When I was in college, I remember having more girlfriends than I could count on all my fingers. These friends were close to me. We shared each others’ lives, problems and joys. Yet as I got older and then got married, I noticed that I began to take less and less time to spend with my girlfriends.

A recent study conducted by Duke University and the University of Arizona concluded that women today report having an average of only two close friends. In fact, 24% reported that they had no one in whom they could confide. This feeling of isolation can lead to depression or worse. We know that a lack of friends can lead to heart disease, cancer, depression and anxiety. Overall, the quality of life is lessened when we are lonely or don’t have any close friends.

Female friendships provide a source of close, effective communication, which is essential in raising healthy families. Many of my best friends have actually become closer with their children and spouses after taking time for themselves. My friends have provided me with a sense of support and security that my husband could not provide (I need both, and so do you).

Women give more and therefore expect more from our friendships than men do. We know we can be vulnerable and honest with each other. Women also have a tendency to hold on to their friendships longer then men do. Women feel very hurt when they lose a friend, even if that friend wasn’t honest or lied to them.

Women are busy with children, parents, husbands and work, but they should never forget to maintain their friendships. It appears to be more significant to women’s overall health than men’s. It may be something as simple as setting a date or perhaps even planning a weekend away at a spa. No matter what you do, don’t let the relationship go because you don’t have time. You may lose more than a good friend.

Tips to Maintain your Friendships

  • Be there when it counts. When one of your friends is going through a tough time, one thing she shouldn’t have to worry about is whether you will be there. What I remember most about my miscarriage was that my best friend came and just held me. She didn’t say anything, just held me and let me cry. This meant more to me than the flowers, calls, or anything else my acquaintances did for me.
  • Friendships change. Being best friends doesn’t mean the relationships will be the same forever. Your relationships will change after high school, college, and marriage, but the love for each other will continue.
  • Make dates to connect. It may take writing things down in your schedule book or rearranging events, but take the time to connect and visit. Friendships take nurturing. If you begin to take the relationship for granted and don’t make the time, it will make her believe you no longer value it.
  • Follow through. The only thing worse than not making a date to get together is “flaking out” on that date. If you make a date, commit to it and make sure you show up. It’s much better to meet for a short time than not at all.

Nothing is more symbolic of how you lived your life than being an old woman still very much connected with your girlfriends. Women need other women to mentor, learn from, heal with, laugh with and grieve with. They need someone to celebrate being a woman with.

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