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Female friendships- how too make them work?

(132 Posts)
poshsinglemum Fri 02-Jan-09 14:24:02

Don't get me wrong. I love my girlfriends- I really do and consider myself very much a girl's girl. Why is it then that I feel that many of my friendships with women are marred by competition, jealousy and bitchyness? Mine aswell as theirs'?
There are a lot of wondreful things about friendship with other women (I am closer to some of these friends than I have ever been with a man.)How then to strengthen the good things?
Or am I being a bitch by encouraging this discussion? grin

mrshammond Fri 02-Jan-09 14:41:49

I think I know what you mean. I have started to distance myself a bit from the group of friends I made when DD started school (she is now year 5).

I got fed up with the constant comparing DCs academic staus, what clubs they are doing. Are they in the top set for X Y Z. Which teacher have they got this year - oh he's not meant to be that good.

I think there is a fine line between Mums being supportive of each other and offering advice, and being down right judgemental. I felt this line was being crossed too often and it made me uncomfortable.

I find that the friendships I value most are with those friends I see less frequently. We all have DCs and we chat about how they are but we don't get bogged down with nitty gritty.

Those who I do see often, I try not to get drawn in to conversations about DCs, esp where school is concerned. I try hard to find other things to talk about and I never start conversations about DCs.

This is all of course DC related - not sure if that's what you meant? The friends I love the most are the ones who ask "how are you?" and know they genuinely want to know how I am.

aseriouslyblondemoment Fri 02-Jan-09 14:56:17

I left all this competitive stuff behind me when I ceased to be actively involved in NCT and mummy and tots groups.
I have a totally different circle of friends now and yes thou we're friends thru our dcs it's a totally different type of friendship altogether.

JiminyCricket Fri 02-Jan-09 15:16:35

I find this really hard. Pre getting married I had more bloke friends than girls, some close girl friends when i was young, but kind of drifted apart. Now I have one close friend, she doesn't have kids and we act as each others therapist I think sometimes. I am sociable with mums of other families we know, or people at school, some are lovely and some really annoying, obviously that's life, but I don't know how people get closer friendships. I have asked Dh to try to be more sociable, because he is the funniest guy on earth, but since we got married he's not very outgoing except with people we've known ages, and that makes it hard to make friends with other couples. Also he is drifting away from old friends and I don't want him to not have some kind of circle of friends. I agree people seem to get really competetive or anxious - with some people I think you can get past this.

poshsinglemum Fri 02-Jan-09 15:20:15

I agree that distance is very important. Before dd I used to almost live my life in my closest friends pockets which was disasterous. I know that I shouldn't trust indiscriminately but sometimes when I start friendships I give away too much too soon.
Before dd and (ex) partner, female competition seemed to revolve around snaring men. Now I'm a mum it has entered a whole new league - the parenting league! It's exhausting. And dd is only 6 months. I have all the scholl grade rubbish to come!
I told a women I used to work with that I was no longer with dd's dad and she could hardly conceal a smile. Am I being paranoid?
When I was single and flat sharing my flatmate told me straight taht she didn't like girls and couldn't be friends with them, then proceeded to steal my boyfriend, compete with regards to University grades, fashion and anything going. Every conversation was an exhausting competition in the end.She really felt the need to piss on her territory if you know what I mean. Only natural I guess. hmm
I think she was a man's girls rather than a girl's girl. Mabe it's better to be a man's girl? What do you think?

poshsinglemum Fri 02-Jan-09 15:20:50

school grade.

poshsinglemum Fri 02-Jan-09 15:46:36

I do know lots of fabulous women though and even though mum's groups are competetive I try to take it with a pinch of salt. This is the answer I feel. When I'm at my most jealous or competetive I'm at my most insecure. I try to remember that.

poshsinglemum Fri 02-Jan-09 18:07:58

Have been reading some of the threads on here. They are a good example of how supportive women can be of each other which is one of the wonderful things about female friendships. Has stopped me from being a bitter old cynic! smile

poshsinglemum Sat 03-Jan-09 19:10:03

However, some of my friendships have gone really wierd.
When I was pregnant I wasn't living with my partner but with a female flatmate. It began to look more and more like I would be doing motherhood alone.
At first she was very supportive as she herself was a single mum and I really apprechiated her help.
After about four months she started to get colder and colder and made some hurtful comments e.g
'I bet your really shitting yourself due to the financial responsibility.' ( I wasn't. As if I hadn't thought about that anyway- I was thrilled and excited but hurt due to being dumped.)
When my ex came to visit for the weekend (when we were still together )I asked her
not to mention the baby as he was still freaking out. Of course she had to mention the baby in a negative way. She said to him 'If you think you are tired doing night shifts now, wait until the baby is born. You'll be exhausted then.'shock
Is it just me or was that jealousy?
These were but a few examples of the way she treated me and I was glad to move out and live with my parents in time for dd's birth.So why did this friendship go sour? We got on so well at first.

toomanystuffedbears Sat 03-Jan-09 22:40:50

Just guessing, but, I think she may have a superiority complex. She was superior when she supported you-perhaps in a matriarchal way? When you were thriving she felt she had to degrade you. And then... you asked her not to do something, she had a power play at your expense by doing it anyway. There is a tangent (more subtle but still important to note) power play in that she denied your [right to have] feelings. You ceased to exist to her-the relationship was then all about her.

Being around someone like that can be very depressive (degrading+pressed down=depressed).

I am glad for you that you are away from her.

newgirl Sat 03-Jan-09 22:48:46

i think its just that women often like to talk and it an sound competitive but surely its just conversation? if it takes a turn you don tlike you need to be able to say something

i reckon we need to have a couple of stock phrases up a sleeve so if conversation takes a tricky turn you tell them kindly - thats the only way a relationship develops eg if they start comparing kids say 'we're not doing that competitive mum thing are we?' or something

else you just going to talk about the price of veg

makingafamily Sat 03-Jan-09 23:18:48

This has been really interestinging to read

I do think there is something competetive in women when they are talking about their children (i'm only a TTC'er so this is my assumption) and i think this is natural

Going back to the original post. From a lesbian point of view, i know that when i've had girly nights with my mates, i've never had any jealously, actually the opposite when i say "well dear wife does blah blah blah" i get responses of "lucky you". Maybe it would be different it was talking about a husband?? But to me, my mates are just happy i have such a supportive partner!!!

*I'll stop waffling now*

NancysGarden Sat 03-Jan-09 23:42:26

I had a friend who was slightly backhanded in her 'supportive' chats (which were distinctly unsupportive) during my pregnancy (also was starting to look like I might be doing motherhood alone at that time). But I think it was more to do with her own issues.

And I think this is the difficult line we tread in friendships. I don't think completely selfless friendships really exist. I am finding it hard to make lasting friendships with other mums since becoming a mum (I have one or two friends who had children before me) but not many. (And if I'm honest I feel it is probably my own hang-ups that get in the way...

I think there are probably some friendships that resemble a pure platonic "love" but they are sadly probably quite few and far between. (I definitely have some, maybe there's only finite number for us all out there)

poshsinglemum Sun 04-Jan-09 10:15:50

Thanks for your replies people- lots of food for thought here.
I think that when women get together for casual chats comments are thrown which sound competetive but aren't- but it's the more intense friendhips that I have issues with.
I think that power has a lot to do with it. Humans natuarally like to have power over others.
I find that my friendships are happier when we are on a more equal playing field with similar situations, outlooks and ambitions. However if one of us becomes more succesful, finds a new man, looses wieght, finds a
great job, has a(nother) baby etc the playing field is no longer level. That's when jealousy and power play happen.
For example; I am jealous of a friend right now. Four months after I got pregnant she also got pregnant. The difference being that her partner is doting and supportive and now they are engaged. I feel slightly cheated as in the past this girl has been out with some of my ex boyfriends. Her fiance is an ex of another of her friends(but to be fair she didn't steal any of these men directly.) She just seems to have it so easy. On the dating scene she was a minx and now it's all fallen into place. Mabe I should have been like this! I am happy for her until her partner makes smug comments about my single status. It's wierd but she is another woman who I would class as a man's girl- definately not
a girl's girl. I always have the feeling I can't trust her. When she is a wife her status will be higher than mine hence a power imbalance.
She also does the competetive mum thing with me subtely and I just think that's unfair as hse has a supportive partner and
I don't. i feel like saying 'cut me some slack fgs.'
I know that my insecurity gets in the way. I sometimes think that this friendship has been toxic in the past but I was suffering from platonic love so I couldn't end it.My girls friendships can be more like love affairs. Mabe she knew this and therefore the friendship was/is open to abuse.
Does anyone else have this? I have cut down contact but the intense bond and
feeling that she is part of my life is there.

poshsinglemum Sun 04-Jan-09 10:23:36

A more specific example. When we were both pregnant ahe said that her partner was really looking foward to carrying the baby around in the sling like all the other fathers. I said that we didn't have that. She then said that ' it must be quite sad for you.' Of course it f***g is! wa sthat sympathy or some kind of wierd power play because I don't think it was tactful?
Another friend used to tell me the positions her partner would hold her in bed knowing I was on my tod. Mabe these are just innocent comments but my issues are getting in the way.
Am I getting too close? I am getting better at keeping my distance.

ABloke Sun 04-Jan-09 10:26:31

I have found a few that are actually okay. [surprised]

No bitching, no visible jealousy. Just friends trying to help out. Quite nice really. Like the Waltons.

Oh no they were related.

poshsinglemum Sun 04-Jan-09 10:31:06

i agree that it's natural to be competetive about our children and i don't have a problem with it as in am a boastful proud mum it's the darker, more devious side of things that i have fallen prey to that gets me, grin
i actually think that ending some of my friendships would be harder than dumping a man!

ForeverOptimistic Sun 04-Jan-09 10:31:22

I have always found that I get on best with female friends who are the complete opposite to me.

poshsinglemum Sun 04-Jan-09 10:36:10

Abloke- I do have some lovely girly friends and we have a good time. Im genuinely happy for their succesess and sad when it all goes wrong. I am not perfect and am prone to jealousy, bitchyness and competetion but I think that I have mellowed now I'm a mum. I was worse before dd, especially when men were around!

poshsinglemum Sun 04-Jan-09 10:38:13

That's interseting. I think the more similar people are, the more competetive it gets. Life would be boring if we were all the same. I think I have to stop being jealous and enjoy what I have smile

MrsSeanBean Sun 04-Jan-09 10:48:09

poshsinglemum - it's simple, your friends are not right for you and vice versa. There are so many so-called friendships today whih are not really true friendships at all imo. Just over-developed acquaintance-ships. If you have a true friend there will be none of the feelings in your OP involved.

BonsoirAnna Sun 04-Jan-09 10:51:01

All relationships are based on exchange - if you want your friendships to work you must be generous towards the people you love (not materially generous, but emotionally generous). If you are envious of your friends, that is really that is really the very opposite of generosity and the relationships will not go anywhere.

Monkeytrousers Sun 04-Jan-09 10:53:24

It's just down to personality, not sex.

People are competitive. Don't think male friendships aren't competative. They are even more so. Just find friedns who don't have such a competitive personality

LiffeyAnnaLivia Sun 04-Jan-09 10:57:21

I don't think there's a formula. Usually, wherever I go, in time, I 'gel' or 'click' with somebody and then it is just so easy. Both of you have so much to say.

That has sometimes happened to me instantly and sometimes it takes time, so I still try to be myself even if I think people don't 'get' me....

Poshsinglemum, love the screen name, wink we have so much in common. Although I'm not competitive at all, which helps maybe. One of my best friends is a girl I've known since school. She wnet to country's best Uni, I went to an adequate one. She got a first, I got a desmond. Her first job paid her about twice as much as mine did, her husband is lovely, mine was a wanker, and yet we are STILL the best of friends because I take myself out of the competition where she is concerned. I'm confident that it is my personality she likes. She can't just replace me with a flourish of her wonderful-life-wand! If she wants my wit, warmth and humour {grin] she has to take me, mad x, single mother on benefits warts and all!

To pick up on another thing you've said, about making a new friend too much of your life too soon, I know what you mean. I think that's a good point. If you meet somebody you really get on with, take things calmly because they'll still be there next month probably.

LiffeyAnnaLivia Sun 04-Jan-09 11:02:52

Poshsinglemum, another 'tip' if you come up against these boasty people is to refuse to play the game. I have been known to listen to somebody boasting about little Freddie speaking French at 3, I wait 'til they're finished and then I say 'Still waiting for Richie to speak one word of English!".

Somebody whose child goes to a private junior school (mine at state) remarked that their was an accent at my children's school (cheers) and I said well if Richie talks at all I won't care if he has an accent, I'll kiss the ground if he talks at all!")

Take yourself firmly OUT of the competition bullshit! It Can be done, and then the real conversations will come after that. Or, maybe they won't but you'll knw to move on.

I notice your dc is only 6 months, I think allthat bullshit is at its worst when the first child is reaching its milestones. Imo, it gets better, not worse.

I'd YAWN and wander off if anybdy tried to tell me about their child composing their own music or somehitng.

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