I’m about to make a sweeping generalisation about the sexes, so do arrange your faces into your favourite expression of shock and/or horror.
It’s my experience that women, on the whole, are better at making friends than men. Looking through my phone these days cheers me no end. I’m very fortunate to feel truly enveloped in love and care from not just my family, but from fantastic girlfriends. Some I’ve known for decades, some for weeks. These relationships cheer me up on awful days, nurture me with useful advice, inspire me to new interests and, usually, make me laugh out loud several times a day. I’m not one of those ‘less is more’ types when it comes to a trusted circle. In my 50s, I’m still meeting people who become new, great friends.
And here’s why I think women are better at it: because women are much more relaxed about being vulnerable and honest with each other. If I meet a woman I think I’m going to like, it’s not long before the pair of us have dispensed with the surface chitchat to really dig under each other’s skin.
My friend Dawn and I met at a work dinner, ten years ago. We agreed to get together a few days later for lunch and within 15 minutes she said, ‘What I’m about to tell you might be “too much information” for a first lunch, but it’s pretty obvious we’re going to end up telling each other everything about ourselves, so why pretend otherwise?’ It was exactly the kind of girl-gang energy that I’m always here for.
It’s this sort of fast and loose intimacy between women that is often belittled. We’re just ‘too emotional’, they say, but as far as I’m concerned, to just be you is a superpower. I’m sure there are men who are good at it. But I meet more women who are comfortable with lowering their guard. Being able to open up readily to others definitely brings more joy than heartbreak for me. Are all my girlfriends the kind of close friends I could call from a prison cell? No. But it doesn’t mean I don’t get joy from having them in my life.
This female ability to fast-track bonds is, I believe, the driving force behind the current wave of female dominance in radio. We need a huge dose of loving heart with our wit, and all of this issue’s cover stars (see the story here) bring that to the airwaves, every week. Audiences are lapping it up like never before. The days of radio programmers believing that listeners can only stand the occasional female voice (as DJ Clara Amfo was told early on in her career) are well and truly over. In a world where we’ve been forced into relative isolation and solitude for so long, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the voices charged with making us feel connected predominantly belong to women.
We’re better at making friends. Yes, I said it. I look forward to debating this with you in my emails!