Friendship, for me, is very important. I have always taken my friendships seriously, because I believe that friendship is a type of art. It requires intuition, care, patience, and technique in order to craft a genuine and flourishing relationship with another person. Some people in today’s society however, seem to believe that real friendship cannot exist between two females. There is either an unhealthy level of competition, rivalry, jealousy, or some hidden agenda behind the relationship; but I do not concur.
Based on my own personal experiences and my relationship with my best friend Angelina, I believe that two females can in fact be close friends. Although it is often vague what defines a real friendship, I consider it to be based on the core values of respect, understanding, and acceptance. As long as these elements are present in a friendship, it is entirely possible for two females to be best friends. Not only can female friendship be strong, but the bond between two females is usually stronger than that between two males.
Unfortunately, in our lives, we often hear that true female friendship does not exist. The media has especially sparked this concept by “[focusing on] ‘mean girls’ and their negative treatment of others, particularly other females. But while the attention to girls’ aggression and their mistreatment of their peers highlights understudied aspects of female behavior, it neglects the beneficial aspects of female friendship” (McCarthy, Felmlee, and Hagan 805). Many believe that friendships between two females will most likely result in envy, competition, or betrayal; but I do not agree.
In my opinion, that is an extremely pessimistic way of thinking, and that people who believe that females cannot be friends with each other have a skewed perception in regards to friendship—or perhaps they have not had a genuine friendship themselves. Not all female friendships, of course, are anything but a casual acquaintance. In order for someone to qualify as a real friend, intuition is the key. They must be able to understand how you think and how you feel. Oftentimes, close friends will be able to guess your mood when you simply say “hello” over the telephone.
Your friend will also support and understand you in any situation, whether you are right or wrong, and will remain loyal. Most importantly, true friends accept you for who you are and provide you with something that all humans need—a sense of belonging. Fortunately for myself, I can confidently say from my own experience that female friendship exists. My best friend and I have been friends for 14 years, ever since I was seven years-old. I think that friendship formed in childhood. In my experience I can say that, female friendship is strong.
Every relationship, whether it is a family member, a friend, or a significant other, will experience conflict at some point; but true friendship will be strong enough to endure. I remember one particular altercation between Angelina and myself. On year, on April Fool’s Day, I decided to play a practical joke on her by making up a story. Angelina had been waiting for a call back from a potential employer for almost a month, and she was really hoping to get the job. I asked another friend to give her a call from a different cell phone, pretending to be a manager from the company, and tell Angelina that she was hired.
Angelina, therefore, believed that she had been given the position. I called her twelve minutes later and she was ecstatic, telling me all about the phone call from who she thought was a company manager—so I started laughing, told her that it was all a joke, and wished her a happy April Fool’s Day. Angelina, however, did not think it was funny and she went an entire month without talking to me. We eventually made up, and I gave her a whole-hearted apology, promising that I would never pull that sort of prank ever again.
Although this is a particularly unhappy story from our years together, it shows how real friendships can be successful regardless of conflict, as long as the involved parties understand and respect each other. I understood that what I did had hurt Angelina, and she understood that I did not mean any harm by the prank. My friendship with Angelina also serves to illustrate how talking and the expression of one’s feelings are important in female friendships. The ability to express yourself and effectively convey your feelings to others is often developed during a girl’s teenage years. During these years, friendship is very important.
Developing meaningful relationships with peers can help teenagers to grow as a person, and genuine friends provide teens with a sense of comfort during an otherwise tumultuous period in their lives. Because of the support that friendships provide them, female relationships are often very emotional—especially since their friendships depend on a great amount of mutual talking and sharing. Elisabeth Morgan Thompson states that girls are much closer to each other on an emotional level than boys, simply because they share their emotions a lot more and are more open to each other on a deeper level (Thompson 9).
A social experiment conducted in the Netherlands also illustrates this fact. The experiment’s findings were as follows: Adolescent girls focus on the emotional aspects of relationships more and report higher levels of emotional closeness, commitment, and intimacy in their relationships than do boys. Girls expect more conventional morality, loyalty and commitment, and empathic understanding from their friends than boys, and girls more often than boys report having friendships characterized by high levels of conventional morality, loyalty and commitment, and empathic understanding. Branje et al. 600-601) This helps to explain why Angelina may have been so angry with me after my prank. Not only was she annoyed at the prank itself, but she may have also felt betrayed due to the adolescent female expectation of friends to be loyal. Perhaps she perceived the prank to be a sign of betrayal. As the Netherlands study describes, boys are more practical and logical in their approach to friendship, while girls tend to make a larger emotional investment into their relationships. Girls, therefore, typically have closer friendships, proving that friendships between two females can be meaningful.
I think, however, that teenage females are not necessarily able to recognize all of the core values of a true friendship at that age. They tend to base all of their actions solely on their emotions rather than logic, resulting in a lot of unnecessary drama and conflict. A true understanding of friendship and all in entails comes with age and experience—the frequency of contact and interaction with friends and peers, the support and trust they develop, and the formation of a genuine emotional attachment and need for the other person.
For some people, even adults, friendship is still difficult to define and identify. Many of us will simply associate real friendship with whomever we may consider to be our friends, whether they are true friends or not. It is important, however, to be able to distinguish between people who are our close friends and those who are merely friendly acquaintances; and women and men tend to differ in terms of how they determine who their closest friends are. Jonathan Bowman argues that men are able to develop stronger friendships than women.
He bases this theory on the assumptions that men are more blunt and open when sharing their lives with each other, while women will be more secretive (Bowman 3). In a study conducted by the University of Montreal in Canada, however, it was proven that this is not quite true. The study showed that a feeling of closeness was evident in both males and females—that is, both genders felt a genuine and close emotional bond with their best friends of the same sex. Females, however, demonstrated a greater desire to spend time with each other in both negative and positive situations.
If there was a death in the family, for example, they would want to share that time grieving with their friends. Alternatively, they would also demonstrate a desire to be with their friends to celebrate positive events such as a birthday or a promotion at work. The findings were further explained as such: Females may focus on negative events more than males because females generally occupy roles that are subordinate to those of males. Many studies examining the life span in a large number of cultures have shown that, in general, females occupy positions of lower status than males.
A focus on problems or vulnerability therefore is likely to be linked to the female role in society… Nevertheless, females also focused more than males on positive, public events. (Roy and Benenson 100) If the women in this study were proven to share both positive and negative events with each other more so than men, then that proves how Bowman’s previous statement regarding female secrecy is false. Unlike his philosophy, Sharon Jayson believes the exact opposite. She suggests that men relate to friendship as a team sport, and they do not show feelings and emotions (Jayson 8).
Women, however, behave in a contrasting manner, as they prefer to have lengthy conversations with each other and share their thoughts and feelings. This is due in part to society’s gender roles and the socialization that most men experience when they are young (Redman et al. 179). In other words, deep conversation and emotion-bearing topics are often associated with female gender roles, and men feel that they are expected to be unemotional and practical. Women are more emotional and open with each other; and this fact proves that female friendship is stronger than male friendship (Branje et al. ). I agree with Jayson’s point of view. Since women do not tend to restrain their emotions and feelings from each other, they will normally share their life experiences, problems, and joys with each other. If they are literally opening up to one another about virtually every facet of their lives, then how are they more secretive than men? When people keep a secret from their friends, it is usually to hide something negative in order to maintain a certain reputation amongst their peers. The Canadian study, however, shows that women will share negative and positive events alike.
Perhaps men are more open in the sense that they will give a simple answer to a question or be more straightforward; but that does not mean they are any less secretive than women. Realistically, all human beings keep certain secrets from their friends—so to state that women are more secretive and therefore have less intimate friendships than men is absolutely untrue. In addition to their Montreal-based study, Roseanne Roy and Joyce Benenson touched on some other facts about conceptualizing sex differences in same-sex friendships.
In the survey that they conducted among women and men, they asked both sides about the effects of friendship on them and what qualities as support. For example if they are ready to masticate tough moments in life with your friends and ready to give support in difficult times or to share the joy with friends and be happy for them and with them. Research has shown that women are more loyal to the friendship and are willing to share the joy and sorrow with their close friends. However, men prefer to control their emotions (Roy and Benenson 10). I will do the same things for my friends.
I think female friendship is very important, because if you have problems you can always share them with your close friend. If you are confused, you always get advice from your friend, along with the most important thing– support. People need to have a friend, because nobody wants to be alone; and women need to have female friends, because they will be able to provide more emotional and moral support than the average man. Since men are proven to use a different approach to friendship, they will not always compliment a woman’s needs in terms of friendship and support.
There are, of course, always going to be exceptions and there will be many females who have best friends that happen to be male. Still, female friendships offer women the freedom and ability to share any aspect of their life, no matter how personal it may be. Even if a female and male have a close friendship, there will undoubtedly be certain areas of each other’s lives that may be awkward topics of discussion; but when it comes to discussions between close female friends, there is virtually nothing that is off-limits.
When people argue that the friendship between the women does not exist—that they only pretend to be friends— I find it odd. There has been evidence, in fact, that suggests that humans are programmed to favor friends of the same gender. In an article from the journal of Psychology, Evolution, & Gender, it states that “The universal nature of same-sex friendships among children and adults, and the difficulty faced by well-meaning teachers and parents in encouraging mixed-sex play has prompted suggestions that there may be an evolutionary basis to sex-congruent peer preference” (Shirley and Campbell 11).
In my own observations, the majority of mixed-gender friendships typically have some sort of hidden romantic agenda behind them. Although not all male-female friendships are exactly alike, it is not uncommon for at least one of the two individuals has a romantic interest in the other; and their friendship is therefore a way in which they can be around the other person. Alternatively, a male presence can prove to be a point of conflict in the friendship between two females—a major reason why people may believe that women cannot be friends with each other.
Consider a female who has a boyfriend. Oftentimes, another female will pretend to be her friend in order to get close to her boyfriend and steal him away. We can see this everywhere, from the Internet to classical literature. Female competition and rivalry is simply a part of our culture. I think friendship is very difficult to maintain, since we are all humans and sometimes face difficult periods; but it is important to keep in mind that real friendship has nothing to do with what only one person is going to gain from the relationship.
Friendship involves trust first, then understanding. The most important thing is to support each other and respect each other. In my opinion, genuine friendships are often formed in times of great unhappiness, when two people are able to come together and unite in order to form a bond that is stronger and overshadows whatever negative situation in which they may find themselves. This is a classic example of a developing friendship—when two unfortunate people befriend each other and instantly become happy. Angelina and I, in fact, grew closer to each other due to a similar situation.
It was during a particularly difficult time in my life, and she was the one person I could always turn to for unconditional love and support. That is the epitome of friendship, and I have always appreciated her for the role she plays in my life. Although Angelina and I, in my opinion, represent a genuine friendship between two females, our relationships still requires a great amount of work. I believe that if we are not working hard to maintain and even improve our friendship, then it will deteriorate. It is the same concept as a flower—if you do not water it, it will wither.
Friendships therefore require a constant application of effort from all involved parties in order to thrive. In friendship, there is such a thing as a temporary alliance. It happens that there are two women who are the exact opposite of each other. This includes a blonde and a brunette, a beautiful female and a plain female, a rich girl and a poor girl, and so on. They have nothing in common, and it is often difficult to find a topic of conversation that both females can relate or contribute to in terms of exchanging information.
In this situation, the two females are not enemies, but they have nothing in common; and over time, they naturally drift apart. A temporary alliance is not necessarily an example of a major problem that females have when they attempt to be friends with each other; and judging from the relationship between Angelina and I, it is clear that two females are more than able to have a close friendship with each other. Still, there are also negative aspects of female friendship. Aside from the different approaches that men and women take to friendship, some people will view friendships as a venue for competition and profit.
People will sometimes perceive their friendships to be benefits rather than a give-and-take relationship between themselves and their friends. When it comes to female friendships, April Bleske-Rechek and Melissa Lighthall refer to this concept as method that some females use in order to prove their self-worth. The rivalry and competition factor that is present in some female relationships often stems from feelings of low self-esteem or insecurity. By instilling an element of competition, women create a venue in which they can prove to others who is better and prettier, as they need that type of assurance themselves (Bleske-Recheck 1).
Nowadays, unfortunately, many people are faced with this “fake friendship”. Someone is using somebody or somebody used someone for different purposes. This cannot always be avoided, and it occurs all too often within the female community. Although people may use these types of conflicts to prove that women cannot be friends, the women in these scenarios are not seeking true friendship, nor are they actual friends—they are just selfish people. Selfish people do not know what a real friendship is and their sole purpose is to profit from knowing another person.
Women may be friends for years, simply for the sake of profits. While practicality is considered to be a masculine trait, women do not actually lack this quality. Instead, they just tend to express it differently. In such relationships, one woman is clearly the dominant female, while the other tends to exist in her shadow. One is making progress in her career and personal life, and the other is trying to use the successful friend’s connections in order to find a favorable job as well.
Over time, due to unsettled or unspoken conflicts, the inevitable jealousy and petty tricks result in the friendship falling apart. Another example of an insincere friendship is when a pretty girl purposely associates with an unattractive girl in order to make herself look better. At the same time, however, the more plain-looking girl may befriend an attractive girl in order to feel as if she has the same social status in terms of looks and outer beauty. These situations are not always one-sided, and it is possible that both friends may be involved in their relationship solely for profit-related purposes.
Typically, the more attractive female will end up with most or all of the male attention; yet it is also possible for the plainer girl to eventually blossom into a beauty herself, matching the physical attractiveness of the other friend. When this happens, the girl who considered herself to be the prettier of the two often feels threatened. In her mind, she perceives her formerly plain friend to now be a threat—a person that she now has to compete with in order to maintain her status as the pretty girl in their friendship.
These types of scenarios usually begin during the adolescent stages of a girl’s life, and the friendship typically does not last longer than high school. As previously stated, adolescents do not always understand what it means to be a true friend or what it is like to be part of a genuine friendship. They may think of other females as rivals rather than allies, disregarding the fact that another female could potentially be a future best friend. Once the insecurity and self-consciousness that many girls feel during their teen years fades, they are better prepared are confident enough to engage in more genuine interactions with other females.
I do not believe that true friendship can be built upon a foundation of personal gain and profit. The healthiest friendships are when two females have at least one similarity, be it their attitudes, habits, tastes, or general outlook on life. This is what becomes the pretext for a long relationship. Often, the two girls are similarities in attitudes, habits, tastes of each other and it becomes a pretext for a long relationship; and contrary to what some believe, female friendships exist and have the ability to thrive.
An article in Child Development even states that “Research has demonstrated consistently that the same-sex friendships of females are characterized by greater intimacy than those of males. This greater intimacy… has been documented as early as age 6, becomes accentuated in adolescence, continues throughout adulthood, and occurs across diverse cultures” (Benenson and Christakos 1123). Apparently, there is no limit to female friendship and the benefits that a successful friendship may entail.
Female friendship is strong, because the majority of women associate close relationships with the sharing of emotions. There is no division between friendship and inner feelings. This is true in my own friendship as well, because I do feel that it is important to have someone to share my feelings and emotions with. It provides me with a sense of comfort and support; and it makes me feel special and trusted when Angelina is comfortable enough to confide in me in return. The unconditional support that comes with a great friendship is priceless.
Without friends, who are we to turn to in our times of sorrow? Without friends, who will share moments of happiness and celebration with us? To say that life would be lonely without friendship based on a true emotional connection, understanding, and support, is an understatement. Angelina provides me with a sort of support that I would not be able to receive from any other relationship, and the superiority of female friendships over male friendships has been proven by numerous studies. Developing and maintaining this sort of relationship is not easy by any means; but it is absolutely worth the effort.