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We all have friends – school friends, college friends, neighbourhood friends, friends at work, shopping friends, exercise / walking friends, social media (Twitter, Blog, etc.) friends, mummy friends, cribbing friends, laughing friends.. and so on. There are just so many different opportunities for anyone to make friends, and just so many kinds of possible friends. And so is the case for women.
But increasingly, as I converse with my immediate network of women colleagues/acquaintances and friends, I observe a few trends:
(1) Many women don’t really know who their “FRIENDS” are
(2) Many women don’t have anyone whom they can call out as “GOOD FRIENDS”
(3) Many women well into their 30s/40s look back (rather regretfully) at their own life, and say that they’re to blame for friendships falling apart simply because they did not give it the required time, attention and effort
– My discussions / interactions are with women between the age of 25 years to 65 years
– By many, I mean more than 65%
Anyone who had / has good friends will vouch for the fact that friends can make all the difference in your life. Good friends can provide that much needed ear, hand, shoulder, hug, laugh, time, advice and support during the highs and lows of what life has to offer. Friends can sometimes be the only ones who listen to you, who can sympathize with you, who can empathize with you, who believe in you (even when everyone else has given up), who ask the right questions, who don’t expect answers when you don’t want to answer and those who can see you through the stormy and rough tides.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder why women stop investing in friendships after a point.
I don’t know if it is conscious or unconscious
I don’t know if it is by choice or lack of choice
I don’t know if it is circumstantial or not
I don’t know if it is time-bound or forever
But I do know that it is real..
And the fact is many women stop investing in friendships
Personally, I think a woman’s friendships depend on
* Age : It is easier to make friends when you are younger than as you get old
* Your upbringing : In some houses, families are so close knit that there is no need for friendships or friendships are not encouraged (especially with the opposite sex)
* Personality: whether you are an extrovert / introvert, talkative / not-so-talkative, etc.
* Critical life milestones: For e.g.: Especially after marriage a lot of women let-go of old friends (male and female) either by choice or compulsion ; After you become a mother purely for lack of time
* The phase of life you are in. For e.g.: Parent, Grandparent, etc.
* Your life priorities : Many times, women let-go of friendships, especially if they are taking you away from where you are headed
* Your living environment
* Your family
The first truth is this | Increasingly, many women don’t have the time to invest in friendships after an age or phase of life – In most cases, the intent is there; but there are so many things to do on a daily basis that friendships take a back-seat!
The second truth is this | I do know that it is worthwhile for women to invest in friendships – especially if you have common values or interests or a common thought process. It can do wonders to how much you learn from the interactions, how your perspectives can change and how much exposure you get to the world outside your own world!
The beauty of friendship is that it is your choice on who you want to be-friend, how close you want to be with your friend(s), how you develop and nurture the friendship, how much time you invest and how far you are willing to go for the cause of friendship.
The last truth is this | After a point in life, it is hard for anyone, especially women to make new friends. It is a lot easier to re-connect with old friends. You have a history, existing foundation with old friends – And they are open and willing to accept you, and pick up from where you left off. Thanks to technology and Social media, it is easier to revive old friendships than it was decades ago. All that is required is a little time, effort and genuine good-will from your end.
So make the time and effort to revive old friendships
Make the time and effort to build new friendships if that’s a possibility
And most importantly, invest in meaningful friendships
In the long run, your life will be more meaningful, rewarding, richer and fulfilling if you can share it with a few good friend!
What’s your view on this subject? Leave a comment to let me know
Pic credit: Melilab (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Working Mom • Marketologist - Digital Artisan - Brand Storyteller • Ideapreneur • Writer - Blogger - Columnist • IIMB Alumni • Mentor • Horizon
Nischala, thanks for the reminder. Even after constant encouragement from my husband and my daughters to connect with my friends, I keep pushing the idea away and ask them – why do i need friends when i have three of you? But i must admit – when i see the excitement on my husband’s face before an evening out with his friends, when i find my 13 yr old daughter too engrossed in chatting on Facebook to taste my new recipe and when my 9 yr old daughter can’t get tired of praising the lovely greeting card which her friend has made for her – I want to step back and shout with all my might – I AM JEALOUS!! But imagining their bewildered look with a WHAT!! “Didn’t we tell you” just stops me in time.
Hey Bhawna – I think you are missing out a great opportunity. You are indeed lucky to have such a supportive family. I know so many women who actually have to keep their friendships in “secret mode”.. Well, what’s stopping you I don’t know? Invest in friendships 🙂 Nischala
Nischala,Well analysed on this topic !!! Kudos to you.
These facts faced by any women in our society which stops us in maintaining a pals group in the long run.
Most importantly When friends are of opposite gender(read male friends) most of them step back at one phase of life due to societal obligations.But i always wonder does gender matters for a relationship like friendship???
Understanding the friendship between opposite genders are commonly mispredicted by the people around us which obviously results in rumours because of which most of them stop investing in student phase friendships.
Colleague friendships are more professional than personal so its difficult to find one in workplaces.But if we find one then it would be a luck factor isnt it!!! 🙂
But kudo’s to you for bringing up this wonderful topic and write up.. 🙂
Hey – I do agree that gender does play a role at many times – Thanks to the society / environment we live in.. But even with our “girl friends” – many times women of guilty of ignoring them.. I think friendships are important and vital in today’s day and age .. Its not the quantity, but quality which counts.. Even if you have 2 – The point is can you call them any time of day / night, and ask them for any kind of help? Nischala
I think or at least for myself one’s priorities change as one grows older. I did meet a friend from school forty years later after I had become a grandmother twice over. The life she led was different to mine and though we were glad to meet each other I felt we no longer had anything in common. She must have felt the same. Though we have exchanged mail ids we do not communicate much. And we seemed to have had so much in common when we were children. I have heard my friends from college say the same. We do tend to drift apart. Having said that I must admit that I stay connected to my colleagues who have worked with me for thirty two years but I do not have a single friend in my apartment complex where I have lived for twenty years. May be it is difficult to connect as one gets older.
I do agree that after sometime you can disconnect with old friends – people with whom you were probably inseparable up to some point in life! My point is as long as you have some friends / social connections & interactions – I guess that’s good in the overall scheme of things! We all have limited time, so it is imperative to choose our friends wisely ! And yes, it gets more difficult with age I guess .. – Nischala
Great post. When I lived in the US it was a lot easier to keep up with friends. Here in India it is harder because women are expected to commit so much time to in-laws and extended families that there is no time left over for anything else.
A group of from college (mixed group, all of returned from the US/UK) now meet once in 2-3 months for lunch. I guess because we do realize the value of friendship.
Hmm.. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.Agreed that in India – family commitments take up any available time.. and especially if you are a working woman / mother – You hardly get any time for yourself. Having said that, I still think that one should make a little time for friendships that matter! After all, you can choose your friends :).. Great to hear that you make time to connect and meet old friends! A few hours of outing / silly conversations can sometimes do wonders to your overall sense of well-being. – Nischala
If this is indeed true, then it is a trend to worry about. I suppose it depends on the kind of friendship one had to begin with and what it was based on. If your close friends are your family, then losing touch is out of the question. So glad I can say I’m not among the many you speak of, and neither are my friends. Girlfriends, especially, are rocks, pillars, sounding boards–one of life’s most precious bonds, and I hope your piece makes some people act to retrieve what they’ve let slip away.
I agree that friends and girlfriends can be those rocks and pillars that can take you through the lows and highs of life.. In fact, apparently even Stanford university recommends to connecting with girlfriend. Chk @ http://murthyreads.blogspot.in/2013/07/taught-in-stanford-university-connect.html
Women being a more pragmatic species don’t invest too much in friendship with any one person because they don’t believe in friendship as much as men do. Whatever women seek out of friendship like sharing their thoughts, having someone to listen to them, and ‘timepass’ is available just about from anybody, so they keep finding new friends just like they change over to new clothes every new season. Men on the other hand develop deeper and meaningful bonds -and the friendship that men nurture often lasts a lifetime.
I don’t think it is as much about women’s pragmatism, as it is about life’s realities. In a lot of instances women’s life (where they live etc) is driven by where their husbands live. For this reason it can get hard to keep up. I have plenty of friends from school, and from now. And Facebook has made this a lot easier.
Great … hw trueful words yaar ….
i really experience each & everything in this 40’s
But isn’t this same for men too? As we grow our taste and priority changes and so does the count of friends.
Hi Chandrima, if you ask a guy who his best friends are, he will most likely name people way back in time like childhood, school, college, before marriage etc. If you ask women, they will name you someone as recent as a colleague, neighbour, etc. Now there must be something different going on for men and women when it come to this, isn’t it? The count does go down as time passes, but friendship between men have much longer ‘shelf life’ so to say….
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Very very timely post!! It’s very hard for me to make friends – right from the childhood. And, it’s even harder to make friendship with girls than boys. I always wondered – why?? But, never got an answer. I still have 2-3 close friends (boys) with whom I share my joy, sorrow, success, ideas, secrets etc. But, I never had anyone to call as my best girl (friend). I still don’t have anyone 🙂 It’s really strange. But, that’s the fact of my life. All my general friends are far away and don’t live in the city where I live…..
In the light of things where a woman has to manage career, family and home, I think spending time with friends is a part of the “me” time that we should definitely indulge into. Being an Indian, it has been ingrained into us to keep our family first. As our family and responsibilities grow, the “me” time gets lost in the background of our bustling lives. We need to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with old friends without feeling guilty!!
Thanks to technology, friends are just a phone screen swipe away!
Thanks for your article. I agree that women are too tied up with family and commitments that there is no energy left to stay in touch with friends. But are those friends really friends? In today’s fast moving society, I really feel that people in similar situations and circumstances become friends. For e.g. Mothers with kids in the same class tend to interact the most and may end up staying in touch as friends for a limited period of time. OR Two office colleagues because of being in similar work environments may end up being friends but it is a big question mark whether they will really stay in touch afterwards. Hence friendship is a limited option with most people and people in similar situations become friends temporarily. All these are fleeting relationships and even though they give happiness they are not long lasting.
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