When I was little my mom raised me to believe that you could only have one female best friend. She told me that women couldn’t get along in a dynamic greater than a pair scenario as we were too jealous and competitive. She taught me that I should always have one best friend at a time and be happy with that. Anything more was trouble. This was reaffirmed during the bullying I experienced in junior high when one by one, the girls I befriended would turn on me and attack in groups both physically and emotionally. It was a hellish time, and one that unfortunately was a large part of growing up and I dare say there are few people out there who do not have their own experiences with a bully or two. It made me leery of women, especially in groups. It took until my 30’s to hush the voice of “they are laughing behind your back” whenever I would go home after a girl’s night. That strong distrust that was cemented was difficult to over come.
As I came to recognize the reality of my female mis-education, I realized that I had actually compartmentalized my female friends and gave them titles so that they were no longer competing for that one prized spot of best friend. For example, my cousin was family, so she was more than a best friend. I had my childhood friend who was long distance so she was my oldest friend. I had the girl who I called my sister in high school and I had my 2 wives. Writing it out like this makes it seem so calculated and yet, each one of these titles came organically and played a major role in who I am today.
Having grown up with these preconceived notions, I knew I was not allowed to have a bunch of female friends for fear that we would always fight and compete with each other. And as I result I feel I missed out in one big way, I did not have the female on female exploration that media says you are supposed to in college or university. I had women around me, but I was incredibly selective of who I shared what with. And I felt I needed to spread my feelings and secrets around. No lady in my life knew everything about me. They instead each filled a very select role and place to ensure that they all were equals at the end of the day. If there is no head honcho of best friend then there is no person to rise above for supremacy, thus competition is eliminated.
Now I find myself a little unsure of where to categorize the women in the couples that we date. I don’t have a natural tendency for intimacy with them, but I do have curiosity if that makes any sense. Women tend to smell better, are softer, and have all these qualities for compassion that males do not. So I find myself asking time and time again, what do I do with the female female dynamic? Will this become a strong friendship, will this turn sexual. Where will the two of us find ourselves down the road and what name will I give her? Will she be a girlfriend? A partner? Or something more removed, like my partner’s partner?
I now firmly believe that female competition is a myth. One on one especially, woman want to help, to listen, and build a strong community, not fight or vie for supremacy. I wish younger me knew this, and had learned to forge better and stronger relationships with women. Perhaps though, I would still find myself in the same place, a little unsure, a little nervous, and of course excited to explore new relationships in their entirety.