“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love.”
– Elie Wiesel
We are, each of us, at the center of our own universe. Yet every so often, and only for the luckiest of souls out there, do we get to experience a relationship so pure that it expands the boundaries of our inner worlds. These pure relationships often come in the form of a parent’s love for their child and the love shared between siblings or even brief exchanges between a few strangers/ acquaintances.
Sometimes romantic lovers achieve this pure state, but they often fall short. One bond purer than that of the bond between lovers is the bond between best friends. Best friends are a truer definition of unconditional love and offer a greater source of personal growth.
For many women, there is this looming fear of getting older without a significant other. This looming fear is so great that it often pushes us into romantic engagements we could have done without. However, something I think women can benefit from is putting greater emphasis on the relationships they have with their friends (especially girlfriends) rather than guys who enter and exit at will.
I’m often given strange looks when I say that I’m more afraid of getting older without girlfriends as opposed to a husband. However, I’m hoping that after reading this article many women will understand just how important your girlfriends are and how to make some if you haven’t any.
The Conditional Nature of Romantic Partnerships
Love is a beautiful thing and the bond between romantic partners is great and all, but there are a plethora of conditions, exceptions and rules that go into being with someone romantically. Most people can’t even remain on good terms with someone after a relationship has ended. When dating, especially if it’s someone who wasn’t at first a friend to you, you may find yourself being judged more harshly. Romantic partners are quick to accuse us of actions that anyone who knew us wouldn’t ever think to accuse us of.
You might also find your less than ideal moments of character, appearance, or moral being viewed not as moments of weakness, but instead as permanent blemishes on your character that cannot be ignored. In fact, think not only of the times you’ve been judged prematurely by a romantic partner you thought knew you better, but all the times you’ve been quick to write one off for displaying their less than ideal self to you.
I’m not trying to encourage that we put up with flagrant disrespect for the sake of a relationship nor pass judgment on what is good or bad behavior. I’m simply drawing attention to the conditional nature of romantic partnerships. Many of us are willing to drop a potential lifelong partner at the drop of a dime should they no longer fulfill certain criteria despite how in love we may have been with them before.
This is typically because romantic relationships come with greater financial, bodily, and emotional risks than a friendship. Romantic relationships, especially the kinds that lead up to a family with kids require these kinds of sacrifices. However, in friendships, the requirements are quite simply to keep in contact and keep being yourself.
The So-So Nature of Guy-friends (the heterosexual variety)
If no one has told you yet, I’m here to inform you that majority of your guy-friends are only your friends because they’re waiting for the moment when you two can be something more than friends. Women aren’t viewed as friend material by guys. You have strict roles in their lives and unless you’re unattractive to them or related to them, your friendship is based on potential romantic encounters and even this idea isn’t solid.
Guys are still pretty bad at genuinely befriending women they find unattractive. Friendships with members of the opposite sex also get more complicated the more romantically invested you become with a man that isn’t him. So, for the most part, straight men are not your friends.
The Importance of Pursuing a Girl Tribe
With women however, there is this pure bond created and maintained by the fact that you prefer each other’s presence to your solitude. You’re looking at your equal and someone who just gets you. A lot of times, we as women can undermine or neglect our friendships with other women or avoid women all together.
We get so used to our male “friends” showing us a certain level of attention and sacrifice, that it can make us intolerant of a woman who doesn’t behave like a guy that’s secretly smitten with us. However, I’ve come to truly value the bonds I’ve created between women because there’s truly no one capable of loving you more purely than another black woman.
If you find yourself having difficulty with creating or maintaining close bonds with other women, I encourage you to ask yourself a few introspective questions. Do you value the idea of having women as your friends? Do you think of yourself as “not like other girls”? Do you pigeonhole your girlfriends but allow your guy-friends range in terms of behavior?
Sometimes women are quicker to judge a girl by her actions than they are a guy. A man can have a history of abusing women, neglecting his kids, and issues with the law and a girl will have to see it for herself to believe he’s probably not someone to become involved with. But let word come out that a girl is a "slut" and we as women are quick to judge and avoid her.
When you’re no longer young and beautiful; when your body begins to show signs of the lifestyle you’ve lived, and your kids can’t seem to call you because their too absorbed in making their own way in life; when you lose (or divorce, because that’s a reality many of us might face) your husband and become invisible to men ( yes this includes your guy-friends) it is only through the eyes of other woman that your humanity will be acknowledged and preserved.
At the end of the day black women, it is other black women that are most capable of seeing you for the multidimensional human you are and loving you flaws and all. So actively pursue those bonds and maintain them if you already have them. Those bonds create the purest forms of love and respect that you may ever receive outside of family.
Lilith is a blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn't at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the Chicago food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.