Why We Close Ourselves Off To Friendships And How To Open Up

“If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.” ~Louise Hay

Picking the flimsy gold lock on my groovy denim-covered childhood diary, I’m instantly transported back to my ten-year-old life.

Each page duly describes what I what I ate for dinner that day as well as what my two best friends and I got up to. It was 1976 and we were obsessed with Charlie’s Angels, cruising around “undercover” on our bikes, solving fresh crimes around the neighborhood.

Every couple of weeks I’d report the latest drama amongst the three of us. Either my two friends had inexplicably turned against me, or one of them had coerced me into siding with them in a never-ending series of turmoil.

By the time we were teenagers, we’d drifted apart and I’d started struggling to form female friendships that weren’t fraught with gossip or backstabbing

When I got to university I’d firmly made up my mind that girls weren’t to be trusted and I only wanted guy friends. I made an exception for one girlfriend who felt the same, and we went on to be roommates, priding ourselves on our fun circle of male-only friends.

It’s fascinating to reflect on how belief systems are formed. The more I told myself this story of females being intrinsically bad news, the more I avoided getting close to any. As I grew into an adult, my theory was again proven as I got sucked into more dramas and gossip.

Once I got married, my husband became my best friend. He was never jealous of my male friends, and we enjoyed a great social life with other couples. However, after we started a family I found myself navigating fresh female waters: the mothers at the school gates!

I immediately sensed a minefield of gossip and competitiveness. I would have been easier to drop my kids off and go, but I had their social lives to think about too.

Thankfully, I got back into journaling around this time, and I used it as a way to get to know myself better. I explored my struggles on paper and tapped into my wiser, all-knowing self to discover that, for me, the secret to having great female friendships was to see special ones individually, never forming a group.

I turned down all invitations for ‘Girls Nights Out’ or weekends away, as that dynamic wasn’t appealing. I now had a small handful of genuinely lovely girlfriends whose company I cherished and who shared my values of trust and openness. I made a point of seeing them one-to-one and never introduced them to each other,…

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