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Please can I join your sisterhood?
May 2, 2014 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm pretty uncomfortable bonding with girls - are there any rules or tips or unspoken etiquette that I should be aware of?

I have a few female friends but it seems like most of my friends are guys, and I think that's because I'm more natural hanging out with guys than with girls. With girls I just feel like there are all these rules I'm not aware of and I just feel way more self-conscious and stiff. And like I make too many jokes or don't share their sense of humour. But if I am my normal self around girls I feel kind of too manly and a bit out of place.

I want more female friends and I haven't been in a girl group for a few years but it was such a nourishing part of my life. Do you guys have any tips for bonding with girls or becoming part of a girl friendship group? Thanks!
posted by dinosaurprincess to Human Relations (33 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Talk about guys. Especially legitimately creepy guys, which almost all women will have some experience with. Nothing creates a bond of friendship faster than a mutual enemy!

I knew my new friend was a good friend when she steered me out of the way and then fended off creepy grinding dudes on the dance floor for me.
posted by quincunx at 4:47 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Not all females are cut from the same cloth. Find other women made from your "cloth" and it won't be an effort to bond. You can start by getting involved in activities you really enjoy and finding other women who also enjoy the same things. Then be yourself and invite someone you find you click with to have coffee or lunch.
posted by cecic at 4:49 PM on May 2 [32 favorites]


You need to find friends like yourself. There is no typical "girls" or "guys." I'm generally friends with more guys (as a woman) because I'm into nerdy stuff, gaming, sci fi, and I curse like a sailor. BUT there are other girls like me, too!

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I think you need to NOT be trying to hang out with girls that you think you need to learn "rules" for. That doesn't sound like a fun friendship. Plus, it doesn't sound like the type of girls you'd be friends with anyway.

Be friends with people who are into the same stuff you are, regardless of gender. I understand wanting more female friends, since it's hard to bitch about your SO or high heels with a dude, but you still need to find women who have more in common with you.

Just try to find women who have something in common with you. What girly things do you like? Shopping? Makeup? Bitching about how guys don't clean up after themselves? (Because.. come on, you can wipe your beard shavings off the sink?)

That's how you find women friends. Just having stuff in common that you can talk about.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:49 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


You may just be trying to hang out with the "wrong" girls (for you). Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can find an activity group, meetup.com group, lecture series, etc. for? I do a lot better (and have much more fun) when I'm with women I can have free-ranging intellectual discussions with, or pursue similiar activities together--if it's just "hanging out and eating and going to clubs and talking about relationships" and not much beyond that to focus on, I flounder and get bored (or miss out on spotting women who otherwise might share my conversational interests and sense of humor outside of those restricted settings).

If you feel like there are "rules" you're "not getting," you're probably in the wrong group (for you), and it's not going to be a source of fun or rich friendships. If there are unpleasant, aggro games going on beneath the surface, you're definitely in the wrong group--cut bait. The older I get, the more I appreciate knowing that I love my female friendships, but not every female social circle is going to be my thing and I don't need to beat myself up over that or question whether I "fit in" with other women.
posted by blue suede stockings at 4:49 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Girls with rules are not the cool girls. Find women. Women who weld, blow things up, are artists, want to take on the world, run their own businesses, etc. These are women who will be direct, not needy, have great senses of humor and aren't delicate flowers, so will be more forgiving if your jokes don't make sense. Look for alternative molds, characters, etc.

I used to have all male friends, but once I chose friendships with women who weren't catty, small thinkers, I made amazing friends.

Bad ass women are the best!

(And, yes, you can drink wine and talk about shoes with them.)
posted by Vaike at 4:53 PM on May 2 [21 favorites]


Talk about guys. Especially legitimately creepy guys, which almost all women will have some experience with. Nothing creates a bond of friendship faster than a mutual enemy!

Haha--my newest group of girlfriends, who I met at a meetup ~6 months ago, bonded when two of us had to explain to a third what pick-up artists were and she got all OH MY GOD THIS EXPLAINS EVERY DATE I HAVE BEEN ON FOR THE PAST YEAR
posted by sunset in snow country at 4:55 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


I'm assuming you're in school based on a recent question. Does your university have a women's center or something similar? You can volunteer there, and/or check with them to see what events they offer and what groups they recommend.
posted by aniola at 4:58 PM on May 2


Part of me wants to say, "Do nothing different!" But, in thinking carefully, the women I know who mostly hang out with men sometimes aren't quite as good with showing a vulnerable side. I don't necessarily mean self-deprecating humor, but in asking for help or in not being afraid to show weakness or insecurities. (then again, I am the overly sensitive type, and you might not have wanted to be friends with me or women like me anyway!) Another thing is my friends and I compliment each other often, sincerely, which I notice a lot of men don't necessarily do as much. Those are the two main differences I see between the groups of men and the groups of women I have in my little world. I don't think these are rules so much as almost-cultural differences. I would of course be friends with anyone who was nice and caring, but it helps break the ice a lot faster and puts me more at ease.

One thing I remember reading is men tend to have friendships around activities and females tend to have friendships around talking. Of course it's a generalization, but maybe try finding women who are doing activities you like. This might help bridge the gap.
posted by umwhat at 5:11 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Coming from a different angle: There are lots of interesting studies on the differences between social interactions between different genders. Some that may be relevant: Women tend to make decisions more in a "consensus based" way compared to men who state their opinions and than hash it out. (This also tends to be why women don't want to pick a restaurant, stereotypically.) Women are also expected to be more sensitive to other people's feelings, which means talking about feelings and making each other feel good (with compliments and giving each other credit for good ideas and achievements).

(A lot of these studies are actually about why women don't get heard as much in male dominated fields, but I think you can also use the information to gel better with female-dominated social groups.)

But there are actually many women who do not require that you act in stereotypically feminine ways! I was super awkward about giving and receiving compliments until several years ago. Plus, I've always been known as the aggressive/decisive one in my friend group. But most of my closest friends are actually women, who appreciate that they can treat me like a girl (i.e., no weird sexual tension stuff, or discomfort about talking about girl things, and we can go shopping--even though my taste in fashion is pretty atrocious) but that I'll give it to them straight when they ask me questions.

So I think it's partly that you just need to keep on finding different groups to see if you click with them. And part of it is trying better to communicate in the way that is expected of you, at least at first. (It's like speaking a different dialect, really. Things/words/phrases just mean different things.)

(While I've often been told I'd make the perfect boyfriend, I get around the lack of being feminine by being short and wearing dresses. But yeah, a lot of the "feminine" behavior I have was learned later, in college.)
posted by ethidda at 5:28 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I am 36 and still feel unfeminine sometimes. A friend told me that the bar of "feminine" is set very high, so a lot of us never feel like we cross it. She's right, and there are a lot of others out there like us. Meeting women through common interests or situations, rather than common gender, has been the key to strong and lasting friendships.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:29 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Are you aware of how much space you're taking up, conversationally and otherwise? Do you make an attempt to participate but not rule the conversation? Do you take up more than one seat on the bus? Do you ask good questions and really listen to the answers? One big critique of men is that they take up too much space both by how they stand and move, and also ego-wise. This doesn't sound like you necessarily, but it's a thing that happens that bothers some women.

My advice for meeting women friends is to take a language class. Every French class I have ever taken has been 90% women; not sure about other languages or if that's just my experience. Whatever language you take, you'll automatically have something in common and an excuse to talk to each other.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:50 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Also, it helps to just like women. That sounds really obvious, right? You don't have to like "girliness" or "femininity" or pink, but you kind of have to like women. Their voices and laughs and stories and hardships, etc. I mean, if you shave your legs and have long hair and occasionally wear a skirt, you're already a girly girl compared to someone. Just because you're not wearing head to toe pink and carrying a chihuahua wearing a diamond collar doesn't mean you won't be judged along the spectrum in your turn, so keep that in mind. There's no winning the "I'm not a girl! Ew I'm way too COOL to be a girl" game. Ever. Just give up. I did. I'm much happier. (I mean, even if you disagree with the socially acceptable feminine grooming/stuff in every way, you can feel sympathy for women who do go all girly, or feel the need to- that's what I do. Instead of feeling disdain or whatever.)

Not to go off on a tangent but I was much happier when I decided power could have a feminine slant- ie a lot of people think Madonna is a sellout to the patriarchy. I see a very, very rich businesswoman when I look at Madonna. There are a lot of women in the beauty industry, making fortunes, running businesses. Tell me that's not female empowerment in a way? (This is turning into a tangential rant so I will stop here.)

You're all my sisters and I love you. I have room for the occasional ironic hot pink tutu in my life. I'm secure enough to take that.
posted by quincunx at 5:51 PM on May 2 [28 favorites]


What I learned about girlworld is that you always have to be equal to the other girls and tailor your communication style accordingly (see comment on consensus-based decision making).

So if she says "oh I'm so fat" you either say "no of course not, you look great!" or "ugh me too!" You do NOT say "I lost sooo much weight last year thank goodness."

The topic can be anything, I just picked weight because it's easy. The name of the game is to be among the group and not compete to stand out so much.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:00 PM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Can you be a bit more specific? Locate for us the sisterhood you want to join, using coordinates along dimensions such as race, class, age, geography?
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:00 PM on May 2


I had this same issue for most of my teenage and young-adult life. It went away when I really confronted my own internalized misogyny.
posted by jaguar at 6:06 PM on May 2 [30 favorites]


And like I make too many jokes or don't share their sense of humour. But if I am my normal self around girls I feel kind of too manly and a bit out of place.

So, first - you already know this - there is no one sense of humor that all women have. You even have evidence of this: You are a woman, but have a sense of humor that some other women don't share! I can guarantee that you are not the only woman with this kind of sense of humor - you just have to find them.

Second, the manly thing. I think I know what you mean? Maybe not. But as a butch dyke, I think I can speak to feeling a little fish-out-of-water in this respect, and the good news is, this is not a gender thing. This is a....what. This is a gender-policing-cling-to-rules thing, and also at least in part and age thing. I know this because most of my female co-workers are heterosexual and quite typically "feminine" in that they shave their legs, they wear makeup, they wear skirts and dresses and high-heeled shoes. Like that. But I never feel "manly" or out of place in that way around them because they do not police how any other woman performs her womanliness.

And I've gotten to an age where I have stopped worrying about how I appear to other women (this is very important), and I've stopped projecting my own insecurity into how I think other people must be judging me.

Consider that the women you've tried to befriend where the friendship hasn't worked out - they didn't fail because of your gender. They failed because those people are not people you mesh with as friends. I wonder if some of what you're noticing is because of confirmation bias. If a friendship with a guy doesn't work out or never becomes more than a passing "hi howareya" kind of thing, do you put it down to his gender? Probably not.

This was very rambly. I hope it helps.
posted by rtha at 6:07 PM on May 2 [21 favorites]


Also, it helps to just like women. That sounds really obvious, right? You don't have to like "girliness" or "femininity" or pink, but you kind of have to like women. Their voices and laughs and stories and hardships, etc. I mean, if you shave your legs and have long hair and occasionally wear a skirt, you're already a girly girl compared to someone. Just because you're not wearing head to toe pink and carrying a chihuahua wearing a diamond collar doesn't mean you won't be judged along the spectrum in your turn, so keep that in mind. There's no winning the "I'm not a girl! Ew I'm way too COOL to be a girl" game. Ever. Just give up. I did. I'm much happier.

This! If you give off any "ew, girls" vibe that is a turn-off to many women. Speaking as a "girly girl" (well, woman) I don't care what my friends wear, but I hate any whiff of condescension and "this girly stuff is soooo beneath me."

In general: Look for common interests and kindness. Women who are basically kind and decent people aren't going to ice you out for not knowing the "unwritten rules" down to the letter. In turn, you should come from a place of kindness and generosity yourself. And common interests will give you something to bond over.

I'm friends with women who wouldn't be caught dead in dresses or make-up because we have other interests (fannish stuff, reading, cats) in common. Also, we treat each other with respect and assume good intent.

There are certainly cliques of women who are icy and backstabbing and not kind to newcomers or those who they think are beneath them. This isn't because they are women so much as because they are not nice people and are acting out their not-niceness in ways more common to women. But there are plenty of kind women who would like new friends. Your best bet is to look for common interests and seek out women who share them. Meet Ups are a great place to start. Church is another good place - if you're not religious, the Unitarian Universalists attract people who want the benefits of church without the religion.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:12 PM on May 2 [18 favorites]


With girls I just feel like there are all these rules I'm not aware of and I just feel way more self-conscious and stiff. And like I make too many jokes or don't share their sense of humour. But if I am my normal self around girls I feel kind of too manly and a bit out of place.

Replace "girls" with "wearing a tuxedo", and thats how I felt. You overcome that by wearing a tuxedo a lot. Pretty soon, you're used to it. Just hang out with "girls" enough and you'll be comfortable.

They're people. Just people.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:37 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


You have already made an assumption about them before you've started (the I act X because otherwise I'll be too manly stuff). That's the killer. I've got female friends who are actual lesbians and present much more femininely than me. I've also got straight lady friends who present much more masculinely than me (more of the former than the latter tbh). I don't tone down or adjust my presentation because I assume my masculinity or femininity is unwelcome - I'm me, I am how I am.

That initial judgement is setting the tone for the rest of the interactions. You've immediately judged yourself as different to them and needing to perform a certain way in order to be accepted and this can come out in really awkward and odd ways.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:13 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


I work out a lot with other women, some are really good friends and some aren't. Yet. We bike, hike, ski etc together. Quite a lot of our stuff started out coed but we shucked the significant others because we enjoy all-women trips more, for the most part. We have a running joke about how nice it is to do stuff without a constant male voice droning instructions (but it's true).

Another thing is I personally think women are fucking hilarious. Most of my favourite funny people are women and girls and I definitely bond with my friends through humor. Tasteless, snarky, profane and often in poor taste humor.
posted by fshgrl at 7:13 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


I agree with all the above, however, one thing "girls" (as well as other people, but I think it's in the pattern of the kind of girldom you mean) tend to do is remember things about others and try to anticipate their needs, or even things they don't strictly need.

Like if Anne's birthday is coming up, someone will go, "we should do something for Anne, it's her birthday soon".

Someone else will go, "Right, that's the 17th, it's a Saturday" (indicating she also knows it is Anne's birthday soon; also, is situating it within the week for planning purposes).

A third person might say, "She loves that Italian place over on Main, how about that?" (this person is not saying, "Let's go to that Italian place", only suggesting, as per above).

"I don't know, I think she's low-carbing it right now, maybe not. Also, it's kind of far for Jane to get to - how about someplace more central?" (Jane is Anne's good friend).

Someone else: "What about the Grill?"

"Oh that's perfect, they have a great atmosphere. And it's right on the night line. Maybe we can go for drinks at that corner bar, afterwards?"

Another person: "Yeah, nice - the Italian place doesn't take reservations, though, and it gets busy on Saturdays. [Always planning!] But I live really close, so I can go early and get us a table" (showing willingness to make an effort).

Whatever other reasons this kind of exchange happens, part of it involves just paying attention - to Anne's diet, Jane's location, etc. So if you're not attuned to these kinds of things, making an effort that way might help smooth interactions.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:30 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


I hear you! I had a ton of trouble making women friends for years and I have never had a real coherent social circle of women. Most of my friends were straight dudes of one stripe or another. Lately, I've made a lot more women friends but it took a long time.

Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

1. There are a lot of social rules to how straight women hang out together - all groups have unwritten rules and norms. When you don't know them, they feel oppressive and scary (and sometimes they are pretty shitty, yes). You know how to follow the dude social rules, so it seems easy and natural. Rules for straight women vary a lot by group, of course - working class gamer nerds don't have the same rules as upper middle class third culture girls, etc. It will be harder to hack two new rules-things at once - so it was hard for me in college because not only were all the girls around me...er...girls, but they were almost all upper middle class and I was not.

2. One thing I realized about friendships with men versus women: men let me get away with a lot more shit, because I was always "the girl" - even in settings where folks know that I do not identify as a girl and even dressed all butch. It was very easy for me to fall into straight people social dynamics with men even when I thought I was being all foursquare and equal. "Women are scary," I used to say, because I didn't realize that men did not call me on shit because we did not have an equal relationship so they didn't feel they needed to bother (because isn't it cute when women are all irrational or pouty or whatever), and because I didn't realize that all the kinds of automatic charm I'd learned being socialized as a women did not work on women. And I add that very few of my dude friends ever had an actual romantic interest in me - this was all at the very deep structural level.

3. Even now it's a bit difficult for me not to be the man among women...I mean, it's difficult to parse this out because as I say, I don't identify as a woman. But the point is, when I am around women, it's very easy for me to take up too much space, be too loud, listen too little - and because I'm butch, a lot of girls put up with that. At the same time that I'm taking up too much space, I also feel like a freak - you can be the center of attention and still feel horrible because you're not fitting in. I don't want to act like a straight dude in a group of women.

4. The main thing I've noticed about groups of women is that women - even feminist women, even strong women - are really, really strongly socialized to hide their own needs, wishes and thoughts because it is "selfish" or "unfeminine" to act like you're an equal participant. Basically, if you're not good at girl stuff, IME, relationships with women can become really unequal because the other women will be so damn nice and self-abnegating. On the "niceness" side, it means that if you're not careful, perfectly nice girls will listen to you run your mouth and say very little as if they didn't have a thought in their heads, because they've been socialized that it is nice to listen - and you'll learn nothing about them while thinking that you have Big Deep Thoughts. On the "meanness" side, this means that a lot of bad feelings can sometimes be hidden and come out in weird ways - gossip or various forms of social bullshit.

5. I find it hard to be emotionally open in groups of women and not fall into a maternal/care-taker role, a thing I hate above all else. Anyway, don't win friends by bringing cookies unless that's what everyone does.

6. Ask questions, draw people out, remember what's going on with them and ask about it. Try to listen as much as you talk. (I'm a huge chatterbox, so I at least try to listen almost as much as I run my mouth.) I think that's more important than softpedaling your opinions or whatever. Just make extra sure that you are meeting people's social needs the same way that they are meeting yours. Work on relating in a symmetrical way. The more you seem interested in people and like you care about their opinions, the more comfortable they will be with talking and sharing with you instead of treating you like a tiny straight dude.
posted by Frowner at 7:33 PM on May 2 [40 favorites]


It helps to remind myself that we're all just humans, and anyone who acts like I make too many jokes or doesn't appreciate my humor is a human I don't want to be around.
posted by bleep at 7:34 PM on May 2


I used to say similar things and had mostly male friends. Around freshman year of college, I consciously stopped saying things like "Most of my friends are guys; I just get along with them better!" Even if it was true at the beginning, I just held my tongue and said things like, "I'm lucky to have such outgoing friends; we're a good mix of adventurous and homebody!" Cheesy, I know.

Anyway, it worked. I hadn't realized how much I self-identified (to other women!) as "oh I'm only friends with men." Stepping away from those words helped me step away from that mindset. Now, I'm closer to 50/50.

And anecdotally: when a woman self-identifies herself to me now as "I'm mostly friends with men, women don't like me," part of me wonders if she even wants to be my friend :(
posted by samthemander at 7:46 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


Sorry there's a mistake up there - I don't even pay enough attention to the stuff I say. Still in training. I would have probably forgotten about the low-carb thing, myself.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:58 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I agree with samthemander above -- when I meet another woman who says something like, "I have no female friends" or "I'm looking for more girlfriends, I don't have any" or "I just get along better with guys" my brain goes ALERT! ALERT!

Even if it's not the case with you (and I don't think it is), frequently this comes from a place of internalized misogyny (linked in one of the comments above) and it makes me think that you don't see me as a human being and/or that you view friendships between women as these super-stereotypical, shallow affairs where all you do is sip wine and paint your nails together, unlike your friendships with guys where you Do Real Things.

That said, it's super hard to make solid friendships in adulthood, and even harder to find groups of those friendships. You've gotten good advice above... I would also suggest asking yourself, what was it that nourished you about your group of girlfriends previously, and seek THAT out -- not "I want a group of girlfriends" but "I would like people in my life that I can share X with and support when they go through X" and then try to build those relationships little by little. Nthing clubs, churches, other structured groups where some of the work has been done for you. Good luck!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 7:59 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Also, I think the advice about saying things to match the group and establish commonality, vs saying things to differentiate yourself, go a long way when building initial friendships (both with men and women, but this is a bigger deal with girls than guys in my experience).
posted by samthemander at 8:16 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Have you seen this previous thread? I thought there were some very insightful comments in there.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:08 PM on May 2


Same way you meet anyone, join groups and get out and explore your interests. I recently made a few new female friends who share my love of turning over gross rocks and poking in the dirt for bugs. We stomp-walk and scratch our butts. Quit thinking of your own gender as some weird monolith. If you don't have that type of humour or interests, do you honestly believe you are the only woman who doesn't?

Painting all of us with the same brush is internalized sexism. Just because you are the gender being snubbed doesn't make you immune to it!!

(And, if you are young, something I discovered as I got older... men are easier to talk to because many of them are entertaining romantic/sexual thoughts of you. I know it doesn't seem like they are on your end, but when you all get drunk in a few years it'll come out. Uhg.)
posted by Dynex at 9:12 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I've met a couple of women recently who told me that most of their friends were guys. Here are things that made me uninterested in being friends with them (I'm not saying that you do all of these things, but they might give you some clues to the hidden girl code).

1. Every time I made a factual statement ("I read yesterday that pre-historic wombats were the size of hippos!") they argued with me ("That can't be right; I'm a biologist and the size-aspect ratio wouldn't make sense for an animal like that....") or badgered me to explain why I was right ("Where did you read that? Are you sure? Were they really even wombats then, if they were so much bigger?") instead of just accepting it as a conversational opener and starting a conversation with that fact (not an argument), i.e. "Oh, that's really interesting. Why do you think animals were so much bigger back then?"

2. They were overly blunt. I have good female friends who I've known for a long time who I can be perfectly blunt with, and vice-versa, but it's very off-putting with people I don't know very well. And I guess I expect that sort of unpleasant behavior from men sometimes, but I expect better (?) from women. What I mean is, these women would say things without any preamble like, "No, you're wrong," "That's just dumb," "Why would you do something like that?" "That sounds like a bad idea," etc. Even with my good female friends, criticism or counter-suggestions are usually phrased more diplomatically. And (the more I think about it) the problem wasn't so much that those women were really blunt, the problem was that they were disdainful of people, i.e. women, who were less blunt, like we were all just being fake, lily-livered cowards by not saying what we "really meant." They didn't seem to understand the social value of being kind.

3. They frequently declared that they didn't like "gossip," and were dismissive when my other friends and I tried to talk about relationships, other friends, or encounters with other people. I don't like cruel gossip, but I spend a lot of time talking with my female friends about relationships, and those conversations often turn into conversations about our feelings and worries, etc. I value those sorts of conversations; they help me process a lot of things. If I get the feeling that a woman is waiting for me to start talking about something "real," then I am not going to be that interested in being friends with her.
posted by colfax at 3:21 AM on May 3 [18 favorites]


Another vote for "you're not finding the right types of women you'd click with anyway." And a dose of "you also may be self-sabotaging yourself."

When you say that it feels like women have all these rules - it sounds like you could be subconsciously assuming women are all a monolithic entity that all acts the same way, and honestly we get enough of that from guys. Just be your normal self; and while it's true there are women who won't get that, there are also women who will, but either way you'll be way happier. So what if you don't bond with a lot of women - the ones you do bond with will rock.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I grew up mostly hanging with the boys. I always had 1 good girl friend, but rarely more than that. I often prided myself on not getting along with the girls. Then I went to college. And I joined a sorority! One of my best decisions in life. Live with 30 women in the turning point from adolescence to adulthood and you'll learn that not all women are alike. You'll see some of the bad things about women's relationships be reinforced while also learning about the amazing depthness and richness of women's lives and how they can care for each other.

For someone who felt like, at my core, femininity wasn't safe, it was eye-opening and enriching. I have life-long friends from that time. Sometimes, when we get together, I marvel at our friendship because we are pretty different people but so glad to have them in my life.

I *still* feel, from time-to-time, like an outsider among groups of women. I don't do all the women code stuff so great but it's really not necessary and more often than not, everyone is feeling slightly awkward about something. Try to remember, you're not so special. ;)

It's hard to recreate a more girl environment that a co-housing sorority, so I'd encourage you just to go on some women-only adventures. Find some women-centered events that are in an area of interest. Do more listening than talking. Oh, and don't hide your sense of humor. I'm always good for making inappropriate humor and my women friends crack up just as hard as my male friends.
posted by amanda at 6:07 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I disagree with many people here. The stereotypical female stuff is a convenient cover for your real interests/self. You keep things surface-level, go along with the crowd, and try not to disagree or make waves in any way. It's like improv: "yes, and" is the rule. They think lip gloss is gross and you don't? Don't say you like it, just don't weigh in at all. At most, say "hmm, kinda" or "I just like gross stuff I guess!" You'll note that superficial agreement is the rule which means that it is a good thing you're talking about superficial crap.

Then when they are more used to you and feel that they can tell a bit more about your character, values, personality, they'll bring up more personal, important stuff, and you can do so too. Tread very lightly. Your opinion is not as important as your support and empathy. If someone asks your opinion, give it, but otherwise, don't give it unless your friend is at serious risk. Even then, ask leading questions like "do you think he could be cheating?"

Don't show interest in their boyfriends or crushes. If asked if he's hot, say sure but he's not your type. Don't ignore female friends to talk to men.

If you feel criticized by them, bail.

I come from a brassy, ball-busting family of women, so I know your plight.

Consider that you might have aspergers, ADHD, or serious social anxiety-- these migh be driving your social skills issues.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:44 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


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