A close-knit group of trusted friends is important for everyone’s health, but women, in particular, can benefit from their female friendships. To celebrate International Women’s Day, LYSN Psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada has explained five benefits of female friendships, and why it’s so important to maintain and nurture them.
“Most of us have been dumped, experienced pain or loss, or faced conflict in our lives. As humans, we tend to go through highs and lows and these experiences can be a little easier when we have girlfriends to support us. The truth is - having female friends is incredibly important for your mental health,” says Breanna.
1. Female friends can understand you in ways that men may not
“Although we are biologically alike, there are differences in the way different sexes can engage and react with situations. Without generalising too much, women tend to have nurturing, mothering qualities which can be empathetic and understanding when you need it the most. So, when you vent about work or your in-laws, another woman can be more empathetic, validate your reasoning and draw on their own personal experiences to relate back to you.”
2. Female friends can offer you a fresh perspective
“Although women have the love and support of our partners, a female friend can offer you a different perspective in times of need,” says Breanna. “For relationships, a female friend can act as an outsider looking in, giving honest advice that we may not always want to hear, but provides a different perspective that can positively influence our decisions. Female friends can also be great for your self-esteem. A good female friend won’t fat-shame you or let you fat-shame yourself, they will tell you why you deserve that promotion or why your partner should treat you better. After walking away from a conversation with a good female friend you should feel confident and supported.”
3. Female friends can be a voice of honesty
“Even if the honesty can come across as brutal, at least you know that you’re getting the absolute truth,” says Breanna. “Female friends can be your sounding board, someone who will listen to your ideas, thoughts and opinions and then tell you what they honestly think. Recent research suggests that our female friends know us better than our partners. They, therefore, know when you need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or a night out dancing and drinking cocktails!”
4. Female friends get better with age
“Good quality girlfriends are like fine red wines: they get better with age. Recent research actually tells us that the average female friendship lasts 16 years, which is 6 years longer than the average romantic relationship,” says Breanna. “Once we turn 55, our friendships on average last 23 years! Female friends can challenge us to try new things, act as mentors in our career and push us to excel in all areas of life.”
5. Female friendships can help us deal with stress
“Women and men biologically have differing responses to stress. Women who are stressed respond with a reaction called ‘tend and befriend’, which means they tend to nurture those around them and reach out to others, often other women,” says Breanna.
“Research has even shown that women have higher survival rates from breast cancer when they have strong friendships than those in social isolation.”
This article originally appeared on BHG.