We tend to lose our women friends as we grow older, but female bonding is irreplaceable – one woman’s thoughts on friendship.
By Anne John
Terms & Conditions: By reading this article, you automatically accept to reconnect with at least one special woman friend whom you haven’t paid attention to in a while!
(This is the first piece in a series of articles that we will be publishing in March to celebrate women’s relationships, in honour of International Women’s Day).
Do you sometimes feel like you’ve become the ‘New Indian Woman’, flittering from home to work and back again? While it is true that the time spent by men with their friends also decreases after marriage, they do not neglect it as much as women friends do. It is easy for women to lose touch with friends and contain themselves within a limited circle of family members or once they are married, their husband’s friends.
No matter how wonderful your spouse is, it is a fact that he cannot possibly be there for you all the time. And while colleagues at the workplace may be ‘friendly’, not everybody is lucky enough to make genuine friends at work. Everyone needs a few trusted friends, and other woman are more likely to be of support in trying times, as they may have been through the same situation or even help you see a different point of view. This is a much needed support system especially for the many women moving abroad, away from their families.
In certain families, women are criticized if they continue to give importance to their friends after marriage or children. They are seen as being “too independent” or even frivolous. Often mothers already suffer from some amount of “mommy guilt” and sometimes working mothers are made to feel irresponsible for not spending enough time with their children. In such a situation, women can go to the extent of internalizing this conflict and berate themselves for leaving their kids with family members or hired help, for an evening out with friends. This is totally uncalled for and only contributes to the self-imposed and unnecessary guilt, causing women to miss out on the good stress-busters that friends can be.
Keeping your women friends close
Here are some tips to keep your friendships alive!
1) Create time for female bonding: Yes, time is scarce, but the first step is to acknowledge that friendships beyond your work/marriage are a necessity and not a luxury that you can sacrifice. A little planning and some co-operation from your spouse can help a lot. Prema Joseph, 55, boasts of a close-knit group of school and college friends. Once a Fine Arts student and an Art & Craft teacher, running a household soon became an all consuming activity and she slowly lost touch with her hobbies. But now after all these years, a couple of her friends have reconnected and started a few painting projects. They egg each other on to complete paintings and plan to set up an art exhibition soon. Reviving common hobbies, learning new things together and alumni meets are some ways she uses to keep in touch with her friends.
2) Go tech: Suganya Bala, 27, had to keep moving along on different postings since her husband worked in the Navy. Although she cannot meet her friends as often as she would like to, she uses social networking to stay up-to-date with her friends. Facebook, Orkut, Emails, Mobiles, Forums and Skype are your options to connect with your buddies what’s more, entirely free! Today, ‘blog buddies’ are among the best friends some have. As an added bonus, it is also a really fun way to network and expand your professional contacts.
3) Women friends old and new: As we grow older, sometimes we outgrow our old friendships and form new bonds. It is indeed wonderful if we could still hold on to childhood friends but as the proverb goes ‘Birds of a feather flock together’. For example, mothers with young children often bond together to exchange notes. Of course this is not a set rule. It just means that you don’t need to feel guilty about losing some of your old friends. Just make sure you reach out to new ones. For example, you may volunteer to baby-sit your neighbour’s kids for an evening and they could return the favour while you enjoy a dinner out with your spouse.
4) Celebrate with female bonding: Social networking has indeed shrunk the world but it has also turned major life events into mere status updates or flitting tweets. The next time there is a festival, wedding, birth, graduation, job change or promotion, instead of simply sending a congratulatory message, plan and meet up with your friends (or even just one friend) to celebrate. It could be just a small gathering over coffee or a pot-luck lunch over a weekend. And sometimes, just Life is reason enough to party!
With International Women’s Day just around the corner, do you need any further convincing to celebrate your women friends?