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Hoes Before Bros* (WaoW #3)

Important facts to establish: women are competitive (almost always) and catty (occasionally).


A few months ago, someone (I genuinely forget who), told me they find it difficult to be friends with other girls and that they'd rather spend time with the guys. This bothered me, more-so the longer I thought about it.

Not that I've never had the same thought. I am totally guilty of my fair share of Ugh. Girls. I'm done with them moments. But the thing is, in those moments, I contribute to the problem instead of helping solve it.

Oooh, problem-solving. That is a good approach for this topic.

The problem:
Girls often stink at being genuine friends with other girls. The main factors are comparison and competition. It is a dog-eat-dog world, and although we're subtle and passive, we have great capacity for aggression towards one another. We are jealous of others' bodies, their relationships, and everything else you could be jealous of in someone.

What it boils down to is insecurity. We are insecure creatures and we do not trust each other. Sometimes for good reason. If my own experiences are any indication, we women are capable of

causing immense hurt to one another. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident, sometimes by a combination of both.


The goal:
This is all a terrible shame, as my experiences also tell me that women can offer the most life-giving friendships to one another. There is something about having someone who understands how I think, who has experienced the same range of emotions, with whom I can laugh and rant and rave about the things that only another woman would fully understand... It's beautiful.

I am a firm believer that each woman needs a community of female friendships to support, encourage, and challenge her as she walks through life.


An exacerbating factor or two:
In conversations, men tend to default to abstract ideas and outside events, while women default to feelings and relationships. This can be exhausting. There are times that I just. don't. care. to hear any more mushiness or griping. I have the ability to be incredibly empathetic. I also have limits to my emotional well (which, of course, is very much influenced by my own emotional state). Often it is a relief to spend time in the "heady" world of men. (And I have much more to say on this in my next post...)

Our culture is not one that values or models healthy conflict resolution. And let me tell you, if you are a girl being friends with another girl, there will be conflict. If we don't know how to handle this and default to avoidance... our friendships will plateau at a certain boring level. Or take a complete nosedive.


A series of suggestions:
Refuse to compete. I have a clear memory of a specific social setting that produced a heightened awareness of my singleness, the greatness of the women around me, and the sparse number of eligible men in our midst. This birthed a life-changing conversation with one of my most-respected friends. Whether the issue at hand is the attention of a man or something else, I think that we as women simply need to stop competing with each other. And that is something that starts in my own backyard. Something that is not a one-time switch, but an ongoing commitment to trusting God and loving others.

Own your crap. This goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Often, the things that make us angry with other women are manifestations of our own insecurities. Recognizing what is my problem, my mess, my baggage to deal with is freeing, as strange as that sounds. I am responsible for me, first and foremost. Also, owning my own issues reminds me that other women also have their own issues, and as often as I "demonize" them, they're just like me, trying to wade through a world that's left them waist-deep in insecurities. This gives me greater compassion.

Be honest. Vulnerable, even. I am amazed at how the choice to be vulnerable can change the world. In my most stressful and gut-wrenching conflicts with girlfriends, the shift towards reconciliation almost always comes when one of us is fully honest about how we feel and the other person responds, not defensively or derisively, but with an increased vulnerability of their own. When we honour another's choice to be vulnerable, we create safe spaces where friendship puts down roots.




I could tell many stories about my female friendships, how we've navigated murky waters and the horrible mistakes I've made and the surprising places I've found kindred spirits. I am blessed with an over-abundance of women in my life who truly love me and with whom I can be myself. It breaks my heart that this is a rarity, and I have a strong commitment to fostering this type of friendship wherever I can. It takes time and effort and is sometimes stressful and exhausting. And it doesn't happen with just anyone. But it can happen with far more frequency than I would have guessed. And it is worth it.



*I'm sorry if this title causes offense. I was going to go with an even more offensive (and in my mind, funnier) title, but toned it down to this. Which is still funny. And mildly offensive.

Comments

Jer said…
I randomly found my way to your blog from a mutual friend's, and the title intrigued me so I read the post (no offense here).

Can I just say? Brilliant! Loved what you had to say and the way you said it.

As a guy, I've wondered what to make of some of those "I can't take anymore girls" moments that my female friends seem to have. You shed some light on it in a way that was insightful and comprehensive.

Thanks for sharing your writing.

Blogstalking,

-Jeremy
Suzanne said…
Beth,
this is insightful. And like we "obviously" know this stuff... but we actually don't. It's like when a comedian makes light of something that is hilarious in our everyday life that we don't fully "see" until they make a joke.
Anyway, I think you've done that sort of thing here masterfully.

In fact, I think I will send this post to some gals that struggle with liking gals. :)
Heather said…
I'm now curious as to what your original title idea was. haha!
Karen said…
My guess at the original title: "Bitches gon' bitch?"

I have always had many girl friends, not so many guy friends. I don't know how to maintain friendships with guys. I don't know what to talk about, or how to properly show interest without seeming overly interested, you know what I mean?

So I always thought I had pretty healthy relationships with my girl friends (because I've never thought it was easier to be friends with guys--bizarre reasoning, I know). Never catty, though definitely competitive, and without all that drama (who's mad at who, who's hanging out with so-and-so they shouldn't be, etc). I even made it through high school relatively unscathed.

Recently, I realised that my desire for peace/conciliation/pleasantness has been an obstacle on my way to true vulnerability and depth in my friendships. I swallow my emotions when I'm upset. I bite my tongue when I see a friend headed in the wrong direction. I play it safe, and have thus far mostly avoided the difficult times so many other girls seem to encounter in their girl friendships.

All this to say... where do I go from here? Being vulnerable is my weakness (ironically). What's a good first step?
Silas said…
great thoughts, beth, and well put. i think sometimes guys can have similar relationships to other guys. of course not entirely similar. but i do know guys who don't thrive with other guys because they are too heady and abstract and external all the time. the same applies that the guys will need to be intentional about developing those friendships.
Suzanne said…
Just re-read this post as I like it so much and showed it to Andrew. I want to take the "own your crap" section to heart.
Beth said…
Jeremy - thank you for reading and commenting! You're very welcome here, and now that you've commented, you are not a stalker.

Suz - I like you immensely.

Heather & Karen - it was "Hoes Before Bros, Bi-atch!"

Also, Karen, this is so another part of how we work! I think that first (and then second) big choice to be vulnerable is key. The other person may not realize its significance... I recommend calling another friend (one who knows that you struggle with this) to CELEBRATE after the fact and talk about "now what" - especially if your honesty opens up conflict (it may).

silas - thanks for the guy insight!

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