I don’t have girlfriends.
It feels pathetic. How does one go 38 years without developing a single drop-everything-and-be there-for-you friendship?
I’ve spent stupid amounts of time analyzing—and, barring the possibility that I’m just not friend material, here are factors I believe led to my clearly not a proper female status:
1. I grew up in a small community. Good people but few friend choices. I had one best friend from kindergarten on. This works out if you stay friends forever. We did not stay friends forever. I have also analyzed this thoroughly and decided the beginning of the end was when I started dating a hairy-legged boy, and I regularly chose him over her. That didn’t break us, but it was the beginning.
2. I have two sisters, so #blessed, but here are the problems:
- They live five hours away, and
- Having built-in girlfriends makes you lazy about finding other ones.
3. College is deserving of its own list:
- I based my college choice on proximity to home, who else was going there, and campus landscaping.
- I started dating a hometown boy right before college. Studies show being in a long-distance relationship during college decreases your likelihood of making friends by 100%. Single girls go out together. They stay on campus every weekend and have inside jokes.
- I joined a sorority because it was the best. After three years of being alone in crowded rooms, I cut myself loose only to discover that by joining a sorority in the first place, I had unwittingly ostracized myself from the pea-sized cluster of coffeehouse/literary types like me who did exist on campus.
- I have an independent streak. While other girls scheduled lunches and hair appointments together, I just thought why?
- That pretty much takes care of college.
4. I never lived alone. I got married months after graduating from college. But my oldest sister didn’t marry until she was 36. Living on her own, out of necessity, she built a vast and steadfast network of friends. She thinks she’s in a social drought if she hasn’t gone on a girls’ trip in a year. She has no idea.
5. My mom didn’t seem to have girlfriends when I was young. She had a sister and close cousins, and that seemed enough for her at the time, although I wonder. Because now my mother is a social butterfly. She plays Bunco and says things like, “Hey, girl.”
But let’s stop feeling sorry for me and turn this narrative around. Let’s learn something from my friendless excuse for an existence.
Some actionable Dos and Don’ts for finding true blue girlfriends:
- DO push the value of female friends.
- Do connect with moms of your daughters’ friends. Hang out while your girls hang out (sometimes) so they’ll see you in a positive female relationship.
- Do support kids’ decisions to make new friends but weave “don’t burn bridges” into your discussions. Life has a way of circling back.
- Don’t have more than one daughter. KIDDING. I’m one of three girls. I have three girls of my own. I have a whole tattoo about it. But nudge your girls outside of the family orbit, too. Two of mine are twins, and they love playing together. Sweet as that is, I push them to also play with girls who aren’t a DNA match.
For your daughters:
- Don’t choose your friends based on who looks like they’re having the most fun. Try to figure out who has something in common with you.
- Don’t choose romance over friendship. See here, I went on a lot of forgettable dates when I could’ve been painting the town with girlfriends.
- Sororities: don’t rush into them. Talk to multiple women. Learn what your school’s sororities are known for and at least consider waiting until your sophomore year to go through recruitment so you can form a more educated opinion before pledging your loyalty (and time, and money).
- Don’t choose a college based on where your high school friends are going. There’s sometimes comfort in knowing people from home are nearby but for the love, don’t let it make your decision. No art or music scene, and you’re a creative type? Don’t go there. Urban jungle, and you’re a hiking enthusiast? Don’t go there. This isn’t a guide to choosing a college, but #experience. If you blow it, utilize your resources and humbly work like heck with your parents to pivot.
- Don’t give up. Sometimes you’ll wallow in loneliness—occasionally acceptable if you’ve got the correct playlist curated. But other times you just have to insert yourself into a group and let them know you’re here and radiant.
- Don’t fear being single. Live alone. Live with a roommate who is not your significant other. And when you’re dating, commit to saving time for the girls so you can nurture your friendships.
- Don’t spend too much time alone. It’s like this: you are perfectly capable of navigating countless situations on your own. But if you could ask a friend to join you and have fun doing it, then ask a friend to join you. It’s a win-win.
I think one day, I’ll look back and realize the destination justified my journey. But here’s to warmer weather on your journey.