There's a lot more to this question than what meets the eye.
When I was a little girl, I had tons of friends, both boys and girls. But, as I grew up, finding female friends became much harder.
I'm aware that it's not just me. Finding good female friends is something almost every woman has struggled with at some point in time. It's so easy for us to relate on a surface level, but extremely hard to connect deep down. Why does that happen?
People have often declared patriarchy as the reason behind the lack of female friendships. While patriarchy-induced competition is certainly one reason, there are also many others that are usually never mentioned. So I've provided 7 of my reasons for why it is hard to make female friends.
1. ConformityPhoto by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Being a female often comes with a lot of labels. Clique culture in schools and universities often demands that you become a certain "type" of girl. Many times, not confirming to these molds is the equivalent to not having many female friends.
2. Ideological DifferencesPhoto by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
Our societies have become more polarized than ever. Political opinions and ideological differences tear people apart today more than ever before. No matter what side of the political spectrum you may be on (or apolitical), this is a big reason for the lack of female friends.
3. InsecurityPhoto by Nate Neelson on Unsplash
It's a very sad but well known truth that girls bring each other down more often than boys do. As a woman, myself, this has happened to me so many times that I've just stopped counting.
Social psychologists say that this happens because women have a higher tendency towards insecurity, which leads them to turn on each other in order to make themselves feel better. In the age of social media and external validation, this issue is even more rampant.
4. Lack of PastimesPhoto by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash
Now, this is a very funny one. A lot of my interactions with girls have been regarding makeup, looks, celebrities or men. Hanging out with them often meant gossiping or clubbing. And these days, when we meet up with our friends, we don't really spend time with them, do we? We're on our phones most of the time, if not all.
While these activities can be fun, they don't actually lead to deeper friendships. When it comes to topics for thought provoking discussions, hobbies, future plans, career goals and passion projects are good places to get started. Being there for your girl gang and experiencing things together by sharing vulnerable moments will do wonders for deepening your friendship. And, for heavens sake, get off the phone when you're with the girls and actually talk to them!
5. 'You Do You' CulturePhoto by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
These days people are hyper sensitive to any form of feedback. Every woman is unique, and she should be given the freedom to make choices that benefit her life. But, at the same time, it's important to let her know of the consequences so that she can make better and more informed choices.
Encouragement is important and necessary, but not for mistakes. The liberty to express concern and criticism is essential for a strong friendship. A good friend stops her friends from making harmful choices. When every selfish action of a woman is glorified with zero push back, it doesn't leave her with many caring friends.
6. Toxic FemininityPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash
This might be one of the biggest reasons behind the difficulties of finding female friends. Toxic femininity is shown in the form of harsh judgment, damaging gossip, bullying and toxic drama. It can also occur in the form of emotional manipulation and virgin/slut shaming.
Most girls have experienced some kind of toxic femininity at the hands of another girl at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, such incidents often traumatize women and prevent them from making friends with each other not only at the moment, but also in the future.
7. PatriarchyPhoto by chloe s. on Unsplash
Even though there are plenty of other reasons for the shortage of friendships among women, we'd be foolish to ignore the influence of patriarchy on female social dynamics. For a long time, women were constantly expected to be quiet and feminine without showing any form of aggression.
Even today, women are expected to compete with men and each other but without proper outlets to channel the turbulent side of their femininity. This has led to many women taking their frustrations out on each other, thereby preventing female friendships.