By KJ Combs
When I was a child, I was a loner by choice. That behavior stuck with me through most of my life. I prefer to stand back and observe humanity more than I desire to engage with others. Perhaps it is an innate shyness, or perhaps I am simply uneasy becoming deeply involved in the lives of others. Either way, I am still, in many ways, a loner.
Over the years, however, I have developed deep and abiding friendships with other women. I tend to not like women, simply because of the manipulative games they play, and I don’t have a great deal of patience with histrionics and emotional drama. But now and then, when everything falls into place, or, despite myself, I become friends with someone extraordinary. In time, that person becomes entrenched into my life and in my heart. The unique characteristics they exhibit begin to impact me, and how I think and feel. They set examples for me to follow, and they encourage me to be more than I think I am.
I am often surprised that I have friends, as I am rather blunt and forthright and fight emotional overload with practicality and sarcasm that tends to be either salty or cutting. In some strange way, that seems to endear me to those who decide I am worth having as a friend. Why they need me is a mystery to me, but why I need them is crystal clear to me.
I need friends because, like all humanity, I need love and I need someone to see that there is more to me than I am willing to work to elevate beyond mediocre. In short, I need someone to give me a hug and swift kick in the attitude when I need it most. I need friends to make me see the humor in my life, and the absurd in the overwhelming seriousness I project. I need them to help me laugh, cry, and think. And, most importantly, I need friends so I feel needed.
It isn’t rocket science, it isn’t a big psychological jump, nor is it some sort of amazing social realization; it is simply a human need for other humans. Sure, I have a husband and family, but there is something vital in having a female friend that I can turn to and dump all my angst, frustration, anger at life, and sheer exhaustion on who flat out ‘gets’ what I am talking about. I need someone with whom I share a history and with whom I can build a future. Women congregate around women for support, compassion, and understanding.
Take a look at any party situation. Eventually, women drift toward one another and end up in a room away from the men talking about things that only other women would understand, in a very female short hand language of words, gestures, and facial expressions. Men move into their own domain to do the same thing. Place a heterosexual male in a room full of women and he is immediately uncomfortable because he has no idea what the conversation is about, nor does he hear, see, or feel half of what is going on behind the words. He will fidget, clear his throat, and eventually wander off in sheer bewilderment.
It is that very communication that women need to feel the support of their fellow women. Granted, there are is number of ways we communicate distrust and dislike toward other women too, but if we are not playing games with each other, women build the strongest friendships that can last for decades.
We need friends because we need to be loved, needed, and supported. We also need to feel safe and secure with someone we can talk to about anything. Women nurture each other, and in doing so we make each other better, stronger, more functional people.