The Art of Loving and Losing Female Friends –
A few years ago I was at a local festival with my then boyfriend and my closest friend Caroline. Around 12am on Saturday night, no doubt after one to many southern comforts, I called my mum in floods of tears. She automatically assumed something had happened with my boyfriend. Sobbing into the phone I said no, something much worse…Caroline and I had broken up.
Luckily Caroline and I worked through this – silly me had called her boring within ear shot and for any one that knows Caroline this would not be the adjective you’d use to describe her! We remain the best of friends today but like any loving relationship (and as Cote points out loving really is the correct word) we’ve had our moments since then. I can honestly say that the times when our friendship hasn’t been good have been some of the toughest times of my life. Like any girl in there mid twenties i’ve had my share of painful breakups but I don’t think i’ve ever felt the helplessness at a loss of a sexual relationship that I experienced that night I called Mum.
This article will speak to many women who no doubt have had similar experiences to mine. Cote touches on something that once written down seems so obvious yet is rarely spoken about – the importance and intensity of our female relationships or ‘love affairs’. Her article question’s why something so natural to thousands of women remains so unarticulated? It is common that losing/or arguing with a family member is recognized as one of hardest blows a person can experience, yet these other non sexual relationships continue to be belittled by terminology such as ‘just a friend.’
This work made me recognize just how central loving relationships between female friends have been to my life and identity. I am a heterosexual girl who is proud to admit that most of my longest and serious relationships have been with other women (I’m sure this is also the case for most men and their friendships.)
Cotes work also made me realize how grateful I am to have these relationships with strong, wonderful women, like Caroline. I’m sure there will again come a time when we will argue and I’ll get that same fear of losing her. But if we both recognize the importance of what we have I am also sure we will get through it. We should put as much work as we can into these relationships, just as we would a sexual one. To call someone ‘just a friend’ is to completely miss, and in many ways belittle, the importance of female companionship, the most influential and meaningful relationships many girls will ever have.