Month of December , 2007

2008 – 8 Female Friendship Resolutions for the New Year

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It’s so easy to make resolutions and so hard to keep them. Every year, women resolve to lose weight, reduce stress, work smarter, and improve their relationships with family and friends.

I thought a little more specificity might help clarify my Friendship Resolutions (and yours) and make them more concrete and achievable. Here goes:

1) Get real

Don’t expect all of your friendships to last forever

2) Don’t settle for one BFF

Surround yourself with a number of synergistic relationships

3) Get rid of toxic friendships

If a friendship consistently drains you, brings you down, makes you nervous, or makes you angry, it is not worth keeping.

4) Don’t be a toxic friend

Don’t be too needy. Listen as much as you talk. Don’t expect any one friend to fulfill all your needs.

5) Reach back

There is no substitute for shared history. With the internet and low-cost cell phone calls, there’s no reason to not reconnect with significant friends from your past.

6) Prepare for your future

Continually work at making new friends. As we grow and mature, we need to replenish our stock to keep our friendships fresh and vital.

7) Don’t be threatened by the internet

Virtual friendships on MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn don’t undermine friendships. Rather, they can enhance old friendships and create new ones.

8) Just do it

There is no substitute for setting aside time for your friendships and the payoff is worthwhile. Don’t just talk about getting together. Mark you calendar.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Staying Alive

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What a wonderful milestone it is to reach a 95th birthday---but imagine the added pleasure of being able to share your cake with someone you’ve known for 90 years!

Edith Brook and Una Kilner were born two days apart in 1917, met on their first day of school at Longley Hall five years later, and have stayed connected ever since. Well, almost. There was a brief period when they lost touch with one another as they raised their respective families.

According to an article in today’s UK Telegraph, the two women have vowed never to let that happen again. The article quotes Mrs. Kilner: "We meet every fortnight to catch up. We always phone each other and we'll stick together through thick and thin."

Some say that the pair’s friendship is the oldest one across the pond.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Diana, has a memory like an elephant. I’m always amazed (and sometimes embarrassed) that she can recount vivid details of things that happened to the two of us several decades ago. She even remembers events I told her about that never directly involved her!

As we age, friendships become more dear---especially old ones. Knowing someone who knew you then is almost like taking a journey back to your youth. Friends can help us retrieve old memories and understand the characters and context of our lives better than anyone else.

 

Blood sisters: A contemporary look

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A recent article in the Beaufort (Georgia) Gazette caught my eye. Seems like the ancient rite of teenage girls becoming blood sisters isn’t exactly dead….although it almost turned deadly.

The news report told a tale of two drunken girls, ages 16 and 17, from Hilton Head, who tried “to consecrate their newfound friendship by becoming blood sisters.” One of them ended up in the local emergency room with a deep gash on her hand that was bleeding profusely. Apparently, the girls used a knife to seal the deal and “miscalculated.” With the threat of HIV and hepatitis these days, I wouldn’t recommend the practice even if they were sober!

Admittedly---In the days of innocence, before BFF necklaces and BFF bracelets, my buddy and next-door neighbor Anita Klansky and I wanted to signal our status as best friends. I was an only-child at the time and Anita only had a brother. So one day after school, we borrowed a needle from my mom’s sewing basket and each pricked our pointer fingers. Then we pressed the tips with traces of bright red blood up against one another and promised to be blood sisters forever. We were---until Anita’s dad got a job out-of-state a few years later and she moved away.

The rite is somewhat akin to its male counterpart, blood brothers: Two males, unrelated by birth, who swear loyalty to one another in a blood oath that involves the co-mingling of blood. The roots of the blood oath can be traced back to a Norse myth called Orvar-Odd’s saga, which also later was adopted in different forms by Asian and Native American tribal cultures.

WikiHow prescribes a more contemporary and non-invasive approach to the ritual for young girls:

  1. Decide your soul color (the color that matches your personality).
  2. Buy markers that are similar (or the same) as your soul color.
  3. Quickly mark your finger with your soul color.
  4. Have your soon-to-be sis color her finger with her soul color.
  5. Press fingers together and say "I pledge to be your sister forevermore".

Another alternative for grown-up women as we herald in the New Year: Invite your Bestie (or Besties) to share a champagne toast and tell her how much her friendship means to you.

 

 

2007: The Year of BFF

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If you ask me, 2007 was the year that the term Best Friends Forever (BFF) was so over-used and inappropriately-used by the media that its meaning became trivialized and misunderstood.

A few memorable examples:

Hillary Clinton and Katie Couric were labeled BFFs on the basis of posing for a photograph together at a fundraiser for children’s mental health. (See my earlier blog entry)

Onstar and General Motors were declared former BFFs because GM introduced Bluetooth to its line of cars

Parents who bought their children tickets to the Hannah Montana concert in Cincinnatti were called BFFs

A column headline by NY Times opinion columnist Gail Collins called presidential-candidate Rudy and his infamous friend Bernie BFFs

An unforgettable and over-played commercial for Cingular cell phones mocked the iconic term, showed a granny named Rose texting her BFF.

A Spongebob episode showed Spongebob and Patrick pledging to be BFFs

A quick peek on Amazon lists board books, craft books, and Holly Hobbie paperbacks--all named BFF---aimed at little girls as young as four-years-old!

Here are my suggestions for bringing restored meaning and legitimacy to the term in 2008:

  • Don’t use BFF when you speak about inanimate objects or corporations [unless you are using proper acronyms for the Bhubaneswar Film Festival (BFF) or the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF)]
  • Don’t inappropriately use the term BFF to convey exclusivity. You can actually have more than one BFF and many women do.
  • Be careful using BFF with little girls. Little girls are more likely to have a best friend of the moment. As women age, their commitment to their BFFs becomes stronger.
  • Little girls and big ones need to realize that most friendships aren’t always forever. Even a close friendship that feels like a BFF today is likely to be fleeting more often than not.

Everyone has a best friend during each stage of life but only a precious few have the same one. – Author unknown

May you find and nurture warm and close female friendships in 2008 and may some of them turn into long-lasting ones!

 

Waitress: Best Female Friendship Flick of 2007

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The entertainment website Buzz Sugar named the movie Waitress the best female friendship flick of 2007. The movie depicts the friendships of three waitresses at Joe’s Diner played by Adrienne Shelly, Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines

The quirky movie was also written and directed by Shelly, who was brutally murdered before the film’s release. Many critics say it would have been her breakout film. Waitress was released on DVD on November 27th.

One legacy of her death is the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping female filmmakers and in loving memory to the uniquely gifted actress and filmmaker after whom it is named.

Film, theatre and television portrayals of female friendships help us better understand ourselves, our friends, and our relationships.

 

Facebook fast becoming a laboratory for the study of friendships

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An article by Stephanie Rosenbloom in yesterday’s New York Times, On Facebook, Scholars Link Up with Data, explains how the popular social networking site is increasingly being used by academic researchers to study friendships.

Rosenbloom quotes Nicholas Christakis, a Harvard sociology professor: “Our predecessors could only dream of the kind of data we now have.” While there are legitimate concerns that some of the 58 million Facebook users may not know their habits and preferences are being tracked, never before have social scientists had such a fertile source of information to mine on the nature of our friendships.

As one example, the article mentions that researchers at Harvard and UCLA are using Facebook to examine the concept of triadic closure: whether your friends are friends of one another. Although the phenomenon was first described by a sociologist named Georg Simmel as long as a century ago, there were few empirical studies. Using Facebook as a laboratory, social scientists are studying triadic closure---which one day may shed light on the exclusionary social cliques that draw circles keeping some people in and others out.

Given the importance of friendship in our lives, used well, Facebook and other such social networking sites could potentially yield important information on how to build and sustain healthy relationships.

 

Staying Connected: Whereboutz lets u no where yur besties r

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What will they think of next?

Want your besties to know where you are---wherever you are? Interested in their whereabouts? Then download Whereboutz, a new free Facebook application by Telenav that adds legs to the Status Update that appears on your profile. It can also be downloaded to 100 different cell phones.

Whereboutz lets you type in your location on an interactive map and add a note telling what you’re up to. When your friend does the same, you can use a yellow-pages-type search function to help you figure out where to meet. If you can’t meet up in person, at least you can ruefully visualize the distance between you on a map and better understand how geography creates miles between even the best of friends..

Oh, one more opportunity for connecting: If you’re already on Facebook, you know about “pokes”---well, if your friend hasn‘t updated her status in a while, there is a gentle Whereboutz “nudge” function to remind her.

For more information and to sign up, visit www.whereboutz.com.

 

Hillary + Katie = BFF?

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Use of the term BFF (Best Friends Forever) is becoming ubiquitous. The new online gossip page of the New York Post recently captured a picture of Hillary and Katie (no last names required) when both of them attended a children’s mental health benefit for the NYU Child Study Center held in New York City earlier this week. The Post headline read: Hillary + Katie = BFF.

I have no knowledge about their relationship but I can virtually guarantee that these two bright, accomplished women aren’t best friends---nor are they BFFs. People, not only the media, use the term so loosely that it has become meaningless. Generally, the term BFF implies a special type of connection between two or more women that is enduring. Does that even exist? Not often.


While there isn't a universally agreed upon definition of a bestie, sociologist and friendship expert Dr. Lillian Rubin (author of Just Friends: The Role of Friendship in Our Lives (Harper & Row, 1985) explains that a best friend is someone who embodies “the best of all the important relationships in our lives---kin, mate, and friend.” It is someone whom we trust, on whom we can depend, and with whom we can share our innermost fears and foibles. Do Hillary and Katie share that emotional connection? Give me a station break.

In terms of longevity, a snapshot of a news anchor and Presidential candidate smiling together captures a point in time and doesn’t necessarily speak volumes for the future of their relationship. I really would have liked the headline to read---Hillary and Katie: Two Great Friends of Children’s Mental Health!

 

Twenty Questions: Spotting a Toxic Friendship

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While most friendships have their highs and lows, toxic ones are characterized by consistent patterns of negativity.

Yet, the signs of a toxic friendship aren’t always obvious. Women tend to overlook, forgive, and forget to keep up our friendships---but here are some ways to determine if one of your friendships may be bad for you, either mentally, physically, or both. Ask yourself:

  1. Does scheduling time to see your friend feel like an obligation rather than a pleasure?
  2. Do you ever feel trapped when you are together?
  3. Do you feel tense in her presence?
  4. Does she often show off at your expense?
  5. Is she never reliably there when you need her?
  6. Is she self-centered, sneaky, deceitful, or disloyal?
  7. Does she have habitually bad judgment? 
  8. Are you giving more than you’re getting?
  9. Does the relationship feel out-of-sync?
  10. Do you feel emotionally drained when you are with her?
  11. Do you come away from her feeling depressed?
  12. When you talk, does it feel like she isn’t listening or just doesn’t get it?
  13. Do you dread her phone calls?
  14. Do you hate when you see her screen name online when you look at your buddy list?
  15. Are her emails too long to read?
  16. Does she always choose to spend her time with men, over you, given the opportunity?
  17. Has she flirted with the man in your life?
  18. Has she done anything to undermine your position at work?
  19. Can you trust her to keep your confidences?
  20. Has she betrayed you?