Monday, March 09, 2015

Women and friendship

I just reviewed a book called Dumped: Women Unfriending Other Women, edited by Nina Gaby, for Story Circle Book Reviews. Read the review here: I've always know that women's relationships, even the closest, were complicated and subject to unexpected interruption. But I thought some friendships just drifted away, either because of distance or changing interests or who knows what. Call me Pollyanna, but I didn't realize the harshness of dumping nor that it happens often. Dumping involves either directly saying to the other woman, "I don't want to be friends with you any more. You aren't cool, you bore me," or something in that vein. Or it may be the sudden silence: phone calls unreturned, emails and texts unanswered. The dumpee is left perplexed, wondering, "What did I do wrong?" And that's the point that really struck me--women who are dumped too often see themselves as inadequate, unworthy of the friendship that was, however briefly, bestowed upon them. As in a lot of life's problems, it takes two to tango--a self-absorbed, ambitious, unthinking woman, perhaps also insecure but more brazen about her defenses, to dump, and an insecure, self-conscious woman with a dump-me sign on her face. It may well be why some women refuse to establish close relationships with other women--and I do know women like that.
The book, a collection of personal essays, is recommended reading for all women--it will make you look at your relationships, analyze your role in the friendship, study whether or not you're nurturing the friendship or simply leeching off it. I think we all play all those roles, though I was cheered by one woman who wrote that she could never dump anyone. The woman she dumped would always take away a part of her.
I have known several women I might have liked to dump--some that wore me down in various ways, whether by negative or critical attitude, neediness, clinginess. But I never could have done it. It's just not in my heart.
Another personal observation: it's dangerous for women to have just one relationship with another woman. Because when that sours,  you're left stranded. I think we're perfectly capable of having meaningful relationships, each a bit different, with a variety of women. Today, on a rainy dull day, I was forcefully reminded of that.
I had lunch plans with a colleague and dear friend from my former office, but I had to change them because I was to be at home awaiting delivery between noon and three of a TV--it came at six. But Melinda was perfectly agreeable to lunch at my house, and I fixed salmon cakes, roasted cabbage slices, and sautéed spinach. We had a perfectly delightful time and a good visit, much of our talk taken up with the world of Texas books, a love we share, but we also talked of family and grandchildren and our futures. I like that we're always looking ahead.
This evening, as I was still waiting for the blasted TV, a longtime friend (35 years?) who once again lives nearby walked over with her dog for a glass of wine. (The dog is a whole other story for another blog.) We talked about dogs and books and cooking and who knows what and were perfectly comfortable.
I am blessed with good friendships, but I work hard to maintain them and rarely give up on a friendship. I think there's an art to that, and some of the people in Dumped haven't perfected it. Yet it's within anyone's grasp.

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