As a woman, I am eternally grateful for my female friends. These girlfriends have not only held me close, but buoyed me up whenever the waves of fate have thrown me hard against the sands of life. They have also been by my side to share some of the most enjoyable, encouraging and perfect moments of my life.
If you’re lucky, you know exactly how I feel and are nodding your head as you read this. The company and council of just one true friend can make all the difference in our lives.
Because true friendship includes certain responsibilities. It’s not just about walking the same path. It’s also about pointing out potential pitfalls and offering a little nudge when your companion may be veering off course.
Women are true masters at the subtle art of nudging. And you know exactly what I mean. But there are numerous variations on the theme and different situations call for varying levels of intensity. For instance…
The Complimentary Nudge
Your best friend has asked you to meet her at a fancy boutique because she’s anxious to show you the dress she’s chosen for a formal fundraiser she’ll be attending. This is the friend who has exquisite taste and normally wears a size 4. (But you still love her in spite of the size 4). She walks out of the dressing room and eagerly asks “What do you think?”
The nudging begins silently with your body language and silence. In your head, you can’t help thinking “What is she thinking?” Then you take a deep breath and say what she already knows but needs to hear from you: “It’s lovely but this dress isn’t showing off your figure. It’s way too much dress for your petite frame.” Good nudging requires extreme tactfulness.
After the disappointed boutique manager has put the dress back on the rack, you and your BFF walk out and burst into hysterical giggles. She’s so grateful you gave her the negative nudge and will continue her search for the perfect dress tomorrow.
The Inquisitive Nudge
You and your girlfriend are having a cappuccino in your favorite café and the conversation somehow shifts to a subject ever present in the back of your mind. One of your children isn’t doing well in school – academically or socially. This is the child who just couldn’t seem to get it together when he was five or six, and now that he’s ten, it’s beginning to affect him emotionally.
So, your friend asks a simple question: “Isn’t it time to do the testing you mentioned last year?” You know the tests she’s talking about because you’ve been putting them off for two years; to see if things might work themselves out when your son got a little older. You also know that’s not going to happen; your child has a real learning disability that need to be identified. You just needed a nudge to let you know it’s time and reassure you it’s the right thing to do. So your friend reminds you what a good mother you really are, and that whatever happens, she’s there for you.
As soon as coffee time is over, you call to schedule the testing and thank God for friends who know how to ask just the right questions.
The Persuasive Shove
You and an old high school friend haven’t seen each other in years, but have kept up with weekly with emails, social media and phone calls. So, when you find out she’ll be in town for a business conference and you’ll actually have a chance to give your old friend a real hug, you can hardly contain your excitement.
The day of her visit finally comes and you pick up the conversation exactly where you left off during a call two weeks ago. Everything is just as you had hoped – except for one thing. She tells you her husband has been going through a difficult time since he lost his job and has been taking out his frustration on her. It’s then that you notice the bruises that can’t be hidden by expensive sweaters and flowing scarves.
Since this is the first time she has shared this with you, you’re not sure what to say, but you know exactly what to do. This is no time for subtle questions or gentle nudging. Your dear friend needs a guiding hand that will virtually shove her out of harm’s way. You tell her to leave the dangerous home she now occupies. You give her the strength to find an organization that can give her the information to protect herself. You help her make the calls to friends in her hometown tribe that will also provide a safe haven.
None of this is easy. And your friend may refuse your help at first. But as I said at the onset, true friendship includes real responsibilities and protecting those we love is at the top of the list.
Be the one to pay attention and notice when something’s wrong. Be the one to nudge the women you love toward a better world. You’ll find a number of outstanding organizations in the Resources section of our site.
“Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. It’s my women friends who keep starch in my spine and, without them, I don’t know where I’d be. We have to hang together and help each other.” – Jane Fonda