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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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jealousy and Friendship

I recently came upon an interesting article on jealousy and friendship:
How to Overcome Jealousy Within Friendships by Karen Kleinschmidt

We don't like to admit that we get jealous of our friends, but let's be honest: we do!  Maybe a friend recently got an amazing job promotion or is now dating a very handsome and funny guy OR maybe your friend just won the lottery (hey, stranger things have happened!).  It's normal to feel conflicting feelings for our friends; we feel happy for them but at the same time, we feel jealous.  As it says below, I believe it's important to acknowledge what you're feeling, and if you feel comfortable, to let your friend know.  If you don't, it will start to feel like there's a polka-dotted pink and blue elephant in the room.  In other words, it would be hard to ignore!

An excerpt from the article:
"Jealousy Is Counterproductive
Step 1 
Accept that you feel jealous of your friend. Acknowledge this feeling within yourself and pinpoint what it is that makes you feel this way. Do your best to avoid pushing your jealous feelings away as your friend will likely pick up on your jealousy through facial expressions and/or your actions. Admitting this feeling to yourself will allow you to explore ways to overcome your jealousy.
Step 2 
Take action by telling your friends you are proud of them when they accomplish a goal or something of importance. Face-to-face interaction might be too difficult at first, so a phone call, text or email might be a better route if you fear your jealousy will show.
Step 3
Force yourself to congratulate your friend despite your jealous feelings. Raghunathan said in his article that forcing yourself to act as though you are happy for your friend will help you overcome your feelings of jealousy. It works in the same way as forcing a smile when you are less than happy."

Regarding Step 3, I think it would depend on the friend.  If it's a close friend, I would tell her how I'm feeling rather than pretend I'm feeling something I'm not.  For example, you could say, "I'm thrilled for you but it's bringing up my own struggles with being single/jobless/whatever the situation may be.  I hope you can understand."  In genuine friendships it's important to be truthful about your feelings instead of hiding them.  If it's more of an acquaintance, I'd force myself to put my feelings aside and try to figure out what's going on with me. 

What do you think?  Have you ever felt jealous of a friend?  If so, did you tell her?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Trouble With Asking For Help

I'm the type of person who wants my friends to come to me if they need advice, support and/or a shoulder to lean on.  However, it's sometimes challenging for me to go to my friends; it's not because I don't think they can offer support or help me, it's because I fear I'll be a burden or become that friend who is complaining or is a Debbie Downer.  I don't know what it's about but I just can't easily ask for help.  Maybe it's a pride thing...whatever it is, I'm trying to work on it and have been reaching out more.

I think it's safe to say that some of us struggle with asking our friends for help and/or sharing stuff we're going through (you know, the icky, negative, not-fun-to-talk-about stuff).  Feeling vulnerable isn't an easy emotion for many women, especially if we fear being judged or rejected or have been in the past.  Add to that, if our friends work full-time, have a family and/or seem to be juggling various responsibilities, we can easily rationalize why we shouldn't be going to them for help.  Sometimes I feel (for lack of a better word) bad for venting or dumping on a friend; even though I know that is what friends are for: to be there for us in good times AND bad.

I recently spoke with a very close friend of mine (I'd even go so far to say she is one of my best friends).  She lives in a different state, so we keep up our friendship via phone calls, emails and text messages.  She is one of few I feel comfortable enough to share my ups and downs, so as I was sharing some emotions and situations I've been experiencing, I told her that I didn't want her to feel I was burdening her.  My friend's response was so heartwarming and accepting that it only validated why I consider her one of my closest friends.  She is the definition of a genuine friend.

Later that same day, I experienced a similar situation with another friend with whom I've known since college.  We met for dinner and since it had been months since we last saw each other, there was a lot to catch up on.  As we both were sharing - our good and bad news - it was amazing to watch how smoothly the night flowed and how much we were on the same page.  I felt confident in sharing with her parts of my life that I hadn't before, which made me feel more connected to her.

The next day, I felt very grateful for these friends I have in my life; friends who genuinely care and want to know not just about the good things, but also about the not-so-good things.  This is what a friendship is about: not being afraid to share one's thoughts and feelings in fear of being judged or the friend running for the hills because it's too much to handle (c'mon, does that really happen?!).  The truth of the matter is that we ALL go through rough times and we ALL need people to be there for us.  We'd be lying to say otherwise.

Have you experienced something similar?  Is it difficult for you to go to your friends for help/advice?