The girlfriend code

Photo Credit: Thomas Whiteside for People Magazine.

There are many versions of the girl friend code but the one that hit home was Jennifer Garner’s version. The true girlfriend does not heap guilt on you. OMG! Yes, yes, yes!

Ideally a friendship can drop off for a period of time and when you meet up, it’s like you were always there. There is no reference to time or assigning fault.

I have a few drama queen friends. They are fun (mostly except when they’re not). Good for a few giggles until they put the responsibility for the friendship on you.

“I thought we were getting together more frequently?”

“Why haven’t I seen you?”

Lots of guilt. I learned to deflect guilt a long time ago. (My current expression is “It’s not my monkey!”)

If you want to spend time with me, email. (Gah, don’t call and leave a message to call you!) Don’t expect me to do all the work. Or even think about it.

If I have a lot of things going on in my life and don’t want to commit, respect it.

If all you do is talk about you, pay for a therapist. Sounds harsh but I’ve had too many of these “not fun” sessions. Sure I want to be there for someone but they need to work on their issues. I don’t want reruns of the same stuff.

Some friends are better talkers than listeners. One day I realize they don’t know me. They have an image that may be 20, 30 years outdated. They don’t support my current interests or know what they are.

Some friendships are transitional. They are a result of proximity and interest. Work buddies. Neighbors. Someone leaves and that’s it. Or you grow apart. Maybe you don’t have time to invest. (Sadly I’ve lost a few people I like to this.) They filled a need during the time you needed it. You were blessed to have had it. Be grateful and let it go. Don’t try to make it something it isn’t.

Some friendships hang around loosely for a long time. There is interest but not enough for daily, weekly, monthly connections. Social media helps us keep connected easily. Use it! Maybe you get together once or twice a year but it is upbeat and fun. No recriminations. No guilt. Lots to share on all sides. Bada bing, bada bang.

Jennifer Garner and I would make great friends. Low expectations and great fun! I know she loves animals and no drama. Hope she likes margaritas.

63 thoughts on “The girlfriend code

  1. Well, sounds like you learned these lessons early. I’m ashamed to admit that I used to do a couple of these things. The guilt thing and the hanging on too long. As much as I didn’t like Florida, moving away did me a great service. I was able to get out of the dysfunction I’d been living in back home and see my own mistakes. As time went by, I had to cut loose a few friends from back home, because I realized we had an unhealthy pattern (one talker who didn’t listen, and a couple who I hung onto who weren’t interested in hanging on. I finally figured it out). It sort of hurt to let go of people I cared about, but the relationships weren’t good anymore. So, when I lived in Florida, I realized that the things you posted here are all true. The only problem I have with this is that I’d like to make new friends, but it seems everyone at this/my age isn’t interested in forging new relationships. I miss having girlfriends to hang with. I have two close friends, and some may think that’s enough, but it’s very difficult to coincide schedules. If there were more of us, at least I could hang with whichever ones I could match schedules with. I love my husband deeply, but sometimes I just need a break to go hang with my girls. ;-P

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the problem anyone everyone seems to have. Meeting like people. Even if you meet people through activities, you may not have anything in common outside that activity. I found that with the exercise ladies. Women my age seem to be taking care of ailing husbands or hanging with their adult kids and don’t seem to be interested in girlfriends.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You nailed it, Kate. Real friendship is two-sided and although it may occasionally go out of balance because of ‘stuff’, in the broad scheme, it should always right itself.

    Having said that, it is hard to let go of a friendship that isn’t working. I just don’t know how to do it gracefully. Simply declining invitations with a wide menu of excuses seems so passive-aggressive rather than upfront.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a “guy” friend and we occasionally got together. I swear it was the same woman issues every time but with a different woman. I have some girl friends who are in situations they don’t like (husband, work, housing, etc.) but they’d rather complain than change anything.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been doing some serious analysis of my friendship group, Kate. I’m in agreement with you about what works and who doesn’t! I was beginning to think that maybe I was too picky and critical, but it’s not too much to hope for more friends like Jennifer Garner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. With friends, just like with spouses, you need a good match. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a good friend. Guess it would depend on who you talk to. For someone needy, probably not.

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  4. This was a very insightful post – I fear that I was the friend who really needed a therapist. That resulted in me losing my best friend since high school (around 35 years). I think she tired of hearing about what turmoil I was experiencing. Sadly, she was my closest friend and she hasn’t spoken to me in a year and a half. I did try to engage her in conversation about her, but she didn’t jump at it. Our lives took us in different directions: I married and have 6 kids in Chicago (keeps me busy enough that I don’t get to spend much time with friends unless we bump into each other at our kids’ events, sigh), and she didn’t marry and is a professor out east.

    I am always wishing that I had a set group of girlfriends. If I invite my friends to go on a girls’ weekend for my next big birthday, none of them would know each other. This conjures up visions of the women on ‘Bridesmaids’. Ha!

    Then I also wish that my husband and I had more couple friends. Tough to find two good matches who enjoy spending time together and laughing. Coach and I don’t drink much and we are not often included in the couples in our kids’ school because we ‘can’t keep up’ so to speak. Fine by me, but still wishing we had a couple who could go out to dinner here and there.

    Enjoyed this. Kind of eye opening regarding my loss of my longtime BFF.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You hit on another type of friendship — couple friends. I could do a post on that one too. My husband and I always talk about making more couple friends but it’s not easy, especially at our age. Over the years we’ve done things with couples where either I was a good friend of the wife or he was a good friend of the husband but the other had nothing in common with the spouse. Eventually it fizzes out and we continue as an individual friend. Couple friends are very special.

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  5. This is exactly how I feel and I’ve lost touch with most all my friends – I would have less online friends, i.e. old high school buddies, if it wasn’t for Facebook where Facebook decided to connect all of us, but truthfully, just reading their FB walls to catch up with them suffices for me. I am an introvert, but I will talk your ear off and I have the gift of gab even with strangers, but I don’t make the effort to make the connections with old friends – we just don’t have that much in common and my personal time/down time I never have enough of it as it is. I have said to you before I enjoy my solitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have some of that too. We have a couple friend (I always say they are our social directors) who invite/suggest activities. We’ll join in when we are interested. As time goes on, we’re not interested in big crowds, far away parking, weather conditions, etc. OMG! We are so boring!

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  6. Jennifer Garner is so likable.

    When we think of all the friends we’ve lost or left behind or forgotten, it’s amazing that spouses can stay together until “death do us part” or whatever, especially when you and your spouse are together every single day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully you have things in common with your spouse. In my case, it’s music. We both love music but we also have the same values and most important the same energy level! We are both home much of the time but I never know where he is.

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      • My late husband and I had a lot in common and a lot of differences which added spice and interest to our lives. We spent almost 30 years together. But I was just thinking how much time most married people spend together and how much they have to cooperate in comparison to the relationship we have with friends. Marriage is a big deal.

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  7. Friends are tricky. Good ones can loop in and out – and even remember to text/email me the pix since I don’t do Facebook – and they don’t think that’s odd.
    Not up to a clinger or paranoid, needy one, or any drama queen – my “fixing people” days are done.
    I’ve sort of have a new entry requirement for a friend: has to get jokes like those in the old Mad Magazine or that show 3rd Rock from the Sun, or Fractured Fairy Tales. Recognize wit, sarcasm, and references to literature/history. I know high bar. (but there’s always the dog HAHA)

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    • I like your bar (especially if you serve margaritas there)! “My people fixing days are over.” Well said. I got suckered in too often when I was young. No more. Recently lost a friend because I turned off political posts. Seriously? That’s all it took?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My husband and I were talking about the different types of friendships the other day. I was feeling sorry for myself because my really, really good friends don’t live in our city. Most of the friends I have here, although nice enough, just don’t click the same way. At my age (and because I’m more of an introvert), it’s harder to find that special person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve given up on that special person except for my husband. I enjoy the friends I connect with no matter how temporary they might be. The exercise ladies are a good example of transient friends. One of them, who I thought I had a special a special connection with, I haven’t seen in 6 months. She has missed the group lunches and I never hear from her by email. I’ve accepted that I was just someone to talk to at the gym. She reaches out when she wants to sell something or needs information.

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      • I agree that transient friends can be enjoyable and certainly have their place. I guess what I miss is having a friend with a lot of history who is close by.

        Oh, and on a completely different subject, I saw this blog post about dry eyes and thought of you (today’s post on awellstyledlife.com).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the info. I did read the post. There wasn’t anything new for me but I commented on things that worked. I always love hearing what others do and what is effective for them. Still looking for that holy grail.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve found that extroverts cling to their families and clubs and churches like white on rice, while introverts, who are actually interested and interesting, rarely make the effort to get together. The result is that friends [perhaps so-called?] are few and far between. Still when we do get together I have a good time, so I’m not complaining. Low expectations, more enjoyment.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My friend Kit and I have been friends since we were 11 years old. We are exact opposite on almost every way. Except we both love animals and she loves real drinks and I love frozen margaritas. (They have to be frozen).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have/had two longtime girl friends I have known since kindergarten. One had a drinking problem that was making the friendship impossible. The other gal pal is still my best friend and we are still in contact. I have met some very nice friends in our community here in Florida. Friends without guilt. Friends that don’t come with strong ties and more importantly rules of behavior. Free and breezy friendships. We have a nice time while they are here and then they go back to their lives up north. I’m not a full-time friend. Maybe a lunch friend… 🙂 My best friend is CH. I am a bit of a loner. Lots of truths and wisdom in this post and the comments, Kate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve always related to you and I know why. We are similar. Actually there are a few of us bloggers who are very similar. No coincidence that we found each other. I love easy breezy. I hate rules of behavior. Birthday gift? No birthday gift? I tend to not do stuff but just fun meet ups for celebrations. Most of us don’t need stuff. Good Lord knows I don’t! I had two neighbors who were snowbirds. In FL for the winter and here for the summer. We had fun. One moved permanently and the other stopped traveling but we still get together occasionally with the one that’s here. Beloved husband is a bestie!

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        • Had a similar experience. I moved to a different state and wanting to meet people volunteered for some activities. Before you know it, it was overwhelming. It was a temporary move so it resolved itself when I moved again. Never made that mistake again. After that I was mindful of each additional new activity. Damn they wanted me to be president of a garden club that I was a member of for less than 6 months. Wooo! I was still learning the short cuts to the grocery store.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. I suspect we’d be friends. Having said that, I have recently put forth a conscious effort to not be the only one active in keeping a friendship fresh. I’ve also taken a huge step back from those who wanted to be there to keep them “company” in their lives without considering that I might have a life outside of them. I’m lucky, my truly best friend in the world is my younger brother – the only person who has shown that he loves with unconditionally and, because I’m a give by nature, is able to show appreciation for how I give to him. My female bestie is a great gal – ad we have fun doing things together that we both like to do – but she’ll never get me at my core.

    Your post is spot on! Thank you for writing and sharing it!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. LOVE this. I’ve been struggling with a friend who starts off every conversation (telephone or email) with “Haven’t heard from you for a while…” the unspoken message being that I should have been the one to make the effort.

    If I have something to say, I call her. She, however, needs more frequent interaction. Fine, then you call me!

    If I ever reference something from the blogs or Facebook, she snorts. Again, the disapproval. I finally challenged her on it during our last phone conversation. Then immediately felt badly, but it needed to be said.

    Excellent post. Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is exactly what I’m talking about. Not only the guilt but the lack of interest in what excites you. Snorts, grunts or passive-aggressive derogatory remarks pop up too. “That’s a cute little blog you have” although they never read it and the word “little” has a derogatory connotation. I really don’t care if friends read my blog or not but don’t fake it.

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  14. My mother always told me you were lucky if you had one true friend in this world. For me, that friend is Derek. I do have girlfriends that go back to our high school days, but we’re spread around the country, so we don’t see each other too often, but we’re there for each other.

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    • I am much the same way. I was a book worm and a loner as a child so there never were tons of kids at my house. I went to two sleepovers and I really preferred to sleep at home. Somehow I missed some of those traditional kid genes.

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    • When I started thinking about the guilt thing, it happens most with transitional friends who don’t realize they’re transitional. Friendship itself is too big a topic for a post of 500 to 600 words so I focused on that. About a year or two ago I was lamenting to a casual friend who thinks from a different perspective than I do (always good to have one of those on retainer!) and she explained transitional friends to me. At the time I was mourning a friendship loss that I didn’t understand. When I understood the concept everything became clear. Instead of mourning a loss, I was grateful that I had the friendship when I did. It’s all perspective.

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  15. Some friends fall by the wayside and I realized I don’t miss them. Especially the ones that only reappear when they need medical or legal advice from one of my sisters.

    Some have disappeared into the religious right. And one finally came to her senses about the religious right after Trump was nominated. It was nice to have her back, actually.

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    • Over the years I have cycled through many friends. One I lost because of something that someone else did. I was really sad as we had been friends for over 20 years. If someone dumps you without a frank conversation, it’s best to let go. One friend I miss a lot. I have reached out repeatedly and realized that I may be moving into stalker territory. Her life is full with grandkids and an ailing husband so I let go hoping she’ll come back sometime. Others fell by the wayside because there wasn’t any interest on either side. I have a few acquaintances that still tap me for HR advice and that’s OK as long as I don’t have to do much research. I can usually point in the right direction if that’s necessary. I don’t have the traditional “tight” girlfriends who you connect with every day but I never did. Guess I’m a bit of a loner.

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  16. yes… even if we haven’t seen us for years… one minute and we are 18 again and in our school yard with our boy george copy cat outfits… and that is it what true friends have in common… time is overrated we are still the same ones ,O)

    Liked by 1 person

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