When you're younger, these girls are your lifeline. They make anything and everything possible and wether you find them in Grade School, High School or College, very rarely do you find them after. I don't know if this is because we feel the need to compete with men or that other women seem threatening, but I have personally had a few female heartbreaks. Women that you thought you'd be friends with or connected with in a certain way that end up taking your project at work, or getting you fired or bad mouthing you to a colleague. I don't know if its the competitive corporate environment, but it seems to bring out the worst in many of us, which is crazy! Women do amazing things that men will never experience and we should stick together, but I'm convinced that in your 30s your group of close knit female friendships has probably broken itself into small non intermingling small groups of girlfriends.
No longer are you 8 girls taking on the dance club or karaoke bar. Now you might be three girls that love hiking, three girls that you party with, three girls that you go to book club with. A lot of this has to do with geography and lifestyle and what ends up becoming more convenient for your life and your acceptable traffic patterns. Your life just becomes slightly more compartmentalized. Can you instantly bond with a girl you just met? After a few girl love backstabs, its easy to become gun-shy about them. It's almost worse than your relationships with men, because you love women in such a different way. You tell them more secrets, they know more about your lies and hopes, things you would never tell most of your guy friends. Women heart break is tough! Which is why it is so hard to find real ones as you get older. I am lucky to say, I do think I'm finding.
But don't even get me started about your friendships with men. After a little boy in grade school broke my tiny little heart by asking me to help him date my friend, I decided my defense mechanism right there and then was going to be friendship. So I had a lot of guy friends from then on. Good ones too. Boys I never in a million years would have ever allowed myself to like or even think of as anything other than my brothers. Then I got older and actually had a brother and realized i had no idea what I was talking about.
In high school I was friends with a boy in my history class. I wasn't attracted to him but he was incredibly sweet. He wrote me notes, he came over and studied at my house, he let me talk about whatever boy of the week I was madly in love with. He got over me and started dating one of my close girlfriends. All of the sudden, I had a little crush on him again. I still didn't want to date him and loved my girlfriend enough to not do anything about it, but there is this primal, territorial, "i have to pee on it and mark it" attitude when it comes to male/female friendships. The truth is, it's complicated to be friends with the opposite sex at any age, but as you get older it gets even more complicated.
I have several male friends. I would say 95% of them are platonic. I enjoy their company, they enjoy mine. They don't want to sleep with me, I don't want to sleep with them - most of the time. Throw a few drinks, some break up, a nostalgic moment, some snub by the person you like, a professional accomplishment you are celebrating - mix them together - boom. Friend Zone invaded, intruded, and possibly will collapse depending on how you treat the situation that is happening right now. Now the complicated part starts. If this person is a colleague that you work with or you know that they just aren't into you and don't want to get hurt anyway what do you do? Do you just pretend like nothing happened? Do you will yourself to get over it?
My friend Monica says that somethings are just better left unsaid. She says that women get way too caught up in the drama of it all and feel like they need to say something to make themselves feel better, acknowledge that something is happening but that in the end, no one feels better about it. No one. These same sentiments were echoed by my friend Amanda (YODA as I like to call her) who pointed out to me that this grey weird "friends" thing is only as complicated as you make it. The bottom line is, if you're thinking about it so much, you probably aren't "just friends" and need to give yourself a little distance. If they're into it, they'll be a man, they'll come around, they'll make an effort. In the meantime, maybe make plans with the 95% other male friends who like to drink with you and pick on you and don't want to touch you as much as you don't want to touch them, no matter the alcohol level.
I feel great about that until I remember Harry Burns. He very explicitly believed that men and women cannot under any circumstances be friends. Unless of course, that person is in a relationship. Then he amends that of course, that works until the people they are in a relationship with get jealous of that friendship and tear it to pieces until it doesn't work again. Maybe that number isn't 95% then, maybe its lower, but hang out with them, because despite age, I do believe they're out there. That or call your best gay male friends. They will not only tell you how much better you are than this situation, they are mostly super hot, witty and great company who you KNOW you can't hook up with. Completely safe and so much better the married friend option which are not good waters to test. Having been married...I know.
So what do you do? How do you balance and relate to your friends as adults? How do you keep the lines clean so you don't hurt yourself and more importantly so you are kind enough to acknowledge your feelings. The truth is, its all a crapshoot right? Even Jesse Spano and Zack Morris hooked up at some point. Even Brenda and Kelly eventually "broke up". But if I remember correctly, Zack and Jesse survived and she was at his wedding and Brenda and Kelly moved onto other healthier friendships. My friend Nicole, who I love and is a post college friend, says that we aren't really meant to have all the same friends we always had. People serve a purpose in each others lives and then move on. I think she was onto something there.
I will say, I am still good friends with my 7 best friends from HS. We use to call each other the SB's. (super mature, i know...we still do). We may not hang out all of the time or know exactly what is going on most of each others lives, but we stay in touch, we try to see each other and there is still an incredible amount of love there. Some of them I speak to pretty regularly, others I keep tabs on via FB. Sometimes the FB stalking can be used for good, I guess. Some people you just can't out grow or hopefully won't ever want to. The trick is realizing those that you need to outgrow from those you should actively make an effort to keep up with.
|"SB"'s at our comrade's wedding|