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Friendships with Women

Updated: Oct 11

Unsplash/Joel Muniz

This is probably the most challenging part of my life journey.

First, let me say that I take 100% responsibility for being 50% of the problem in friendships. I have mental and emotional struggles (as do many women) that I don't make known. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc. are not identity markers for me. Perhaps I'm in denial or maybe I believe I'm truly healed of past wounds. Either way, my heart is to learn to love these fickle, flaky, tentative creatures.

It takes one to know one.

Communication is a struggle If it's not already obvious, I am someone who takes words very seriously. When someone says, "You can call me if you need anything" - although I'm too independent to do it - I assume the person is making an honest statement. When someone says, "We should get together," but they don't take time to link calendars, it feels like an insincere invitation. When someone refers to me as a "good friend" or "family" but they're M.I.A. when I'm having bad days, it makes me want to give up on friendships altogether.

A woman should not have to pass any tests, maintain any status, or look cute to have a conversation with you. As well, when you're talking to her, try discussing her interests rather than interjecting all the knowledge you have on any subject. Once basic communication is established, then work on your assessments of whether she is just an acquaintance or if she's friend material.

Don't be so quick to make a bunch of positive and affirming statements about someone's character if you're not (mentally/emotionally/socially) available to study and invest in the person. No need to lavish her with "You're so great!" when a simple "Cute blouse!" will suffice. It's no secret women enjoy compliments, but we shouldn't make idols out of them. If the friendship has any depth, you should be able to tell her "Your breath stinks", hand her a mint, and the relationship remains unchanged.

Disappearing acts I am the worst at this and it's awful when it happens to me. You know the feeling: things are going good with coffee and lunch dates, meeting the spouse and kids, going to events or taking trips together...then "life" or whatever happens. Suddenly, text messages are one-liners, calls go unanswered or unreturned, and the busy-ness that was once laid aside is resurrected as the reason. It's true, circumstances change, we may drop the ball, and sometimes scheduling conflicts can't be overcome.

Then there are times when we know her personality, awkwardness, or lifestyle just doesn't line up with the direction you're trying to go. Instead of disappearing, it could be a learning experience for both women if one finds a way to tell the truth - it could actually help her to know she's "off". Americans in general are so concerned with hurting other people's feelings anymore that we lie, by omission, in an effort to be nice.

I get it, though. Sometimes there's just no kind way to tell someone "I don't like you" or "I can't do life with you right now." I think one or two women in my life have flat out said these things to me. Oh yes, it hurt my feelings. But I also got over it quicker, and after taking her words into serious consideration, I worked on myself where it was truly needed.

All the women who simply chose to disappear only perpetuated the broken record in my head that keeps asking, "What's wrong with me?"

Women need men I'm not talking about romance or codependency here. The male could be a brother, a co-worker, or the elderly veteran who watches out for everyone in the neighborhood. The point is, women need strong, thoughtful, honest men who can offer emotional stability during estrogen surges, and apply rational explanations to erratic assumptions. Masculinity, in general, has a certain energy about it that can calm the female spirit.

I had a good guy friend in college. He was tall, athletic, handsome and he had a serious crush on my roommate. He would stop by our dorm room in the off chance she was there. When she wasn't around he would stay and talk to me about school, God, and his past relationships. We were not attracted to each other. I need stability and healthy compromise (he was adventurous and stubborn). His attraction to my roommate (who was also athletic) let me know he was looking for a woman who took better care of her body than I do.

Those attraction barriers were a blessing that solidified our friendship. We kept in touch for many years. We had some of the best conversations in that season of my life and I owe him a bit of gratitude. One hour in the presence of a wise man is like a week in female communications.

For me, it takes consistent interaction with at least 6 or 7 women to feel like I have 1 person in my corner. I have to string together lots of chit-chats, the "likes" and "hearts" on my posts, and random deep conversations with acquaintances to get the full counsel of a single friend. Thus, I've discovered two things: 1) my expectations are likely selfish and unrealistic; and 2) because we are in constant contact with each other (via social media and text messages), it's easier to live with the illusion of having meaningful relationships.

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