Two women reveal how their female friendships have got them through the hardest of times.
Sex and The City, The Golden Girls, Friends – growing up in the 1990s meant being surrounded by strong female friendships, whether it was Carrie and Miranda, Rose and Blanche, or Rachel, Monica and Phoebe.
As we grew up, we made similar friendships in our own lives, and undoubtedly, these friendships have got us through life’s curveballs and challenges, from break ups to grief and all the bad days in between. So why is it that we put our romantic relationships on a higher pedestal than our friendships?
In the modern age, it seems we’re obsessed with the idea of love, or finding love. Dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Hinge were made to make finding a romantic partner at the swipe of a thumb, with a study by Cloudwards showing that 33% of women are actively on dating apps, and 42% of users view marriage as their end goal. With thousands of potential partners right at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that the world has gone dating mad. And while romantic relationships are great, has the urge to find the perfect partner changed the way we view our kinship to our friends?
Charlie Rosse and Zoe Butt, aged 30 and 36, share their two very different stories on how their female friendships have helped them navigate different challenges in their life, from dealing with heartbreak to the isolating experience of becoming a new mum mid-pandemic.
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“My best friend is more like a sister to me. I don’t think I could survive without her.”
Charlie Rosse met her best friend, Jo, at boarding school. Back then, she would never have expected that they would still be friends today. Two decades later, they have guided each other through marriage, redundancy, and heartbreak.
“The best and the worst thing about boarding school is being around your friends all the time. When you are arguing and things are going wrong, it sucks. There’s no getting away from the stress and there is no way to escape. But the positives far outweigh the negatives and I have far more happy memories than stressful ones — boarding school was a home away from home. Those girls were my sisters, the housemistress like a second Mum to me. We all grew up together and formed each other, it made me the person I am today.
“Me and my best friend Jo shared a room a number of times over the seven years. We have many hilarious memories of trying to trick the senior girl/teacher on duty, whispering after lights out, sneaking out of bed, telling each other ghost stories, having midnight feasts or little midnight get-togethers with other girls.”
“Through our adulthood we have never argued and have always been there for each other. Her love and support has been everything, and allows me to feel I can face life.
Jo and I are both 30 now. I’m single and a writer and she’s a teacher, with a husband and a child — we live about two hours apart. We only get to see each other about once a month (normally with her toddler in tow) but we are in constant contact. We text throughout the day, have a phone call every two-to-three days and I would find it weird if I didn’t hear from her in a 24-hour period. I would assume something was wrong and have rung her husband to make sure she’s ok after not being able to get a hold of her. I don’t have this kind of relationship with anyone else.
When she got married and then again when she fell pregnant, I worried whether our closeness would be affected, or whether she wouldn’t have as much time for me as she previously did. But our friendship has always remained unaffected by any of the changes in our lives which I’m really grateful for. I’m very much a part of her family and she’s very much a part of mine.
She supports me emotionally through every aspect of my life, through various disappointments in my career and my dating life, including when I had to move back into my parents’ house and make the difficult decision to give up on becoming a teacher after four years of training. Knowing she’s always there for me gives me such confidence.”
“My female friends helped me navigate life as a new mum.”
Zoe Ayre was 33 when she and her husband decided to move from Bolton to Calderdale, West Yorkshire. About to be a mum for the first time, it dawned on Zoe that she had no female friends in her new area.
“We just about had time to unpack when we went into the first lockdown. My husband and I both went from being in the office full time, to working from home. At first, we loved that part of lockdown. Previously, we’d had horrendously long commutes, and only really got an hour in the evening to enjoy each other’s company before bed.
After a while, the novelty wore off, and being so far away from friends, we couldn’t even meet anyone outside for a walk, because we didn’t know anyone local. It was then that I stumbled across the app Peanut, which is basically Tinder for mums. You look through other profiles and swipe ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether you’d like to match and chat more. If you match, you start DMing like you would with a dating app and then progress to real life friendship if you get on.”
“There was one woman, who, after chatting with for a few weeks, I really got on with. We met in person and got on like a house on fire. The next time we met, she mentioned that she had met another girl on Peanut who had started a group on WhatsApp.
Every time she met someone she got on with, she invited them into a separate WhatsApp group. It really took off and had around 15 or so mums who were all in the depths of new motherhood. The idea to bring everyone together like that was pure genius and has been such a wonderful thing to experience.”
“When I went to the first big group meet up, I was nervous walking in and meeting so many new people. But within minutes I was totally at ease by what a fantastic group they were. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I was heavily pregnant at the time and had just started my maternity leave, so spent hours chatting away to them all and getting to know everyone.
Having a group of friends who are going through exactly the same thing as you at the same time is huge. We’ve shared the highs and lows with one another. We have all been there for each other when we’ve needed it, and when one of us is really struggling, everyone has been so supportive. It’s so morale boosting to know that you’re not alone.
Three days after giving birth, I felt probably the lowest I ever have. I sent a message in the group which was a bit of a cry for help. They all absolutely rallied round, reassuring me how normal it was. One of the girls is a midwife and rang me to chat it through, explaining to me why our hormones take such a dip and how it would pass again. She gave me so much practical advice and really helped alleviate my anxieties.
If I think about what my maternity leave would have looked like without these friends, I think it would have been very lonely. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have met them.”
So, while we celebrate our romantic relationships, it’s important to remember that our female friendships are often the ones we fall back on in time of need. More than that, they provide a much-needed sense of sisterhood, in an age where being a woman can be a daunting, and sometimes even dangerous, experience.
So, to echo the words of one of Sex and The City’s leading ladies, Charlotte York, maybe our friends can actually be our soul mates, after all.
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