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Female Friends: Getting By With a Little Help From Our (Girl)Friends

The bonding between women is something that has been going on since the beginning of time, and men, whether they admit it or not, have always been curious about the whys of female friendships.
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If you're a woman, a close female friendship is one of the constants that keeps you sane and helps you live your life well. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a high powered career woman, your female friendships are important to your health. The good news is that you don't need to have 50 BFFs as we are led to believe; even one good friend can lead you on the path to living a healthier life. Personally, I would hate to not have my best friend Michelle in my life.

The bonding between women is something that has been going on since the beginning of time, and men, whether they admit it or not, have always been curious about the whys of female friendships. Friendship is something that men understand, albeit in masculine terms, but our "girl-friendships" are so totally different from their own ideas of male bonding. Ours are deeper, more emotional, and much more open.

Women's close friendships are hardly uncharted territory. We have been relying on each other for centuries. There's a reason women and men split into two distinct groups at social functions and it isn't dictated by the antiquated rules of Victorian society when men shared brandy and cigars in one room while women drank their sherry in another. Men need the companionship and bravado of other males; women need the intense nurturing of female friendship. And nurture each other we do. The most powerful female executive still nurtures and cares for her friends.

A simple fact that our friendships are different has more than a little to do with our anatomies. It isn't uncommon for a woman in a ladies room to ask another woman, a stranger, if she has Midol. The need for it is universally understood. There are certain physiological things that are common ground for women the world over. Mention topics such as menstrual cramps, labor and childbirth, and anything gynecologic in a group of women and you will get nods of understanding even from women who are perfect strangers to each other. This we share no matter what our age, no matter where we're from.

But physical issues aside, there is much more to female friendships. There is a need to share experiences and knowledge that are not necessarily passed from mother to daughter. Some things you can only share with a good close friend.

We share from our hearts and we understand break-ups, heartache, and the need to cry with a good friend holding our hand. We are more open in discussing subjects with "our girls" than most men would ever even consider mentioning to the "the guys." Women are thinkers, advice givers, and the keepers of sacred girlfriend secrets. We are bound by being born female.

Without taking anything away from our relationships with men, most women believe that girl-friendships are one of the strongest relationships they will ever have. We feel united in causes, a strong front of mutual help to each other.

One of the key points for success of the series, (and the subsequent movies) "Sex and the City" was due in no small part to the close friendships of the four women involved. Each had their individual lives but also managed to "be there" for each other in good times and bad. Knowing they could depend on that relationship was crucial to their happiness.

And so it is, or should be, for all women: girl-friendships are necessary. That solid, impenetrable wall of security offered by your friendships helps you to endure as well as grow. It is a sorority of strength. Girl-friendship boosts your self-esteem, validate your feelings, and bring a sense of well-being emotionally and physically.

I have heard some women say, "I don't like being with other women. I'd rather be with the men. They're more interesting." I disagree. To them the best response I will offer is that perhaps they haven't met the right women yet; intelligent, caring, practical and clear-thinking. Never discount your own sex when it comes to interesting!

To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at Kristen Houghton.com and visit her Keys to Happiness blog. Also, take a look inside her book, "And Then I'll Be Happy!" You may e-mail her at
kch@kristenhoughton.com.