As a teenager new to the realm of dating, I remember exalting the unshakeable bond between my boyfriend and I to my mother. She gave me a charitable pat on the shoulder and told me that for many women — particularly women who date men — close female friendships are often what bring us the most joy in life, not romantic relationships. At the time, it made sense she'd say that since she had been married and divorced more than once, but I was naively certain that if I got the whole dating thing "right" I wouldn't have to rely on my girlfriends for much more than fun.
Fifteen years and multiple relationships later, I finally get what she was saying. There's something a good female friend can provide that no dude can, no matter how fantastic he is. As a woman post 30, I realize it was more about meeting the right women to provide this support, who I hadn't yet met in high school. You'll never catch me diminishing the importance of female friendship ever again, and I have some wonderful women in my life to thank for that. Here are six things I've found that your female friends can do for you that a male significant other. just can't.
1. Share An Tntimate Understanding Of Feminism
No matter how much of a self-professed feminist your guy is, there's no way he can fully grasp the realities you deal with in your professional and personal life. From really getting why Saved By The Bell Hooks is so funny to understanding your worst experiences with sexual harassment, there are some things that make more sense when shared between you and a female BFF.
2. Share Emotional Intimacy Without Romance
Patriarchy dictates that other women are our competition as we fight for the scare male resources we need to "survive." Um, no, thanks. Turning the tables on this idea and cultivating intimacy with both men and women, regardless of romantic attachment, is a win for gender equality.
3. Mentor Each Other Professionally
Few can understand your position in the workplace like your BFF, even if she's in a different field. Close female friendships can create a fertile space to share visions about your professional life and brainstorm your future endeavors.
4. Exorcise Your Latent Misandry
(Sorry, I had to!) Living under patriarchy can be exhausting, particularly if you're not a thin, white cis woman of privilege. Although no one gender should ever be reduced to a monolithic stereotype — that's what feminism is trying to disrupt, after all — sometimes you just need to blow off steam and trash talk about dudes in a safe space. Do you really want to do that with your husband or boyfriend or male friend? Probably not.
5. Pass The Bechdel Test With Flying Colors
Here's something female friends do that isn't shown nearly enough on TV and in the movies: do everything BUT talk about men! Hmm, let's see, there's books to discuss, bars to drink at, art exhibits to attend, trails to hike, and a zillion other fulfilling activities besides dishing about dudes. (Obviously you'll do it sometimes, but, c'mon, there's a time and a place, and it isn't 24/7.)
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Unsplash; Giphy (5)