Lies They Sold Us, Part Two: Picture Perfect Friendship

It’s time we all just admit that Sex in the City set us up for more heartache than any fairy tale we’ve ever believed in. Sex in the City, and all it’s counterparts beginning with Laverne and Shirley, lead us all to believe that all we really need to be happy is a group of girlfriends who are willing to be there for us anytime, anyplace, and through anything.

These television shows, movies, and the media campaigns that surround them focus on the fantasy that friendships are picture perfect. It makes you feel that if you don’t have a girlfriend who’d be willing to sit beside you while you literally take a dump…then you must not have ‘real’ friends at all.

laverne and shirleyThat allows very little room for your reality as a grown ass woman.

I have girlfriends who I love to life, truly I do, but I simply cannot drop everything that is going on in my world in a moment’s notice and get on an airplane bound for Mexico to spend a weekend with my sister friend who just got left at the altar.

Seriously. Who can do that?

I think it’s important that for Women’s History Month we debunk these commonly held beliefs (to read the first article in the series click here) and free ourselves from the fear that we may not be ‘normal’ because we don’t meet these ridiculous stands.

So once again…I call bullshit.

A Cornerstone of a Commitment

I believe in the power of friendship. As women, our friendships are what ground us. We can, each of us, remember with detail our first true friendship. We remember how much we laughed. We remember spending hours talking on the phone till our hands grew numb or the battery died. We remember creating the ultimate date night during sleepovers where no one slept.

IMG_0002We remember feeling connected. We remember feeling loved. We remember feeling like we were a part of a puzzle that finally came together with each of us in our exactly perfect place.

As girls our friendships were paramount to us. They were the very thing that we hung the sun up with each morning and the reason we could enjoy the moonlight creeping through our window.

Our friendships, as women, make up a required cornerstone in our lives. We build our friendships over years and sometimes generations of commonality and familial ties. We craft relationships with other women that help build communities, hold families together, and endure tragedy.

Girls Night Out Mania

We did not need the media to take what comes natural to us and repackage it into a social media campaign complete with commercials for Moscato and  pole dance class coupons (although if you find an ad for either I’m game).

Girls Night Out simply cannot be every night when you are a full-grown woman with real life responsibilities. And yet, the pressure to gather your friends together to take selfies capturing the intimacy and comradery of a night of  frivolity abound.

girls night outIt feels like such a competition because it is totally a competition. It’s a war of ‘my girlfriends are better than your girlfriends’ straight out of high school hallways and into the Twitter universe.

This battle of the besties is exhausting and expensive!

In my twenties between starting my ‘real’ career and meeting my ‘soul mate’ I had time, energy, and disposal income. With those resources I could invest in weekly girls night outs as well as monthly getaways.

It was awesome and yet, we all knew it was basically a rest stop until our ‘real lives began.’ There was no way I could have sustained 2 drink minimum Fridays that morphed into pop up concert Saturdays that became a day long brunch Sunday into perpetuity.

Why do we put that level of pressure on ourselves, our friends, and our wallets?

Before the Hashtag Fad

Coming of age in the time before the world-wide web, my every moment with my girlfriends was not captured on film (I want to take a moment and sing and shout about it). In fact, most of my most cherished memories have no picture associated with them at all unless you count the ones I replay in my mind.

The pressure that is now placed on women friendships is astounding to me. How can you keep up? And what happens to your friendships when you have to constantly turn down the invites because Kid 1 is sick and now you’re sick and the dog just upchucked. Or you have a work deadline that you actually have to meet. Or your living room roof is leaking and well…you can’t.

friendship contractDo the invites stop? Does that mean that the women you once believed were your ‘soul mates’, your emergency contacts, really don’t have your back?

Well no…and yes…and sometimes.

Friendships don’t come with vows or contracts. And they shouldn’t.

People grow up and apart. We have to stop looking for the picture perfect partner in our women friends, and become the best friend we’ve always wanted. We also need to learn how to discern when it’s time to end a friendship while everyone can still be cordial.

A little more soul-searching about why it’s so important to put up such a strong public face even in the midst of a crumbling relationship would also benefit us all.

The Truth Behind the Pose

Once upon a time not too long ago, I was gathered with a group of women. We were out on the town and I was so excited to be in the presence of adults (when you work with kids you get it in where you can fit it in) that I sat pretty transfixed by our entertainment.

15440372_10211735208320336_2232002959465368946_oI turned to speak with one of the women in the group about the performer we were there to watch and she was on her phone. I turned to another women, who also was on her phone. Then my phone beeped and I realized I’d just been tagged in a picture on social media by one of the women sitting next to me who had just posted about how much fun she was having!

Sometimes it feels like looking good is more important to us than actually having things be good. We have begun to measure our friendships in the number of likes and shares we receive.

Hearing about a girlfriend’s heartache and simply commenting versus picking up the phone or going to see about her is indicative of a lack of connection. If you aren’t connected with someone enough to reach out to them when they’re hurting, or have something truly awesome to celebrate…are you actually their friend?

Next…Lie Number 3: Happily Ever After

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