female friends

Till Kids Do Us Part: A BabyCenter.com interview on pregnancy, motherhood and friendship


Every passage of a woman’s life poses unique challenges to her friendships—but pregnancy and motherhood are among the most risky. Pregnant women are notoriously self-centered and moody, traits that can be off-putting even to people who love them.

Also, motherhood is such a huge time-sucker that it greatly reduces (and sometimes eliminates) opportunities to spend relaxed time with friends (or to shave your legs, tweeze your eyebrows, or bathe). Finally, another reason why motherhood can wreck a close friendship: Mothers fall hopelessly in love with their newborns, leaving little emotional space for other people in their lives.

Yet, the value of friendships during every phase of life, especially during pregnancy and motherhood, can’t be measured. Solid friendships provide new moms and moms-to-be with confidence, advice, support and pleasure.

This is why I was delighted to speak with Kristina Sauerwein, who blogs on BabyCenter.com. The name of her Momformation Blog, Balancing Acts, aptly characterizes the life of any new mother who recognizes that she has never juggled quite as many balls as she does now.

The first part of the recently posted interview is called You Were Close Friends and Then You Had Kids.

The second part of the BabyCenter.com interview is entitled, Should You Break Up with Your Friend?

If you are interested in this subject, you may want to glance at a couple of previous related posts on my blog: New Kid on the Block: Mastering the Motherhood-Friendship Mix and Motherhood is a Friendship Killer.

Are you a new mom or mom-to-be with questions or dilemmas about a friendship? Write to me at irene@fracturedfriendships.com and I'll try to answer all of them. 



Friendship and Money: She's fired, you're not


Any major life change--including an unexpected job loss or other threat to economic security--can increase the risk of a once-close friendship falling apart. As such, the global recession is challenging untold numbers of female friendships. In the first of a two-part series, I interviewed journalist Emma Johnson, who covers money and finance topics for MSN.com and other national publications, to find out her thoughts on this topic:


In the current economic climate, where job loss is rife, how can getting a pink slip or being furloughed challenge friendships?

Women can be very competitive with each other. Traditionally women have competed for male attention and loyalty. The species depended upon it. The more women's sexual partners were loyal to them, the better off the women and their children would be since men were the breadwinners and women had few economic opportunities.

But the game is different today. We compete in other areas of our lives, including professionally. Even if we aren't in direct professional competition with our girlfriends, that rivalry can still be there. Of course it isn't always the case, but it often is, and worst of all, most of the time we don't realize it.

So if two friends are engaged in even a friendly contest about who's ahead in her career, a layoff can give the other woman the edge in this unspoken game. That can create resentment from the unemployed party--who is already distraught about her new economic situation.


How can women minimize the risk of losing their friendships if one friend is spiraling downward economically?

I'm a big fan of talking it out, though all the psychology experts don't agree with that. If the employed friend can say, "I'm so sorry you are going through this. What can I do to be supportive?" Then, give her friend some time to think about what she needs; that can go a long way. Likewise, the unemployed friend might need to talk to her friend and say, "I'm really worried about money right now. Would you mind if we find some less expensive ways to spend time together until I get back on my feet?"

There are other things to think about. Unemployment and financial worries are top factors in stress, sleep loss and depression, which can take a big toll on one's overall well-being, including their relationships. If everyone is aware of the realities of the situation, tough times can strengthen friendships. But the working friend needs to be willing to be supportive, and sometimes the friend in the tough situation needs to allow themselves to be vulnerable and cared for.

To be continued...

Emma Johnson is a New York journalist who writes about business, finance and money topics for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Psychology Today. Her series on MSN  Money, "Jump Start Your Life," explores money topics for people in their 20s and 30s. 

*A version of this post appears on The Huffington Post



She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy


He's Just Not That Into You decodes the rules of heterosexual dating. But the relationship between girlfriends can be just as powerful, irritating, and unfathomable as any relationship with a guy. Here are my six ways for women to recognize when "she's just not that into you."

Read my latest post on HuffPo, SHE's Just Not That into You



A "good enough" friend


Dear Dr. Levine,

I recently got into a fight with a girl named Linda, whom I considered my best friend. She said I was never a "good enough" friend for her, and I told her that I thought I couldn't be her friend because she was spreading gossip about me.

We both agreed that it would be better if we just tried not being friends for a while, but now I'm sad because I don't have my best friend to talk to. Is there a way I could still patch up our friendship?



Dear Ariel,

All friendships have their peaks and valleys and when times are rough, even the best of friends may say things that are mean, even if they don’t mean them. However, before you decide to patch up your friendship, you need to think about whether you miss your best friend Linda or you miss having a best friend.

If you decide that you really miss Linda, you need to open a dialogue with her about what happened and how it can be resolved. Depending on what feels most comfortable, you can call, email, or text her and tell her how you are feeling (I prefer email because you are less likely to catch the other person off-guard). If she is open to you, this may not only be an opportunity to patch up but to strengthen your friendship.

If she doesn’t respond or, after you make this overture, she still maintains that you aren’t a “good enough” friend for her, you have to accept her decision and find another best friend who appreciates you as much as you appreciate her. Good friends need to value one another.

Let us know what happens!

My best,

Lipstick Jungle premiere offers a teachable friendship moment


Last night’s second season premiere of Lipstick Jungle on NBC, called Pandora’s Box, offers women a teachable friendship moment. We learn that Nico (Kim Raver) is plagued with guilt over her affair with her young stud, Kirby, and is desperate to save her marriage.


She tells her husband Charles (Christopher Cousins) about her indiscretion with her young stud, Kirby, only to later find out that Charles was having a long-term affair with one of his students, Megan, who has become pregnant. Within 24 hours, Charles dies unexpectedly in a hospital recovery room after double-bypass surgery. Nico is left shaken, with a mélange of conflicted feelings, and has to hastily arrange his funeral.


Clearly distraught, Nico is surrounded and supported by her best friends, Wendy (Brooke Shields) and Victory (Lindsay Price) and one of them asks her:  “Is there anyone here from your family?” Even though there was no one, we know that Nico will be okay because she her friends are beside her. 

Everyone isn’t fortunate enough to have the types of family ties or family members they wish they had. But we are able to make and choose our friends.


Reader Q&A: Self-centered friends with hefty needs


One of the most popular posts on my blog has been one on the topic of needy friends. An anonymous poster recently wrote about her “friend,” whom her husband labels as an “emotional vampire” who is sucking away all her energy. Read on…


Dear Irene,

This site has been a real help to me. As a woman I think we gear ourselves to try and help those around us. I am in the middle of a relationship with a 'needy' friend.

Her husband is never good enough (tho he tries!) Always yelling at her children (tho they try!) and complaining to me all the while. The kind of person who ALWAYS asks for some sort of favor when you see them, childcare, to borrow stuff etc.. She asked if she could store around 2 bags of yarn in my garage and showed up with twenty 30-gallon garbage bags full.

It's causing stress between my husband and myself (we typically have a great relationship) and my children. If I don't answer her phone calls (there are MANY during the day) she usually shows up at my house. My husband calls her an emotional vampire who is sucking all my energy away. I have started saying no to her (the last favor she asked of me, when I said I didn't have time she started to yell!) but I stuck to it and will try to continue to do so. It's hard though- because I have to see her at the kids school- but I just need to stay strong and do what's best for my family first.




You haven’t expressed anything positive about your friendship with her but even assuming there is, it sounds like you need to set some boundaries and stick to them! It's great that you recognize your own priorities and there's nothing wrong with telling her that you like your privacy and feel uncomfortable when anyone pops in unexpected. Multiple phone calls are too much if you feel like they are too much.

I understand the potential discomfort of bumping into her at your kids' school but if you handle it calmly and graciously, without attacking or blaming her, you'll establish some needed distance. On the other hand, she sounds so self-centered that she might not even notice the change in her relationship with you and will decide to pounce on easier prey.

Good luck and let us know what happens.




Reader Q&A: Achieving closure after being dumped by a friend at work




Dear Irene,

I’ve read many of your posts regarding the breakup of female friendships and I am going thru one myself as we speak. Anna and I met two years ago at graduate school. A little over a year ago, I helped get her a job at my company and we become inseparable. We did everything together from going to dinner, the movies, and jogging at the park. Also, we spent a lot of time texting and instant messaging everyday at work.  

About three months ago, Anna had met a new friend, "Lisa," and I felt replaced. Little by little, I felt pushed aside and believe that Lisa had put a rift in the friendship between Anna and me. All of the sudden, Anna and I spent less and less time together as she made for time for Lisa. The two of them would go bar hopping, swimming, and yoga together...all of the activities that I do not enjoy but Anna likes.

So, one day after I dropped Anna off home from lunch, I texted her saying that maybe we should give our friendship a break because she and I have gotten into many small arguments within the last couple of months. I said that friendship is a two-way street and I was tired of working doing all of the work. So, she texted me back saying, "Fine and take care."

The next day, I felt badly about what I said and texted Anna saying that I was very sorry and hope that she could forgive for the angry outburst. Anna texted back saying, "There is no need for you to be sorry.” She was and had always been a b$$ch to me. She said that I needed a friend that could be there for me constantly, someone to listen to me, and someone to keep me company." Anna said that she feels badly but she cannot be that kind of friend to me and for me to take care. However, she still would like to be a work acquaintance. Nevertheless, this took place over 6 weeks ago and Anna and I have not spoken since. We often avoid each other at the office because things feel so awkward.

I’ve texted Anna several times since then, asking for a face-to-face meeting. I told her that I have and will always continue to value her friendship and would like to work things out with her. Last week, she answered back saying that our friendship just doesn’t work anymore and for me to move on with my life. She said that she has nothing to say to me. 

However, despite her response, I still feel the need to have one last face-to-face meeting. The break-up of our friendship clearly had more to do than just that one text and I want real closure. So, should I try to reach out to Anna one last time or should I just let her go? Seeing her every day at work and not speaking to one another makes it very painful for me.  I still want to reconnect with her and be friends once more.




Hi Marcie:

What a painful and difficult situation! In addition to losing a close friend with whom you once spent a lot of time, you still have to face her (and her new best friend) at work. That really has to hurt!

You are correct---the friendship didn’t break up solely because of the text message (although texting generally isn’t a good way to handle sensitive discussions, as I’m sure you are now aware). But you were already seeing red flags that something was wrong: You were arguing with each other more and she was choosing to spend her time with Lisa rather than you. If Anna had wanted to, she could have brought you into their circle. She chose not to without any explanation or apology, even when pressed for one.

It’s infuriating when a decision to end a friendship is unilateral---and you aren’t the one who makes the decision. It is natural to feel hurt and angry, and to want some closure. Unfortunately, it looks like Anna isn’t ready to talk or discuss what happened. Anna may be more close-mouthed than you, in general, and have less of an interest in intimate relationships than you do. Whatever the reasons, she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to talk about your split and while you may have been close at one time, given what has happened, it doesn’t appear like you will be able to get over this rift.

You definitely need to back off at this point and involve yourself with other friends at work and outside work. There may be some truth to Anna’s accusation that you are too needy or perhaps you are only too needy for her. You need to dig deep into yourself and think about what you asked of Anna in the past to determine whether you need to set boundaries for your future friendships.

You will be able to achieve closure when you assume control of your circumstances. When you accept that the relationship is over, you’ll feel better about the situation and about yourself. As brutal as it sounds, this isn’t the first time a good friend has been dumped and won’t be the last. You deserve someone who will appreciate your kindness and sincerity, and whose personality and interests are in better balance with yours.

Focus on your work and maintaining a professional demeanor in the office. And try to forget about Anna’s relationship with Lisa: that will probably become history, too. It’s going to take some time but I promise, you will get over this trauma.

Let us know how it goes.

My best,



2008 – 8 Female Friendship Resolutions for the New Year


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.



FriendFeed: A virtual glass house


If you have a Facebook page, you’re familiar with the News Feed function that helps friends stay abreast of each other’s Facebook activities. When I saw that one of my friends had joined Journalists and Facebook, I took a look at the group and signed up too. When I saw the Friend Wheel application another friend added, I decided to do the same. And so it goes.

Each time I sign on to Facebook, I still look at what everyone is up to but I wonder whether it’s worth my time given that some of my virtual “friends” and their interests are pretty peripheral to my life...

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