Friendship Garden (no, that’s not a euphemism…)

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There are about 157 million women in the United States. Assuming that at least half of them are lucky enough to have a best friend that’s close to 80 million friendships.

“Best Female Friendships” are everywhere.

Movies, TV shows and books have been telling the story of friendships between women for years. Think Thelma and Louise, Ghostbusters, Insecure, My Brilliant Friend, Bad Moms, Crazy ex-girlfriend, Swing Time, Big Little Lies, Gilmore Girls, Bridesmaids, Girls, Neighbors, Frankie and Grace, China Dolls, The Help, and Waiting to Exhale and on and on...

What they all have in common is truth telling, loyalty, laughter and shared life experience.

I have a shit load of friends and I am always looking to make more. Some I met in nursery school, some while working at Little Caesars Pizza, others at boarding school and still more while waitressing, fixing spare tires, walking the dog, or hanging in the “ladies room”.

Basically everywhere I’ve ever been and everything I’ve ever done has in one way or another helped me plant, grow, and reap the fruits of my “Friendship Garden” (no, that’s not a euphemism…)

Men and women react to stress very differently. Men do the whole “fight or flight” thing. Whereas women tend to “tend and befriend.” We are the tenders of men, family, children and each other. When men feel stress they run straight to the women in their lives. Women run to each other.

Here comes the science:

  • After childbirth and during nursing the hormone oxytocin is released into the bloodstream Nice….. Oddly, levels also rise during periods of loneliness and stressful times (or what I call childbirth but, whatever…). When oxytocin combines with estrogen women feel compelled to seek the company of other women.

  • 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Friendships help you survive it. In a 2006 study researchers discovered that women without any close female friendships were four times more likely to die from cancer as women who had a least 10 or more girlfriends.

  • Interestingly it didn’t seem to matter whether these friends lived nearby or across the world or how frequently they were in contact. Simply having a strong full stable of female friends is one of the best defenses for all kinds of illness.

  • Surprisingly (or not) friendship has more positive effects on health than spouses and family.There is reliable evidence that for women in states of stress a male partner can actually make things worse. Duh. Friends just know what to say - or not to say. Male partners, not so much….

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Female friendships are assets in women’s professional trajectories as well. There is a difference between friendship and networking but they are by no means mutually exclusive. Men have had the privilege of experiencing how “useful” friendships can be for professional purposes since forever. We can too. We have to.

Go make some fucking friends…… You can thank me later ;-)

 

Article by Anna Quick-Palmer