Saturday, January 23, 2010

this one's for the ladies...

I’ve been really busy since school started again, so it was a big treat to go out last night with two good friends to a wine tasting. Yum! For the past few weeks, after an incident with some girlfriends, I have been thinking about the dynamic of female relationships.  Last night there were 13 people in the wine class and it’s always fun for me to watch and listen to people interact, so I had a nice opportunity to take my pick of interesting people – and only one man in the group.  About midway through the class, the two girls at the end of the table (two of a group of four) started laughing about how one of them had decided to compare each of the seven Argentinean Malbecs we tasted to an ex-boyfriend.  I’m not sure how that works, but at the end of the class, after we had all sampled seven wines and were feeling much less pain, the boyfriend girl starts talking about herself.  Seriously.  Like, her entire life history. As if we asked.
She then told everyone the name of her blog and that is the point when we snuck out. Thank goodness the class was inside a lovely little wine shop and my girlfriends and I excused ourselves to go browse the great selection – I could not bear another moment of the self-absorbed droning.   Why is it that when women get into groups, there is usually an alpha who dominates conversations and overshadows the group?  Why do women fall into these weird friendship dynamics?  And more importantly, why am I so bothered by this subject??? After the wine tasting, we grabbed dinner and over more wine I asked my girlfriends why they thought women were so strange.  I told them that I thought there could NEVER be a group of friends like the Sex and the City girls – someone would have feelings hurt or would constantly be ganged up on. Someone would finally tell Samantha what a whore she is, she’d get her feelings hurt and that would be the end of that group. In pairs, women are fabulous. In groups, we can be poisonous.
Women often bite our tongues when we shouldn’t. We are often made to feel like our accomplishments and feats should be shared, but not too loudly.  We do a lot of backhanded complimenting.  We often say things we don’t mean and more often than not, we don’t say the things we should.  I was a student of my own mother’s shoddy examples – and as a mother of two girls, I often worry what kind of example I am setting for them.  I have amazing girlfriends. Women I would jump in front of a moving vehicle for, but I’ve recently found myself unable say simple things to some of them. Things like, “I’m sorry”, or “I should be around more often for you”, or even, “please, please quit talking about this subject before I take my fork and poke my eyes out”.  Instead, I listen and nod and offer what I believe to be kind words of support and encouragement.   I don’t know what this says about female relationships in general, but it says to me personally that I’ve been too busy or lazy to work very hard at mine.
My point in all of this is that women teach our daughters certain unspoken rules of womanhood and of female friendship.  It starts early…as in, I see it in my preschool class.  Girls are the first to pick a leader but are also the first to throw that leader under the bus when she says or does the wrong thing. It’s a wonder we ever make lasting friendships at all.  I thought about all of this while the boyfriend blogger was busy telling us her most recent addresses in 3 states and 2 countries; while her friends sat and nodded and sometimes threw in a tidbit of information to the story.  It was clear who the leader of their group was, and also clear that this was nothing new for them.  Think about this next time you are in a group of friends, or you see a group of women out in public.  Watch what happens, it will fascinate you and might even disgust you.  
This morning, as I was rehashing last night’s events with one of my girlfriends, she pointed out that despite the female dynamic, a person's success is often 10% ambition and 90% balls.  This blogger boyfriend girl had some giant balls and it’s probably what irritated and yet intrigued me about her, and it’s also probably why her stupid boyfriend blog is going to go viral and I’ll just be here blogging in my dirty sweatpants on Saturday nights.   


  1. This is why I pick and choose my friends and whom I want to hang out with wisely. I think sometimes the dynamics are more set as to wether or not the group is truly friends or just "more than acquaintances". I do bite my tongue and try to "tone myself down" when I'm around a group of women that aren't my true friends. With my true friends I can be as blunt, harsh, happy, sad, whatever and we all come through it. That is the difference, that is the weird. We don't trust everone so we act differently with those we don't trust. There can be a group of friends like Sex and the City, as long as everone is themselves and everyone comes from a friendly place in their criticisms.

    I bet boyfriend blogger girl has some big secret, like she's terrified of being alone that she hides behind her bravado...because she doesn't trust her friends.

  2. K: If I were a woman I'd want you as a friend.

  3. A friend will help a body move.
    A good friend will help you move a body.

  4. Bill, I'm also a good friend to boys. and dads.

  5. I'd love to have been there for that eye-opener blogger girl's little show & subsequent conversation. SO interesting, and SUCH a great post. I need to go reread b/c there were some things that seemed maybe a bit contradictory in there....Should we speak our minds & tell them to please shut it, or should we just nod & "be there" because that's what a person needs? IDK. I can't really chip in my 2 cents b/c I have never felt more let-down by some of my friends than I do now. After all the years of listening & time & money spent on phone calls & airline tickets even, they cannot return the favor. Apparently there is a statute of limitation on length of time for crisis.

    Relationships should be 50/50 but on a daily basis I think they run more like 40/60 depending on who's having the bigger crisis. And I think that's totally fair. But I will say I had THE most spectacular group of women back in Charleston (8 of us, plus the addons of a few others). I never imagined being able to have a group dynamic like that ESP with all of us JUST having had our first babies. (hormones) We are all SO different in every aspect - shape, size, parenting skills, income, interests, etc. And yes there are aspects about each person that annoyed me (annoyed each of us, I am sure!) but I do remember the JR HI feeling rearing it's head in me at one point and I just decided....Hell...these are WONDERFUL women, I learn so much from each one, and we support one another something fierce. So I just take the great aspects of each person & revel in those. No one is perfect. I've found that to be the key to my happiness with friends both men and women. And from then on, I pick & choose my friends more selectively. I would rather give a great deal to a small few than just a little bit to many. IDK. INteresting post, so well written, and I think you & dooce shoudl get together & hash this out!

  6. You know, re-reading this reminded me of a blog I used to stalk - its kind of stale - but it could be the same gal.

  7. Us guys have our flaws too, but I love being a "dude". My wife and I have had this conversation a few times, which she initiated. Guys just call the jerk out, make him feel like shit then share a beer and cigars.

  8. and while I keep bitching about it, I wouldn't trade womanhood for anything! guys are definitely more up front about stuff, but perhaps I prefer the drama!! :)