Relationships

The Love Story I Never Thought to Tell

On Female Friendship

I hold this truth to be self-evident: If I were eaten by a goblin in the middle of the night, my friend Anne is the first person who would notice…

First, she would notice when I didn’t respond to her middle-of-the-night insomnia text. She would definitely notice when, upon waking, I didn’t send a selfie of my dog sleeping on my head. As the day ticked on, she would panic when I didn’t partake in discussing whatever dating drama had erupted since the previous night. Long before anyone else sensed my absence, Anne would alert the authorities.

My friends are the husbands I thought I’d have by now. We check in throughout the day and share an endless stream of memes. We swap spare keys and watch each other’s pets and consult each other before making life decisions. We’ve spent major holidays together. My friends, bless their souls, have tolerated many renditions of a text message soliloquy to the tune of “WILL HE TEXT?” followed by others that lamented “HE DID NOT.” They keep me buoyed, and I am always glad to return the favor.

As an only child who went to a women’s college, I learned early that female friendships are kind of everything. Many wonderful things came from my time at school, but arguably the best was meeting the brilliant, funny, weird and wonderful sisters I never had.

In the years since, I’ve written about many personal things, including dating, breakups and living alone. Why, then, did it never occur to me to write about friendship?

In her book Text Me When You Get Home, Kayleen Schaefer writes, “Prioritizing friendship is sometimes tricky; society often indicates to women that it’s not on the same level as the other relationships in our lives, such as the ones with our romantic partners, our children or even our jobs.”

But the tides are changing.

Abbi and Ilana. Issa and Molly. Tina and Amy. Oprah and Gayle. Female friendships loom large, and a glance at popular culture might lead one to believe that female friendships have replaced the likes of Romeo and Juliet as the connection to aspire to. (And thank goodness, because look how that turned out.)

“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship?” writes Hanya Yanagihara in her novel A Little Life. “Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going.”

To that end, Anne and I have a thing we call “floor party.” The square footage of NYC apartments often forces you to prioritize, and when faced with the decision between “dining table vs. totally impractical coffee table,” I chose the latter. This means meals are eaten around said coffee table, while sitting on the ground.

One night, we were sprawled on the floor, basking in the aftereffects of wine and takeout, when the conversation turned to the future. Where might we be in some number of years? Would we have as-yet-unknown partners? Different jobs? Bigger homes? Kids? Would all our dreams come true?

Then the conversation came to a lull for a moment.

“But I’ll be nostalgic for this time,” she said.
“Me, too,” I answered. It was true.

Soon after I type this, I’m headed to my college roommate’s wedding, where I will be the lone single bridesmaid — out of nine. After playing the do-I-bring-a-date-who-will-think-this-invite-means-more-than-it-does game, I decided to go it alone, sans random plus one. I am sorry to admit how much this filled me with dread.

To be clear, the dread has nothing to do with celebrating my friend, which I am all too happy to do, on any scale, at any time. It’s because I get antsy about traveling alone and I cry like a fire hydrant at weddings. And, to quote Whitney Houston, “I wanna dance with somebody.” I would like to be the type of person who cares not about such things, but alas, I care. I care a lot.

As I sat inside my cloud of angst, a text popped up on my phone. It was another friend from college whom I hadn’t seen in a while. “Do you wanna fly together to the wedding?” she wrote, closely followed by, “Let’s be each other’s dates!” And just like that, the dread was replaced with excitement.

I was asked to give a speech at this wedding. At first, I dreaded this, too. What on earth could I contribute? I don’t know much about marriage, having never been married. But then I realized: I know plenty about love.

From my friendships, I know that true love accepts us because of, not despite, who we are. I know that family can include people we choose for ourselves. I know that what they say is true: Grief shared is grief divided, while happiness shared is happiness multiplied.

And I know that sometimes, like when you’re sprawled on the floor next to an impractical coffee table, love doesn’t look the way you expected it to. Sometimes, it looks better.


P.S. 12 reader comments on friendship and hosting an articles club.

(Illustration by Kate Pugsley.)

  1. Andre Giant says...

    I’ve got several platonic female friends, and since realizing I was asexual, this has been completely liberating for me as well

  2. I love this- I need to put a higher priority on female friendships.

  3. You’re wonderful. Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I needed today.<3

  4. Bernice says...

    This is beautiful:)

  5. Lola M says...

    Loved the article, it’s sentiment, insight and thoughtfulness.

  6. JC says...

    I’ve always dreamed of the true long lasting friendship. I’ve tried hard at this and have had my heart broken by failed friendships more than romantic relationships. My marriage however is amazing and the patient and kind nature of my husband made me aware of the contempt of my past closest friend. I never get tired of hanging with my husband, but I still yearn for the magical female friendship (or male it doesn’t matter for me) movies seem to show that every normal woman should have.

  7. 1. Isn’t this what classical epicureanism is?

    2. Sounds like Sex and the City. I believe the producers hijacked the ending the creators and writers intended for the series which was essentially this.

  8. Arielle says...

    At my mother’s funeral three years ago, her best friend gave a speech that included the line “a friendship is its own love story.” I have thought of that line maybe every day since. It is so beautiful, and has made me appreciate how my female friendships are some of the most complicated and significant and fulfilling love stories of my life.

    I was just 24 when she passed away, and in the time since her best friend has become a godmother figure to me- we have a special friendship that transcends generations, we are bound by our love for my mother, and also for each other, that we’ve nurtured since my mother got sick. I feel so grateful to my mom for bringing us together and giving me that gift. I recognize that my female friends are the ones who have outlasted my romantic relationships, and they are the ones who have sat with me in the quiet of the night when my stomach ached and my heart hurt and I felt like I couldn’t breath. Thank you for writing this Caroline, it’s beautiful and it’s not talked about enough.

  9. This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. So beautiful and so true. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Cindy says...

    Love this! I’ve always loved and treasured my female friendships as much as my romantic ones (especially in those pre-marriage days). I started a tradition of celebrating “friendaverseries” when we hit big milestones – 5 years, 10 years, 15, 20, 25. After all, a friend is someone who chooses to be there for you, out of no obligation, and it’s incredible to think that these people have been in your life for decades. DECADES! Celebrating friendaverseries has been one of my favorite things to do. We both decide on something that we’ve always wanted to experience – a short overnight trip, a picnic somewhere gorgeous, an indulgent spa weekend – and just have quality 1:1 time together without kids, partners, pets, etc. Highly highly encourage others to start up the tradition!

  11. Laurel says...

    At times I think I invest more time in my text-based friendship with my dear friend who lives multiple oceans away, than I do in my marriage and parenting! It is soul-sustaining stuff. Regardless of what and whom else you have in your life, a friendship can be, doesn’t have to be, but can be, pure oxygen. While I’ve always loved my friends and prized my friendships, I didn’t really have this soul-sustaining friendship until I was already married and almost a mother and I feel like I couldn’t do either of those as well without it! Loved reading this Caroline!

  12. Laurel says...

    At times I think I invest more time in my text-based friendship with my dear friend who lives multiple oceans away, than I do in my marriage and parenting! It is soul-sustaining stuff. Regardless of what and whom else you have in your life, a friendship can be, doesn’t have to be, but can be, pure oxygen. While I’ve always loved my friends and prized my friendships, I didn’t really have this soul-sustaining friendship until I was already married and almost a mother and I feel like I couldn’t do either of those as well without it! Loved reading this Caroline!

  13. Julie says...

    This is so lovely. A wonderful tribute to love. While I am married and a mother to two youngins, I find my friendships with my girlfriends to be so much of my completeness. My husband and I moved 2,000 miles away from our friends and families years ago. It’s the group text messages from my long distance loves that I rely on for so much laughter and support. Nothing beats a few “ride or die” chicks.

  14. Abby says...

    Very important piece. Love Comes in so many shapes and sizes. It would be so cruel to reduce it to partnerships alone and let ourselves be defined by just one other person who loves us when there are so many more that are being loved by us and vice versa.

  15. Heather says...

    This is so beautiful. Thank you. I really needed this.

    I am 30, single, and had been single for most of my 20s. My close female friendships mean everything to me. And incidentally, while I am the only single one left (I feel your struggle with that wedding, I truly do), I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have my married friends still hold on to the friendships that we have always had, even though they have found their partners.

    • Katie says...

      Heather,

      Same boat. 33/single. The solo wedding guest struggle is real. Some friends don’t even give me the +1, which hurts, and some do, and that hurts, too. Because I, too, “wanna dance with somebody.” But don’t want to bring a rando. Going solo, I feel like I’m wearing a giant flashing red sign above my head that says, “SINGLE”. Weddings are tough – but my personal hurt aside, it truly has never, ever been that I wasn’t thrilled for my friend and believed in her love for her new husband.

      And I agree, it means the world to me that my married friends still prioritize their friendships.

  16. Dee says...

    Feel moved to comment to be a discordant voice. Great writing as always CoJ but I don’t ‘get it’. I have never had a female friend as described here, and the thought that I’m meant to have one fills me with dread -eurgh, someone else to keep up with. Husband, kids, family it’s really enough. I have casual friends- who I enjoy socially but I find the in between keeping in touch stuff a massive drag. When I’m in bed I don’t want texts from friends- I find that anxiety inducing! I hate it when friends make you text them to say you got home ok- such a bind. The cost of presents for birthdays and Christmas is insane (I mean we’re adults right!) I think friendships are life enhancing but I really believe we only have time and resource for maintaining a certain number of close relationships and if you have a family and a partner it’s pretty bloody difficult to maintain anything beyond that. And that’s ok!!!!

    • Emily R says...

      I think that’s fine. I think the point here is that some of us don’t have partners and therefore we fill that spot with friends. Although I’m the last single left I have four of the most amazing best friends I could ever ask for. We may all be in different places, but we all look out for one another, and I’d hope they’d answer my texts in the middle of the night. They’re all I’ve got!

    • Robin S. says...

      With my closest gal pals, I never feel the burden of “having to” do anything. We don’t “expect” gifts or texts… they simply flow freely when we want them to, with no obligations or guilt trips when they don’t. My realest friendships don’t ever feel like work… That’s also how I knew my husband was the ONE. It wasn’t always perfect, but it never felt like a job to try and make it work. The relationship was a natural joy. It’s the same with my besties. We’re simply in sync. I don’t always shave my legs for my husband, and my BFF is forgiving when I flake on texting her back. They both know what counts, and that kind of love doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

  17. Tara says...

    Besties are the best and I don’t know what I’d do without mine!! Great post!

  18. Abi says...

    Oh my what a lovely article…what an awesome friend you are ❤️

  19. Simply beautiful xx

  20. Sarah says...

    My best friend and I are each lucky enough to be married to incredible men, but that doesn’t stop me from telling her she’s my first soulmate.

  21. Jennifer P says...

    Yes. Oh, yes!

  22. Kyla says...

    ❤️❤️❤️

  23. Kate says...

    Highly, highly recommend “Everything I Know About Love” by Dolly Alderton on this subject. Such a lovely and affirming read about female friendships in your 20s.

  24. Sarah says...

    Caroline!!! Love that you’re featured here again! This was beautifully written, thank you. I just texted my bffs to tell them how much I love them. A modern “call your mother.” :)

  25. Stacey says...

    What a lovely article, Caroline! Now that I’m my mid-30s, I’m seeing how it really is true that female friendships support and nourish us over a lifetime, through moves, school, work, marriage, divorce. I’m very grateful for friends who I can count on for support.

    That said, I hate it when certain wonderful female friends disappear into relationships and you wonder what the heck happened to them. It does make you appreciate the friends who never leave the single friend behind, though and still want to cultivate the friendship through their new love, marriage, kids.

    One thing I try to remind myself is to talk about something besides boys with my female friends! We talk about plenty of things, but we often want to talk about dating, etc. It’s fun/helpful of course, but I would hate to look back after a decade and think that 75% of our conversations were about bemoaning being single or wanting men. There’s more to life!

    • Njeri says...

      Excellent and beautifully worded – I could not have said it so well…100% agreed! Thank you for sharing.

  26. Kara says...

    I have been fortunate enough to have incredible female friendship as long as I can remember, including my sister’s. Several years ago I moved across the country with my now husband, starting a period of something I hadn’t experienced: not having close female friends nearby, since a combination of life circumstances have made it very hard for any new friendships to stick. It’s been the loneliest period of my life, despite a loving marriage with two young kids. My female friendships have been the foundation of my life, my self, and though I communicate with my friends and/or sisters almost every day, nothing compares to physical time spent together.

    Reflecting on this post and these comments, I realize just how lucky I’ve been to have had and still have such amazing women in my life. (I actually have a movie fantasy scenario where my best friend of twenty years is married to my husband’s brother (yes we introduced them)…I get to spend holidays/vacations with my in laws WITH MY BEST FRIEND. Our babies are the same age–I am literally the aunt to her child!) All this to say, this post has made me feel less lonely, and I love COJ!

    Oh also book recommendation if you love this topic: Sula by Toni Morrison. Such a beautiful book about female friendship.

  27. Ryal says...

    Reading this after just reuniting with my college roommate from 1978, who lives on the other side of the country. We met our freshman year when we were 19 and 21. She just turned 61. We picked up like it was yesterday. There is nothing like old friends, especially girlfriends.

  28. I love this. Like you, I’m an only child. While I may not have ever dreamed of marriage or a big wedding, I just assumed that someday my family would grow that way. It hasn’t. I’m not crushed, but I do get mad when people assume my life is sad or weird. My friends are wonderful–we depend on each other and travel together and most importantly, laugh together.

  29. Bonnie says...

    Oh my god. This was so good. Love, love, love this. Sending it to my bestie.

  30. Joanna says...

    I remind myself this every day and I’m so thankful I know how this feels <3 Thank you for sharing!

  31. amy says...

    beautiful and funny and heartfelt and eloquent as always.

  32. Love love loved this! And I love love love that Caroline is back. Her writing! Her stories! So good. So so good. 👏👏👏

  33. Annie says...

    loved this lots and lots!! agree with everything. <3 :)

  34. Candice DePrang boehm says...

    regarding taking dates to weddings: don’t bring sand to the beach!

    • Liz says...

      hahaha I love that

  35. Sarah says...

    Crying at my desk, Caroline. Thanks for a beautiful post as always!

  36. May says...

    Beautiful tribute to female friendships
    All the while reading your words, I think you’ll meet your husband at the wedding. I remember girlfriends thinking like that for each other. Always caring.

  37. ASHLEY says...

    I. LOVED. THIS. !! <3

  38. Kath says...

    This is really lovely. It wasn’t easy for me to relate to – I’ve gotten burnt by my female friendships more than once and have experienced girl-on-girl bullying so many times throughout my life. But it sounds like I’m the anomaly.

    • Isa says...

      I understand you. I have had my share of weird friendships (unbalanced, or manipulative or political). My heart weeps when I am around friendships that seem so genuine. They are really happy for each other! (their successes). No bad mouthing. No weird egos or drama. Don’t get bored and dump you for the next shiny new gal. Genuine support and caring (I will fly over to be with you for your first chemo). I agree they can be amazing and if you have it cherish it. Because a lot don’t.
      Signed, still wishing for a ‘bosom buddy’ (Anne of Green Gables)

  39. Liz says...

    Absolutely love the power of female friendships. And the best part? Even if you do marry/move/have kids, those friendships come right along for the ride and continue to deepen. Many times my best friend and I who both suffer from anxiety have those panicked thoughts of worse case scenarios “what if my spouse dies?” and we always tell each other “then we can be roommates again” which makes that heavy load of fear suddenly feel light

    • Keira says...

      Liz, i read a wondeful article a few years ago about a small group of friends in the UK, all single and in their late 50s/early 60s, who have bought a large home to live in and grow old together. They know future circumstances may mean they may not be able to stay there until the end, but for as long as they can they want to live and care for each other, and not live alone. Your plan sounds like a wonderful idea!

  40. Maren says...

    This resonates so strongly. I was teary after reading and wiped my eyes through the comments. I treasure my girlfriend relationships. Some of them are my sisters (lucky!), one of them is from childhood, and a couple are from recent years at the start of motherhood. I NEED them. I rely on them. They keep me grounded and allow me to be my complete self.

  41. Kaitlyn S says...

    So love this, and so inspired by this. I admit freely that I was a terrible friend in college. I also devoured Text Me When You Get Home, and have spent the last few weeks deeply considering and relishing my female friendships. As a woman in a male-dominated profession I find myself turning more and more to my female friends (in the industry and out) to simply hear me when I feel unseen and unheard. I am proud to now say – at 29 – I love my husband deeply but he’s not my best friend.

  42. Anna says...

    I am a professional (non-fiction) writer and I spend a lot of my downtime reading really bad writing on the Internet. Holy nits, this is not bad. This is really, really good. Moving, engaging, real. I wish I was there to see the speech that you’ll deliver to the bride and groom. I am sure it will be fantastic. (And, as a married lady who adores my husband and my kids, there is no friend like a girl-friend.)

  43. Kattia says...

    I Loved this!!!!

  44. This is beautiful! Thank you so much for your encouraging, thoughtful, and insightful words. This might sound weird coming from a stranger, but Caroline, I’m proud of you!

  45. laureg says...

    Beautiful! I loved reading this. And you know what? Go single, and go with pride. As an unmarried woman, I went to everything I could stag- it was pretty fantastic. I can’t tell you how many cool things I was invited to because there was only one of me, and I wasn’t attached as part of a couple. There were no logistics about whether we could be accommodated as a couple, if people liked my other half, if this was something “we” should be invited to- I got to go to all of it! Trust me, you’re the only one who even notices you’re single, no one else even thinks about it (unless it’s someone nice wanting to get to know you better!). Plus, enjoy the time you spend unmarried- not that being married isn’t great in itself, but you may never have this sort of time again where you only have to worry about what you want, and you truly get to put yourself first.

  46. Louise says...

    I got teary when I read this and immediately called my best friend. There is nothing truer then “but I’ll be nostalgic for this time.” That is true for so many of life’s stages, but particularly true about friendships had and lived before jobs and husbands and families and so much more got in the way. When even when things were complicated, it was a simpler time.

  47. Lindsey says...

    Well, file this one right under the #COJDESKCRY

    “But I’ll be nostalgic for this time” feels so true and close to my heart.
    With a husband, a full time job, one kiddo and one more on the way, so much has changed from the days I spent the majority of my time with my girlfriends. Funny that we spent so much of that time pondering our future lives. Worrying about our future lives.
    Though I love my current stage of life, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. The years where I could devote endless amounts of time and energy into friendships. These friendships I still hold dear even though the texts are fewer and the takeout dinner and wine nights are few and far between.

    Thanks for this beautifully written post, Caroline.

  48. Yvonne says...

    Oh, Caroline. My heart. So true, and so perfectly said. Thank you.

  49. Sarah says...

    I went to 4 different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade. I then went to 2 different colleges. I had one very close friend from 7th grade on through adulthood. I never understood why I wasn’t “popular” and why I didn’t click with other girls / women. I think moving, switching schools and being very self conscious all made it difficult for me to make female friends. For a long time I went from one boyfriend to the next until I got married. It took me until into my 30s to learn to make female friends. Everything makes us into the person we are but, still, I regret that I missed out on a lot of friendships.

    • katie says...

      Oh but one thing my 94 year old grammy was quick to say: life is long. She had some friends in the last ten years of her life that were real ride or dies (really). you never know when you’ll meet your next best friend. i suspect you have many more friendships ahead of you (:

    • Julee says...

      Katie,
      What a sweet thing to say, and it gave me hope that I’ve got great friendships ahead of me too!

    • Sarah says...

      Thanks, Katie. A very good point.

  50. G says...

    Genuinely brought tears to my eyes as I sat at my desk eating lunch and reading this! It rings so true! Thank you for writing it.

  51. I’m really struck by the comments–women celebrating the close friendships they have and other women yearning for a strong connection with their fellow sisters. I think the common thread is that ALL women crave and deserve this kind of love. I’m hopeful that it also encourages some women to put themselves out there more–the vast majority of those yearning for friendships are afraid of rejection. Adults CAN make girl friends that feel like family.
    At 32, a new colleague at work and I became inseparable after realizing that we are basically the same person. What started as a casual conversation about my NPR Tervis and our love of Steve Inskeep led to frantic texts about fertility struggles and Sunday afternoons at wineries talking about nothing and everything.
    Sending out positive vibes and love to all of the sisters in the Cup of Jo universe <3

  52. Nikki says...

    Beautiful subject and wonderfully written.
    After neglecting my wonderful female friendships for work, family and my relationship (all wonderful) for many years- this article gives me ache for those friendships I once had.

  53. Lucy says...

    Just lovely

  54. Edith says...

    You know what I love about all these comments, and it is a testimony of how beautiful and persuasive this piece is written ( I love the title by the way). Nearly no one has said: “don’t worry, you will find the love of your life some day”! I am not saying that a lasting love relationship in the traditional sense is not important, it’s just that how one is able to create a beautiful, meaningful life without it, with lasting friendships, is worth so much and says so much about you.
    Also: it reminded me of that scene in Sex And The City, where Miranda walks utterly alone in the church aisle at her mothers funeral and Carrie joins her to walk together. Tears!

    • Renee says...

      Oh My Gawd! I remember describing this scene to my sister on the phone who had never watched sex and the city and then crying! I mean ugly crying… That scene meant so much to me. Female friendships really aren’t prioritized like they should be. Cheers to girlfriends an bff’s!

  55. Kate says...

    I rarely have the courage to comment, but this piece really went straight to the gut and heart. I lost my dad’s — and through the years of shared holidays, visits, laughs — my best friend yesterday morning to brain cancer. It sparked all sorts of emotions of course, but a prevailing one being the space between family and friend that a select few people occupy, and how meaningful their presence is. I’ll miss him for the rest of my life, of that I can be sure, but I’m also sure that the sort of love a friend-turned-family can give won’t ever disappear. It showed up for me last night in the form of heaps of pasta, the best kinds of cheese, and red wine brought over by a friend who dropped everything to sit on my tiny couch, in my tiny apartment, plates cramped on a tiny coffee table, just to listen and be beside me. That kind of love makes the saddest days just a little bit lighter.

    Thanks for your words, Caroline!

    • Wendy says...

      So sorry for your loss.

    • Lorraine says...

      Yes, sorry for your loss, Kate.

    • Chantelle says...

      Big hugs! I am so sorry for your loss. I lost a really close friend two years ago and there is a void that will never be filled. On the upside, how grateful am I to have had such a good friend. I’m sure you feel the same.

    • A Martin says...

      Sending love your way, Kate ❤️

  56. Angela says...

    I have three very new, but very close friends. The four of us have been tied together by this friendship-love for only a year. But man…it’s deep! Just a few days ago I decided I wanted to throw a party for just us four on my balcony (strangely enough, we don’t do a whole lot all together, just the four of us). Open champagne, loads of fresh flowers, fancy food, and give each of us a matching bracelet with our hashtag monogrammed inside: #thecrew. I love them all for different reasons, and I want to let them know individually exactly why I love them. I want to celebrate us!

  57. courtney says...

    OK, well clearly the second part to this beautiful piece is to share the wedding speech with all of us:)

    • Hannah says...

      Yes! Agree! Pleeeaaase Caroline!

  58. GRMorse says...

    As an only child and someone who also attended a women’s college, where I found my lifelong best friends/sisters, I loved loved this piece! Thank you for writing this.

  59. I loveeeee friendship and sisterhood. I’m so happy it is honored and valued and want it to be more and more. However, I don’t like that we make it a replacer or competition to romantic love. Each are beautiful and hard in their own right.

  60. Sarah says...

    Beautiful post which has inspired such heart warming comments❤️

  61. Liz says...

    I loved this piece. I’ve never been good at making/maintaining friends close female friends – it’s something that makes me sad sometimes but I’m working on it.

  62. Emily Dorn says...

    You are a gifted writer. As soon as I see your byline, I dive right in.

  63. Linh says...

    Thank you for writing this! I immediately sent this to some ladies so close to heart because it spoke to me on such a deep level.

  64. Beautiful.

  65. L says...

    Love your writing, Caroline. I’m on the verge of splitting up with my boyfriend of more than 5 years. Being in my thirties and aching to be a mother, it feels terrifying. I would like to have close friends to turn to for support, but I’ve always struggled to make friends. Reading this essay makes me equal parts sad for not having experienced friendships like the ones you describe, and happy for the people who have.

    • Emma says...

      <3 <3 <3

      I'm sorry you are going through this scary time, L. One day at a time.

    • Faviola says...

      So sorry that you’re going thru a difficult time.

    • Laura says...

      Hi L :) Sending internet love from someone else who sometimes signs her name “L” on this site.

    • Jennifer P says...

      Sending hugs your way, L!

  66. This is so lovely. I think the world of my best friend. And I do think it’s significant that we’re bound by nothing except choosing each other over & over & over again. I love her not because I’m expected to. I want to. And I want to do it well. There is a comfort & a warmth to her presence that is irreplaceable for me. Thanks for this beautiful tribute to the love that friends share.

  67. Minn says...

    Oh, I ❤️ Caroline!

    Made me cry. I also went to a women’s college and was single forever until I met my hubby 5 years ago and have been on a rollercoaster ride of marriage and babies and crazy family drama in between (expecting baby #2 next month!). This makes me miss all my friends and definitely makes me nostalgic about those evenings with my girlfriends, tipsy on the floor with wine in our brains!

  68. Holly says...

    This is so beautiful and so true. Thank you!!

  69. Such a beautiful piece. And while I deeply love my partner, I always have to say this: Men aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

    Eva

  70. MM says...

    i proposed a ‘fake fiftieth’ Birthday Vacation, to travel abroad to Spain and go on an 8-day Villa to Villa hike with my best girlfriends from high school.
    They all said, YES.
    Cheers to Sisterhood Power

  71. Caroline says...

    The “I’ll end up alone” (i.e. without a partner) fear I hear about has always been a mystery to me because mine is “I’ll end up with no friends”. Personal experience has shown that life can be equally great with or without a partner, but a life lived without the comfort of friendships (like that terrible/exciting time I moved and started from scratch) felt incomplete and even scary. I was so moved by this piece, which read like an ode to the kind of love, comfort, and solidarity that can only be borne out of friendships. To quote Jane Austen (as one must): “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time”.

    • katie says...

      yassssssss Caroline, yes. Thank you (:

  72. Shannon says...

    I really loved this piece. Would love to see more viewpoints about the challenges of friendship, though. I sometimes have friends for a season, and a few for life. I started out with a group of maybe 10 friends in New York – we had book club, we hung out. But slowly, things changed. We collectively got married, got rich, stayed single, struggled financially, changed jobs, got promoted, got pregnant, couldn’t get pregnant, lost pregnancies. There is a real socioeconomic factor to friendship that isn’t often talked about, especially in New York. It’s the same thing with Mother’s Day – there are soooo many posts about amazing mothers, and I struggle so much with mine and wish for a different mother my whole life. That said, this piece brought me to tears and Caroline’s voice is truly unique and special.

  73. Gabrielle says...

    This rings so true for me. I have three solid groups of girlfriends, each of which I can be a different version of myself with. I feel like they all make me whole and I couldn’t imagine not having them in my life. My female friendships have always been the most important thing to me – when I’m single or in a relationship.

    I love this article and I’m going to send it to all my friends. Caroline, your pieces on this blog have always resonated with me and this is no exception!

  74. Julie says...

    Caroline is everything! xoxo

  75. This is one of my favorite posts ever.

  76. Dawn says...

    Thank you for this lovely essay Caroline. My mom recently lost her best friend of 40 years in a car accident. At the funeral, my mom read letters that they had exchanged over several decades. They were there for each other through college, marriages, childbirth, divorces, cross-country moves, and so much more. Hearing about their beautiful friendship made me hug my girlfriends a little more tightly. Sending my mom and girlfriends this piece today. ❤️

  77. Lorraine says...

    these are love stories that have complexities as well. my childhood friend and i remained close for decades, going through college together, then having boyfriends who were roommates, then living in neighboring neighborhoods – until we had a falling out in our late 20s (12+ years ago). it was major enough that there was silence for a long time – through major milestones: weddings, children. we sort of grew into different people and i came to the realization that sometimes you break up with your friends too. it was hard, but needed. yet, i often felt a void. i was just so used to having her understand things without me explaining. i would see things i knew she would love or appreciate. but i had come to accept that our friendship was part of my past.

    one night recently, i had a rare night by myself – a friend had canceled dinner plans, but my husband encouraged me to still have some “me” time – which was useful because i was feeling a little blah. so i was walking around manhattan aimlessly, with no destination, and suddenly found my old friend on a corner, both of us looking at each other in disbelief. serendipity, another friend called it. we hugged. we exchanged some words and phone numbers. later she texted me, saying she wasn’t going to expect anything, but that she’d love to catch up over coffee. we wound up meeting up for lunch a week or so later, which led to afternoon coffee – basically about 3 hours to talk through everything from wedding planning to labor contractions and sleep training to pre-k applications.

    it was really special to make this connection again, because she’s a piece of home that i can’t find anywhere else.

    • Erin says...

      this is amazing!

    • Wendy says...

      Lovely story well told. Happy for you.

    • Caitlin says...

      This story just gave me chills. Almost 5 years ago I had a falling out with my best friend from college, and to this day it’s a kind of heartbreak I haven’t experienced otherwise, and wouldn’t wish on anyone. We lived together, studied abroad together, 10 hour road tripped home for holidays together…that type of friends, so suddenly having a very dramatic “break up” was painful and really really sad. It wasn’t a mutual decision (she felt I had wronged her in an unforgivable way when I was just following my heart), so that’s definitely a big part of why it was so painful for me, but also just because of the loss. When you have so many shared experiences and life events with a friend it is a beautiful thing, but when it goes badly it’s just like a romantic breakup…all those things/memories kind of feel ruined for you now, in my case, all my college memories.

      While I’ve had to accept, with time, that some friends just aren’t meant to last beyond a certain season, I admit that I’ll be seeing her (for the first time in years) at our mutual friend’s wedding next month, and I’m secretly sort of praying we will have a rekindling moment like your story. (I’m also terrified it will be awkward/painful). Either way, thanks for sharing your story…not many people I know have had friend breakups, so it’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

    • Heather says...

      Oh wow. This story gave me chills.

    • Lorraine says...

      Caitlin – I hope everything goes OK. In my situation, enough time had passed that I had zero expectations from my friend, and really just missed her so much. In my initial text-reply to her, I told her I didn’t want to re-hash the past. It was really nice to break the silence and start anew. :) xo

    • katie says...

      lorraine – your last line made me tear up. so glad you found your way to each other again. and sounds like it was good, too, to go to your own corners for awhile. we don’t talk about that a lot, but sometimes that kind of separation is also fitting in long term friendships. very cheered to here you two have reconnected.

    • Sadie says...

      So true. I had a falling out with a best friend, 15 years ago now. It was as though a huge piece of my life fell away, like the shelves of ice that fall off of Antarctica and drift away as icebergs. It’s like a painful hole in my past; one of the most poignant losses I’ve ever experienced; it looms like a ghost over current friendships– am I maintaining them enough? Am I giving them all they deserve? Am I being the friend I should have been?

      People laugh sometimes when I say it was like a divorce. I’m not kidding. It was exactly like a divorce. I lost a whole life. The things I learned through that are a huge part of who I am, for better and for worse. Friendships are not trivial, and sometimes we don’t know that until we’ve watched them crumble.

  78. Fiona says...

    I love this and relate to it so much. Having been like, really pretty single for the past few years, I have REALLY enjoyed my female friendships. Although I sometimes believe it more than others, I always try to remind myself, “I have the rest of my life to be married [hopefully…], so I want to take advantage of this time in my life now!” Being free and having so much fun with my girlfriends has been a huge blessing that I really don’t think I would have been able to appreciate a few years ago.

  79. This resonates with me so deeply, not because it’s my experience, but it’s something I long for. I have the opposite…a wonderful husband and three awesome children, but not any close girlfriends. I do have friends, but I moved frequently as a child so I don’t really have any lasting childhood friendships. I have college friends, but we all settled in far-flung corners of the country, and didn’t do a great job of staying in touch beyond social media. I’m very close with my sisters, and we talk almost every day, but they live in different states, so there’s still separation. When I finally settled in a city after college, I went to work building a group of girlfriends and I loved them and they were wonderful, but because I live in a large city with a lot of transplants they all moved away before we turned thirty…about the time I started having babies. I’ve found that people who are from here already have big friend groups that are difficult to join, and people who are not locals tend to keep moving. I have my mom friends, and my work friends, but I don’t have that super close love story kind of friendship with any women at the moment and I miss it SO MUCH. Husbands are grand, but they just aren’t women. As much as my husband loves and supports me, he just can’t always understand my perspective, and it’s just not the same kind of relationship on an emotional level. I love women, and now that my youngest child is almost one perhaps it’s time to come up for air and get to work building a new lady family.

    • Nisha says...

      I can so relate! <3

    • Charlie Rowlands says...

      I don’t have children yet, I hope to soon, but apart from that this is like reading my life story. I have never found it easy to maintain a friendship long distance and so I have formerly very very close girlfriends who I now catch-up with every couple of months via WhatsApp, where we say we should plan a trip and fly out to see one another, but life is so busy these things go by the wayside. I have a husband who is without doubt my best friend, in the truest sense of the words, but I often comment on how lonely I feel without a friend who lives round the corner, someone I can easily meet for dinner or coffee or hop on a train or in the car somewhere with. We’ve moved around a lot too and starting over is hard when everyone seems to have such established friendship groups. I always feel a little like an outsider, no matter how lovely and welcoming groups of women can be. I hope that when I have children I’ll meet mom friends, but for now it’s just me and the husband! I’m close to his sisters and we text all the time but I wish they lived closer. It’s the 21st century life I suppose, the world got smaller and I wanted to be out in it, which inevitably takes you away from people. I hope you have the time for a new season of life and friendship very soon xxx

    • Karyn says...

      “I’ve found that people who are from here already have big friend groups that are difficult to join, and people who are not locals tend to keep moving.” Yes, I feel exactly this in my life, too! I’m also really feeling what another reply to your comment wrote: “It’s the 21st century life I suppose, the world got smaller and I wanted to be out in it, which inevitably takes you away from people.” Here’s to hoping more strong female friendships will surprise us in the future.

    • I totally agree. I have a lot of really lovely women in my life but everyone seems to be coupled up with a bestie. Is it possible to have this relationship when you already are in the “next phase” of wife, mom etc? I hope so!

      Beautiful post Caroline!

    • Kate says...

      Yes yes yes. Except being in a really small town, it’s complicated.

  80. Laura says...

    Caroline: Best. Post. Ever.

  81. Courtney says...

    I love this. And I think it’s worth mentioning that cherishing and prioritizing friendships doesn’t only have to play a part in the lives of single people. I have had the same partner for five years, and though we don’t plan to ever officially marry, we’re in it for the long haul. I love him and I love going on holidays with him, but I also like the idea of a holiday with one or two close girlfriends. However, it seems that most of my married friends can only ever imagine traveling with their husbands. I’m always trying to say, “Hey, let’s plan a little getaway together!” because it’s times like those that you really continue to deepen your relationship.

  82. courtney says...

    one of the best things I have ever read. AMEN to that all. Thank you for articulating my feelings. <3

  83. Julie says...

    Oh girlfriends… it’s such an incredible bond to share the whole tapestry of life. This story made me recall a chat I was having with one of my dearest friends many years ago. She had recently separated and was in the throws of trying to settle her two children and navigate share custody of children. Her daughters were not adjusting well. As a child of divorce myself, I embarked on the importance of mother daughter time …. and then I paused. I explained that as I wasn’t a parent perhaps my comments were somehow without merit. My dear friend said “Jules, don’t you dare believe your thoughts are not worthy of air time, you’ve lived, you’ve loved and you are part of the village helping to raise my kids I’m grateful to lean on”. I’ve never forgotten how special that moment was.. some 12 years ago. Your girlfriends are your best allies and they truly want what’s best for you. Treasured friends.

  84. Caitlin says...

    This was so beautifully written. It made me tear up because I can truly relate to it. “But I’ll be nostalgic for this time”, I think everyone can relate to that. When you aren’t married, and do not have kids (not a choice (would love to have both), it’s just happening) it is easy to get so wrapped up in what you think you should have. It is nice to have a reminder that other relationships can hold just as much value. Thank you :)

  85. Lindsey says...

    My best friend and I met when we were 11. We are now 43, and our girls are best friends. I am married and she is dating, but neither of these things has changed our friendship. I treasure it with all of my heart.

  86. sara says...

    Absolutely beautiful- I don’t know what I would do without my girlfriends. They have saved me, time and time again.

  87. Kristen D Williams says...

    Love this! As a single woman and only child, this speaks to my experience as well. Don’t ever be afraid to go to a wedding of a friend alone…I have been in 7 weddings and attended many over the past twelve years as friends marry off and brought a date to only one. Why worry about if someone else is having fun, YOU have all the fun!

  88. Laura says...

    What a piece of truth! I wish I had read this a long time ago. We need more stories out in the world like this one. Caroline, can you write a children’s book about female friendships? I want to read something like this to my daughter!

    • Meg says...

      Love this idea ❤️

  89. Jessica says...

    This brought me to tears. I was in your exact position ten years ago. Now I have my dream job/husband/children/home, and my girlfriends have moved on to their dreams too (whether it be a loving partner, or a fantastic career, or traveling the world). But despite my deep pleasure with my life, I lovingly ACHE for that time huddled around the coffee table and take-out food with my girlfriends in the city, analyzing texts from boys and disappointing post-grad-school jobs. My girlfriends and I still text often and commit to annual reunions, but I rarely know when someone has a cold, or a confusing interaction with a coworker, or the daily melange of mundane things that make up our lives. Thank you for writing about such a cherished time of life and such a special kind of love. It may change in the years to come, but it never fades.

    • Fiona says...

      This is the piece that breaks my heart – we have a group text but I know there is SO much I’m missing about the day to day and I would give anything to live in their space and have them live in mine… sigh… those friendships are so precious!

    • Amy says...

      Love this!

  90. What an amazing post!! Thank you for the frankness, the funny as well as the sorrow, but most of all the hope and pluckiness. In an era of whininess and sad-sack navel-gazing, I love the nuanced view here. THANK YOU.

  91. Ruth says...

    Thank for writing such a great piece. I’m actually at place in my life where I’m lacking in the friend department — while I’m mostly OK with that, I definitely have moments where I crave it. I know it won’t stay like this forever and that I in fact do have wonderful female friends, but things are definitely different when working full time, married, with a kid. While I might not even talk to them every day (or even every week) I value the wonderful, funny, smart and kind women who I call friends. xo

  92. Maire says...

    This is just the best, and perfect for Mother’s Day weekend, when I believe that we should celebrate all women who nurture us in our lives- not just our wonderful mamas but our sisters, aunties, cousins, and our chosen sisterhood of friends. My life would be so empty without all these amazing female role models.

  93. Anna says...

    This is beautiful and so true. I enjoyed every word. Thank you!!

  94. Amber says...

    This is perfect. <3 Thank you.

  95. Jenn I says...

    I just threw myself a 40th Birthday Bachelorette Bridal Extravaganza with 10 of my closest girlfriends, from childhood into my adult life. It really was the best weekend ever, and what surprised me the most was how many of people were shocked that I could have 10 women, from all over the country, fly away from their families and responsibilities for me. It made me realize how special it is to have these women in my life, women that have dropped everything to run to me when I needed them, whom I have dropped everything to run to, whom I sat on the couch for the week leading up to the weekend paralyzed with excitement to see. They are my family, the loves of my life, and I am so, so, thrilled to have them.

    • Betsy says...

      Sometimes when I feel disappointed in my career or my love life my reminds me that I have accomplished so much with my relationships. I have truly wonderful friends. They span all the areas of my life and the love we have for each other is very real.

      I was in a pretty serious ski accident several years ago. I usually coordinate a lot of my social life but it was amazing to see these women (and one wonderful gay man) take over and make my life function. While I don’t recommend breaking any limps to find out who would wash your hair, buy your groceries, or just come sit with you and make you laugh. It was an experience that made me realize I’m not alone. Not even close.

    • katie says...

      So with you guys, Jenn & Betsy. I think the thing that can be hard, and to which Caroline’s beautiful piece alludes – is that there’s no big ceremony in our culture for long term friendship. We gotta remember that the showing up, day in and day out, is the reward. There’s no party or gifts for it other than the relationship(s) — that’s the gold alone. This is a really, really, really good & rare thing & we’re wise to start articulating just how much we mean to one another. Hopefully art will continue to catch up with reality and we’ll see more and more of our experiences reflected in film, television, song, literature, poetry, etc.

  96. Laura says...

    What a beautiful article!!! I have to agree that friendships deserve the same importance as other, more traditionally “important” relationships. My very best friend and I met in kindergarten, and this years marks 31 YEARS of friendship! This friendship has seen us through literally every life event. We were there for each other during all “firsts”: all our awkward stages, family dramas, growing pains, boyfriends, college, jobs, marriage (and one divorce), remarriage, mental health crisis, raising our boys, and OMG I can’t even go on because I’m going to start crying!!!! We talk almost every morning and I can’t imagine my life without her. We decided to celebrate our “30 year Anniversary” by getting our Yoga Teacher certifications to help us both move into a different professional path TOGETHER. Thank you for this article, it reminded me just how lucky I am to have my bestie.

  97. Rita says...

    So sweet and loving and true! I have felt the same way at various times in my life. At times, I embraced it, at times I let pressure from not sure who? get to me. Have fun at the wedding and make the best of your time with friends, and don’t think twice about anything else!

  98. Cynthia says...

    Well-written, I enjoyed every word!

  99. Amanda says...

    I never comment, I generally lurk. However, this is so deserving of high praise. Thank you for sharing <3.

  100. Amy says...

    Thank you for shining the light on friendships. My college girlfriends and I have been through EVERYTHING together and with husbands and kids and life and living all around the country we still always make it a point to get away every October to a new place. This year is Lake Tahoe! It is always one of the best weekends of the year every year and it fills my love tank with so much joy and happiness. And Caroline, I met my husband later in life. I have been the only single bridesmaid. I have wondered to myself and out loud to my friends if I would ever be married and have kids. You will find him and kids will come and you’ll look back at this single empowering time with such admiration! Shine bright young lady!

  101. KL says...

    <3

  102. adriane says...

    This is just lovely Caroline. I sent it to all my girlfriends.

  103. Oh I love this! I just finished reading Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and the running theme is her twenties, dating, and female friendship. It is beautiful, I highly recommend it!

    • Kate says...

      Yes! I immediately thought of (and recommended) Dolly’s book as well. It is a testament to her writing and theme that I consider her to be a friend with whom I am on a first name basis :)

  104. Lisa says...

    Bravo, Caroline. I’m inspired to re-connect with some of my girlfriends I haven’t talked to in awhile. What a lovely piece of writing.

  105. Erin says...

    I was single all through most of my twenties including two searing heartbreaks and a few really bad first (or second!) dates. So many solo weddings with both joy for the bride and groom and so much sadness for me. When I hit thirty with no love on the horizon and my hope, like a winged bird that perches and then nose dives…thank you Emily Dickinson, and crash lands, I knew it was either spend my birthday in the fetal position or throw myself a party. So I threw myself a party and celebrated the friendships, new and old, around me. I also knew I would build my life on friendship. Four months later I met Frans, who had all the signs of a kindred spirit. I knew we would be good friends. Thirteen months later, I married my ‘new’ friend and six years and two kids later he is my truest friend. My woman friends are irreplacably inportant, and he has comitted to being and staying my friend, through thick and thin. Friendship is the marrow of life.

    • H says...

      Erin thank you so much for sharing this. It touched me – as I completely relate to your stories pre-Frans. Makes me feel not so alone. x

  106. Christina M. says...

    This is so beautiful! I met my husband at 35 and got married at 37. What sustained me, and what I completely cherish, and miss most days, are all the time I spent with my friends.
    Sometimes I wish I would have met my husband earlier in my life but then I wouldn’t have had the experiences I had or made the friends I did. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so proud of these friendships.

    Thanks you for writing this beautiful piece. It’s a great reminder.

  107. Kristiana says...

    This piece came at the perfect timing. Thank you. Instantly shared this link with my fellow best girlfriend. Xx

  108. Andrea says...

    I’m reminded of the book “Spiritual Friendship” by Wesley Hill, which my church did a study on a couple years ago. I found out there actually used to be a commitment ceremony that friends could make with each other in the church. It was really a refreshing read; as a single woman I often feel left out of the church’s emphasis on building up marriages and families. The author delves into the history and importance of friendship in every person’s spiritual life, particularly his own, as a gay man who has chosen to be celibate. Men need this kind of intimate friendship too.

    • H says...

      Amen Andrea. I too go to church, and often feel left out and lonely, it seems everyone has paired off early on and there’s SO much focus on family/marriages – not that it’s wrong – but I always think it would be nice to have more diversity in the church messages. I’m going to look up that book!

  109. Jennifer says...

    So much wisdom and beauty in this piece. Bravo!

  110. Rebekka says...

    LOVE it. Thank you, wonderful Caroline!

  111. Alex says...

    As a woman in a long term heterosexual Marraige- I see now how my Marraige is just a best friendship on its best days. And i feel my relationships that most closely match it are my old female friendships. (I’m not sure why Siri is capitalizing Marraige for me – but I suppose that says a lot about our silly culture).

    So yes, friendship is all there is that is the best in this world.

    Now, I’d like to hear about friends (who are not married or sexually partnered) making a family with children together – are there people doing that? Because I feel that could really really work.

  112. Mouse says...

    My best friend of almost 40 years and I have less contact then we once did, but it still feels pretty much the same. We’ll speak or email every few months, and periodically visit each other. But the lack of constant contact doesn’t seem to change our deep and unconscious connection to each other. When we see each other again it is immediately US.

    Female friends are everything, in every version of that friendship.

  113. Lindsay says...

    Loved reading this. Beautifully written. Your friends are lucky to have someone like you in their lives 💕

  114. Rachel says...

    This is stunning. “Damn, this is good.” Came to mind as I finished your beautiful, smart, and poignant words. Sending love!

  115. M says...

    This is a wonderful piece, thanks for sharing. It made me feel a little better about something that’s been weighing me down – around six months ago I broke up with my closest friend, and I’ve been heartbroken. Given that female friendships can be some of the closest bonds we’ll ever experience, it’s no wonder I’m having a hard time of it.

    Sending love to anyone feeling a little lost and friendless at the moment.

    • K says...

      Friend break-ups are brutal; harder than break ups in my experience because often times, I expect (on some level) that a boyfriend isn’t forever. But a friend? That feels so so so much worse. Sending love your way. Take it easy & stay kind to yourself. (Also: something that helped me was a bit called ‘friendship divorce’ on Goop.com – there were some real gems in there that helped me heal.)

  116. Molly Grogan says...

    Maybe someone has already suggested this but you’re submitting to Modern Love right?!?! Made me cry. I love my girlfriends so much.

    • Oh yes! This is definitely Modern Love material!

  117. Birgit says...

    Lovely piece of writing. You really are talented, Caroline!

    Your words once again proved to me how narrow and restricted our society is. A marriage seems (for most people) to still be the one “achievement” that matters most in life. If you dont have that, you have many reasons to feel “not-enough”. This is so weird for me – and I am in a happy and stable relationship. The thought of not having my partner makes me feel sad and panicky. But not because I fear being alone, but because of the love we share.

    I think there are so many things that can make a life fullfilling, a relationshio with a significant other being one of many options. In my experience there can be so many kinds of people and relationships in ones life that can make you feel good, warm, safe and happy.

    I also love my friends and know how important their presence is in my life. But: I am also very open to the idea, that my best friends in my twenties might not be the people who I want to share my life with in my late thirties (I am now 34). Letting go of friendships can be very healthy. I like to let things evolve and that may mean to accept that people change, come and go.
    I’d love to read a piece on saying good-bye to a friend and accepting that like lovers, friends are not always meant to stay by your side forever.

    • Lisa says...

      So true. I love this piece by Caroline, and I’d also love to see a piece about letting go of an unhealthy friendship. In my opinion, this is much harder to do than end it with someone you’re dating.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      “Letting go of friendships can be very healthy. I like to let things evolve and that may mean to accept that people change, come and go.” So beautifully expressed.

      Thank you for this thought-provoking article, Caroline. More power to your imagination.

  118. Vicki says...

    Love yhis! So many things, but my fav was when you realized your friend could be your date – bringing a girlfriend as a plus one is THE BEST! I actually married young but my bestie didn’t and she faced the same dread of not bringing a person, so I’m not sure how she decided, but she started bringing me – it is perfect I will dance all the dances, get us our favorite drinks, meet some friends of hers that I haven’t met yet and I will still be around later to see all the people I meet at said wedding so they really will have met someone in her life.