In my high school days I had a handful of close female friends, but most of my weekends were spent “chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool” (Fresh Prince of Bel Air anyone?!?) with a group of high school boys. These friendships tended to be void of drama and simpler. We could hang out in a basement and do nothing but play guitar and watch sports with the volume muted in sweatpants while eating something fried and cheap from Amigos and we enjoyed ourselves. It was glorious – when I was 16. Eventually, though, I grew tired of all the farting; I grew older, and I got married. As I near the big 3-0, I realize that my relationship priorities have changed; and to my surprise, most of my close friends are now female for these four reasons:

They encourage. I’ve noticed that, for the most part, women are encouragers especially to those they love. Whether it’s a text, an email, a handwritten card, or just in conversation–my female friends build me up. It seems selfish, but they make me feel like I matter. Their encouragement has pushed me through some of the most difficult seasons of my life.

They listen. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with my female friends. They don’t seem distracted by technology during face to face time. They ask questions, showing their interest in whatever I have to say. I can count on my female friends to listen without judgment. They don’t try to fix things when they’re broken, and they don’t try to fix me when I’m broken.
They relate. Naturally, over the years my life has become more than sports and music. I spend the majority of my time mothering or balancing work and mothering. While I have an introverted soul, I also realize that we must connect with others in order to survive life. As I’ve launched myself into this mom-gig, I’ve felt inadequate, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Most of the men I know may feel these things periodically, but these emotions aren’t often consuming like they are for women. I’m thankful that my female friends and I can relate because we use this common miserable bond to survive.
They motivate. The women I consider close friends are incredible teachers juggling a difficult job with parenting. They are athletes who push their bodies to new limits. They are wives who love their husbands and never speak an unkind word about them. They are writers who take my thinking to new levels. They are mothers who love their kids through all the pee, the stand-offs over broccoli, and the ridiculous tantrums. They are creatives who make beauty out of scraps. They are intelligent, well read, and critical. And they all do their thing while juggling a million other things, and even when they stumble–they pick themselves back up with an enduring grace and keep going. My female friends motivate me to be better.
My 16-year-old self would likely be mortified if she were to know that in 13 years her best friends would be women. And while my 29-year-old self still prefers sweatpants over adult pants and enjoys playing guitar and watching college football, I am thankful that my relationships have evolved because these women in my life they are among the best friends I have ever had.

Danielle Helzer

A former high school English teacher, Danielle now splits her time as a stay at home mom and a Writing Coach at a local community college. She is a wife and a new mother of two hilarious and resilient first-graders who she and her husband adopted from foster care. Danielle has a passion for writing and living purposefully. She enjoys listening to NPR, running, reading, music, sipping on coffee, making lists, and diversifying her collection of cat tchotchkes. You can find more of her writing about parenting, faith, teaching, and living at Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter (@DMHelzer).