Sisters and Girlfriends…

Sisters and Girlfriends – Like Fine Wines,
Get Better with Age

By Joanne R. Alloway

Published in Outlook by the Bay, Holiday 2010 Issue

Do you have a sister, a sister-in-law, a cousin or a step sister you love and can confide in? Maybe not, but do you have a girlfriend that is just like a sister? All a woman needs is a girlfriend or two she can readily lean on, trust and be herself with. Over the years this woman becomes your rock, your confidant and your support system. They are like wines – sweet, dry or sparkling – that mellow over the years.

Natural sisters often fit the “friend” bill well because they’ve grown up together and have lived through much history together. Sibling rivalry aside, sisters make great friends as we age. Sisters lived through many of life’s rites of passage together. Often sisters have survived unwanted, harsh comments from other family members. A bond forms from longevity that can only be understood and appreciated by another woman, or sister. For example if a sister gets divorced after many years of marriage, family members all have opinions; and they don’t hesitate to share it with you, good or bad. But a sister is always there to offer support and love and not judge; despite what her own opinion might be. The divorcing sister knows this and is comforted to have a sister to turn to in any situation because she knows she would do the very same for her. As the years flow, so does the support system and so does the give and take. Thus the saying, “sisters are forever” surely rings true.

How We Find Our Girlfriends
In our grade school days, we have a lot of friends at school and sometimes in our neighborhoods. We are with them all the time, they are in our class, in girl scouts and swim clubs and we bond. In high school, friendships get more selective because we have more choices in classes, sports and after-school activities. These girlfriends tend to become more permanent, since they were selected based on interests and homogeneousness. A good example would be why high school reunions are so popular, especially after the ten and twenty year graduation mark. It has also been found that more women attend reunions – sparked by the fact that they like to catch up with former classmates. It is amazing how much fun the reunions can be. To find your class’ reunion, try While college reunions are also popular, they don’t rival high school reunion attendance numbers. This is not to say that two women who meet at college are not friends for life, because this is one of the strongest female bonds after natural sisterhood. Two or more women who live through up to four years of college, sweating it out together over grades, boyfriends, dorms, jobs, money and other campus life stresses have as similar a bond as sisters do. They even get to know the families of their campus friends well enough to continue visiting after graduation. It is not uncommon for former college roommates to end up living near one another after graduation, searching for jobs in the same cities and even marrying brothers and family members. We also meet our girlfriends during adulthood while raising children and volunteering in schools and other activities. The bond between sisters and girlfriends is indeed powerful.

Getting Older with Sisters and Girlfriends
Like fine wine, relationships with sisters and girlfriends just seems to get better as we age. We realize as never before that having reared children and nurtured husband(s), had careers and decorated and maintained households, we deserve some time to ourselves – to relax with like-minded women and enjoy the fruits and the labors of our lives. We like being close and reminiscing but also staying in the present and planning our future.

Women never run out of conversation. Upon returning home, our husbands might comment, “You’ve been gone for hours. What on earth do you girls talk about?” They just don’t get it! With girlfriends, there is always something going on, something to plan or to discuss. There are times to just listen as well. With friends you’ve known or had in your family forever, there is no need to explain a situation; a girlfriend just understands where you are coming from. You understand and respect each other. If your friend thinks her husband is cheating on her, you just let her talk until she asks you for your opinion, if she does. Maybe she’s just venting. If you were in her shoes, what would you expect her to do? As a good friend, anticipating her mood and her needs is what she needs most, along with your confidentiality.

Girlfriends and sisters need each other for so many different things. When they sit down for lunch or dinner with a glass of wine, it is a lovely moment. Sometimes it’s a celebration – a new job, a brand new grand child or a new downsized home, even a divorce can be celebrated! While we now have distance between us in many instances, making a visit not feasible, we still have our phones and email. And lately there’s a lot of interest in girlfriend weekends and vacations. You don’t have to make a complicated agenda for these trips: talk, eat, sleep, have some activity, shop and solve the problems of your world… and do it all again the next day. It may sound simple minded but it’s the best therapy a girlfriend can get and give. Try or for some interesting ideas! And yes, we still need the men in our lives, but they are our friends in a different way.

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