Maintaining friendships over the years is not always easy. Life gets sucked out of us by busyness, and we ask for rain check after rain check until nobody asks us to go out for coffee. We start our own families, and the needs of our children and life partners outweigh anything our friends might deal with in their own lives. There are also those relationships that get destroyed by betrayals, ours or the ones of our friends, ending positive connections in a ball of fire, anguish, and anger.
There are probably only a handful of women on this entire planet who never experienced betrayal in their friendships. Often, the reasons for betraying a friend can be traced back to the way a male-oriented society raises its daughters. From a young age, we’re made to believe that once a woman gets something that means there’s not much left for ourselves.
The 5 reasons why women betray each other, as Iyanla Vanzant – relationship expert and New York Times best-selling author – sees them are the following:
1) Self-hatred. We see in others something we don’t like about ourselves, and we point it out in them because as long as we do that, we don’t have to point the finger at ourselves.
2) Taking relationships for granted. We don’t treat our relationships with respect, we don’t honor them. We fail to recognize when someone is putting in the work, and we get frustrated when they stop.
3) External validation. We expect others to make us feel good about ourselves, and when they don’t deliver, we tend to get mean.
4) Mimicking others’ behaviors. If we saw women in our family or local community betray their friends, we’ll go into the world thinking that’s the way it should be.
5) Unrealistic expectations. Our expectations for what someone should do for us can be very different than what they can actually do for us. When we’re not getting what we think we deserve, we lash out.
Understanding the reasons behind gossip, betrayals, lies, and unhealthy competition can help you save your friendships and maintain them for a long time. For example, if one of your girlfriends shares with someone a secret you only told her, you need to realize that might be because she feels powerless in her day to day life. Not all gossip is fueled by malice. Most of the gossip is actually driven by mindless blabbing, done by people who wanted to feel a just bit of power.
Female friendship is totally worth it
Dr. Michelle Callahan, who is a well-known psychologist and author, thinks that female friendship can even be super beneficial to women’s health. By doing something as simple and enjoyable as spending time with your girlfriends, you can get your body to increase the production of serotonin and endorphins and lower your blood pressure. Having a social support group makes all the difference, and that is why you should do your best to keep your girlfriends close.
Here are the three tips Dr. Callahan has for any woman, no matter her age, for keeping the friends she loves close, no matter where life takes her:
A. Make a conscious effort to avoid letting your friends slip away
You need to accept that without making an effort to maintain a friendship, it may slip away, and no, it’s not something that your friends should do, it’s something everybody needs to do. You need to be acutely aware that friendships are living organisms and that they need to be cared for to thrive.
B. Forget the old times and focus on current opportunities
Don’t get caught up in the past and in what you and your girlfriends used to do. Life changes and you should embrace that and the new opportunities to spend time together, showing an interest in what your friends are doing now that they have a new job, or a family, or their own business, etc.
C. Integrate your friendships into your to-do list or calendar
Making excuses is easy but dangerous. They can kill a beautiful friendship. Always add things like “call Lucy,” or “have lunch with Jane” on your to-do list. Your friends are your friends even during your workday, so don’t treat them as something reserved for your free time. Also, just because you’re friends on Facebook, that doesn’t mean you should stop calling or going out together. Technology is great, but it will never replace the magic of meeting with someone face to face or having a sincere discussion on the phone.
Remember that there are many things in life that only another woman would understand, and if you build and maintain the right relationships with kind, caring, generous women, your life will be filled with happiness and unconditional support.
If there’s one thing, we desperately wish you’d do now that you’ve finished reading this article it is to call a friend you love and haven’t spoken to in a long time.
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