Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.
How do you make friends with other women? Ever since I was a teenager, I really haven’t had any female friends, but not because I don’t want to! It’s just I feel like I get along better with guys. Unfortunately, I now find myself in an extremely female-dominated work environment (I’m an elementary school teacher), and it sucks. All the jealousy and competitiveness and judgment and petty backbiting shit that made me prefer male friends is still going on, but if I want to talk to anyone at work, I have to make friends with women and I just don’t know how to even start.
Well, the best place to start is to stifle yourself when you say, or even think, things like you prefer the company of men and that women are all judgmental and backbiting. Women aren’t any more monolithic than men: some of each are petty, judgmental, competitive and backbiting. And, if you’re not involved with any of the women in question in a friendly way, you don’t actually know which of those individual women might be that way. You know assumptions always make an ass out of you and umption, right?
What you probably get out of your exclusively-male friendships that you don’t get out of friendships with women is a certain kind of positive feedback: either in terms of flattery, flirtation or compliments. If you are, by nature, a bit more of a flirt, it can be easier to start conversations with people of the opposite sex because you can turn on the charm, get that feedback and, if you choose, turn that start into something more platonic. At the very least, it probably doesn’t hurt that you are giving men a certain benefit of the doubt in terms of their personalities and potential for friendship that you just aren’t extending to women.
In terms of concrete advice that doesn’t involve you reconsidering whether all women are actually bitches or if it’s just you, one way to start is to ask your female colleagues questions. You like when people show an interest in you, right? So rather than making assumptions, ask questions. Or, even better, give compliments: if you like someone’s shoes, tell her. If she’s wearing a cute top, mention it. It might actually be very similar to how you approach making a man interested in being friends with you, it just lacks any sexual attention.
Then, try to develop a rapport. Ask about someone’s weekend, what they had for dinner last night, how their students were in class today. Listen to their answers, rather than starting a conversation by telling them about your weekend, your dinner, your students. Figure out which of your colleagues you like, or have things in common with, and then ask someone to join you for lunch, or brunch. If you’re a sports person, invite someone else who seems like a sports person to watch a game or play, if that’s an option. Try a movie. You know, friend stuff, just like you do with guys. Basically, try treating women as they are potential friends, and work at developing those friendships, rather than dismissing the rest of your gender out of hand.
I went to this wedding a few months ago, and got really drunk. And I think I said something that made the bride mad, because I haven’t talked to her since. Not that we were very close, and it was a large, casual wedding, but still I feel like I might need to make something right.
If you really think you might have said something totally out-of-line, and you have a couple of close, mutual friends, see if anyone else thinks that might be the case. I mean, you don’t get that much face-time with the average bride at a wedding, so it seems like it would be hard to fuck it up that bad in so little time unless you told her you hated her dress or she’d made a huge mistake, but that is exactly the kind of thing I’d get drunk and say to someone, so there’s that.
But if your mutual friends don’t think there’s something wrong, I would call her. It’s old-fashioned, I know, but some people are bad at email, others are worst at texting and neither provides any nuance. Don’t ask if you said something wrong, though, just ask how she’s been, express regret that it’s been so long since you’d seen her and invite her to coffee or brunch or something, whenever she’s free. And if she doesn’t pick up or call back, seems peeved, is curt with you, or is too busy right now but disinclined to schedule something when she’s more free, then you might be on the right track.
If you can keep her on the phone, apologize then: say that you are sorry for having gotten a little out of control on her wedding day, and that you hope you didn’t say or do anything that she might have found hurtful or offensive (especially if you don’t recall what it could have been). Tell her that you called worried that you’d done something wrong, and that her friendship is important to you and you hope she’ll allow you to make it up to her somehow. If you can’t do it on the phone, either because she doesn’t pick up or stay on, then email her and say something similar.
But, keep in mind: there might not actually be anything wrong. New marriages can have their ups and downs, too, and some couples do disappear on their friends either for a couple of months or, sadly, more permanently — especially if those friends are single. If you weren’t that close before, it just might mean that she’s having difficulty making space in her life or her schedule for you now, and it might not be about anything you said.
If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.