Contrary to the many myths that stereotype female friendships as catty, the truth is that they are far from that. The depth of sisterhood is not something you can put in words—those who have experienced it will tell you it feels like a warm hug, like a safety net, like an instant dose of happiness, and much more. Female friendships are wholesome and while we may have our differences, friends who are worthwhile put in the effort to get through all that, without damaging their connection.
The number of break-ups you survived because your besties were with you throughout, the times when you needed a cheer-me-up and your friends were there for you, the times when you needed tough love and your friend left no stone unturned to do so—our female friendships are nothing less than precious.
That said, did you know that the love we feel with our besties isn’t all about bringing joy into our lives but also about our well-being? Here’s how!
It helps us beat stress
We’ve heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, but a UCLA study says that women also ‘tend or befriend’ when they are exposed to triggers. Women in such situations feel the need to be with their female support system, which releases oxytocin and serotonin as a consequence, thus making them feel better. Are you still were wondering why a ladies' night out after work, each time the day vacuums the life out of you, feels so good? You meet your girl squad once and for the next few business days, your world doesn’t seem like it’s crashing into a pile of rubble.
It keeps us physically healthy
If female friendships could come in a bottle, it would beat paracetamol to become the most popular drug. There is enough scientific literature to support the fact that having a good set of female friendships is actually crucial to good health. For instance, a study says that women who have besties have a better survival rate when diagnosed with breast cancer. Studies also show that having a support group boosts your immunity. It’s not just apples, regular phone calls to your female friends can keep the doctor away, too!
Women are great at offering support
You know when you’re talking to your male friend, dad, or a romantic partner and they start offering advice? Well, science says that men have a natural tendency to offer advice when someone approaches them with a problem. That’s not a bad thing to do, except it’s safe to say that most of us had at least one fight with them because they were offering solutions when we just wanted support. Women, on the other hand, may give you advice but not without plenty of support, says a study.
We end up being more successful
A Harvard Business Review study found that women who had a strong group of friends were more likely to go on to occupy leadership positions. Is it because we hype each other so much? Is it because we build each other up? Or is it because we inspire each other? It could be because of all of this, and more. The point is, while you get yourself a great degree and a good job, having a female friend who has your back is an important step in breaking glass ceilings.
We feel less lonely
Loneliness is, as UCSF geriatrician Carla Perissinotto says, “the discrepancy between one’s desired relationships and one’s actual relationships”. Feelings of isolation can impair a person’s emotional control and function, often resulting in bad decisions, says research. With shared troubles and non-judgement, women tend to feel more comfortable confiding in each other. While several issues such as mental health, sexual desires, and other health issues are often stigmatised, not speaking about these can make us feel like we are alone in it. Only when our female friends come forward to share their vulnerabilities and feelings, do we realise that we have a rather large support system!
Here’s to cherishing our bonds with other women, and reaping all the wellness benefits they offer us!