Female friendship and issues of trust…
Where it all starts…
When I was younger, I, like many females had hurtful relationships with other females. I remember the first time I realized friendship requires trust and that trust can be easily broken. I was around thirteen and attending a church camp with my best friends. I knew this was going to be a great summer; that feeling quickly changed when camp started. I found myself at the center of a love triangle I never knew existed. The girl I had called best friend since 2nd grade was spreading rumors that I “liked” her boyfriend. Mind you, I hadn’t even met the boy yet, so there was no way this could be true. My heart was broken in so many pieces, because up until that point, I never would have thought my closest friend would hurt me. She not only chose a guy over me, but also be the root of some very hurtful rumors. It would take years for me to recover from this type of betrayal from a friend; I had other female friends during the remainder of my teens that I would grow close with, but never fully trust to no fault of their own behavior.
The truth is female relationships have always been difficult; society and/or experience has taught us some very negative lessons. As females, we learn early what I consider very unhealthy competition. Don’t get me wrong, competition is not a bad thing in sports, it builds team spirit, motivation to work on one’s abilities and other positive behaviors. However that’s not what females are generally taught, our competition is usually not based on skills or abilities, but superficial things like one’s material possessions or physical traits. This unhealthy competitiveness quickly creates jealousy, envy and abusive behaviors. Fortunately, the friend I mentioned earlier was from my childhood, but many females may still have some of these experiences in their adult lives. Therefore, it is extremely important that we navigate our friendships by being honest and building or maintain trust.
Tips on keeping trust in a female friendship:
- Always keep the lines of communication open. As females, we sometimes spend more time talking about one another than to one another. To help keep trust in the relationship be honest and communicate. There is no need of faking if you are friends. If you say you are unhappy about the state of your friendship and yet every time you see them you’re smiling and pretending all is well; how will that help. Be a woman about yours; don’t send mixed messages. If you have something to tell them, don’t hold back. You may be surprised how honesty would help.
- Remember empathy goes a long way. When you have friends that are in different places in their life; try to put yourself in their shoes, try to understand where they are coming from? Are both of your needs in the friendship being met? If you can empathize with your friend, it will improve your connection with them and in turn build trust. For example, if you empathize with your girlfriend who has recently gotten married and has to balance new roles with old ones, which means she can no longer stay on the phone with you all night; you will understand she is not just getting off the phone with you because she no longer likes you.
- The other way to build trust in your friendship is to remember to say “no” when appropriate. In every friendship their needs to be boundaries that allow both people to feel comfortable. Expressing one’s needs is good and well but that does not mean you are responsible for meeting those needs; especially if it does not align with your own. Going back to the original tip of honesty; saying “no” is actually a valuable trust builder.
- Lastly, all friendships require growth. Nothing is worse in a relationship than one that is stuck. Giving your friendship the opportunity to develop, you will notice that it becomes important to experience a variety of things. To put it simply, don’t always just talk on the phone; find time to have dinner, go to the salon, shopping or out to dinner. The different experiences and scenarios will allow you to predict the behavior of your friend better and will allow you to trust them more.
The reality is that all relationships take work and trust. Never think that changes just because of time or years invested.
Be the friend you want…