Whether it’s in our lives or on our screens, female friendship matters. Here, we get four experts to weigh in on why…
The saying goes that you can choose your friends, but not your family.
The thing is, friendship is often loaded with countless micro-choices and external influences that make the whole thing more complicated than just picking a group of people you kind of get on with.
Then there’s the constantly evolving way we see female friendship portrayed in pop culture, which has largely gone from a one-dimensional ‘clique’ mentality to more complex relationships.
We asked four experts to wade in on matters of female friendship. Here’s what they had to say…
The psychologist on the impact of science
“Most of the time, we are attracted to people who in some way are very similar to us – or to people who are, to some extent, the opposite of us,” explains Dr Elena Touroni of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.
“The similarity between the two is that we tend to go through life with some need to verify or validate our own view of ourselves and other people.
Therefore, the way we operate tends to focus on taking in information that is in line with what we believe in.
You can be attracted to the opposite or the ‘other’ as you may form friendships with those you idealise, admire or perceive to be better than you.
These friendships therefore compensate for your lack of self-esteem and perceived deficit in you, making you feel better about yourself.
Female friendships often involve a deeper connection than male friendships, because they are more involved with one another in terms of intimacy.
The nature of their attachment involves a greater sense of connection and satisfaction, which also enables more potential for things to go wrong.”
The actor on the importance of representation in friendships
“Theatre, television, books and cinema are the things we turn to for escapism, inspiration, or simply just for enjoyment and entertainment,” says Louise Dearman, the only actor to play both Elphaba and Glinda in the West End musical, Wicked.
“Ensuring we have a positive representation of female friendship is hugely important, since we are always going to be faced with the battles of being a woman and feeling an element of competition across all of these platforms.
Who is the most successful? The most beautiful? The best mother? We have all these questions thrust in our faces, so encouraging women to come together, support each other and understand that we are stronger together is hugely important and empowering.
So much of the story of Wicked revolves around the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda and how these two completely different young women build such a strong friendship despite their lives, upbringings and beliefs being worlds apart.
Women are so often forced into this horrible competitive arena, so it’s fantastic that Wicked is up there proving that two women can both be strong, ambitious, passionate and united as friends.”
The journalist on how feminism comes into play
“Feminism is all about equal rights and representation, so being a good feminist can of course overlap with being a good friend,” says writer and feminist Emma Gannon.
“It’s important to lift up other women whose voices aren’t being heard, encourage younger women coming up behind you, and to support the sisterhood as a whole.
I don’t think feminism automatically means you must like all women!
I also think feminism should also be a talking point with male friends; to share experiences and information so that men also feel part of the feminist dialogue, too.”
The astrologist on how the elements come into it
“We all have complex characters and a mixture of different zodiac signs within us, which may draw female friends together,” explains Gemma Harwood of Vine Astrology.
“Like attracts like, especially with the elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
Having said that, each sign can bring such diverse personality traits, possibly leading to what seems like unlikely friendships.
For example, Aries Sun with Aquarius Moon befriends Leo Sun with Libra Moon.
One is straight shooting and rebellious, while the other is just as passionate yet prefers to remain diplomatic and likeable.
Both are driven and good communicators (characteristics of Fire and Air, respectively), and this is what bonds them together.
To experience the ultimate story of unlikely friendship on stage, book your tickets to see Wicked the Musical