1. Never telling you “TMI.”
Remember when you first got your period and you were terrified that somehow everyone knew? And you were worried about buying pads or tampons and being seen carrying them to the bathroom and GOD FORBID anyone overheard you even saying the word? Remember when you realized that all of that discretion flew out the window with your girlfriends? With them you have complete freedom from boundaries! Literally nothing (OK, close to nothing) will shock or scandalize them because chances are they’ve experienced something like it.
You sneezed on your period and ruined your new underwear? Ugh, tell me about it. You’re sore this morning because your date last night was acting like she was digging for treasure up there? The worst. A beautiful and brilliant friend of mine regularly takes pictures of her shit and sends them to me with commentary, which is definitely gross, but also hilarious. Women’s bodies are “wonderlands,” sure, but they’re also bodies. Messy, stinky, complicated bodies. And you know who really gets that? Other women.
2. Lending you things.
This is NOT to say that you cannot borrow a number of great items from your guy friends, should they be so willing, but the things you can borrow from your female friends are multitudinous, mysterious treasures. There are things you can put on your face that I just would not have ever dreamed possible, were it not for digging through my friends’ makeup bags. Even if you’d never buy it for yourself, or wear it in public, your female friends are likely to own a number of things you’ll want to try on/watch/play with/put in your hair. So fine, a lot of times this comes down to bobby pins.
3. Really good impressions of your exes.
There is a meetup you’ll have with a friend some time after breaking up with someone (not RIGHT away but long enough to get you into the anger phase) at which she will, without warning, produce an impression of your ex so pointed and so sharp that you’ll wonder why she didn’t just tell you sooner. You will likely first be shocked, and then you won’t be able to stop laughing. For girls who date guys, there is the added enjoyment of the way your female friends will lower their voices and tilt their jaws downward in order to approximate the male tone. Guys cannot do this for you; they already sound like guys.
4. Telling you EXACTLY what that text message REALLY means.
Anecdotally: Once a friend of mine got a text message from a guy she’d been seeing, and she found it confusing, so during work that day, she invited any woman who walked by her cubicle in to look at it, hear a little backstory, and then tell her what they thought the text message meant. Not a single one of them acted like this was a weird or tedious request. Not a single one of them reluctantly took the phone only to say, “I don’t know, weird. Who knows.” They PORED over word choice and punctuation. As one should.
5. Accepting your sweeping generalizations when necessary.
None of us (or almost none of us) think that all men are same, comprehensible only in gender essentialist stereotypes, working and thinking together as one, like those little alien squeeze toys in Toy Story or something. HOWEVER. Sometimes, when you’re mad or frustrated or upset, you want to be able to say something very dramatic and largely implausible out loud, something built on this formula: “All/no guys are _____.” Maybe it’ll be something like, “No guy in the history of humankind has ever known how to send a decent text message, at all.” Your female friends won’t take this personally. They will probably nod and say, “I know.”
6. Reading your mind.
You know when you’re in a bar, and a guy is hitting on your friend, and she isn’t interested in him but she’s also very warm and polite as a person, so she’s responding kindly to him, but with one of her eyeballs she is communicating full paragraphs to you about how much she hates what is happening? And that way YOU can respond to her, also silently, about what it is she needs you to do, so you can act accordingly? And she (again, silently) is like, “Let’s pretend we have to pee,” so you (only then, out loud) tell her to go with you to the bathroom? I love that.
7. Noticing just how great you look.
You know that idea that women don’t dress for men, they dress for other women? Well No. 1, no, let’s all acknowledge that most women dress for themselves. With that said: Women are the ones most likely to get a kick out of what other women are wearing. They know these looks don’t just happen. There’s intention behind them, whether in the decision to try a new color palette from MAC or to finally toss makeup aside altogether. Your girlfriends notice it and love it and probably won’t be quiet about it.
8. Delivering the brutal truth.
There’s a specific kind of tough love that a woman gets only from her female friends, maybe because there’s no inclination for any woman to go easy on another just because they’re women. This isn’t to say that all guys treat women like delicate flowers! (Sometimes they treat women like flowers who are really smart and strong, for flowers.) But it’s your girlfriends who understand what it’s like to be a woman trying to get ahead — in your education, career, relationship, life — and they’re the ones who can give you the constructive, respectful, and, at times, painfully honest criticism to help you get there. Theirs is often the only criticism you care about, anyway.
9. Just *GETTING* you.
The reason the aforementioned tough love is so valuable is because it comes from a basic level of empathy. Your girlfriends get it. They get that you’re irritable because some dude on the subway wouldn’t stop chatting you up even though you had your head buried in your book. They get that sometimes you’re just interested in casual hookups with lots of different people. They get that you really want to be exclusive with the person you’ve been dating but you also don’t want to seem needy but then on top of that you feel guilty about not wanting to seem needy because you’re a strong woman goddammit. I mean, it’s fucking exhausting. Your girlfriends are like a deep, calming breath.