Learning to Have Female Friendships
by Tamika Burgess
“I can’t trust a woman that doesn’t have close female friends.” I overheard a woman say while I browsed through Macy’s shoe department. I looked around and saw a woman looking at shoes as she talked on her cell phone. Although her comment was not directed at me, I cringed because she was in fact talking about me.
At the time, I was 26 years old and didn’t have a solid group of girlfriends. But did that make me untrustworthy? The lady on her cell phone didn’t know me or my situation, but what she said that day stayed with me for a while.
I grew up in a small tight-knit community and the friendships I made in elementary school lasted throughout high school. So when I got to college and had to make new friends, I figured friendships would form naturally as they did so many years prior. But college was different. Throughout my four years there I experienced a bunch of back-stabbing and cattiness with so-called female friends.
These situations were so phony that it impacted the way I viewed all female friendships. In a friendship loyalty and trust are important to me. And that’s exactly what was missing from most of my college friendships.
Instead of moving on from these situations, I chose to distance myself from many females. With the exception of one or two close girlfriends, I kept things simple and general with others. But after a few years of doing this, I missed having girlfriends around. I missed going out to eat, having sleepovers, and just chatting on the phone.
But that time in my life wasn’t all bad. I look back on it as a period of growth and change. Without having close female friends around me, I learned a lot about myself and friendships. Because I grew up around the same group of friends for years, I applied the same rules to the new people I met in college. I have since realized that I was expecting too much from people who were only in my life for a season.
Pushing everyone away because of a few bad experiences was not the answer. But in doing so I learned a lesson that will be relevant for the rest of my life. I learned to take people for who they are. Just because I treat them a certain way, doesn’t always mean they will treat me the same. In other words, I can’t continue to be there for someone who is never there for me. It’s just not fair, and it’s not the kind of friendship I want to have.
I will never fully understand what the woman on her cell phone meant all those years ago. I assume she was just trying to stress the importance of female friendships. Because, when done correctly, it’s a relationship that is comparable to nothing else; it’s truly a blessing.