Growing up, I was the daughter that my mother wished had been born a boy. I ran around like a boy, got messy like a boy, fought like a boy, and even cut my hair on many occasions like a boy. Girlfriends and female friendships, let alone good ones, were a foreign concept to me. As I got older, tomboy that I was, I found myself making more of an effort to have girlfriends than other girls made an effort to be my friend. Now, as a grown woman, wife, and mother, I have fortunately formed a circle of bomb ass female friendships and suddenly, I understand that a group of good girlfriends can be the best support system a woman can have in her life. Equally, toxic relationships with bad girlfriends can be draining and disappointing. This post is an ode to good girlfriends and female friendships, a guide to avoiding and leaving bad girlfriends, and a roadmap of how I think we can maintain good girlfriend relationships. If you’ve been around the blog, you already know I love my lists, so here we go!
The Importance of Good Female Friendships
Girlfriends are important for:
- Support, in every sense of the word, including emotional, mental, financial, professional, educational support and advice.
- Encouragement, confidence, and reassurance that you are great and that you are enough, especially when you feel otherwise. Some of my favorite girlfriend encouragement phrases from my friends are “don’t let that stop you,” “you are the shit, sis”
- Uplifting you
- Trading secrets
- Sharing experiences
- Sharing stuff (cough cough - clothes and shoes!)
The Toxicity of Bad Female Friendships
Bad girlfriends can be toxic! Say it with me ladies: BAD GIRLFRIENDS CAN BE TOXIC! Do not allow toxicity into your life. Learn how to identify bad female frinedships, and then develop the skills to remove it.
My girlfriends and I sat together in the hotel room during our girls trip to Florida and we made a list of all signs of a bad girlfriend. It was amazing how much we all agreed on what those signs were and how we had experienced similar situations. So here’s how you spot a bad girlfriend, y’all. Ask yourself:
- Is your relationship with your girlfriend one sided? Are you the only one making an effort to reach out?
- Is your girlfriend selfish, only looking out for her own best interests?
- Are your girlfriend’s compliments backhanded? Does she say things like “oh, you’re pretty but…(insert negative comment here)?”
- Is your girlfriend negative, jealous, or both?
- Does your girlfriend give you bad vibes and/or bad advice? Does it seem like she wants to see you fail (“girl break up with him” even though you’ve only complained about him once, he has a six figure salary, takes care of you, and loves you)?
- Is your girlfriend a financial abuser or a freeloader? Does she take but never seems able or willing to give?
- Is your girlfriend a do nothing? Does she lack ambition? (I need girlfriends that “match my hustle!!!”)
- Is your girlfriend overly defensive? Does she have a problem with you having other friends?
- Is your girlfriend overly competitive with you?
If your girlfriend falls into any one of these categories, she needs work. But if your girlfriend falls into several of these, let her go (in my Elsa voice), and here’s how you can do that:
Removing Toxic Girlfriends
For many people, our initial reaction when someone does us wrong or fails to do us right is to run. Fight or flight, right? Well, yes, you could disappear, but you shouldn’t. Go the healthy route. Tell your girlfriend how she negatively affects/affected you and why you feel you need to let go of the relationship. It’s hard, I know and by the time you’re done with someone, you’re probably wondering if it’s even worth it to give them that time of day. I think it is important for both you and her to do this. Why? For her, it may be the first time someone points these things out to her, and hopefully it will cause her to grow. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. The benefits for you are much greater. For you, taking the healthy route will remove a burden from your heart. You may not see it in that moment, but sometimes when we look back on broken friendships, we regret how things ended – don’t live with regret, even the tiniest bit. For you, it means that you definitely grow as a person. Confronting someone and a situation that are toxic for you means that you have identified the issue and you are taking care of yourself. Point one for you! For you, it also means that you can articulate yourself. So do that, sis. Be a whole person, not for her, but for you.
Maintaining Good Female Friendships
Like any relationship, a sisterhood needs care in order to grow and flourish. Don’t find a good group of girlfriends and let the relationship fade away. We all know they are rare, so take care of them.
1. Compensate and Compromise: I am the type of girlfriend that has no trouble checking on my friends. I always remember to call. However, many of my girlfriends are not the same. For example, I have two friends who both don’t call. One of them visits me, takes care of my daughter whether I need her to or not, and she goes out of her way to do favors for me when I need them. I know that even when she doesn’t call me, I can count on her. Another girlfriend never calls me, doesn’t check on my daughter, nor does she support me in other areas. What do think I did there? Cut the toxicity. So, for me, “compensate and compromise” means that I shouldn’t take offense when one girlfriend is lacking in one area if she makes up for it in other areas. For the girlfriend who maybe doesn’t call, make sure you are doing something to acknowledge that you care.
2. Make time: I cannot stress the importance of making time for your girlfriends. First of all, occasional phone conversations are important. But I’m talking deeper than that; have brunch occasionally, book a staycation in your city, go bowling. Make time for an activity that allows you and your girlfriends to bond over experiences, not just conversations. For the ladies in the back going “but we live in different places,” then make sure that you travel to each other or together somewhere else at least once a year. Don’t let distance steal your girlfriend.
3. Make up: It is okay to fight with your girlfriends! Should we say that one again too? Let’s be honest ladies – as women, we do often bump heads. It’s okay. What matters is how we address it. Talk to one another, identify the issues (where did I hurt you?), work it out, and BE WILLING TO APOLOGIZE. You have to put your pride aside for people you care about, ladies.
4. Talk, Don’t Gossip: One thing I hate is a girlfriend that calls me only to talk about other people. I should’ve added that to the toxicity list. All that does is breed and bring drama. You don’t need it. Talk to each other about each other; leave other people’s business at the door. How are YOU, sis?
Moral of the Tale:
It is possible, and IMPORTANT, to have good girlfriends and female friendships! Know how to spot bad girlfriends and remove their toxicity from your life. Most importantly, be willing to put in the work to keep good girlfriends. I love mine!