Fuck Yeah, Female Friendships

female friendships

I had very few male friends growing up. I’ll chalk it up to attending a girls-only high school, and being a bit afraid of boys until I was in uni, lol. Female friendships really defined my high school years.

Female friendships are a complex thing. I’m about to talk about how truly amazing they can be, but it would be remiss of me to ignore all the ways we can tear each other down. I remember horrendous, lengthy bullying periods at school – sometimes against me, sometimes instigated by me – battling it out with rumours, cold shoulders and elaborate methods of making other girls feel like absolute shit.

But goddamn, when female friendships are good, they’re amazing.

Bachelor In Paradise this year has been full of awful female interactions. And I think it’s important to recognise the way we can seriously destroy each other, especially when it’s such ingrained, insidious behaviour we might not recognise in ourselves.

But last night’s episode gave me the warm and fuzzies, and I wanna talk about it.

In case you don’t watch Bachie, there are currently two exes on the show – Renee and Ciarran. Last night, Renee revealed to her friend Alisha that Ciarran had lied to her, saying they’d reconcile on the show. Basically, she’d come into Paradise thinking she’d be getting back with her ex… only to find him with another girl.

She told Alisha she’d brought an $800 ring she’d had custom made for him to Fiji, intending to give it to him as part of their reunion. It was a really hard watch. To say Renee was devastated during this conversation would be an understatement – her grief was raw.

It hit me hard. Heartache is one of the most painful emotional experiences in life. Many have likened a painful breakup to the grief of losing a loved one. Letting go, especially of someone who never really gave you closure, is one of the hardest human experiences and one many of us know well.

Years ago, after a sudden breakup that left me completely blindsided, I learned that my ex had swiftly moved on and started sleeping with a girl in my periphery friendship group.

I was absolutely gutted. The level of heartbreak I had in that moment was the worst I’ve experienced in my life so far. It was a weird one, because the relationship was short. But I think because the break up completely threw me and when my ex moved on so soon, it ripped me to shreds. It was made worse because I found out while I was at work, so when I started involuntarily crying I panicked. I ended up running into the fire stairwell to be alone.

My friend Kristy saw me and followed me out. To this day I remember that moment so vividly. She sat with me as I told her between sobs what had happened. For over an hour, she just listened and sat with me as I cried it out. She went and got tissues, my makeup bag, and water so I could return to work and not be asked about it.

I know I could have gotten through the pain without Kristy. I probably would have just gone home and cried alone. But at a time when I was at my lowest, she sat with me in the trenches, and her support made the pain so much easier to bear.

I think what has always made female friendships so special for me is this kind of support. We’ll drop everything to be there for a friend. We intuitively know when our mate needs advice, and when they just need someone to be there next to them as they work shit out for themselves. I didn’t need someone to tell me how to navigate the next steps, or how to pick myself up. I just wanted someone to stand by my side and be with me in the middle of a difficult situation.

I think that’s why Renee and Alisha’s moment of throwing Ciarran’s ring into the ocean resonated with us all. Alisha didn’t judge Renee for bringing a ring for her ex to Paradise. She didn’t judge her for still having feelings, or chastise her for holding onto hope. She just supported her through it, and then helped her with a really difficult moment of letting go.

As women we are so good at tearing each other down. We excel at it. I’ve been more hurt by other women than I have been by any men in my life. But at the same time, we are also capable of this incredible level of support.

Fuck yeah to all my gal pals.