This article was written by Deborah Garratt a member of our content contributor program who is a life coach & spiritual healer for women over 40. She specializes in women in FULL bloom, meaning women who have experienced joy, love and pain, and disappointment.

Most female friendships start in college or the early days of married life.

Some women are fortunate and develop long-lasting friendships in high school or as far back as childhood. I was not one of those lucky women. I have always been perplexed by this and have often wondered what traits it takes to make and maintain long-term friendships with other women. I have basically come up with two different scenarios; the first is that they originate from a small town or rural area, and the second is that their lives have been parallel in terms of growth and life path.

Even romantic relationships fall apart if one outgrows the other.

This causes a disturbance in capability, goals, and values. This issue literally changes the dynamics of the person and the relationship. It changes who we are at a cellular or soul level. What felt right or what we once wanted has now been replaced with new ideas that can alter our priorities and value system. What are the choices in this scenario? For the sake of the relationship, some stifle who they have become and try to go along with the old program as best they can at the cost of betraying who they really are. In comparison, others have the courage to admit to their partner and themselves that they no longer feel fulfilled and that their needs have changed.

From a spiritual point of view, we create relationships to mirror, learn, and expand together. Before we are born, we enter into soul contracts to come together to learn and experience certain lessons at one point in life. These contracts can take a lifetime, while others are for a short time. Many friendships between women are designed to be for a lifetime and offer many valuable lessons and support. And others are fleeting, for example, a colleague at work that is instrumental in helping you come to terms with your marriage problems. I think of it this way: that she was placed in your path at that time to help you see what was really going on in your marriage. That was the pact that you both made, and it was for that sole purpose, and once completed, you then go your separate ways.

For me, friendships with other women have always been difficult.

I think, in general, that the dynamics of female friendships are complicated. There are a lot of emotions and issues that can come into play. For example, jealousy, competitiveness, cattiness, and gossip, to name a few. These can be about careers, relationships with partners, children, and money. I am not saying that men don’t have the same issues, but the communication surrounding it is much more direct and not laden with gossip and charged emotions.

We find our soul tribe of women during our early married or partnered life for most of us. Because people partner up later in life, each partner has their own friendships from school or work. For most couples, the ideal scenario is to have both sets of friends blend beautifully together. This offers a larger social circle for the couple while also maintaining love and support from their original friendships. I think that this works really well but can change when children start coming into the picture.

We tend to develop bonds with other mothers with the same school-age children. We usually meet at preschool, elementary school, or playgroups. The common bond is our children who are developmentally at the same place. This naturally creates a sense of community that fosters emotional and practical support for one another. It really does take a village, and these other women become a valuable part of our lives.

During the school-age period of our lives, we are busy with work and our family life. Each is very demanding, and finding balance is not always an easy task. We often integrate these new mom friends into our married life. We gradually introduce the husbands or partners to them and start to socialize and not just for the children’s sake. Thus begins a new social set of friendships that can last a lifetime.

Many of these friendships dissipate when the children grow up and move on with their own lives.

The reason the friendships were formed to begin with is no longer there. These friendships with time evolve into something else altogether. It is the support and love given to each other during divorces, teenage problems, financial issues, and trauma, creating a deeper bond. This concept is based on being at the same place and stage in life, therefore going through similar life lessons and experiences. I can’t think of a stronger bond than that.

Women in friendships with other women can endure many ups and downs together. The fact is that we need a tribe, and a tribe can be just a couple of perfect friendships. Remember that friends can come into our lives and are not meant to last forever. Our needs or expectations of friendships change as we go through life. As we grow older, we have less time or tolerance for superficial friendships, which tend to fall away.

I will admit that finding female friends later in life can be difficult. We don’t have the same opportunities to meet other women the way did when we were younger. And what we are seeking in a friendship is very different. Many of us are widowed, divorced, or alone and are lonely. Our need to socialize now consists of simple one-on-one companionship that is both supportive and meaningful.

Our female friendships have played an important role in our lives.

They help shape us into who we are and teach us how to work through relationships. Chances are you’ve had issues and arguments along the way and, in doing so, learned a lot about yourself. You learned how to support another woman through her perils and accepted her guidance and love as you faced yours. It is the perfect balance of give and take and honesty and acceptance. Being a good friend means being able to tell the truth in a constructive, loving way. That is how friendship works. I am grateful for the few friends I had, especially those that had the courage to tell me the truth when I needed it and the compassion to be there during the hard times.

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