This is Part 1 in a 4-part series about Women’s Friendships.
Many women share a deep emotional connection with their female friends. Research shows this type of friendship is important because it provides the vital support to help women feel positive and stay healthy. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or crystal ball for what it takes to make a successful friendship work, and women’s ability to maintain lasting friendships has become more complicated due busy schedules, lifestyle changes and our reliance on technology to communicate with each other.
Technology may be the most significant change. Many people keep their electronic devices on 24/7 communicating and recording their personal thoughts, feelings and actions at all hours of the day and night. Text messages and emails have become the norm for keeping in touch, making it the exception to the rule for women to actually sit and talk with each other. As a result, women today are missing the valuable intuitive insights that occur when we observe the body language, facial expressions and tone of our friend’s voice.
More than half of my female clients struggle to some degree with problems they are facing with their friends. And women aren’t the only ones. Gay males are the second client group who has the most difficulty in maintaining their friendships. Heterosexual males also have conflicts with their friends, but their relationships do not end with the same emotional pain that women go through if things don’t work out.
Through my sessions with over 300 female clients, I have developed a model of the four types of friendships women operate in, the risk each type of relationship poses, and the lessons that can be learned in these interactions.
Women need to be intuitively aware of the types of friends they attract into their lives. This is the first of four female friendship types that I will share. My next blog article will focus on the second type.
These friendships develop with the people who are involved in the same areas of our lives that matter most to us. This includes our hobbies, work, school, social and professional organizations, our kids, and places where we receive personal services.
Risk factors: Some acquaintance friendships develop due to a strategical or tactical need. This makes it easy for one friend to end contact when the other “acquaintance” no longer serves a purpose. The friend who is no longer of value is usually hurt when their phone calls, emails or texts are either not responded to for a week or more or not answered at all.
Lessons to learn: The ability to transition into a deeper level of friendship is based on how you feel intuitively about the other person. If your only priority is to focus on what your “friend” can do for you, this is not a good foundation for a friendship to develop. It’s not unusual for women to stay in an acquaintance friendship indefinitely. This type of friendship can be mutually beneficial to both people as long as they are upfront with their motives for being in each other’s lives. Problems usually develop when women stay in this type of friendship too long and forget how and why it developed.