deciding to trust other women again

Sure, this counts as a Little Victory!

I got this text on Thanksgiving from a woman I haven’t really talked to in at least a year: Friend, today I am thankful for you. Hope your day is filled with gratitude and warmed by people who love you. 

She’s busy, in a writing program down south. I’m busy, here in NYC. We never really got the chance to get really close, but I’ve always liked her.

I thought there was some mistake. She’d probably meant the message for someone else. Or she’d sent it to a lot of people, and I was accidentally included. I felt awkward, responding, because what if I was too personal in return, and she was embarrassed for me and it was weird?

I am always waiting for women to leave me. Like the guy who doesn’t call back after what seemed like a perfect second date, like the breakup that never makes sense even though the other person seems to be trying to explain, I am never sure of the reasons, even though I dig through my memories, unearthing things that look like they might be clues. Things that have been broken a long time and are probably better off left there, underground.

(sorry, that was morbid. source)

I have fought passionately with boyfriends. I’ve yelled and stormed and stomped out and slammed the door and disappeared into the night for a while until I realize I’m just wandering around a parking lot and someone is probably going to rape and murder me and the fantastically successful dramatic exit is probably not worth all that. I have a flair for the dramatic with men. But with women, I am gentle. Since I was twelve or even sooner, I had best friends—girls I dressed up with in endless rounds of play acting, and had sleepovers with and wrote letters to and illustrated the envelopes. And they have tended to get mysteriously hurt or bored or something else and leave over the years, without telling me why. Or they’ve abruptly betrayed me in some teenaged, heartbreaking manner. The girl who I worshipped who was abruptly dating my boyfriend, just after I’d broken up with him. But she didn’t tell me—instead she showed up with him one day, just like that, and then she left the room while he berated me from his towering height of six foot four inches, telling me that I was stupid, ridiculous, pathetic– a little girl– that I didn’t know anything about the world. He was obviously in love with me, furious at me, and she was obviously letting him loom over me and tell me what a little fool I was. I couldn’t believe she’d chosen him over the stories I’d written with her about our shared future, where we had little farm houses down the road from each other in New Hampshire, and I came over for Christmas even though I am Jewish, and our kids played together and eventually married each other.

 

I was best friends with my roommate in college, until she stopped taking her medication, and then she hated me for everything. Just before she hated me, she used to crawl into my bed at night, crying, and I didn’t know what to do. When we separated, she kept my best underwear. The red lace ones. The only really sexy underwear I’ve ever owned.

(better than these. source)

And then in grad school, there was my brilliant blond friend who left my life without a word, after she signed my wedding contract, just below my own signature. I think it was because I asked her if she wanted foie gras when I took her out for her birthday, and a split second later I remembered that of course she was a vegetarian. Was that disgust in her face? It seems more apparent every time I play back the scene.

I think I’ve learned to close myself off. Not from being friendly or having lunch or having long talks or lounging on the couch with a woman I care about. Not from having friends—I find I have many of them now. But from believing innately in them. From automatically trusting them to be there when I am lonely, or when I am afraid but not the right kind of afraid to immediately tell Bear. From counting on them to text back, or text in the first place. I have exonerated them from all responsibility– I don’t expect them to check in on me. If they do, it’s a pleasant surprise, they really didn’t have to.

I let myself share plenty. I care about the people in my life, and I want to be there for them. I write their birthdays on my calendar, I buy them flowers sometimes, when they succeed at something they’ve been trying for. I listen. I am not joking around, it’s for real. I invest in them. It’s just that I am not holding my breath. There’s a leap of faith I haven’t taken in a long time. The chasm looks wider now. As a kid I had boundless confidence. I used to climb out my window onto the roof, and then I’d climb to the peak, and I never thought about falling.

I have decided I don’t miss her. The woman I sometimes find myself abstractly missing.

I don’t miss any of them.

I haven’t met her yet, I tell myself. I will meet someone and trust her implicitly and it will be better.

I have a friend now who is too cool and too different from me to be my friend. She is also so gorgeous that she looks unreal. Where I am boring and the thought of a party makes me cringe and my idea of a good time is to come up with a twist for the plot of the fantasy novel I am perpetually working on, she breaks crazy sexy stories for a living, gets recognized at the parties she attends, and always has a wild story that you wouldn’t believe from last night. I don’t really know why she likes me. Really, I don’t.

But sometimes she would say, “I love you!”

And I would smile. Or send her an emoticon back. A smiling one. I couldn’t say it.

“I don’t know why she’s my friend,” I told my therapist.

“Describe your ideal best friend,” my therapist said.

I did, laughing a little because I’d never really thought about it.

“She sounds just like you,” she said. “I think you’re describing yourself.” 

I thought about it. She was maybe a little bit right. If I was best friends with someone exactly like me, it’d be safe.

When I met Bear, he was open and I was open, and on our fourth date we were lying in bed together, singing into each other’s faces “Oh, what you do to me” and laughing at ourselves even though we were actually totally serious and we both knew it.

It was so easy!

I’ve become friends with a girl I met on the internet. She’s actually a brilliant editor, and if you write, you should read her blog about writing. She was helping me with my fantasy novel and we started talking about our lives and it turns out that she is cocky and dorky at the same time—combined with self-awareness, vulnerability, and intelligence that is pretty much my favorite thing in the world.

(source)

We’ve never met in person, and a couple weeks ago she said that maybe we should get together. She lives near Chicago. The same day, we made travel plans for her to come visit, with both of us paying for it.

“How long should I stay?” she asked.

“A week,” I said.

And just like that, I made myself available.

“Are you sure?” she said.

“Of course!”

She’s getting here tonight.

Yesterday it was very cold. I opened the front closet and reached for a coat. It’s been a year since I wore one of the winter ones. And there was the enormous, ridiculous fuzzy blue coat that Melanie, a woman who reads this blog and who I’ve never met in person, sent me. She sent it to me just because she wanted to share (she wrote this post about it). It feels like a big soft hug just when you need a hug. I wore it over my somber, wintry outfit, and when it began to snow I was glad.

Brooklyn seemed like it might stretch forever. Like if I kept walking I’d hit mountains eventually.

Last week I told my gorgeous, too-cool friend that I love her back. In an email. Maybe one day I’ll say it aloud.

I have decided to believe that the Thanksgiving text message was true, that it was meant for me. That even if she sent to a lot of people, she meant it for me, too. I was not an accident.

I feel like all of my posts about friendship end on hopeful notes. That’s when I want to write about friendship, when there’s hope. But I also think it’s true that there’s more hope all the time. That eventually, I will let myself be vulnerable and it will be impressive because everyone will have come to see me as this hard-hearted but totally sexy warrior with a single elegant scar on one cheekbone who kills before she asks questions and wields a mighty battle sword and wears armor that seemed imposing before we learned it was once her darling dead father’s and actually she’s a big softie. OK, I’m kidding. But it will be different, and I won’t have to be so automatically, intimately protective of myself. I think it’ll feel better.

(it’s me! source)

Of course, I’m still nervous.

“Calm down,” said Bear, “She’ll like our sushi place,” when I began agonizing over where to take my visiting friend to dinner. Will she? What if she can get better sushi at home? What if she is bored? What if she gets annoyed by that weird throat-clearing tic I have? Once a guy asked me if I had Tourette syndrome. But he said it was cute. I don’t know.

That’s the thing about making yourself available– it’s pretty clear that you care. It’s pretty clear that you want to trust this other person. This other woman who might make you feel like shedding all your secrets or like retreating into them.

Maybe we’ll get even closer. You never know.

And in honor of friendship and warmth, I’d like to pass the fuzzy blue coat along to someone who needs a hug, to remind her that friendship is waiting everywhere. Melanie thinks it’s time for the coat to continue its journey, too. So if you’d like to have a turn with it, please let me know in the comments or email me at kate@eatthedamncake.com and I’ll pick a person to send it to. Because there is something magical about sending a friendly coat to someone you’ve never met before.

(actually, THIS is me. no sword.)

*  *   *

Do you rely on your friends? Was there a time when you didn’t?

Unroast: Today I love the way I feel when I come inside from the cold. Like everything is so cozy!

ALSO, here’s a discount for ETDC readers from Blue Nile for the holidays! Use the code Special20%Off and get 20% off silver, gemstone, or pearl jewelry. It’s valid from today at 8:00 am ET to November 29 at 8:00 am ET. Enjoy!

 

 

47 Responses to “deciding to trust other women again”

  1. Life [Comma] Etc responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    I just… agree. So much. I even have a half-finished email trying to not-awkwardly ask you out for coffee when I was making plans to visit NYC (the plans fell through).

    I’d be very curious to hear from someone who has a lot of female friends and who always feels reciprocated. Or maybe we all over-analyze friendships and no one ever says so….

  2. Kate responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    @Life [Comma] Etc
    Of course I’d have coffee with you!

  3. Melanie responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    I have found that I have let go of all of the people I don’t feel I can rely on. Not that they always have to return a text, and some of them I only talk to a few times a year, but I know they are true friends. Someone that won’t stop talking to me because they took something I said wrong.

    I am so glad you wore the coat, and I of course LOVE that picture of you in it. This is a good time of year to pass it on. I hope the next person loves it like I do. Don’t forget to write in the journal and send it with the coat!!! :)

  4. Libby Walkup responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    I don’t know how to articulate it at the moment, party because you’ve done such a beautiful job, but I have similar feelings. Even my best friends, who don’t live in my city (also chicago) because I come from somewhere else, they’re good people and I know they care but I hardly hear from them. I hardly hear from my own mother, hah. She’s got a grand baby now so he gets all the attention, which is fine, I love my nephew too. But it’s like I was in love last year with this dick of a man, and it was brief and bitter but really intense and I did love him and I’m going to be okay but obviously I’m still hurting and I’m lonely. I just feel like I don’t want to bother them and they’re too busy with their own lives or don’t want to deal with calling me or something. And I just don’t know anyone here well enough to rely in then to treat me with care. Plus I feel like an idiot for still loving this man that crushed me and for still hurting after he’s been out of my life for so many months. It’s just really, lonely you know?

    Um. Wow. Didn’t mean to turn this comment into a cry Fest. Just wanted to say I appreciate this post. I hope things go well with your new friend, remember to relax and just let things happen. I plan on reading her blog. A writer and editor myself, I’m hoping to start a business if I can ever get the self-confidence and a written business plan.

    Cheers, lx

  5. Lisa responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I can completely relate to this post. I have struggled for years to let women into my life again. I’ve been hurt by them more often than I’d like to count, it’s quite sad and wish this wasn’t true. Men have never really betrayed me, believe it or not. I’ve always tried to relate to my own gender but with limited success. It doesn’t help that people often point out that I think/actlike a man, whatever that means these days. Either women are jealous of me or think I am completely nuts, who knows? But I won’t give up…Great post, thank you! :)

  6. ladykatya responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Yup. I don’t trust women. I don’t trust men. I just have issues. LOL!!

    My “best friend” if you can still call her that flakes on me constantly. We’ll have plans – firm plans – the plans you make weeks in advance and make sure not to make any other plans because you’re so certain that they’ll be great… and 20 minutes before we’re to leave, she’ll call and say “Something came up”. It has happened EVERY TIME for the past 5 years or so.

    It’s so bad that now when I’m trying to figure out who I want in my wedding party that she’s not even on the “short list”. Honestly, I might just have my daughter be my single maid. Who knows… anyway…

    Yes. I’m lonely too. I have no one to talk to about my man problems. It sucks.

    On the other hand, some of my recent female friends have done nothing but suck the ever living life out of me. Every time we’d talk it’d be this great big melodrama about their life and they’d want to know what I’d think about this and that, and of course I’d give them the “wrong” advice. My fiance calls them a “life suck”.

    Moral of the story, maybe I just can’t pick friends?

    –lk

  7. lik_11 responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    @Libby- so sorry you’re hurting, but damn! You just described my life post-breakup.

    I don’t trust my friends, anymore…. because of the horrible breakup that I went through. I loved that man more than anyone should be allowed to love someone else- and most of my friends didn’t like him. So- when we broke up- it seemed as though everyone felt it, but my bff straight-up asked me “Why aren’t you over him, yet?” Things have never been the same between us. Now- I have a hard time letting any woman in…. or any man, really.

    Kate- when you wrote about your 4th date how you were both open, I loved it- but am jealous. I give people snippets of myself- including my husband- but refuse to give anyone all of me. I don’t think I know how, anymore.

  8. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    What a lovely post! While I don’t have to rely on my friends, I feel so blessed to have a number of awesome female friends that I know are there for me when I simply want to rely on them. It is one of the greatest joys in life, because there are situations that you need to discuss with your female friends because a man would not understand. And we all want to feel understood and accepted. Face it, men don’t understand us completely…never will. But that’s okay :) LIBBY…big soul hug to you! Better to have an honest “cry fest” than to deny what you’re feeling. How can you honor the feelings of others if you don’t honor your own?

  9. Kate responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    @Libby
    I’m so sorry!!! That feeling, of not wanting to bother people with your pain, is terrible. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re interrupting when you talk about something serious that you’re going through.

    And I know how it feels to fall for someone who is utterly destructive. It’s so confusing, because you feel like it’s kind of your fault, and maybe you did this to yourself because you should’ve seen the signs and you shouldn’t have felt the way you felt, but fuck it, that’s life. That’s love, sometimes. And you have to just go through it and come out the other side. I’m sorry you’re not at the other side yet, but you will get there!

    <3

  10. Sarah S responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    I think Libby should get that awesome hug of a coat. (One foot in front of the other, Libby… it WILL get better.)

    I’ve had a disastrous time making new, close friends the last few years, but I am so fortunate to have many old ones still in the picture, scattered around the country.

    I realize that I form intense bonds quickly with other women who share my issues, particularly those involving food and men (who doesn’t?). It’s gotten to the point when I can see that intensity in a person a mile away and run like hell. I’ve been inadvertently hurt and carelessly hurt too many others to get involved in an intense, dramatic friendship again. There were the friends who made over-exercising and undereating into a competition with me (I guess I won, what with my ED diagnosis. What a prize.). Post-treatment there were the ones who tried to make me their personal therapist (while refusing to get real help) or brushed off my triggers and concerns (One woman actually told me, “You think that everyone who’s thin has an eating disorder.” Just the ones that won’t eat and have protruding bones…). I realize that the common factor in these problematic friendships was ME, so I’ve taken a hard look at my own expectations and behaviors. Now I’m treating new friends like I would any other new relationship — not investing too much too soon, and taking things slowly. A happy side effect is that I’m getting closer with some of my older, reliable friends, and therefore finally achieving that deep bond that I was searching for with all the wrong women (and it turns out my family and old friends thought most of them were bat-shit crazy anyhow!). :)

    Good, thought-provoking post, Kate! Have a great week with your new friend!

  11. Mandy responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    ladykatya;

    My chakra balancing teacher calls those kinds of people “energy vampires.” And, I have run into a few of those myself. The trick is to recognize that you’re not obligated to let them suck the life out of you–you don’t owe ANYONE that.
    And, if someone is draining your energy, and not giving you anything in return, that’s not friendship, so don’t feel guilty about cutting off contact.

  12. Michele responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    Why do so many of us who have so much to offer have no friends? Or the acquaintances we have don’t reciprocate our friendship? My only family is my wonderful husband and while I’m blessed to have him it is sad when my phone doesn’t ring on holidays… I have never had close female friends, ever, and I have never been able to figure out why. Am I too pretty? Not pretty enough? Too loud, too quiet? My therapist said maybe I’m too threatening to other women… Who knows? I want desperately to change this but I have no idea how… How do you make friends (and friends that will friend you bacK) as an adult?

  13. Heather responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    wow, this post was really amazing.

    it’s weird how as females, we have problems connecting with other females? i didn’t really know that this was a common problem until recently… i’m 31 and just NOW making female friends since middle school.

    i’m still hesitant and feel like they are only hanging out with me because they didn’t have anything else to do, but i’m hoping to get over that.

  14. Karen responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    There is only one friend of mine that I have known for years. Six years now actually. All the other women have more or less segwayed out of my life as well. It’s not that I don’t like them anymore but we’re just not in contact that much anymore. I guess we all change and evolve in time.

  15. Janet T responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    I don’t have any close friends in my town- I am lucky that I have a great husband and two great kids-ok adult children, but they still both live at home and I count all of them as friends as well as family. I thought my sister was my best friend, but I cannot count on her and finally told her so- and when I thought she might actually fight for this relationship forged over decades, I did not even receive a response. Guess I wasn’t even worth telling off, if I made her mad. We have repaired the relationship somewhat, but it is all very superficial.
    I woman I have known since we were in sixth grade, lives several states away, but we have always kept in touch and stayed in each other’s lives- came to visit me this summer. And when we fell into that easy camaraderie it was so wonderful. About a week ago I needed her to sit on my back porch again and talk, and I missed her so much I ached.
    I almost made friends with a woman here in town, I liked her and we had a bit in common. Turns out she was much more interested in becoming close to my husband. So there is that, and it will keep me off trying to make friends with women for a while more.
    Kate, you look gorgeous in that awesome coat. What a great color on you. And I loved this entire post- you always make me think.

  16. Kristina responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I had a tight group of about 3 friends all through my teens. When I was 18 yrs old, I started dating my now-husband. Our relationship did not start off well. In short, he was a really horrible partner and did hurtful things behind my back. My friends, being the good friends they are, tried like hell to convince me he was an a-hole and cringed everytime I went back to him. I was in denial with my man, and angry that my friends wanted me to get away from him. At the time, I felt like they abandonded me and were not good friends (in reality, I was confused and being brainwashed by my husband). Now at 26, I recently came to a point of enlightenment about the situation. It wasn’t them who abandoned me, it was ME who threw away their friendships because I chose to believe the lies my husband was feeding me. I had this strong urge in the middle of the night last Saturday to reach out to my old friend on Facebook and apologize for everything that happened. But I am scared; she could reject me and then I would realize that not only was I NOT a good friend to her, I could possibly spend the rest of my life never having a friend like her again. I am torn about it…I need the courage to reach out and apologize. I haven’t been the same person since this all went down and just wish I could go back in time and be a good friend to them like they were to me.

  17. Aezy responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I have always felt like the myth of “Best Friends Forever” was just as bad as the “Prince Charming” myth fed to us by the media and fairy tales etc. I have had quite a few close friends over the years that I have loved and would’ve done anything for, but as boyfriends come and go and people move out of the country or to a different city and find new lives they drop out of mine. Maybe I am truly terrible at keeping in contact with people (highly likely!) but it seems that most people enrich my life for a relatively short time only and I’m ok with that. That being said I do have an excellent group of friends from my hometown that I have been friends with for a very long time but I don’t see them very often with university etc nowadays.

  18. M responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    This means so much to me. I wrote my master’s thesis on the absence of friendship in Disney’s Princess films and how that affects young women’s ability to trust one another, and I know exactly what you’re saying. I’ve been let down so many times before, and yet I am so very cautiously hopeful about my friendships with women. I wear more makeup to eat brunch with my girlfriends friends than I do to hang out at home with my boyfriend.

    The Thanksgiving message was true! There is so much hope for us!

  19. Jennifer S. responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    I can’t do it. I can’t? Or I won’t? Be a ‘good friend’. What is a good friend? Every time I find that friend, THE ONE, I move to another state. Every time! It’s happened twice so far, one just recently.
    Other friends have come and gone..I have wondered why, sometimes I have obsessed over it, stalking them on facebook and wondering why I wasn’t good enough for them, or what our other so-called mutual friend was telling her for her not to like me anymore. :shrug:

    I am to the point that I tell myself that I don’t care. I have my family, my husband is my BFF, my bestie. @@ But he gets me. Truly. He just won’t ever giggle with me after having a few drinks and trying to dance to the local band playing cover songs or swap clothes that more than likely shouldn’t be swapped or any of the other ‘girlie’ things that people associate with bff’s.

    I love the words that you wrote, as well as all of the other commenters, and am glad that there are other people out there that know what I am talking about.

    If you need someone for that fuzzy blue jacket, let me know. I just moved from the desert of AZ to rural NC and it is cold. ;) Will make sure to give it a good home and pass it on when the time is right.

    Here’s a virtual ‘cheers’ to everyone with friend issues. Coffee, water or something stronger…just know that there is always someone out there that is looking for a friend.

    :gonna go call my mom now: lol

  20. Another Kate responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    This is great post and it makes me feel less alone. I have also struggled to make female friends, and I often feel like I am the one making most of the effort in friendships I do have. And when I notice that, I tend to pull back.

    I am from the US, born and raised here, but I lived out of the country for about 5 years. I would say one of my best friends is a woman I met as a language student in another country. With a few friends there, I notice that my relationships with them are different from my relationships with most other friends in the US. Not just the degree of closeness, but the content of it, if that makes sense.

    I’ve also noticed that some of the people I’ve bonded with the most as friends in the US are people who grew up outside of this country.

    My own experience is a small pool of events to draw from, but I do think there is something cultural about the way friendships work. And some of us here like the author and many commenters and myself are in need of something different than what US culture usually offers as far as friendship.

  21. Erin H. responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Wow. I really thought I was the only one who felt this way.

    Ever since my best friend died 8 years ago (and her sister, my other best friend, cut ties with me), I’ve been waiting for another relationship like that to come along. I mourn those lost friendships often.

    I have other friends now, but the friendships don’t feel the same. Maybe because I’m so much older? Maybe because I’ve over-idealized those past friendships to the point where nothing will ever live up to them? Who knows.

    But I do (very) occasionally run across someone with whom I feel a genuine connection, and then I tend to go a little nuts over it. It’s just such a rare thing!

  22. Lisa @ The Raw Serenity responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    All I can say is.. Holy Crap!!!
    (honestly, I have said that 4 times while reading this post).
    Those words could have come out of my own mouth.
    Ever since I started primary school ( 6 yrs old) girls have just “left” me. No warning, no reason, just left..
    I have always been friendly, trust worthy and respected every so-called “girl code” yet never understood why I can never hold onto life long friends.
    You know that popular ago about a decade ago that is played at every school reunion (friends forever) never meshed well with me.
    Its nice to know Im not the only one out there who has this issue.
    Lisa x

  23. Cindy responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I can totally relate to this. It is just so hard sometimes. I have had such a hard time with friendships, and I am so thankful for the few who have emerged as being true friends.

    There’s the Great College Lie where everyone tells you that those are the best years of your life, and that THAT’S where you meet your life-long friends, but I keep in touch with exactly zero people that I graduated with. There are two people that I stay in regular, if loose, touch, but neither of them went to school with me for all four years. I had two fantastic roommates and some VERY close friends who have completely disappeared, without even a little bit of an explanation. It has to be one of the most confusing things I have ever encountered.

    Thankfully, I have a few close people and a great family. My Mom insists that you make your longest-lasting friends later in life. I think she has to be right.

    Kate, if you haven’t read any of her stuff yet, I think you’d be really intrigued by Cynthia Occelli (cynthiaoccelli.com), including her book, Resurrecting Venus. It’s about women – embracing your life energies (her book focuses on feminine women, but is written to help anyone), healing yourself, and ending woman-on-women cruelty. It is beautifully and passionately written, as though everyone who reads it is a dear friend.

    Like you, she connects with her readers on a personal level, responding thoughtfully and offering real kindness. I admire how much you both have managed to cultivate relationships with your readers, and I think many of us feel like you *are* our friend, even though we have never met. Thank you for that.

  24. zoe responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    uuuuugh this is like, absolutely my life right now.

    i feel like the lame friend who floats from friend group to friend group because i don’t have a group. it feels like everyone i know has a ‘family’ of friends. i’m like the estranged aunt who gets invited along because i still keep in contact with a single person of that group. it’s probably all in my head but…yeah…

    still, these are words i say myself: “But from believing innately in them”.

    i’ve had difficult relationships with women, too. i don’t trust my friendships with women. i’m suspicious of their motives. which means i am suspicious of any love i’m given. it’s sad. i don’t expect to have a BFF because relationships have a natural ebb and flow. but a nice group of friends would be really, really awesome.

    well, i’m happy and not happy that i’m not alone in this. it’s sad women have a hard time relating to one another. but…honestly, this made me feel so, so less alone and less crazy. so…thanks for that, kate.

  25. Abby responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    This is a really interesting topic that I think more people should talk about. I can definitely relate…my first year of college I started this deep, intense friendship with someone. Or rather, it was intense, but shallow, because we hadn’t had time to grow any roots. And I think in part that’s what made it inevitable that we would have some big dramatic fight, and so devastating when we did because I wasn’t sure I had many friends besides her. Luckily that turned out not to be the case. We’re still cordial to each other, but I don’t think we could ever go back to that friendship. I don’t really want to.

    I’m lucky enough to have a kindred spirit who I hope will stick with me for the rest of my life. Considering we’re still young things might change…but our friendship has survived her move to China and cross-country colleges now. Her family really is my family, and she’s amazing and wonderful and made me a Frankenquilt…she’s the type of friend I want to tell everyone how amazing she is, and I am so fortunate.

    I think it’s especially difficult to trust friends if you’re a particularly caring person, because you learn soon enough that sometimes people don’t care as much about your friendship as you do. But I think with females it’s particularly fraught because of the competition we grow up with (like some of your other posts mention). It’s also hard because a lot of “girl talk” is about competitive subjects, like boys and food and exercise. A lot of times diet talk turns into competitive talk, about what you’re not eating or what you are eating or how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you’ve been. I mean, I’m probably wrong, but that’s how it seems to me. It can be difficult to trust someone you’re constantly competing with, even subconsciously.

  26. Patricia responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 2:34 am #

    @Kristina
    Reach out and apologize!! Even if she rejects your apology you will know in your heart that you tried to set things right. If you don’t you will always wonder what would have happened if you did.

    @Abby
    What is a Frankenstein Quilt??

  27. Claire Allison responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 4:08 am #

    @Kristina
    I’ve been in both ends of that situation, and reaching out is always better for everyone than never saying anything. Your friend may not want to be friends, but she’ll know you grew, learned from your mistakes and have made changes, and that will give her solace. It’s really hard to apologize and reach out, but if you feel a pit of worry for not doing it then it means you should, I think anyway.

    I just moved back home, so this touched a root. I’ve always had friends here but oddly almost all but my sister and one other close friend are out of the country. Not just the province- the country. So I’m in this odd position where normally, I’m at home and everyone is here and I have a social circle, but now I’m having to find new people.

    And it occurred to me that I’ve only been making friends with men. Maybe its because I’m traditionally a tomboy, or because I’m single for the first time in years, but I seem to be shying away from opportunities to meet new women. I think this post gave me a new interest in meeting new women- or even connecting with ones I was formerly close with, or just always wanted to know better.

  28. Monkey responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 7:47 am #

    When I was a child, a friend of my mother’s told me that we humans were lucky if we had five true friends throughout our lives. It doesn’t mean that these people will be beside us forever, as people change and shift and move. It just means that these people will be worth trusting, worth loving–your Bear would be one of them, I believe.

    I think that perspective is important. I think that myths and fairytales are important. Facebook, and other social networking websites, pollute and dilute our understanding of friendship; of what value is a friend if we have three thousand of them? Fairytales tell us that we should be surrounded by companionship, because all of the “good” characters attract loyal friends; are we the lonely evil queen in the castle of glass and steel?

    I do not know, but I do know that the important thing is that people like you for you. If you have to change for them to like you, they are not worth it. No one is worth that. Friendship is about two people, and if your friend from out of town doesn’t end up being a true friend, don’t feel like that is your fault. There is no one to blame. Sometimes, that spark just isn’t there, no matter how hard you blow on the kindling.

  29. Caitlin responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 10:25 am #

    This coat thing reminds me of The Bloggess’ traveling red dress(es).

  30. Caitlin responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Also, why the hell isn’t online friend finding a thing yet? We have online dating, where normal people go and meet other normal people and end up marrying them. I want a website where I can put that I’m geeky, agnostic, and like playing board games and am looking for new friends. One where a sexual relationship isn’t expected when you say you’re looking for a friend (that’s the fear that keeps me from using online dating sites for this off-label purpose).

    I want a damn algorithm to help me find friends.

  31. Rachel responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 11:05 am #

    This post really resonates with me, as I’ve spent my whole life constantly losing female friendships. In fact, there are ex-boyfriends who I still talk to, but the female friends from those eras have all gone their separate ways.

    It’s taken me quite a long time to move out from behind my barrier after the last set of female friends left me, and I find myself now with more folks who I would consider female friends than ever and I’m finally in a place, like you, where I want to let them in, where I want to be *really* available for them, to make time for them, to make plans with them and include them in all aspects of my life.

    I think part of this, for me, is that since I’ve been married two years now, I finally feel a solidness in my love life that will allow me to take this leap with the females in my life again, knowing I won’t be completely and utterly alone (my biggest fear? I think so.) if they decide to up and leave. It’s been difficult to get here, especially since my own mother is one of the women who abandoned me at a time of deep need, but I can feel my wings beginning to unfurl after a long hibernation. It’s a scary but thrilling feeling.

  32. Dori responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    It’s funny, I was just saying last night that the way I interact with other women in more akin to the way most women interact with men they have crushes on… I over analyze, and fret about whether or not, and why, they like me.
    ‘she showed me a video from her phone. she’s never shown me anything on her phone before. I think she’s really starting to like me.’
    I have the same mysterious disappearances, and I too have just mysteriously disappeared from a friendship.
    Anyhow, I really enjoy your writing, and your honesty, and I think you are incredibly smart and brave. (I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but hell! Who doesn’t like hearing it again?)

  33. Mari responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you for this. It is so hard to find the right friends that won’t judge you, or laugh at your shortcomings, or talk down to you. I feel very isolated at times, but I am trying to be better at being who I am and hopefully great friends will come along some day.

    I really admire how honest you are on your blog. People keep telling me to be careful when writing, you don’t want to step on people’s toes or show them your vulnerable side – but to hell with that. You inspire me and I am so very grateful that you write so openly. I can’t believe you are only in your twenties (I will join those ranks in a few short months), either – you are chalk full of reason and wisdom!

  34. erica responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    it was meant for you! Because I love you. I have lots and lots of lady-friends for the first time in my life. We help each other, see each other every day, drink a lot, work out, and talk through our problems when we have them. Maybe it’s about being thirty, or maybe about being in a writing program. I’m not sure. But I do know that these are friends I’ll have forever, ladies I can rely on, readers for life. And I am grateful for them every single day.

  35. Allyson responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    I completely know how you feel. I often feel like I’m the only person who isn’t close with a ton of friends from elementary school, who somehow hasn’t managed to stay close with all the girls they grew up with. I feel like I’ve grown away from all my childhood friends, and making close female friends as an adult has proven difficult.

    I’d say I have a lot of friends now, but none of them close, and many are more like drinking buddies than friends. Even the ones I’m relatively close to, still aren’t that close. It also seems like many of them are really compartmentalized: I have my work friends, my running friends, my college friends, etc, and for some reason it seems hard to lose that qualifier and call any of them just “friends.”

  36. Katie B responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I feel I’ve been really lucky with my female friends in my life. A few have mysteriously vanished or decided they no longer wanted to be friends, but the majority of them, even though we may not be in the center of each others lives, are always within reach and supportive. We can go for years without talking to each other, then when we’re together it’s like we were never separated.

    It’s amazing I haven’t been hurt by friends more often. I trust and care for people immediately, dive head first into friendship, give myself up completely to it and hope for the best. So far, it’s worked out well…

  37. rowdygirl responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Almost everyone here has already said it, but here goes: ME TOO!
    I just figured (as always) that it’s just me. I’m unlovable, or not friend worthy, etc. Thank you Kate for putting your heart out there again.. :)

  38. Kate Ash responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I find this to be utterly relatable with my life currently. Feelings.feelings, feelings can be too much to speak for. That coat is a fabulous hug trend to pass on and on. I need it!

  39. Annabel responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Kate, this is such an honest and refreshing post. I feel weirdly relieved that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I just wanted to share my twist on these friendships as so many of us are saying the same thing and sharing the same experience, it’s a real eye opener!

    I had a best friend, I mean really, we were like sisters and had such a riot when we were together. But you know, we only got together when I did all the planning. Anyhow I didn’t see this as a problem because of the two of us: I was the organised one and there’s always one of those in s friendship, it’s just how it is. I helped her so much through the years, and I can’t count how many times I bought her flowers, gifts, showed up with cake, you name it. Now, I don’t want to make out like I was investing all this time and money into someone to ‘get something back out of it, because it wasn’t like that.

    I was also present during those times and shared in the experience…and cake.

    But there comes a time when you realise that the nice things you do, and the activity you put in simply isn’t reciprocated. And I mean, it wasn’t even reciproctaed in a different way or by different means, I mean, it just wasn’t there.

    So I went away on my girly spa weekends alone, and I went shopping alone, and I bought myself flowers for the hell of it and I did lots of interesting courses, like cake decorating. And eventually our relationship just shrivelled up and died and dropped off like an umbilical cord stump on a baby. And a funny thing happened, she sent me an email saying she was sad that we didn’t see each other much anymore (hmm..I wonder why?) and I didn’t even care. I mean, I really ddid’t care. And I didnt want to hurt her feelings so I lied about being really busy at work. When actually I was busy having a great life.

    And now, I have lots of female friends and I really enjoy the time we spend together, I call them ‘latte girlfriends’ because we somehow always end up over a coffee or wine together and then, when they start getting personal, I keep things light. And I love it. And I don’t want to sound ‘closed off’ because I’m not ‘closed off’ I’m grown up. I don’t want to invest my energy into another woman, I deal with my own stuff myself – and it feels wonderful. And I’m sure some of my girlfriends wonder why they can’t get closer to me, like a lot of comments here are wondering the same thing and I just want to put it out there: sometimes being solo is the best feeling of accomplishment. Yeah, I’d love a great girlfriend who’d never judge me, be a great support and never steal my stylish new bob haircut or run out and buy the same pair of shoes as me. But seriously…does that human exist? Isn’t it better to really like yourself instead? I’m that woman at the cinema, alone. Getting a pedicure, alone. Eating sushi, alone. And I.love. it.

    How many of us need best girlfriends in order to feeel validated?
    Why do we need to feel valiated? Why do we need someone to witness the things we do the the feelings we experience? It happens whether we have an audience or not. I think the best girlfriend urge comes from a place of needing to be noticed and valued – and these are all things WE CAN DO FOR OURSELVES.

    Sorry, long rant!

  40. Allyson responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Annabel, I don’t think the desire to have closer girlfriends necessarily has anything to do with needing validation or not liking oneself. I think most people would describe me the way you just described yourself. I’m incredibly comfortable being alone, and really love being by myself but surrounded by people. I too am usually that person getting a drink, or dinner, or a pedicure by myself. In fact, when I started seeing my husband, one of the biggest adjustments was having less time to hang out by myself and people watch.

    I also have a lot of casual, light friendships, but I guess where we differ is that I find these casual relationships take an insane amount of energy to keep up. Once in awhile I love catching up with these friends over a drink, but after awhile, being around people that I either can’t or won’t completely open up to seems to exhaust me and leave me slightly lonely. I don’t necessarily want to be closer with these particular people, but I at least occasionally wish that there were more people who I did want to be close with, for reasons that I think have nothing to do with feeling the need to be noticed or valued, but more to do with some inherent need to connect with people on a slightly deeper level than I feel I have been. I agree though, that in the meantime, I make pretty awesome company for myself though :)

  41. Miss B responded on 27 Nov 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    I have never really had a _best_ girlfriend — all of my really close friends have always been boys/men. I do have a couple of fairly close female friends — and it’s not that most women dislike me, or that I dislike most women. But there is something about how I relate to most women that doesn’t completely click in that “best friend” kind of way — there are plenty of small reasons that probably contribute to that, but I’m not sure if they add up to the whole explanation. But also, it doesn’t really bother me? Or, rather, I’m not really a supersuperclosebestfriends kind of person, I think. Even the people I love the most, whose company delights me…I can’t handle too long being in their delightful company. Being with people too much/too often generally gets draining pretty quickly for me — even though I love people, and I am a pretty outgoing/friendly/talk-y/&c. person, overall. And I didn’t even have any best friends when I was a kid, really…maybe that hard-wired it into me, or something. Hmmmm.

    Really, though, what I would love is a hug from a snuggly coat. The last handful of months have been fairly shitty, and a big blue coat snuggle might be just the thing to make everything briefly nicer…

  42. Abby responded on 28 Nov 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    @Patricia A Frankenstein quilt is when all of the completely random fabric pieces are put together in no particular pattern to create a wonderfully disorganized explosion of colorful patches instead of an actual quilting pattern.

  43. Melissa responded on 29 Nov 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Wow. This is the first time I’ve read your blog and I can’t believe that are so many other women out there who are just like me! I have been happily married for over thirty years (which is odd since I’m, in actuality, only 28). I have a wonderful career and two very successful children. Yet I just can’t seem to meet that special “best” girlfriend. I have a slew of sisters and a fabulous relationship with my mom. I have girl friends, close ones too… but if asked they would name someone else as their “best friend.” And it is reciprocated.
    I liked the part where you said that you described your ideal best friend, and it was you. I think, for me, that is the key. I’ve spent so much of my life tiptoeing around other’s feelings that I wonder if I have neglected my own. I wonder if my lack of honesty when I have hurt feelings has kept me from really connecting with another woman in that way. I wonder if really I should be focusing on myself as my best friend.
    And I wonder, too, how it would feel to be wrapped in that fuzzy coat. It makes me feel warm. As did your blog.

  44. Tina responded on 30 Nov 2012 at 8:09 am #

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog and I love it. :)
    I also have a hard time with friendships. Like you, my female friends seem to just wander away. Even my very best friend growing up eventually stopped emailing me, even though I repeatedly tried to reconnect. Finally I just started thinking, ‘It must be me.’ Anyway, thank you for sharing yourself with the world. I’m in a brand new state now with no friends here. It’s a little scary. And if you see fit, I’d love the Hug
    Coat. :)
    Warm Regards!
    Tina

  45. Rosanne responded on 30 Nov 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Great post, Kate. I love reading all the comments and seeing how many people recognize themselves in your words.
    Until a few years back I had a very similar experience. I found it very hard to start and maintain strong friendships with women, much easier so with men. I never really understood why exactly, but now I believe it was a trust issue. Either way, at uni I managed to find a girl friend who I grey very close to. We spent so much time together and we just got each other. What a wonderful feeling that is. The past three years have been tricky and it seemed we had drifted apart, perhaps permanently. I missed how it used to be so much and wanted it back, but at the same time knew that’s just not how it works. Thankfully though, we never officially ‘broke up’ and even though it was very painful for me every time I spoke to her and had to conclude that the magic of the friendship was gone, I just let it be. And now recently our connection seems to be returning and I am really happy about it. It’s just so rare to have someone in your life who truly gets you. I just sent a message telling her that after reading this post. Thanks, Kate :)

  46. Leanna responded on 02 Dec 2012 at 4:14 am #

    WOW! I really thought I was a weirdo or I was the only that felt like this. Listening to story touch me and thank you. It just made me feel better. I’m going a tough relationship right now And I have no one to listen or to gain wisdom from that won’t judge the situation. I’m just lonely I pray that i don’t always feel this way. Honestly I don’t have a real friend and I don’t think I ever have . I have tried seems, that I’m to crony or I just haven’t find that women. Not sound full of myself I know I know I”m good friend. Once again THANK YOU for giving some color of life today.It’s funny because I never read anyone blog before I went looking the other day and couldn’t find one I liked. Today one of the worse days of this ordeal we are having I run across yours . Things will get better thank you for agreeing with me . LOL

  47. EMC responded on 08 Feb 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    OK, I don’t mean to make it weird, but my Mom was the first inaccessible woman I’d ever met. She set the bar for my difficulty in relating to other women. She is emotional, insecure and unreliable under pressure. We’ve seldom been able to relate because for some reason I am quiet, reserved and clinical. (Which, since the age of eight, she calls “cold.” At least, that’s the earliest I can remember her calling me that.)

    All in all, however, I have had some amazing friendships; but like the author says, there’s often the disappearing act or the hot and cold, push-pull that I think I dread even more. Sadder still, living in NYC a lot of friends up and move to faraway places where I’m told the grass is greener.

    I haven’t given up on making new friendships, but I’m no longer looking. I used to believe in loyal friendship to the death. (I think I got most of that ideal from reading books as a child.) I haven’t yet reformulated that belief. I am between belief systems on friendships with women right now.

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