Girlfriend or Girl Friend?
I've mentioned "All the Single Ladies" by Rebecca Traister before. It's my favorite book I've read in a while, possibly one of the top five, because there are so many aspects of womanhood she touches on that, even in my early twenties, I feel I have already experienced.
My favorite of all is her dissection of the female-female relationship, and how women - maybe subconsciously - platonically date each other. It's true we all have closest and best friends who we've known a life time, but there is usually one who you choose as "your person", in the words of Sandra Oh from "Grey's Anatomy". You find your person and do everything you want together. Whether it's sitting on a couch or trying the latest restaurant, when you want to do something, you think "I want to do it with Cindy", or whoever the hell your person may be.
I remember my first girlfriend. It was senior year, I drove her to school everyday, and she was my inspiration for every photoshoot. We had similar interests but were always showing each other new things. We spent entire weekends together, snuck out together, and gave each other the hard truth when necessary. She was an individual and I think I must not have been ready for the level intensity in this kind of friendship.
When things became hard, we couldn't work it out and it was exactly like a breakup. It was heart wrenching and I was as emotional as I would be if it had been a romantic relationship. I couldn't believe the person I spent all day and night texting, planning, and scheduling around was no longer "my person". It was legitimately a girlfriend breakup.
Here I am, four years later, looking at my latest female relationship. It was a surprise, just like all intimate and close relationships are. I didn't expect it and I don't think she did either. I realized after multiple weekends together we weren't just friends, but something a little more serious. She is the first person I call out to when I walk into the apartment, we bring home food for us to share (sometimes I eat her share), and we plan nights on the couch together.
This kind of female dating is really not that uncommon. You see it in a lot of TV shows such as Broad City, Grey's Anatomy, and the always easy to point out Sex and the City. Women team up for more than just a weekly Sunday brunch, but to cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships. It's these kinds of relationships we all often forget about. It's easy to have a friend who knows everything about you, but for someone to truly know you and understand you beyond the facts of your existence is something completely different and very valuable.
Women need these relationships because it improves our view of other women, the way we treat one another, and how we approach all other relationships. The way I treat my girlfriend relationship in comparison to my actual relationship are very similar. I've found I'm much more attentive to listening rather than verbally competing for who can talk more. I tell the truth with much less sugar-coating. I patiently explain my side and actively try to understand their's. Having these similarities between two separate types of intimate relationships is the reason why my friendships now are so much more fulfilling.
I encourage all women to engage in this type of relationship. We all need a female friend who offers us the love and support of a significant other without all that stupid romantic stuff. Don't just find anyone, though. And don't try to make someone your "person", either. It will happen without you knowing - that's the best part.