I feel like I’ve been through a million break ups in the last few years. There was a big one and then a few less big but equally painful ones that followed. What gets me every time something ends is – look at these amazing beautiful humans who have been around me the whole time and who I just haven’t been paying enough attention to (I am one of them).
The female friendships in my life have always been important to me, for as long as I can remember I prioritised them over romantic relationships. Growing up it wasn’t that important to me to find a boyfriend, to put my energy into that. But something changed at some point, as I got older, I guess eventually society got it’s message through to me – this isn’t what you should be prioritising. This doesn’t get you a future (and that’s what you want after all) – a family, a house, security; everything else is just decoration. But maybe what I’ve been focusing on is the decoration.
As women, from a very young age we are fed an idea of what we should be aspiring to in our lives, from fairy tales to Hollywood story lines the message is the same – a strong, brave (most likely man person) will come and save you from your miserable existence, fulfil all of your hopes and dreams and then, and only then will you live happily ever after. It always ends the same way. No one can ever really find happiness without finding that.
I’m not saying I don’t love being in relationships, I do, and I get a lot from them. And for the most part I have been in good, loving partnerships. But I think the focus is too heavily swung in that direction in my opinion and the expectation is huge. Too many of my straight female friends (myself included) spend too much of our time consumed with the men in our lives. The relationships we are or are not having, the deep analysis of what they are or are not feeling and the weight of all that emotional labour culminates in a real time and energy sap that could surely be put to use elsewhere (it definitely could). It undermines us as women and I am always annoyed at myself for engaging in it. Maybe it is just that as a society we are obsessed with pairing everyone off. Maybe it works both ways. But I have a distinct feeling that my male friends aren’t fretting and consumed with these ideas in quite the same way.
I guess what I’m saying is, I think we should and can find comfort and love in the places we are not expected to. There is so much emphasis on romantic relationships and everything we have come to expect from that person, the one. It feels like a lot. I feel like we could spread the burden. I think there are things that you can only get from your friends, shared experiences that can only be understood or problems that can only really be heard by those people, those connections. All too often we lose friends to their partners and we do the same when we are in relationships, too preoccupied facing inwards into the little world we have created we imagine that the person in front of us can meet all of our needs and I just don’t think that is healthy or right.
When I think of the biggest things I have been through in my life and remember who was really really by my side, who held me up, it is always my friends.
I think it’s about recognising that we all feel love in so many different ways in so many areas of our lives and that the deep love that exists in female friendships should be nurtured and protected and that nothing should compromise its importance.