I am a woman in her 40s, happily married to a wonderful man for almost 20 years, but beyond that fact I also need to connect more fully with others, especially women. It’s been quite a long time since I had a close relationship with a woman outside of my immediate family. It’s a fact I want to further examine, and a goal I want to pursue.
The above-mentioned has been one of my therapy goals for years now. I’ve felt alone for too long, and yearn for the fun, closeness, and support of other women. I also want to give more of myself to a face-to-face female friend. I think I have a lot to offer others, especially now.
A large part of my difficulties with female face-to-face friendships in the past has been due to my inability to trust and show myself fully. It has also been because of behavior resulting from my bipolar disorder. My bipolar disorder brought out a certain level of self-absorption and distraction that clearly turned women off. It often made me irritable. Sometimes I was even grandiose. Though at times I was larger than life with elation, it was not always well received, especially by other women. When depressed, I am pretty reserved and slow to give much of myself. For these reasons, and my isolation in recent years, I saw even superficial or loose female friendships fade out of the picture.
It is a pretty well-known fact that many women more easily take offense to things than men. I can’t even remember how many times girls and women got pissed at me for something that guys likely wouldn’t. I would find myself apologizing again and again and again, even for many things that I really felt weren’t apology worthy. Not being the greatest actress, I assume that insincerity has come through, at times. Women holding grudges against me for such things (often very minor things) has been frustrating for me. When it happens so often in life, one can just start saying “Well, oh well. It happened again”, and move on. Of course I try to examine the offending statement/action, but again, it is often too late. Some people give second and third chances. Some people don’t.
My psychiatrist has heard me tell numerous stories about my lost female friendships and grief from not having a bff. He has also heard me discuss how much easier it is for me to partially befriend men. Though as a married woman I don’t seek close male friendships, I do tend to warm up to men I meet much easier than women. Ultimately it is a matter of the trust I mentioned, the feeling like there is no “test” involved, and the lack of history of being rejected. I am far less likely to misinterpret body language and statements of men. I guess I’m just a little less paranoid around them.
My psychiatrist is a male, but he has always encouraged me to have a female therapist. Not just because he feels that this therapy goal would be most effectively addressed by a female therapist, but that issues like erotic transference (transference love) would be less likely. I have had several female therapists in the past, and experienced negative transference. Ideally such transference should be worked on, but either the female therapists were ineffective in dealing with this matter, or I quickly quit them to move on to another, something I’ve also done with female friends in the past.
During the past several years, it wasn’t until I found my current female therapist that I’ve made progress forming a trusting normal relationship with a new woman in my life. Initially I even had trust issues with her, and even attempted to quit her once, but stopped myself from doing so. Over the years my trust for her improved because of open conversations, which took courage, and my new tendency not to “run”. I’ve also become more stable and grounded in my bipolar recovery. These have been good first steps for me. The next is to emerge from my isolation, and practice with other women. Hopefully, my female therapist will continue to assist me along the way. I still really need her help. It’s a little scary.
Note: If there are any men out there that wish to strengthen their relationships/friendships with other men, I’d be happy to hear from you in my post comments.