There’s nothing like venting to your best girlfriend about your bad date or sharing a laugh about an inside joke between the two of you. Girlfriends get you. There’s a strong bond that’s almost primal when it comes to connecting in our female relationships. (Also, there’s no mansplaining).
Here at EmpowHERto, we are a large group of predominantly womxn volunteers. We all work together in harmony, respecting each other’s opinions and recognizing our contributions to the organization. We believe that in order to help propel the next generation of young female leaders, it’s crucial to instill the pillars of maintaining strong female relationships. It’s not just about connection, but holding yourself to a certain standard of respecting one another and the relationship you cherish.
Reciprocity is key: if you want to maintain a close friendship, do not leave it one-sided. If you find yourself or your friend not putting in the same amount of effort into your relationship, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. If they invite you over to their home for a nice dinner and hanging out, why not reciprocate, and do the same? It’s a simple and very polite act that can help set the foundation for a long-lasting friendship.
Be the friend you want them to be: setting a good example of being a good friend is the way to go. Live up to the standards you set for others. If you value listening, be a good listener. Allow them to vent about their day. A female friendship is quite unique and nurturing it will allow for numerous opportunities to maintain the relationship. Women and girls should support each other, rather than slip into the habit of competing against each other. This leads me to my next point…
Resolve conflicts head on: no relationship is perfect. Your friendship will run into some problems and that’s completely normal. But let’s also normalize open discussions on how to resolve your differences. Don’t fall into the trap of gossiping behind each other’s backs. Cattiness is something that we should have left behind decades ago. We’re better than that.
Reach out: The pandemic has left us disconnected from our friends. But we’re fortunate enough to live in a technologically advanced world. A simple phone call or even a friendly text message to ask how things are going is enough to get a conversation going. If your girlfriend is active on social media, why not give her a shoutout or post some nice comments on her recent posts. A little goes a long way, and it lets them know you’re always keeping up with their lives. If you have a friend that is clearly going through a rough emotional patch (from going through a breakup to abuse), please reach out to them. You can be that one girlfriend who can make a huge difference in her life.
Encourage self-love: Help your friend to see what’s great about her, including her personality and strengths. So often we’re told we’re not good enough or deal with self-esteem issues at home or school, but be the friend who lifts her up. Help her to conquer her fears, cope with anxiety, and to embrace her feminine energy.
Surround yourself with like-minded women: Make an effort to surround yourself with women who have similar goals and outlooks on life. Being in that space and having that same energy will allow for both of you to relate to one another. Don’t surround yourself with anyone trying to bring you down or who exhibits any type of toxic social behaviour. You deserve better in life.
Be consistent: Show up for them when they need you most. Be reliable and keep your promises, as long as they respect your boundaries.
It’s not always easy to maintain a strong friendship. Just like any relationship, it takes a lot of work but the payoff is so worth it. Having that one trusted friend, a person you can rely on and see as a confidant is something to treasure and hold dear. Having a good friend means having someone to share good news with, someone who will listen to you complain about something a character did on a TV show you’re both binge-watching. But it can go deeper. It means having someone who will be there for the big moments, like when you graduate from high school and university, or when you meet the love of your life and get engaged, or when you finally get that job promotion you worked so hard for. We are social creatures, after all. Let’s not deny ourselves the beauty of a strong female relationship that can last a lifetime.
For more on how to maintain strong relationships, including the one with yourself, read our articles on mental health.
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