According to The Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard Medical School, women with friends tend to be healthier and happier than women without friends.
Eve Ash, psychologist and author of Rewrite Your Life! says, “Friends add variety and perspective. They make us feel warm, supported and revived. They encourage us to be positive and they care for us, and make us laugh.”
However, many factors can threaten female friendships. Here are some to watch for – and fix.
SHE’S BEEN THOUGHTLESS ONCE TOO OFTEN
Your friend has been careless. She forgot your lunch date and you wasted an hour waiting for her. She cancelled your night out because she got a better offer. If you don’t tell your friend how you feel, you’ll become bitter, says Eve Ash.
The fix: When your friend upsets you, tell her quickly. Say: “Yesterday when you said or did this, I felt hurt. I had to tell you because I don’t want it to ruin our friendship.” Hopefully your friend will think before she’s thoughtless again.
YOU DON’T LIKE HER MAN
You love your friend, but not her husband or boyfriend. “If your friend’s man is a problem for you, keep them separate,” says Eve.
The fix: “A lot of people drop their friendships when they get a new partner. It’s better to have time with your friends without their partners if you don’t get on,” she says. Book regular times to catch up with your friend and don’t criticise her man. If your friend asks for your opinion of her man, be truthful without being rude and only say how you feel once.
SHE TAKES SIDES AGAINST YOU
Sometimes, an argument that begins between you and another person escalates into a fall-out with more of your friends. You might feel isolated and angry that friends you thought would stand by you have abandoned you.
“If you feel strongly about what has happened, stand your ground. But ask yourself if the argument is worth losing friends for.”
The fix: Get together, get things off your chest politely, and decide what you value most: Your stance on an issue or your friendship group.
SHE’S SPREAD GOSSIP
You told a friend something personal, but she’s shared your secret. “Most of us have friends who think gossip is harmless fun. Don’t tell them anything sensitive,” says Ellen Jackson, author of Turning 30.
The fix: Don’t share confidential information with a friend who likes to gossip. If a good friend makes a mistake, let her know you prefer her not to discuss your business with someone else. Explain you feel hurt and don’t want it to happen again. If the betrayal is too great, make yourself unavailable.
SHE MOVES OUT OF TOWN
Some friendships need physical proximity to thrive. Others survive thanks to Facebook, Whatsapp, Facetime or Skype. If a good friend moves overseas, work harder to keep the relationship alive.
The fix: Don’t assume your friend moving away means the end of your relationship. Use technology to stay in regular touch. Make a point of going out with other friends and be open to making new friends.
SHE DRIFTS OUT OF YOUR LIFE
Friendships don’t always end in tears and drama; sometimes they fade away and you suddenly realise you haven’t spoken to a friend for months. “Sometimes, life circumstances change – you marry, have a baby, or you get a new job that demands more of your time,” says Ellen.
The fix: Accept that some friendships don’t last forever. You may lose this friend, but you’ll probably gain a new friend in the future.
But all is not lost. There are some friendships that are worth keeping forever. And here, life coach Wendy Wand shares advice on making these friendships stick.
- Always listen to your friend with an open mind and heart. Do not judge her. Listen with empathy to problems and with enthusiasm to aspirations.
- Speak with sincerity and gentleness. This is not about being timid… it’s more about watching that your tone is not harsh. Being sarcastic affects relationship negatively.
- Share your aspirations, problems, feelings and thoughts too. Being open and vulnerable to your friends brings you closer and builds trust. Given they are your best friends, they will appreciate knowing who you are – warts and all.
- If they tell you something private, resist the urge to tell others. Do not share their secrets with others. The only exception is it they might self-harm or harm others.
- Acknowledge your friends. Express what you appreciate about them. Everyone likes appreciation.