Forever Friends

Years ago, when my friend was still alive and on a Left Ventricular Assist Device, a study came out saying women need to have regular time with their friends. That it’s healthier for them. This is nothing against spending time with their significant other, just that they need their friends. To laugh with. To share with. The study showed that women who regularly spent time with their friends had lower blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. Therefore, she and I needed to go out more often!

After her 2nd big stroke, when she was learning things all over again, I would go to her house and bring DVDs. It didn’t count as “going out” anymore but it was still girl time and, it mattered. Her husband knew it did. He’d bring us food and beer and then he’d wander off to care for the kids while we sat, giggled, and yammered about how horrible the movie was. I have a book she gave me a few years earlier of quotes of friendship. We’d been friends since 10th grade. On the opening page she wrote, “For my forever friend. Thank you.” Four years on I’d be the only one in the room as they unplugged her life support.

Women are emotional creatures. I tell that to my sons all the time. This is usually after I’ve burst into tears about something they consider so slight that they’re now staring at me as if I’ve gone mad. Women need other women if just to have them tell us, “That’s what I do!” Our friendships mean much more than just someone to go shopping with. For many of us, your friends were there with you through grade school (think roller skates, clip-on bears, and Dittos for you aging ladies like me), middle school (wooden clogs!), high school (Madonna…), and college (finally getting to drink – legally!). Your friendships last from school crushes to divorces. Your friends are your friends, no matter what. No matter how much she hates your significant other, she’ll still be your friend, and she’ll be there to help you put your life back together again when your relationships, finances, or physical health crumbles.

Time with your friends gets more precious as you get older. You get married, you have kids, you move away. But one things remains the same, your friends are there for you. Whether via text, telephone, email, Skype! They’re there. No matter how crappy things are. Women need other women to socialize with – particularly during times of stress. According to the study (seen here ), our brains react to stress differently than our male counterparts. “It seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

So, pick up that phone and schedule some time with your friends this weekend. Tell your significant other it’s for your own health. If they don’t like it, have them drop me a line…

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” ~ Aristotle


7 responses to “Forever Friends”

  1. This was just lovely ~ and something I needed to read right now (as I find myself too often too busy to pick up the phone).
    I was a lover of Dittos and clogs and roller skating. I feel so much of what you said and still have friends from each of those stages of my life. Friends that are too close to just message on facebook. Or text.
    I should call them more. Get in the car to see them face to face.
    Because we never know how much time we have.
    And being with them makes that time better.
    Science said it is so. And so did you. Thanks.


  2. What a wonderful post and oh-so-true. My husband doesn’t seem to ‘get’ why women need ‘girl time.’ But you – and my “girls” – certainly do. Thank you so much. So beautifully put!


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