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feminism, inspiration

How to Make Female Friends

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Women like me. They always have. And it’s not a coincidence.

I have spent years perfecting the art of making and maintaining female friendships. It’s not always been easy and I have made many mistakes along the way (sorry again), but I am constantly rewarded by the inspiration, support and community my ladyfriends have to offer. I can’t imagine who I would be today without them, nor do I want to.

So when I hear a woman say that she “doesn’t have any female friends” or that “other girls don’t like her” I call bullshit. Not being able to make or keep female friends means one of two things to me:

  1. You are acting judgmental, competitive or critical with other women, so they are responding in kind.
  2. You have been judged, competed with or criticized by women in the past and now you are projecting that trauma onto every new woman you meet.

For women who struggle with these or other challenges, I took the time to compile a few lessons I have learned over the years (usually the hard way) about how to make and keep female friends. Hopefully they will serve you in your path to cultivating the ultimate lady coven of your dreams…

Always ask a woman questions on questions on follow-up questions.

Every time I meet a new woman, especially someone who might have a competitive vibe with me (ie. an exes new girlfriend, a co-worker, etc.) the first thing I do to dispel the weirdness is to get to know her better. I ask about her family and re-use the name of her siblings later in conversation to show that I’ve been listening. I ask about her hobbies and validate them, tell her how much I’ve always wanted to macrame too. I let her share and I hear her. 

Always compliment the effort a woman has put into her beauty, not the effortlessness.
No man will ever understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a woman’s beauty regime. So while men will compliment a woman on how “naturally” gorgeous they are, I love complimenting women on the labour that went into looking that way. Her liquid liner. The straightness of her stocking seams. Her blow-dried-then-flat-ironed-then-curled hair. These are the type of compliments that elicit a story, not just a blush and a self-deprecating dodge.

Never talk about food, diets or body issues.
Save these conversations for your therapist or your personal trainer. Your BFF does not want to hear about your new detox diet or how gluten makes you bloated or how you gained 10 lbs in the last 24 hours. Saying any of these things runs the risk of triggering in your friend a negative spiral of self-talk that will cause her to either feel superior or inferior to you (“Why can’t I detox?” “Is gluten the devil?” “Thank god I didn’t gain 10 lbs”, etc.). And nobody wants these kind of competitive, comparative thoughts between friends. AVOID.

Always confront your conflicts directly, grown-ass-woman-style.
It is inevitable that conflict between friends will arise. The challenge when you sense this tension, is to speak it’s name. I like to start by sharing my interpretation of a situation and then asking whether or not my perspective is accurate for her. Eg) “I felt like our texts last night ended abruptly, did I say something that pissed you off?” This gives her the chance to share her perspective while acknowledging the possibility that you may have misinterpreted. In the end, working through conflicts with friends gives you a chance to grow as a human, to become better. If your friends are worthy, they’ll understand that and want to help you be your best self.

Always give your friends specific, positive feedback…because how else will they know?

A while ago I realized that I give my coworkers positive feedback every single day. It’s just part of our working culture to acknowledge and validate each others’ strengths and accomplishments. But I never did this for my friends. So I started. Now I try to tell my friends as often as I can what exactly I think they’re great at, why I think they’re great at it and how their unique skills and assets contribute to my life in a positive way.