For the bulk of my young adult life, I was singularly motivated towards one end — finding the perfect man. Okay, I did have other ambitions, but this was one of the dominant ones. Girlfriends were another matter. I had those too, but I just didn’t appreciate them.
Fast forward to now. I am married. My husband is not the perfect man, but then again, I am not the perfect woman. He is a great guy and we have a good relationship. He is my best friend. But a single relationship cannot complete us. We discover and define ourselves more profoundly by experiences of a rich and varied nature. To ask our mate to define us solely is clearly not fair to them and a quick road to trouble.
Several months ago, I was engaged in a unique time of self-reflection and I became aware that I wanted to broaden my base of friendships. I found myself missing the way women friends share and question and how I was nourished by such exchanges.
Let’s face it, men and women are different. I am quite comfortable with a dialogue that has no speedy resolution. Men on the other hand want to get to the point. Men are also miserable when we are not happy. We don’t mean to make them miserable, but Mr. Fix-It can’t stand not being able to fix a situation. A girlfriend on the other hand will process with you. She is more comfortable with ambiguity and dialogue that leads to more questions.
I am fortunate now to have more than a few girlfriends that I regularly meet. There are three in particular with whom I go walking and shopping and who don’t mind talking endlessly over salads about practically everything — faith, politics, and yes, the men in our lives. We recently shared a weekend together. We called it camp. We are women in training to be more true to ourselves. We are like cheerleaders to one another, mirrors if you will to the other’s soul, advocates for the other to live a courageous life. I am like a sponge in their presence, soaking up the richness of our time together. It is a true gift.
My husband does this for me too, although he does it differently. The beauty of having girlfriends is I can return home and appreciate him even more. My girlfriends fill my cup. It is a fullness I can give back to him.
There are species of plants that do much better when another of the same is planted nearby. Avocado trees and blueberry bushes for example produce fruit more readily with a companion. I feel lucky to have that kind of companionship in the relationships that bless my life. As it does in the garden, the pairing strengthens who I am and makes for more prolific bounty. It is a powerful testimony to the gift of friendship.