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An Ode to Female Friendship

by Ava Razavi

art by Sophia Abati



The song “Intergalactic,” my beat-up 2015 Honda Civic, our local burger joint, the show Spamalot, and the matching jewelry that we bought on a girls’ trip to Portland, Oregon.  These are the most prized moments of my best friend and our relationship. Scattered all around our hometown, we have built our own story. 


Up until the day I met her my mind had been plagued by this societal pressure that women need to find romantic relationships to be complete. Then I met Cate. She was not my romantic relationship, but she was my soulmate. We had our own fun together, like kids left to their own devices in an empty house. Cate and I would make up songs with horrible dissonant melodies, we would play cards (I often let her win because, in all honesty, it was starting to get embarrassing how bad she was), we watched sit-coms, and laughed way too hard at mediocre jokes, and we talked about anything and everything. She grounded me in the way that we are told adulthood is supposed to, creating a sense of stability, responsibility, happiness, and trust in my life. 


I knew that this relationship was as strong as any I had ever had, stronger even. Our friendship was not as fickle as romantic love tends to be, breakable by the slightest insecurity or disconnect. Opposite of the way that romance seems to drain us, making us feel like we consistently have to be the perfect partner to hold onto our relationship, my friendship recharged me. I never pretended to be perfect in front of Cate, she knew all of my flaws and did not care. Never once did I fear that her knowing I could not spell the word “simultaneously” (thank you Grammarly), seeing my horrible charade performance, watching me cry after a hard day, or listening to me complain for the millionth time about a situation that I maybe could have taken partial accountability for, would drive her away. That kind of connection cannot be cast aside. 



As a woman I have always lived in a state of double consciousness, existing through other people’s eyes. Before I leave the house I check my outfit and make sure that traditional people would not find it too provocative or alternative. I try my best to remain “ladylike” but not “girly” in conversations with my superiors because I wouldn’t want them to think of me as someone who is ditzy but I also don’t want to come across as a power-hungry bulldozer. The is female brain conditioned to care indescribably deeply about what other people think of us, and we have been trained to do whatever we can to ensure their positive perspectives of us. In my female friendships, I find a pocket of peace from this constant awareness of judgment. We know how much these judgments hurt, and how tiring it is to live a life of double consciousness, so in turn, we choose to let the other be who they are. 


Aristotle spent a rather significant amount of his career arguing that platonic love is the highest form of connection, which goes against our contemporary view of romantic relationships taking precedence over platonic ones (1). He theorized that people only encounter a couple of true platonic relationships in their lifetime due to the time and level of connection and respect that they must achieve to reach the highest level of love. With this in mind, I think it is time that we place more value on our female friendships. How many times do you meet someone who can tell when you are having a bad day with just a glance from across the room? How lucky and rare is it to find someone who cares for you only to be there for you emotionally, without romantic or sexual undertones? 


And how much I care for my female friends. We spend hours talking about our challenges, never quite asking for a solution but always feeling at peace when our struggles are validated. There is actual science behind this phenomenon; scientists have found that female friendships release calming hormones that romantic relationships do not (2). We find tranquility in each other’s presence. 


This sense of calm allows us to open up to each other and inquire about things we have always been too scared to ask, creating a space of growth and learning. It was Cate who taught me what it meant to truly listen to someone in crisis, not forcing advice down their throat, but instead providing reassurance. She was the one who taught me to draw boundaries with others when I felt taken advantage of. Had she not been there for me, I am sure I would not be half the person I am today. 


We live in a world where sexual and romantic relationships are placed on a pedestal, and while they have their own benefits, that does not mean that there isn’t immense value in female friendships. In the words of Dolly Alderton, “Nearly everything I know about love, I've learnt from my long-term friendships with women (3).”


Notes

(1)  McCoy, Marina Berzins, 'Friendship and Moral Failure in Aristotle’s Ethics', Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford, 2013; online edn, Oxford Academic, 1 Jan. 2014), https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672783.003.0006, accessed 19 Oct. 2023.

(2) Marcus, Bonnie. “Hanging with Your Girlfriends Helps You Live Longer and Happier.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Feb. 2021, www.forbes.com/sites/bonniemarcus/2021/02/02/hanging-with-your-girlfriends-helps-you-live-longer-and-happier/?sh=48d586966973 

(3) Alderton, Dolly. Everything I Know about Love. Penguin Books, 2022.

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