you into their level of maturity and their worth as a friend.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FRIEND'S BEHAVIOR IS QUESTIONABLE
I love this quote by Bob Marley because it best sums up how you should approach friendships:
"THE TRUTH IS, EVERYONE IS GOING TO HURT YOU"." YOU JUST GOT TO FIND THE ONES WORTH SUFFERING FOR."
If you want to have healthy friendships with other women, "and other people in general", you're going to have to learn to expect flaws and disappointment from time to time. I'm not saying to be a pushover and accept disrespect under any circumstance. What I am saying is to recognize that no friendship is "perfect." So if and when conflict occurs, you should take the time to LOGICALLY weigh the good against the bad. If there's more good, do your part to address any issues and maintain the friendship. If there's more bad, cut her loose and keep it moving. In the end, your goal is to have a GREAT AND LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP. And the best way to do this is by making SMART decisions in who you choose as friends.
DO YOU HAVE GREAT FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS? WHAT IS THE KEY TO FORMING AND MAINTAINING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER WOMEN?
Suggested free e-books to read:Cr James - Friends
Dr Dennis Neder - Getting Women
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