Girlfriends are awesome. You call them when you’re bored, when you get a new job, or when you want to get a play-by-play rundown of Top Chef because you forgot to Tivo it and you were stuck in a meeting. And when you just can’t breastfeed one more day or you feel like bludgeoning your own husband with a meat cleaver, you pick up the phone and speed-dial your BFF. It’s not like you can only have one of them. I have several – each a bestie in their own right. Here are my top ten rules to abide by when cultivating these important relationships:
(1) Accept them like they are, but also laugh at them. When a friend tells you she has a bad habit of buying fancy water, or expensive chocolates, or pricy shoes, tell her that her vices could be much worse. Think of something more expensive that she’s not buying by the truckload (champagne/new cars/trips to Vegas) and tell her that she could be buying that. So in reality she’s very frugal, and you’re proud of her, and agree that overpriced organic baby soap from France does smell quite nice. But for the kid’s birthday, be sure to buy some generic bath wash from Wal-mart that has some Disney character on it and smells like raspberry that may possibly be radioactive. Because honestly, it cleans just as well.
(2) Offer small reminders of your love. Like care packages. They can be small, and contain thing from your pantry, but how fun is it to get a package in the mail full of power bars, gum, and a message scrawled on the back of an electric bill? Mail is giddy and silly and fun. Go on and add that postage expense into your monthly budget. To my friends who haven’t received a package from me in a while – I’m sorry. I’ll do better. I may be mailing you fruit snacks and goldfish. Deal. I’m also a huge fan of random texts and short phone calls when you only have three minutes. Please don’t use that lame excuse of “I was waiting for when I had time to talk.” When exactly does one have that kind of uninterrupted time? I say never. Unless you’re on the toilet, and that’s just disgusting.
(3) Pray for them. For when they are going through hard times, or when their life is upside down. Pray for their very soul. And mean it.
(4) Support Them at All Costs. Repost and like and comment away on her witty facebook posts because flattery will get you everywhere and us gals have to stick together. Celebrate your BFF’s adventures and never allow guilt or jealousy enter the relationship. Just because you work at the DMV and she got a job in New York as a fashion model doesn’t mean you can’t be happy for her good fortune. Hug her neck. Buy her a drink. Then look for another job. For goodness sakes –why do you want to work at the DMV?
(5) Listen when they vent about their husbands, but the next day forget the entire conversation. If a girlfriend unloads on you about how her husband is lazy and never picks up his dirty laundry and doesn’t appreciate all she does around the house, your response should be something like, “What a jerk!” Fast forward three days, when the same girlfriend received a dozen tulips from her formerly jerky husband. She tells you he’s the most fabulous man ever. Your response should be, “What a sweetheart!” See the difference? It’s subtle, I realize.
(6) Be insanely loyal. If you hear someone talking bad about a bestie (She’s a bit controlling if you ask me), redirect the conversation (she’s strong willed, but man that girl can run a meeting like you wouldn’t believe. Makes the men shiver in their boots). Then meander from that to a conversation about boots in general, which leads you to that trendy little boot store on South Congress, which of course makes you focus on funky clothing, which you lack, and then you can begin a tirade on how your mother keeps buying you sweaters from JC Pennys. See how this redirection thing works?
(7) Don’t keep score. If you watch their kids twice and they only watched yours once for half an hour, or if you always bring them Starbucks but they never return the favor, remember that a friendship isn’t always completely equal. You have them in your life because they bring something wonderful and precious to yours. It’s not a card game whereby they owe you when you do something for them. You each have your strengths and weaknesses. Give effortlessly without keeping a tally. That’s exhausting.
(8) Don’t let things fester. The worst is when you allow some minor annoyance to get out of control and it drives a wedge into your long-standing relationship. If they always text when you want to talk by phone, or if they smack their gum too loudly, or always wait for you to pick up the check, tell them. It doesn’t have to be some insanely serious talk, where you hold their hand by the fire and say “it’s not you, it’s me,” but you can respectfully tell them that “hey – what’s up with me always paying for lunch?” or “it bothers me when you always email when I just want to visit.” You have built up enough rapport to be honest. If you can’t, or if you are afraid of splintering the friendship, how solid is that foundation?
(9) Keep it real. The best thing about girlfriends is the ability to find common ground, and laugh about shared experiences. Whether you are sitting around drinking wine or running together at 6 am or just texting in the carpool line, find a way to add humor to their day and remind them of how blessed they are. So their kid broke their arm and they had to endure ten days in the Cayman’s with their overbearing mother-in-law and their husband is away on business for two weeks. Your response shouldn’t be “you poor darling – that just sucks for you and I don’t know how you’ll possibly endure.” They went to the Cayman’s, for crying out loud. They drank fruity cocktails and now they get to wallow around in stretchy pants making microwave dinners. Life really isn’t that rough.
(10) And finally, be careful who you let in. Don’t throw your heart into someone who doesn’t hold friendships in high esteem, or who won’t get your back, or acts one way around you and a different way around others. If you work this hard to cultivate friendships (time and energy spent away from your own family), make sure you give your heart to someone who will cradle it, and respect it, and who deserves who you are. Because you are fabulous.