Staying clear of the debate of whether men and women can be friends worked for a time. But fence-sitting all the time is simply copping out of facing the reality that men and women can never be friends. I’ve always been a strident advocate of platonic friendships but recent personal experiences as well as stories from friends have been challenging my stand aggressively. And I’m caving in now to the argument that men and women can’t be friends unless the men are gay, babies (literally) or are enlightened beings, which is a rarity.
Girlfriends – the real ones – stay. The ones who moonlight as girlfriends leave within a period of time because, among other reasons, they’ve already taken what they came for and you’re no longer of any use. I’ve had my share of these pseudo-girlfriends who, for one reason or the other, flitted in and out of my life. One, for instance, just said goodbye through an e-mail while another just conveniently forgot I existed. No love lost there – I just chalked it up to experiences of traversing life’s vicissitudes. As for my real girlfriends, there are some that I haven’t been in touch with regularly because of geographical differences – some are in Europe and North America – and priorities (some are busy with married life, parenthood and careers). I don’t begrudge them not keeping in touch often, remembering my mum’s words that friendship is a cycle thus I know somehow somewhere we’ll be in touch again.
I’ve been fortunate to be in touch with my current gal pals and there’s nothing like going away on an all-girl weekend trip like, say, to Bali. Against the calm bucolic landscape of the Island of the Gods, you know you have someone to talk to and the story-telling sessions can reach up to the wee hours of the morning. Conversely, if you don’t feel like talking you don’t have to say a word to stay the dead air. Friendship, after all, isn’t a yakking competition. Counting calories is also not part of the deal either and no one is going to remind you to keep off the cookies or instant noodles.
There is strength in sisterhood that some fail to see. It’s not about what good you can get out of the friendship in sisterhood. It’s all about understanding without patronizing each other; it’s about commiserating and drawing strength from each other to face the unpredictable tides of the universe.
Girlfriends stay like family while others leave.