Huffington Post

'Girls' Night Out' Takes a Hit with the Economic Downturn

However and wherever you live, the effects of the economic downturn have been pervasive, leaving few of us unscathed. They're even affecting our friendships!


With the cost of entertainment, transportation and meals skyrocketing, there's a natural tendency to hunker down, cocoon at home, and reduce spending. "In times like this, everyone is looking for ways to save," says Jo Gartin, a celebrity party planner and author of Jo Gartin's Weddings. "For many, that means bringing entertaining inside the home."


See my blog post on the effects of the recession on Girls' Nights Out in The Huffington Post.


Five ways to unload a toxic friend

Contrary to the myth of best friends forever, many female friendships don't always turn out the way we hoped they would. The friend who is constantly making one-sided demands of you is one disappointing example.


When a close friend is always in need of one thing or another---money, favors, introductions, coddling, praise, or simply more time than you have to give---the relationship begins to grow weary. You feel like you're walking around with an emotional ball and chain around your ankle.


The term toxic friendship refers to a variety of relationships that are consistently negative and draining. The nature of these relationships is defined by patterns, not by one-time or occasional lapses in the reciprocity that is the essence of a healthy friendship.


Why would anyone put up with a friend like that? It, too, can be explained by the concept of reciprocity. Friendships continue when they are mutually satisfying---even if the relationship is toxic. Many women have a hard time extricating themselves from these relationships. These include:

• People who like to feel needed

• People who feel like they aren't worthy of healthier, more balanced relationships

• People who are stuck---either feeling angry or sorry for their needy friend


Get real: If your truly needy friend has been that way for some time, the real possibilities of changing the relationship verge on hopeless. Yet it's hard to find a way out. Here are some ways to unload:

1) Change the nature of your friendship by learning to say "no" and setting boundaries (e.g. "Even though we are both single, I don't want to spend every Friday night together" or "I can't have dinners with you after work because I need to get home to my family."')

2) Tell her that you have to tend to your own needs (or those of anyone else you can think of---your mother, your kid or your cat)

3) Slip away - Spend less time with her and add other less demanding friends to your inventory

4) Take a relationship sabbatical, a well-deserved hiatus from the friendship

5) If you've reached the point where you feel there is nothing really to lose, simply cut loose!


Get rid of the guilt. These are people whose needs can never be satiated. No matter what you give, what you do, how much, or how often, it will never be enough. Since character tends to endure, this person probably treats other people the same way she treats you. It's likely that many of her friends have probably already dropped out of the picture and that's why she is so dependent on you.


This blog entry also appeared on the Huffington Post


Female Friendships: Breaking News

I’m so excited that I’ve been asked to blog for the Living Section of the Huffington Post (AKA HuffPo or HuffPost). This popular weblog offers: syndicated columns, blogs, news stories and moderated comments to 5.7 million readers---talk about reach! I will continue to blog on and many of the entries that you read here will find their way to HuffPo too.

But now you will be able to register with the Huffington Post and get my blog entries delivered directly to your virtual mailbox whenever a new entry is posted (probably about once or twice a week). I hope you will sign up as a “fan” when you read this post by clicking the little red heart at the top of any of my HuffPo blog entries.

The topic of female friendships is of universal interest (even to men who don’t always understand us!) As you nurture the close relationships in your own life, I hope you will continue to help me think about all the dimensions of female friendships and how those rich bonds enhance our lives.

And don’t forget: Please leave your comments and post your questions here or on HuffPo so I stay relevant to your needs and interests.

To be continued…

February 29, 2008 - Make Time for Friends Day


I hereby proclaim February 29th, 2008 as the first Make Time for Friends Day. There are no commercial aspects to the day that you need to worry about. You don’t have to buy cards, send gifts or spend money. You have received the gift of extra time and are free to use it wisely. Let me suggest how:

At various times in our lives, we have more or less time and need for our female friends. Women who are single, divorced, widowed, or retired tend to have more discretionary time than women who are involved in marriage, child-rearing or heavily invested in their careers. Of course, most research looks at groups and talks about averages rather than individuals so these trends certainly don’t apply to every woman. There are many women who are married, raising their brood, or working---who are wise enough to make female friendships a priority in their lives.

However, looking at the trends, you might easily ask: How will women have any friends when they get divorced, become widowed, or decide to retire, if they don’t make efforts to maintain those friendships beforehand? You are absolutely correct in posing that question because research suggests that single women who forgo marriage are more likely to retain their close friendships over the long haul. In a recent post on her blog on the The Huffington Post, social psychologist Bella DePaulo and author of Singled Out states that based on scientific research on loneliness in later life, “…No group is likely to be less lonely in their senior years than women who have always been single.”

I think I have one answer to reconcile the gap for those at-risk: This year, 2008, is a leap or intercalary year. That means that an extra day has been added to the calendar, Friday the 29th, to synchronize the calendar year with the solar year.

This extra day is a perfect time for Make Time for Friends Day. All you very busy multi-tasking women (me among them), take out your Blackberry, Palm, or conventional paper daybook or calendar and give yourself that extra day, February 29th, to catch up with one or more female friends---old or new--- who you’ve not had time to be with.

Take the leap and do it now! Think about the significance of friendships to your well-being, physical, emotional, and spiritual---and give yourself the gift of time with friends. My suspicion is that you may decide that one day every four years isn’t enough---and that it may become a habit.

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