Thursday 23 October 2014

VBFs? Ladies, it's time to park the girly friendship myth

Lorraine Courtney

Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30

'Sex And The City' promoted an unrealistic view of female friendship
'Sex And The City' promoted an unrealistic view of female friendship

AS a child, I always had a best friend. Today, I don't. This means a lot of things. For one thing, I've never been a bridesmaid.

I don't have a bridesmaid in waiting should I ever decide to get hitched. And there will be no slightly funny, slightly embarrassing, but totally sincere speech at my wedding reception.

My best friendships from school all ended in the expected ways. I moved away or she did; she started dating an eejit or I did. Of course, things happen and people move on. But this best friend turnover rate has left the adult-me without a real, trustworthy BF.

I don't have late-night hours-long chats. And ever since all my old best friends have moved on and replaced me with newer, shinier models, where does that leave me?

Emily Gould wrote her new novel, Friendship, to "address … a lack of depictions of best friendship" in books and movies.

The two characters live a world away, in New York city, but with their 20s petering out, reality is creeping up on Bev and Amy.

An unplanned pregnancy hauls them toward adulthood and also forces a re-evaluation of their once close bond. Then envy sharply starts to overtake fondness.

It's so true, and pop culture often gives us very unrealistic portrayals of female friendship.

In reality, most people I know have a handful of friends, a number that is dwindling all the time as people change locations for work and love, and live in a world of fickle and fleeting Facebook friends. Apparently we make 400 friends during the course of our lives. But only 33 stand the test of time.

And, as in the sitcom Sex and the City (SATC), we have just three close ones.

The notion of having a "best friend" is a very female thing. Yet it's this intensity and competitiveness that often destroys that friendship.

We only started celebrating female friendships quite recently, with films like Bridget Jones. But the thing is that the notion has gone way too far by now.

The idea that all of us have two kooky sidekicks as a real alternative to a husband and 2.4 children became the norm and it's something too many of us can't hope to achieve. And when we don't manage it, we feel lonely and left out.

Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) has spoken out about that famous four-way friendship on SATC, saying: "I like to remember that Carrie and the other women in Sex and the City were really nice to each other. It's kind of surprising to say but, in a way, it was a more innocent time."

Still, the effect that those four friendships had on women was not innocent at all. We'd sit and watch as Miranda came bounding over to Carrie's apartment during a shoe crisis, even if that happened at three o'clock in the morning, and sigh that our own lesser friends could only muster a half-hearted text message of support.

For one thing, plenty of women simply don't have the time.

One of the most unrealistic elements of Sex and the City was the idea that four women with successful careers, multiple relationships and, later on, children, still find the time to talk on the phone multiple times each day and meet up several times a week.

Besides, women aren't just sweet, smiley and ever-supportive, they can be rude, crude and pretty damn mean to each other.

Men might fight, but women indulge in more subtle and vicious forms of torment.

In fact, jealousy, anxiety and posturing have been the dominant forces in most of my female friendship experiences.

SJP says Carrie was "a deeply devoted friend and I think women really respond to that kind of connection. I think we all want it, we all work towards having it, and we're not always the very best friends we can be".

Well, exactly.

None of us can ever be a best friend like Carrie, because that just doesn't exist in real life.

Maybe there's something wrong with having the whole notion of one single BF in the first place.

I don't know that I'll ever again find a single, perfect friend who's able to be the perfect wing woman, a truth teller, a shoulder to cry on and still a free spirit. I'm certain that I'll never track down an entire gang of well-groomed, sarky yet ever-caring mates.

Let's park the girly friendship myth right now.

Irish Independent

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