The Interesting Thing About Female Friendships…

Do you have female friendships that just work and some that leave you wondering why you even bother? The interesting thing about female friendships is…what, exactly? 

Today kicks off the first in a 10-week series exploring the sometimes complex and interesting dynamics of female friendships. Each Thursday, I will feature some really great writers who will explore their own friendships and try to answer the very question I have posed to you. 

Up first: me! I’ve wanted to write something about female friendships for some time but didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. What came of this piece is far different than what I had imagined it would have looked like when I started on it. I had a real epiphany writing it and I hope you come to same conclusions after reading it.

The Interesting Thing About Female Friendships... |

I’m going way back…so settle in. In fifth grade, I had a friend named Charlotte. I was new at the school and she and I took quickly to each other. It was probably because we sat next to each other in the classroom. Wasn’t that how you made all your friends in grade school? It was easy then, right? By the middle of the school year, she decided that we were no longer going to be as close as we had become. She decided that she only wanted to be “Hi-Bye Friends.” I was devastated and confused because what the hell was a “Hi-Bye Friend” anyway? She wanted a casual friendship, one where you don’t hang out at recess or have sleepovers at each other’s houses but instead you exchange pleasantries as only fifth graders could.

That “Hi-Bye” status lasted a whole minute before we were back sitting together at the lunch tables and riding bikes after school. But I still carry that the sting of rejection I felt that afternoon on the playground.

Fast forward thirty years give or take.

I’ve got plenty of friends. Mom friends, cancer friends, college friends, high school friends, blogging friends, former workplace friends – hell, Charlotte and I are even still friends. With the exception of a close few, I have found myself with a lot of casual friendships – or “Hi-Bye Friends.”

Shasta Nelson, author of “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” suggests that we all value belonging. Simply, we want to fit in and have others care about us. She says that we need relationships beyond the casual friendships to satisfy that sense of belonging. She calls them Committed Friends and they look like the foursome from Sex and the City.

Yes. That. Please!

But, the interesting thing about female friendships is that they don’t have to be as complicated as I have been making them out to be. See, I have agonized for months about my widening my circle of Committed Friends. I didn’t realize until writing this that it’s not about the number of friendships in that circle but instead the quality of them.

Come back Thursday, June 5th as Tracy Jensen of It Builds Character explores what she finds interesting about female friendships.


  1. Love this! My friendships have changed dramatically over the last few years. My circle has definitely gotten smaller and I’m totally okay with that. I’m all for a smaller number of high quality relationships than a ton of meaningless ones that have run their course.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Oof, relationships that have run their course! That’s a whole different topic and one I could definitely write about. Thanks for commenting, Amber!

  2. What a great idea for a series, Wendy. Female friendships have always been difficult for me and I only have a handful of women I consider close girlfriends. I’m anxious to read others stories. Let me know if you need any more guests posts on this topic as I could write a book!

    • wendy nielsen says:

      But why are they so difficult? Do we make them difficult on ourselves? Are women difficult in general to have relationships with? I can’t drill down to the nitty gritty of it for some reason. Thoughts??

  3. This series is such a good idea. I am really looking forward to reading more. Your post reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, and Anne’s quest for find “kindred spirits” in her life – those extra special friends. It took me a long time to find those connections, but they were worth the wait.

  4. I feel like those connections come about when you least expect them. For example, who knew that you’d end up friends with the girl who stiffed you for a gift exchange once upon a time, right?

  5. Female friends……one of my biggest struggles all the way back to early childhood. I became a tomboy because that stuff was just too complicated and girls were too fickle. Now as an adult, I still struggle. I blame it on my screwed up childhood that left me with social anxiety issues. Also, they are still petty. I don’t want a pissing contest on who has a harder life or whose kid is smarter. I just want to share life.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Raising hand to social anxiety issues. And shouting AMEN to just sharing life. I love that! Thanks for commenting, Shannon!

  6. Quality over quantity! I had an issue with this for a long time. I had a lot of friends, but they were never around when things were bad, only during party times. I made the decision to shed those friendships and focus on the few close friends that were there rain or shine. It also made me a better friend cause I wasn’t spreading myself so thin! It has made life more simple, that’s for sure!

  7. Shifting from being close like sisters to being Hi-Bye friends is so painful when you don’t know why it happened. And I am talking as an adult. I was at a party tonight where a women I met said, “Aren’t you so and so’s friend?” I just stammered yes. We use to be such integral parts in each other’s lives and now nothing. It’s puzzling. Ellen

  8. I’m really interested to see how this series unfolds. What a great idea.

    And I totally agree with you about quality over quantity. I feel it’s much more important to have one really kick-ass friend who’s completely there for you, as opposed to 3 or 4 (or more) ‘fair-weathered” friends. I know from personal experience that in a crisis, you need the real thing by your side and if you have that, even if it’s just one person, count your lucky stars.

  9. I can’t wait to keep up with the series!

  10. It fascinates me that little girl friendships are as complicated as adult female friendships. And I love hearing your personal experiences, because it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my own friendship struggles.


  1. […] of friends. In case you missed it, I kicked off the first in a series of guest posts about the complexities of female friendships. I wrote late into the morning hours, editing and re-editing, and I still don’t feel like I […]

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