Having close female friendships provides women with a sense of understanding, compassion and appreciation, according to Susan Shapiro Barash, an author and a professor of gender studies. Such friendships give women an outlet to share their problems, thoughts, feelings and triumphs with those they feel a close bond with. Female friends can act as a shield when things go wrong and are there to celebrate when their friends succeed.
Got Your Back
Although the reasons why the psychological benefits of female friendships are profound are not crystal clear, friendships seem to lower stress levels and assist women in navigating the ups and downs of life with better ease than those without strong social ties. For example, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, women with breast cancer were four times more likely to die from the cancer if they didn't have very many friends. Those with a larger group of friends had a much better survival rate. This beneficial effect of friendship was felt whether the friends lived near or far. An article published on the New York Times website states that women feel they can count on their friends to pull through for them no matter what they are struggling with in their lives.
Day or Night
Female friendships often provide help and support during times of crisis or distress as well as during day-to-day struggles. Friends can provide women with information or advice regarding issues that are causing them stress and anxiety. A strong network of female friends can help ease the burden during divorce, child rearing or the death of a loved one. The quality of these friendships seems to be a factor in how they affect women; casual friendships weren't as effective in combating daily stress as one close friendship is, according to the article, "The Magic of Friendship," published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Trust is an enormous factor when choosing whom to confide in. Women may have a circle of close female friends, but only share their deepest secrets with one or two of them. Women know when they divulge their secrets, fears and thoughts, like admitting to having an addiction or an extramarital affair, it can backfire. There is the chance of over-disclosure; their friends may pull away from them or their friends could use the information in a malicious manner, according to Barash. However, most women manage to trust their friends, continue to confide in them and remain hopeful that they are their secret-keepers.
Health and Vitality
Spending time with close friends can help to encourage healthy habits, boost self-esteem and decrease depression, according to the WebMD article, "Good Friends are Good for You." When faced with illness, women with close female ties seem to have less pain and less stress. Women with strong female friendships may also have less of a tendency to get sick in the first place. They may also feel more in control of their lives and if they do fall ill, they have an increased chance of recovery than those without strong bonds do, such as occurred in the study on breast cancer survival rates headed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
- WebMD: Good Friends Are Good For You
- The New York Times: What Are Friends For? A Longer Life
- North Carolina University Extension: The Magic of Friendship
- Psychology Today: Spilling Our Guts to Our Female Friends
- Journal of Clinical Oncology: Social Networks, Social Support, and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
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