Thursday, February 28, 2013

Close friendships should not be discouraged and, moreover, not all girls are bitches

This week is pretty hectic because, guess what?--Chelle's moving into our house!  Well, not just Chelle, her two kids too.  Soon our house will hold my husband Max, me, Michelle, her son and daughter, and Andy the Chinese exchange student.  Luckily we have three bedrooms and a finished basement, so we should all fit.

Get it?  Full House?

So this got me thinking about how important best friends are.  Chelle's my writing partner, yes, but she's also my best friend and has been for the last 16 years.  In fact, we've been best friends longer than we haven't.  [We became friends when we were 14, so feel free to do the math.]  I started googling statistics, and I was surprised to find that there are very few articles about the importance of best friends.

Instead, I found this horror of an article entitled Why Best Friends Are Really Bad For Girls. Feel free to read the monstrosity for yourself, but the thesis of the article is that all girls/women are unstable bitches ("Let's face it--girls are bitchy. They're bitchy at 4. They're bitchy at 14. And Lord knows they're bitchy at 44.") Because of this rule of nature, all women's relationships will inevitably devolve into, at best, a passive aggressive power struggle or, at worst, a Single White Female situation.  Therefore, one woman should never get too close to any other woman because close relationships between women only lead to isolation and/or dead rabbits.  

(I guess the dead rabbit was actually from Fatal Attraction, not Single White Female, but whatevs.)

Keep in mind, this article isn't the aberrant thoughts of one crazy person.  It's a response to a New York Times article about how teachers and school psychologists are now trying to dissuade students from having best friends in a misguided attempt to combat bullying.  (As if best friend pairs are the ones doing the bullying--ha!)

Bullies always seem to run in herds.

I find this way of viewing the world disturbing.  First of all, the article described above is clearly the sad product of some sort of female self-hate. If women were so terrible in pairs, lesbian relationships would never work, but lesbians are known for having great long-term relationships, so that idea is facially ridiculous.

Mostly, though, I just feel bad for anyone who would view the world this way.  I am so incredibly blessed to have my best friend Chelle.  I know very few adults who have friendships as tight as ours.  Once you get married and have kids, it's easy to put your friendships on the back burner, but that's a mistake.  My mother always had a small group of very close women friends, and they were always there for her.  Men can come and go, but friends should be a permanent component to one's life.  (And if you've found a good man, he'll appreciate your friends.)

Women give you the sort of emotional support that men often can't provide.  They understand things you're going through because they've been there themselves. Honestly, I value my friendship with Chelle as highly as my relationship with my husband. They are both people I tell every secret to, I could call at 4A.M. with no hesitation, and that I always want to have in my life.  (Thankfully they get along tremendously well.)

Sadly, people in our country are becoming more and more isolated.  On average, Americans report only having spoken to 2 people about important life events over the last 6 months.  (This is down from 3 people a couple decades ago.)  A full quarter of Americans report having absolutely no close confidants at all. I honestly can't imagine that. I feel like I wouldn't be able to survive without at least one person to talk to.

Considering this, and considering how protective friendships are against virtually all of life's stressors, why in God's name would we discourage children from forming close friendships?  Instead, I think we as a society need to put more of an emphasis on valuing friendship. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and, really, what could be better than that?


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