Hubs and I recently heard that some close friends of ours were splitting up after twelve years of marriage. We thought they were happy together, and we couldn’t figure out what would implode what seemed to be a strong marriage or if there was anything we could do to help. Shortly thereafter, the guys met up for burgers and beers at a local sports bar. I’d specifically instructed Hubs to do some sleuthing, and when he arrived home, I was full of questions about what he found out. Five minutes later, I was sorely disappointed.
“What did he say about the marriage?” “Nothing. It didn’t come up.” “What do you mean ‘It didn’t come up’? Did you ask??” “Of course not! Geez, guys don’t ask about stuff like that.” Seriously, dude? But it’s true.
Friendship for women includes sharing. We get involved in each other’s lives. We enthusiastically and unabashedly swap details about marital road bumps, menopause, empty nests, weight struggles, bad hair days, family dramas, and career changes, and endlessly debate the all-important “to Botox or not to Botox,” without reservation. We’re there for each other, and we speak the same language.
Girlfriends are better shopping buddies. They will cheerfully go back with you to the same store three times to try on that dress just one more time, to make sure it’s the best choice.
Girlfriends “get it” even when we don’t make any sense. “I was so depressed about my weight last night, I ate an entire box of Thin Mints” will make a man crazy, but your girlfriend will instantly make you feel less pathetic by telling you her story about the time she dented her hubby’s sports car, and then hid it in the garage while snarfing down a half-gallon of Ben and Jerry’s as the family slept.
Girlfriends will let you vent without interruption or offering unsolicited advice about what you should do. You’re furious with Hubby for forgetting your anniversary? “I’m listening. Yes, he’s an idiot. Here, have another glass of wine and tell me everything.”
Girlfriends will let you brag. Got a promotion? A hot new man? Hubby did something uber-romantic? We’ll provide the applause (and maybe a sigh of loving jealousy).
Girlfriends help keep the passion alive in our marriages by reserving all discussions about our sudden-onset urge incontinence, recurring yeast infections, thigh cellulite, or this morning’s discovery of our first chin hair, for girls’ night out, effectively preventing the unfortunate visual from being seared into Hubby’s brain, to be replayed every time he sees you naked.
Girlfriends understand the emotional landmines of aging. Once-perky breasts now resemble deflated wind socks. Previously porcelain skin now looks more like beef jerky. Tank tops in the winter because it’s so damn hot in here. We can reserve these topics for the gender that understands because they live it too. And we’re a kick-ass support group.
Of course, not all BFFs are created equal. By the time we’re 50-something, many of us have several best friends, with different personalities and bringing different gifts into our lives. (Note to my tribe: I changed the names for your privacy, but you know who you are!)
Linda. She’s your best friend from childhood. Your sister from another mother. She knows your every secret, but would never tell. Over the years, you’ve swapped clothes, traded boyfriends, synced your periods, and took turns hanging out the car windows during your shared menopause years. She cheerfully wore that hideous mint green maid-of-honor dress at your wedding, and years later got you through your divorce while managing to prevent your need for rehab. She can spend hours regaling your adult children with stories about your misspent youth (a crush on David Cassidy, Mom? Seriously??). And no matter how long between visits, conversations can pick up where they left off because she knows all your key players. You never had to re-introduce the characters with “No, Frank was my first husband. Harold was my second one, remember?”
Tori. She’s the one that tells it like it is. She loves you, but isn’t afraid to tell you when it’s time to buck up and get over it. She has no tolerance for “wallowing,” and her advice is usually good, if not gentle. Hate your job? “Quit.” Hubby is a jackass and treats you like crap? “Leave him.” Feeling fat? “Join a gym.” She firmly believes that we are all ultimately responsible for the quality of our lives, and she’s often just the person to get you up off your whiny hiney and get you moving towards what you say you want.
Val. She’s everything you’re not. She’s who you would love to be if your could be someone else for a day. Where you’re introverted, she’s the life of the party. Where you avoid confrontation, she’ll charge right up to the rude salesclerk and ask “What the hell is wrong with you??” Where your clothing choices tends toward yoga pants and t-shirts, she rocks the black leather jacket and distressed jeans. When you’re with her, you feel more daring, more willing to take risks and be noticed. If you were ever going to buzz-cut your hair or get your first tattoo at 58, she’d be your wing man.
Bitsy. Simply put, she knows everything about everybody. She’s fun, loves to dish, and makes you laugh like nobody’s business. If you don’t know what’s going on around town, or who’s doing what with whom, she’s your go-to. She can brighten your worst day with a quick text message, “OMG. Meet me at 6. NEWS.”
Lamar. He’s your best boyfriend. Every woman needs a man in her life that isn’t trying to do her. Men have a different perspective on things and can often help us see situations from another point of view. But opinions and advice from our partners can appear to come with hidden agendas (getting laid or discouraging our spending). He doesn’t want to sleep with you and doesn’t care what you spend, so he often seems more trustworthy in the advice department. And somehow you know that when he tells you that you look hot in that dress, you know you do.