“No BOYS allowed” was a staple rule of tween sisterhoods that were formed over pinky swears and BFF pledges.
These girls’ clubs were the first taste of the irreplaceable value of women’s friendships. Throughout a woman’s life, the relationships that are formed with other women create a special bond.
Women are from Venus
“I strongly believe in the absolute necessity of female friends at any age, because they are the most honest, accepting and fun,” Ellen Huston proclaims. “With our best friends, we tend to be more comfortable and open— they sometimes know you better than anyone. They know your joys and sufferings and are there to comfort and support you … or tell you to shape up.”
Women relate to each other on a unique level. Many studies and books have discussed how there is a desire for women to process, dissect and sometimes re-enact experiences with their friends for hours, days and even years. A 2016 CNN report indicated men value status, while women seek deeper personal relationships.
Whether formed for security at a young age, reassurance during adulthood or comfort in the golden years, female sisterhoods are unique bonds. “Sisters” may include actual family siblings, best friends, co-workers, teammates or various social members who support and improve everyday lives. Without them, who would drool over the latest celebrity crushes with us?
According to psychologist Dr. Christina Watlington, “Sisterhood is an emotional bond between women, not always related by blood.” In her 2016 article, “The Benefits of Sisterhood,” Watlington emphasized that hanging out with a group of females often releases the “feel-good” chemical oxytocin and has a calming effect on stress overload.
“Real sisterhood is based on trust, loyalty, forgiveness, compassion and dependability,” Watlington adds. She indicates it can help individuals live longer, manage loneliness and provide empowerment. The quality, not the quantity, is what is important with friends.
An instant and lasting connection
The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority was such a memorable part of Barbara Jordan’s college experience that her daughter is now a legacy. Jordan proudly says, “When I meet new students, new staff, folks in the community, professional colleagues in my travels and in my faith community and I learn that they are AKAs, it is an instant and lasting connection for us.”
On a national level, Jordan’s sorority rallied behind Vice President Kamala Harris in her bid for election and has been recognized for their strong support of her candidacy. Jordan emphasizes, “It has been so much more than the famous folks who are my sisters—but rather the everyday Black women who, like me, were first generation college students and graduates. The sorority provided us an opportunity for support, lifelong friendships and common bonds.”
Passing the baton
Studies show that women tend to feel happier and are more successful when they are part of a community and have a sense of belonging. By being proactive in their quest for uplifting and fun friends, not only are their own moods elevated, but those around them also benefit.
Sisterhoods with multigenerational members can keep each other hip and youthful, pass on tidbits of wisdom and share the triumphs and tragedies of life. Sadly, some groups fall apart due to distance, disagreements and deceptions. Yet, through conscientious efforts, detailed scheduling and open communication, the benefits of friendships can continue.
The circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we are weak and sing with us when we are strong. – Sark
Making friends at different stages in life can be challenging. With so many women currently leaving the workplace or working remotely, maintaining connections becomes essential. Empty-nest and retirement periods can be tough too. However, this can be a great opportunity to reconnect with a lost friend. Creative outlets such as cooking classes, bird watching, book clubs and volunteer organizations can provide meaningful connections. Shared living arrangements, similar to that of the Golden Girls, are also becoming increasingly popular.
Girlfriends need to unite through love and support more than ever during these difficult times. Women are mentors, cheerleaders and role models. By treasuring and nurturing relationships now, they can ensure strong sisterships for future generations.