Ever since the book came out, I've received feedback about how it's made women think about friendships throughout their lives, as well as who is in their lives now. The goal of this blog is to open up and create a dialogue about friendships: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Each week I will post my thoughts, experiences, as well as various articles, topics or quotes that I feel are important when examining female friendships. Please feel free to leave comments; I look forward to hearing from you!

Email me: survivingfemalefriendships@gmail.com

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Mother-in-Law Dilemma

Not too long ago, I wrote about the significance of our family relationships (mother/daughter, sister/sister, etc.) and how we tend to forget they are also our friends.  Another relationship we tend to forget about is the one with our mother-in-law.  Some of you may intentionally overlook this relationship, so I will dive into these shark-infested waters…  

A friend was telling me about her complicated relationship with her soon to be mother-in-law (which is a nice way of putting it).  My friend wanted to know if she had to have a relationship with her mother-in-law?

I was stumped with how to answer her question.  My friend realizes that she’s not only marrying her fiancĂ©, but she’s also marrying into his family, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Unfortunately, she’s not had an easy time building a relationship due to reasons I shall not go into – let’s just say that it’s been difficult for her fiancĂ©'s mother to accept that her son is getting married.  My friend is in the midst of planning her wedding and wants to enjoy her “big day” yet is wondering how this dynamic with her mother-in-law will play out long-term.  Does she need to have a relationship with her?

Here are my thoughts: it would probably be easier to have a civil relationship so that holidays and family get-togethers are tolerable.  At some point, my friend may want to attempt an amicable conversation with her mother-in-law to talk through their issues – even if they cannot come to an agreement, they can at least try to work on how to get along despite their differences.  The process will not be easy, but at least if you can agree to disagree, it’s better than just plain disagreeing.  

This female relationship is quite horrendous if it’s not a positive one, and I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about our friends’ mother-in-law who seems like the devil.  However, this relationship is important due to all the parties involved, most specifically, your husband/her son.  If he’s feeling as though he’s put in the middle, it won’t help your marriage and it won’t help his relationship with his mother.  It’s a lose/lose situation.

I feel empathy for my friend and wish things were different, but as my mother always tells me, “It is what it is.”  Thus, my friend has to learn how to manage her mother-in-law without going insane, as well as without letting it negatively impact her marriage.  Thus, to answer her question, it’s more of how she defines this relationship for herself.

For those of you who have a strong, positive relationship with your mother-in-law, it can be a beautiful thing – it can provide another female support system for you.  Not that it needs to be perfect, as every relationship has its ups and downs, but this one in particular can be valuable.

Can you relate with my friend’s predicament?  What is your relationship like with your mother-in-law?  Did you ever have to work on your relationship?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

We all know that in any type of relationship, communication is key; we express ourselves through verbal and non-verbal communication.  When there is a misunderstanding – or miscommunication – it can lead to confusion, hurt feelings or worse, a break in the friendship.

I recently had an experience where something I said was not understood the way I intended, and thus, I had to clarify.  I was puzzled about how the other person took my words, but it made me look at how I communicate.  This experience also made me think about the many daily interactions we have with our friends, and how easy it is to miscommunicate.

Think about it – someone takes what you say, and perceives it as totally opposite from what you meant.  Both of you then leave the conversation with two separate understandings.  What we say, how we say it, and how it is perceived by the other person are all things we’re not always aware of when talking with our best friend.  We become so comfortable with each other that we forget this happens – plus, our best friend should know what we meant, right?!  Not always.  Thus, when there is miscommunication or a misunderstanding, we’re reminded how easy it is for these things to happen.

Sometimes there are certain situations in which we’re too timid to clarify – maybe we’re just getting to know someone and fear being seen as “stupid” or we’re afraid to clarify because we feel we should know what our friend is talking about.  Again, that word: Fear (which I discuss in the book).

Have you experienced this with a friend?  Which role did you play in the miscommunication/misunderstanding?  Was it resolved?  If so, how?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Examining Differences in Friendship

Every now and then, I look at those around me and wonder about the similarities and differences between myself and my friends.  Those I’ve known for a long time, there are many similarities due to shared experiences.  However, there are also differences when looking at personalities, career choices and life stages.

Regarding personality, some of my friends are more shy, while others are more outgoing.  Several have a career unlike mine, which makes conversation and the process of getting to know them fascinating as I learn about what they do day to day.  A few are engaged and/or married, so there are differences in terms of how we live our lives and what decisions we are making.  Oftentimes, these differences have added substance to the friendship, while other times, they have created barriers.  Why is that? 

Does it affect the friendship if one person is a lawyer and the other is a stay at home mom?  Does it matter if one person is getting a divorce while the other is getting married?  It’s interesting how these differences can either disrupt the friendship or make it stronger.

I’ve often heard women say that a friendship ended because they were “just too many differences” and they could not get on the same page.  Their lives were going in two separate directions.  Why, for some, does that not matter, but for others, it causes the friendship to end?

I wonder if it comes down to the type of friendship (how long you’ve been friends, how close you are, etc.), and how much you both want to invest in keeping it alive.  It takes work, that’s for sure, but sometimes we let the differences become an excuse for the friendship to fizzle out if our heart is not fully in it.

Thus, the question remains: do the differences outweigh the similarities or can friendship love conquer all?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friendship Quote of the Week

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
~Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family and Friendships

A woman recently asked if I address mother/daughter relationships in the book – I told her I don’t, yet the more I thought about it, I began to think about my mother and the importance of that relationship, as well as how it connects to female friendships.

As I’ve grown, my mother has turned into one of my best friends, which is a natural progression when children become adults; your parents become your friends.  Some of you may disagree – it all depends on the type of relationship you have with your mother.
I’ve been lucky in that my mother has provided me with a stable foundation for my own friendships.  She has taught me trust, respect and love – qualities that are also important in a friendship.  Through the good and bad, I have gone to my mother for guidance, and even when she says what I don’t want to hear, in the end, she’s usually right.  She’s my wise friend and someone with whom I can be myself and not feel judged.

Through my mother, I’ve been able to survive many female friendships that have ended without reason or talk through situations that I haven’t known how to handle.  It’s helped to have her in my corner; in a way, she’s my personal “friendship guru” – helping me to navigate the ups and downs of my own relationships.

Actually, looking back at many significant life events, my mother is the first person I call to share the news.  After talking with her, then I call my friends.  It’s interesting when I think about this relationship and how vital it is in my life.
Another special family relationship that I haven’t experienced is the power of the sister bond; I remember wishing I had a sister when I was younger - having two brothers didn’t exactly help when I wanted to play with my Barbie dolls.  When I see sisters who are close and seem to be best friends, it’s a special connection that only they share and understand.  It's a life-long friendship that continues to deepen; even through distance, I know sisters who talk daily and/or make it a priority to see each other.

Think about those closest in your life – is a parent or sibling one of them?  Who do you call when you want to share exciting news?  When you need to sort out a difficult decision?  If it’s not your mother or sister, maybe it’s your father or even your aunt, uncle, cousin…the list could go on and on.  We sometimes forget that these people are not just family, but also our greatest friends!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Friendships and First Impressions

I was recently talking with a friend I’ve known since college about my first impression of her; I told her I was intimidated by her strong personality, but as I got to know her, we connected on our similar backgrounds (both from the east coast) and career aspirations (both psychology majors).  Her strong personality became a trait that I admired and no longer found intimidating.  That conversation led me to think about other long-time friendships, what my first impression was, and how I met that friend.  Many of my first impressions ended up being totally wrong, which I now find quite humorous.

The idea of first impressions makes me curious about how we present ourselves to potential friends, and why we may not show our true selves in the beginning.  Fear may play a role, which leads us to hold back and test out this person, which is what I refer to in the book as our “emotional baggage” (past painful friendship experiences).  We may act more tough or confident than we actually feel; or we may act shy or seem insecure depending on our level of comfort in these new, often awkward situations.  

It also could be about timing – for example, you’ve had a horrible day and have plans to attend a friends’ birthday dinner party.  Your friend wants you to meet some of her friends, so you smile and introduce yourself, but inside, you’re feeling as though you want to crawl under a table.  How does that present to the people you’ve met?  Or perhaps you’ve had the best day ever, and you’re happier than a person who just won the lottery; how does that present to others?  Pompous?  Or someone who seems energetic?  (Frankly, people who are always happy kind of scare me, but that’s another issue…)  Depending on the mood we’re in on that particular day, hour or even minute, it’s interesting how we portray ourselves and how we perceive others.

Think for a second about how and under what circumstances you’ve met some of your friends and what you thought about them during that first interaction.  Try to remember what was going on in your life at that time.  All of these factors most likely played more into your perceptions of each other than you think – and all it took was a few seconds.

Makes you think twice about the next time you meet someone, and what that first impression is truly based on: possibly fear or nerves, your past, your mood in that moment, what’s going on in your life...not such a simple thing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Trailer

I am thrilled to share the book trailer! 

Age and Friendship

With a birthday coming up next month, I've been thinking a lot about age and my female friendships.  Growing up, I tended to have older friends; even now, many of my friends are around my age or older.  Some even 10+ years older.  All of these relationships have been created through work, family and mutual acquaintances. 

If you take a look at those around you, are they varying ages?  If so, has that ever created a barrier in the friendship?  Or is it something that makes the friendship unique due to being at different life stages?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Random Thoughts

Every morning in June, as I would drive back home from an early workout at the gym, I would see a group of women power walking.  These women were probably in their mid to late 60s, and seemed to be gabbing away while dressed in their fashionable workout attire.  While passing them, I would wonder: "What are they talking about?  How long have they been friends?  How long have they been walking together?  How did they meet?"

I admire these ladies and their devotion to their friendship, as well as to staying fit! ;-)

Do you have daily routines with your friends?  If so, how did they start?

Monday, July 9, 2012