THE PRESSURE OF INTENSE FEMALE FRIENDSHIP

If rom-coms, Instagram and every book being published right now is anything to go by, there is nothing more important than the female friendship.

Boyfriends come and go, but true friends last a lifetime. Friends are the family that you choose yourself. Tag the backing dancers to your Beyoncé. Where’s your girl-squad at?

The importance of passionate, intense, fierce female friendship is paramount. We are nothing without our friends and we must give them everything that we have. All of our love. We must be there for them. We must let them be there for us.

We should talk about everything with them; vaginas and men and work and the lady that sits outside our front door feeding the pigeons and the age our sister was when she broke her arm; we must know it all.

Our girl friends are supposed to know us as well as we know ourselves, have seen our boobs more than they have seen their boobs, know each other’s mums, have memories that could fill every page in the British library.

We must love each other unconditionally, hold back one another’s hair and pass no judgement even when our friends confess to cheating on their boyfriends or running over a rabbit or stealing a candle or shagging their married boss.

We are fed story after story of strong, intensely powerful friendship.

And as beautiful as those stories are, they are doing absolutely nothing for the somewhat floundering, messy and totally neglected friendships in my own life.

In the same way that we were sold a story of the perfect man and of great romance and true love, and realised, after feeling the powerful vibrations of your other half’s fart ripple through the sofa like a slow, grumbling earthquake,  that it probably does not exist, the same expectations are held and then shattered with friends and friendships.

We d0n’t all get the chance to live with our best mates, we didn’t meet everyone important to us on the first day of kindergarten, our mums might not like one another, we might let each other down, we might be judgemental, we might just be selfish.

There’s this preconception that when you go through something in your twenties you will do so with the support of a core group of girl friends by your side.

Whether it was Sex And The City, Girls or number one best seller Everything I Know About Love (Dolly Alderton), all that I knew about being a woman was based on this idea that I’d get by, with a little help from my friends.

And whilst I do have some spectacular friends, it’s not all strawberries and cream all the time.

One of my best friends is off to do her masters in a few weeks, another one is working every hour god sends at a job that I don’t understand, one is travelling with her boyfriend, one lives a couple of hours out of London and one of them is absolutely useless with her phone.

If I were to have a crisis RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND, I know that all of them (excluding the one that is shit with her phone) would be nothing more than a WhatsApp away, but that in truth none of them would be in a position to drop everything and be holding my hand within the hour.

Life, work, boyfriends and motorways prevent the intense urgency we think we deserve.

I remember watching that scene in Sex And The City where Samantha removes Carrie’s diaphragm for her after it got stuck, whilst I was lying in bed with suspected swine flu aged 15. I want that, I thought, as I realised that I’d been pretty fucking ill for a few days and the only visitors I got would arrive with their hands over their mouths and only stay for five minutes.

I’ve asked friends to epilate my underarms for me before, look at various lumps and bumps, I let one of them do my second piercings when I was at school but if I’m honest I don’t imagine ever being comfortable enough with any of them to ask them to peep up my vagina for me.

And because of that I slightly (and I do mean very slightly) feel like I am failing, or missing out on something at any rate.

I don’t have four million WhatsApp groups where me and my girls do everything together, we don’t all have brunch together once a week, they are not my SQUAD (they’d flick me in the ear if I ever even tried to make that one catch on).

They’re just my friends.

People talk a lot about the day when they realise their parents are not the superheroes they thought they were when they were growing up, they’re just normal people with no special abilities and messy lives and shit all over the place that they don’t know what to do about.

I don’t think there is enough of a focus on the day we realise that about our friends.

The day we realise that our friends are just as imperfect and selfish and annoying and tired and exhausted and overwhelmed as we are and that just like us, they are just trying to do their best.

The pressure society has started putting on the female friendship is not at all dissimilar to the pressure we put on our parents by idolising them.

The minute we realise that it’s not all like it is in the movies is the day we feel let down, crushed and disappointed.

By having SUCH high expectations not just of our friends but what our friendships must be we are almost daring them to fail. The going only goes so good in the rom-coms before something totally inevitable and utterly horrendous happens.

By dealing with a crisis on our own, forgetting to reply to a message the second it comes in, missing a party because work got in the way, being on holiday when their boyfriend left them, you feel like you’re getting it wrong.

And then of course there are the friends themselves, the friends that are not always as perfect as you need them to be.

The friend that always drank too much as a teenager and disappeared every time you went on a night out with a different bloke is now 25 and it stopped being adorable when she tried to hit on your dad. You forgive and you roll your eyes for years because she’s your friend and this is just who she is and in every other way she is great until, eventually, you realise that you might just have grown apart.

We’re sentimental creatures and are disinclined to let a friendship fall to the wayside for something as small as a few ignored texts, but at some point you realise that your mental health and your self esteem might be taking a battering at the hands of someone you’ve looked at with rose tinted glasses on for years.

(I’ve written before about toxic friendships)

Everyone tells us not to give up, that a true friendship can withstand anything. Eventually we may discover that enough is enough, we may well just have grown up and apart. But good god do we feel like we’ve failed at something when that happens.

At a time when sharing elements of our lives has never been easier, our ability to keep in contact with our friends is waning somewhat.

Between uploading videos to our Instagram-stories and fitting a pithy anecdote into 240 characters on Twitter and constructing a carefully worded Facebook post to let your ex know that you 100% don’t give a shit about him anymore, finding the time to laugh at the gif you were tagged in by your mate and reply to the WhatsApp message vaguely asking how you are and emailing back the friend that moved to Japan AS WELL AS HAVING A JOB AND BEING A NORMAL PERSON is bloody hard work.

We are oversaturated with information, like a collection of very turgid sponges.

And we mistake liking an Instagram photo with telling someone that we care about them, and that is a problem that Carrie Bradshaw never had to face.

The friendship landscape has changed dramatically and we are now living with archaic expectations.

Carrie Bradshaw, for example, only had four great friends, an easy enough job, an answering machine and the ability to bump into everyone she knew whilst out for brunch.

If only friendship circa 2018 was that easy.

Alas, Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have been much of a story if our handsome chappy would’ve decided, after finding a ‘dead’ Juliet, to cut his losses and go find himself a woman who likes widowers, a chick flick wouldn’t be much of a chick flick if it didn’t have the tale of female friendship at its core.

I suppose every friendship is different, but the one thing I am learning, as I rattle into my mid-twenties, it’s that I have to do my upmost to remove external pressures from my individual friendships.

Just because there are four of you in your group it doesn’t mean one of you is the Charlotte York, you are not all characters.

And sometimes your mates will let you down, they will piss you off, they will fuck up and they will fuck off.

But don’t judge them too harshly, don’t compare them to the face-tuned version of friendship you’re used to seeing on the telly and remember that, just like you, your friends are doing everything in their power to stay afloat and not to drift apart.

Follow:

4 Comments

  1. AP
    July 3, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    It’s like you took the thoughts out of my own head and wrote them better than I could explain them! I always feel like I’m not a “good enough” friend because my best friend and I don’t give each other hugs every time we see each other, and that we don’t have that “perfect movie friendship,” so thank you so much for this post. I definitely needed to hear (read?) it.

  2. July 4, 2018 / 9:56 am

    ” but at some point you realise that your mental health and your self esteem might be taking a battering at the hands of someone you’ve looked at with rose tinted glasses on for years.”

    Really needed to read this, currently trying to get over a failed friendship with someone I thought was my best friend, time to put on my big girl knickers and start to get over it. Such a great read!

  3. July 4, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    “And sometimes your mates will let you down, they will piss you off, they will fuck up and they will fuck off.” This, I’m experiencing this right now and this post made me rethink my stance. Definitely needed this, thank you <3

  4. Est
    October 24, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    This is literally everything I’ve been feeling over the last few months, thanks for sharing and making me realise it isn’t just me! Its hard to split your time between work, family, home life and friends and others on social media make it look so easy which makes you feel like you’ve failed. The truth is any relationship is hard to sustain and people do grow apart at different points in their lives – it’s also never too late to begin new friendships with people you meet along the way

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: