girls holding hands
As my daughter starts her second year of middle school, I find that I have to dispense friendship advice on an almost daily basis. We talk about how girls that she’s known her whole life are starting to make foolish choices, how some girls can be so flat out mean, and about the “popular girls” and how they pretend to act dumb so that . . . (I don’t really know the answer to this one).

“Don’t stress about it,” I tell her. “When you grow up you’ll find much better friends.” But I’m finding that friendships amongst women can still be incredibly complicated. Drama Queens and Backstabbers are still around, but there are also women who push friendship away; women who claim to be too tired or not that into having friendships anymore.

I am incredibly social. My husband has teased me for over twenty years about the large number of “best friends” that I have. My friends are a high priority in my life and once I am your friend I am loyal til my dying day,

Grown-up friendships can be strange and fickle and I find that I sometimes don’t understand them. My husband is great and I love to hang out with him, but having a conversation about how little boys always pee on the bathroom floor isn’t really a topic that comes up that much. Especially one that is accompanied by much laughter and head-nodding. But if you get a bunch of women together for more than an hour or two, there will always be laughter. Or maybe that’s just me. I do tend to laugh way too much.

I hate bringing Satan into the conversation because I always feel slightly kooky when I do, but if I were trying to discourage women and make their lives terrible (which is what I assume is the devil’s goal) I would try to make their marriages rocky and I would try to isolate them from their friends. Girlfriends can lighten a bad mood, give you advice without taking sides or being a nag, and ease your burdens. But it seems harder and harder to find a good friend and many times we’re just too tired to keep up the friendships we do have. I’m not telling you that Satan wants you to skip Girl’s Night Out, but maybe it’s time to remember just how essential friendships are to womenkind.

Have your friendships seemed to change and become less important? Maybe it’s the virtual internet world we live in or maybe it’s another victim of our overscheduled lives. Do you find it harder to make and maintain frienships? Do you not care as much as you used to? Are friendships more of a trial than a pleasure? Has friendship changed for you over the years?

September 9, 2013


  1. Joseph M

    September 5, 2013

    Making and Maintaining friendship has always been a strugle for me and I feel incredibly blessed that I am friends with all my bothers.

    That said, remembering that Joseph said “friendship is one of the grand fundamental
    principles of ‘Mormonism.’ ” I don’t find it surprising at all that the adversary would attack female friendships especially. I recently read a observation(Naomi Wolf: Vagina a new Biography) on how traditional cultures typically have some sort of female space where women feed their generally greater need for verbal interaction (market, washing at the river, etc.)where modern life traps stay at home moms into dumping their conversation overflow on verbally depleted husbands.

    I think visiting teaching specifically is designed as a mechanism for encouraging female friendships against a culture that is working against them.

    I remember from Truman G. Madson’s lectures on Joseph Smith that the purpose of the School of the prophets was to move people’s relation ship with Christ from servant through Son/Daughter to Friend.

  2. Maj-Lén

    September 5, 2013

    Loyalty is extremely important in friendships and that to me should be at the top of the friendship between husband and wife as well.

    When I was six years old I made my first real friend and sixty years later we are friends across continents and an ocean. She can disagree with me and I don’t take offence, because there has been a lifetime of loyalty and honesty.

    We can go a long time without corresponding and then pick up where we left off. That is how it is with all my real friends, there is no pressure from the calendar.

    Yet, things have changed. Different family dynamics put restrictions on what you say and do together. I had 24 grandchildren long before my oldest friend had any. One of her two daughters died in an accident and the other girl married a man who wanted to be her child and have no competition from little ones. For me to talk too much about my family was not an option,yet, they are the biggest part of my life’s fabric. Nobody could have been happier when my friend’s daughter re-married and had two lovely children. We still don’t talk much about the children, but I don’t have to edit my joy when sharing.

    One friend told me that every time soemone shares their joy another might feel bragged to. Another friend said I should wear a sign on my forehead saying “Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know!” because I will share my feelings if you ask…I have lots of opinions and feelings about just about everything. Watch out!

    Friends help you curb your selfishness. I can sit for hours and listen, and ask a lot of questions without saying a word about myself. I genuinely like people, and I care. My husband has challenged me to get some particular people talking about themselves saying it would not happen. I did, and now he says I am really good at it. I guess I am part cat…I am curious about everyone and everything. I really want to know.

    Now it seems to me that so many people just want to say “hi” and went to as many people as they can without any real intent of real conversttion. I don’t see public wenting as friendships.

    Posting what you had for breakfast every day can’t be interesting to others…or is it, and I am just out of the loop.

    I am grateful for the real flesh and blood friends I have. I value every honest opinion even when they take my breath away, or hurt a little. Truth doesn’t hurt terribly when it comes with love. Growth is worth the effort of real friendships.

    Thanks for letting me went ?

  3. robin marie

    September 5, 2013

    i was also best friends with boys and had pretty bad experiences with girls throughout grade school and high school. it wasn’t until college and afterward that i made amazing girlfriends who became like my family. i value these relationships tremendously. maintaining them has been hard since we now live all over the country and are not able to frequently see one another.

    despite having all those friends i often feel lonely since we can’t get together like we used to. another factor that hinders friendship as you get older is marriage – since often you both have to like the couple to hang out – i opt to just hang out with the girls that i have become friends with.

    other obstacles include women who feel friendship is not important at this stage in their lives – or they feel that their husband should be their only friend. being at different stages in life – or just being busy with the day to day necessities of life.

  4. Blue

    September 5, 2013

    My heart has never been broken as badly by anyone as it has been by girlfriends to whom I deeded a chunk of it’s real estate. It’s lame that it took me nearly four decades to understand that even though I’ll love you til End Of Days, and thought you felt that way toward me, doesn’t mean you’re on that same wavelength. I have to admit after the last time it happened, I probably started guarding against that kind of pain in a way I never have. I don’t want to be like that, though. I want to love everyone as unconditionally as ever, come what may. I thought this post was so timely…behind the scenes it’s very relevant to me. Thanks, Jennie. I wish we were neighbors ♥

  5. Elissa

    September 6, 2013

    I find the women I see at church often act more like the teenagers I knew at High school. There are the popular ones and they are very exclusive. I have no time for those sort of games and so I have kept a distance and try to befriend others who also seem on the outer. My best friend isn’t a member and we are both so busy with our families that we don’t hang out often but when we do it is great. The advantage is our husbands both like each other as well and so do all the kids so we we regularly hang out together. Because my time is so short when I have spare time I really just prefer to spend it with my family and husband rather than hang out with the girlfriends.

  6. MB

    September 6, 2013

    North American media and culture tout the value of friends for lively diversion and mutual support (look through the material for most sit-coms these days) and it’s easy, therefore, to feel like a multitude of girlfriends is ideal for everyone. And it’s common for people who do so, to relish it, and for people who do not to feel like they don’t fit.

    Some women find rejuvenating energy in social relationships and actively seek them to counterbalance the more solo or quiet one-on-one experiences in their lives that they find require them to expend energy.

    Other women find rejuvenating energy in solo experiences and quiet one-on-one conversations and seek those to counterbalance the social relationships in their lives that they find require them to expend energy.

    God likes both kinds of energy orientations and puts both to valuable work.

    I like both kinds too, but I know, definitely, which camp I fall into.

    Sounds like you do to.

  7. Jessie

    September 6, 2013

    Growing up, I always had one or two ‘best friends’ at a time, and we would do everything together. In some ways those were good relationships and in others they were not. Now, as an adult I find that I have a hard time making and maintaining real, deep friendships. I have a lot of female friends, some of whom I am closer to than others, but none of those friendships are as close as I would like. I don’t have any particular friends that I see and hang out with on a regular basis, or that I could call or email with serious problems. Actually, as I type that I realize that I have some friends that I possibly could deepen a relationship with–I know at least part of my problem is that I don’t reach out often enough. I’m an outgoing person and I love to talk to people, but social interactions and maintaining friendships are hard for me. I also find that many women I know already have many friends that they are close to, and their lives are already full with family, work, and other commitments. Finding that ‘sweet spot’ where you really get along with another person and place equal value on the relationship and commitment to it is really hard!

  8. jennifer rueben

    September 7, 2013

    as mb said there are two kinds of people those who get energy from social inter-action and those who burn energy in social situation. Our society pushes and prompts the first. It is very difficult for the quiet people to make and keep friendships. Even if we are not the party crowd we really are worth knowing.

    personally I have not found visiting teaching a source of friendships nor the ward relief society.

  9. Sara

    September 7, 2013

    Having just moved into a new, affluent, and rather chilly ward, as I read this post I was thinking, “I don’t think I’ll make friends here.” The gospel is supposed to be a great unifier among people and RS is supposed to facilitate friendships. When congregations are cliquish and competitive it makes it hard for me to want to attend. I still do, but it’s lonely and stressful. If you are comfortable in your circle of friends, please seek out newcomers and others on the edges of the ward. Sit down next to someone unfamiliar to you and say hello. No one should sit alone at church.

  10. MB

    September 8, 2013

    Amen, Sarah. Besides which, even thought I’m, by inclination, an introvert and socially reticent, I find that life is more interesting when you do, each week, sit next to someone you haven’t previously had the chance to get to know and ask them a few friendly questions.

  11. Strollerblader

    September 8, 2013

    My friends keep me going. I get really depressed when I haven’t been able to see or chat with them during a week or so. I’m told that my husband should be my best friend, but he’s not (he’s a great husband, though — just not someone I chat with like I do my girlfriends). Here is an interesting article on the value of female friendships. Very interesting facts.

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