Rules for Female Friendships

Roxane Gay, writer and feminist hero, shared this great list on Women’s News a few years ago. Have you read it? It outlines the rules for female friendships and offers a healthy dose of reality for those folks who believe, for whatever reason, that lady-friends need to be competitive and catty. These rules, especially, are such important reminders…

A lot of ink is given over to mythologizing female friendships as curious, fragile relationships that are always intensely fraught. Stop reading writing that encourages this mythology.

Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.
5A. If you’re having a rough go of it and a friend is having the best year ever and you need to think some dark thoughts about that, do it alone, with your therapist, or in your diary so that when you actually see your friend, you can avoid the myth discussed in Item 1.
5B. If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome. Men invented nepotism and practically live by it. It’s okay for women to do it too.

If a friend sends a crazy email needing reassurance about love, life, family, or work, respond accordingly and in a timely manner even if it is just to say, “GIRL, I hear you.” If a friend sends you like 30 crazy emails needing reassurance about the same damn shit, be patient because one day that’s going to be you tearing up Gmail with your drama.

Don’t you love that?  Rule 5B reminds me of Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory (“Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.“) With these rules and theory in mind —

What female friendship can you work on today? What powerful lady can you welcome to your circle? LET’S SHINE, Y’ALL! 

Check out these books by Roxane Gay: Bad Feminist, An Untamed State, and Difficult Women. Listen to Call Your Girlfriend – a podcast for long-distance besties – hosted by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow.

P.S. Other fabulous ladies I’ve blogged about — Naomi Shihab Nye and Corita Kent.


13 thoughts on “Rules for Female Friendships

  1. Loved reading this! I think comparing yourself to others, whether it’s your girlfriends or colleagues is the worst thing you can do. Raise others and you’ll get there yourself – there is room everyone.

  2. I have a long distance bestie! Also, I have another bestie who always need reassurance and I always make sure to be there for her! Yes, I have strongly believed that friendships happen to nourish each other’s, soul! I abide by the rules XD Great post!

  3. I love 5A! This is so true and I strive to be a better friend in life. And yes – you should want your friends to be happy an successful because it is less stressful on you. I have some friends right now that are chasing after not so good guys, they are unhappy and stressed. and it is stressing ME out because all I want is for them to be happy!

  4. This post (and the original one) makes so much sense. We all need to support each other in order to succeed. Comparing and contesting is a waste of time and helps no one. Thanks for sharing this. Gave me a new perspective on friendships 🙂

  5. Long distance relationships with besties are the hardest to maintain. People say it’s what happens when you get older when I expressed guilt in the past about needing to spend more time connecting with college girlfriends. I think the whole getting older thing is only something that comes to if you let it. And unless someone really just never reaches back, I will keep fighting the good fight to stay connected! Thank you for sharing this! I’m checking out this podcast. And will do more to reconnect with my old gal pals!

  6. I certainly agree that working with your friends and not to undermine them is the way to go. I don’t understand the jealousy people have with friends and trying to put them down.

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