With every fiber of my being, I believe that friendships forged with and between women can be the most empowering, life-affirming relationships you'll ever enter into over the course of your lifetime. So obviously, if there are signs you might be sabotaging your friendships with women, you'd probably want to be made aware of them, right? Consider this: A landmark UCLA study performed in 2014 found that friendships with women have tangible benefits, both emotionally and physically. They bolster our inner strength and help fill in emotional gaps in our romantic relationships. They shape the people we are and the people we'll become. In short, friendship with women rock.
But that's not to say they are without imperfections. Recently, one of my best friends and I began to drift apart. Given that we'd been friends since we were barely teenagers, it felt like a tangible loss not having her in my life as much. However, she called me last week and explained that she'd had a revelation: Ahe realized she was sabotaging her own friendships. This gave me pause. Had I been doing the same?
After a few hours of deep self-exploration and a sleeve of Girl Scout Samoa cookies later, I too realized there were ways I was sabotaging these oh-so important connections with the women in my life. To help you avoid (or amend) doing the same, here are a few red flags to keep an eye out for.
1. You Try to "Fix" People
I have this friend. She is a people-pleaser to the utmost degree, and sometimes I feel as though it affects her quality of life. Over the last year, I have often found myself counseling her on how to change her behavior and avoid falling into the same old patterns. But the reality is that there are countless people out there ready and willing to pick women apart for every little thing — their friends shouldn't be scrutinizing, too. We should accept our friends for who they are... not who we want them to be.
2. You Constantly Compare Yourself to Others
There is no way for this scenario to end well. Either you size yourself up to a friend and come out feeling like the victor — in which case you've just effectively judged your friend and rendered her somehow less than you — or you do so and wind up feeling worse about yourself, that latter of which can make you resent your friend or avoid her. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say. It's our differences that make us unique and stronger together.
3. You Get Jealous Easily
Whether you are jealous of the other relationships your friends have or jealous of the milestones it appears they are meeting in their life more timely and/or with more grace than you are, jealousy will get you nowhere good fast. For starters, it breeds resentment, which can easily cause a deep rift if allowed to fester. It's OK to want more for yourself, but that doesn't mean you can't also feel happy and celebrate your friends' successes — including thriving friendships they have outside of you. The more friendships with women out there in the world, the better!
4. You're Not Showing Up Anymore
This isn't just relegated to flaking out on plans at the last minute. Rather, it can also mean not showing up for your friends on an emotional level. Maybe they need to vent about their misogynistic boss or how their significant other discredits their feelings. Be present for those conversations, or be honest about the fact that you aren't fully present in the moment. Your friends need to feel like you are invested in what is going on in their lives.
5. You're Always the Center of Attention
There's room for all of us to shine, and being a good friend requires that sometimes you step aside and share the spotlight with your besties. Not because you feel like you have to, but because you legitimately want the world to see how wonderful they are. Plus, when you aren't the center of attention, your perspective shifts — that can offer you better insight and understanding into your relationships and allow for personal growth.
6. You Rely on Your Friends to Validate You
You should never solely rely on your friends to make you feel happy or beautiful or anything else. Sure, a fringe benefit of having friends is that they will lift you up and empower you — women are amazing nurturers and strength givers. But you can't expect them to always be the ones to do that for you; you have to first be able to love and lift up yourself. In turn, this will enable you to do the same the people you share friendships with.
7. You Feel Like You Always Have to Agree
If you're looking for a sure-fire way to jeopardize your closeness with a friend, expect them to always be on the same page as you. Because here's the truth: It's just not possible. At any given point in your relationship with a friend, she may veer off the path you are on and head down her own, whether that involve exploring her gender identity or choosing to start a family by having children. You may not always agree with her choices, but you should respect them.
Images: Bustle; Giphy (7)