Many people will tell you women are much better at forming and sustaining friendships than men, but I think that’s a myth. Women may place a greater value on friendships, but they have a hard time maintaining the kind that stand the test of time.

Let’s be honest. Girls are mean. Girls can be fake. And nobody can judge quite like girls. Any adult woman you meet can tell you about having been burned by a friend who took far more from her than she ever gave in return. You open Instagram and see that friend whose life seems perfect and whose husband can never do or say anything wrong. Contacts with our friends often leave us feeling like we’re somehow less than them, just not enough, or that we’ll never be able to measure up to them.

So let’s make a pact for 2021. Let’s take a closer look at the women who are in our arena and make time for those who matter the most. Let’s choose to be the right kind of friend, a person who encourages her friends, truly believes in them, challenges them to be their best, and stands by them in those moments when they’re at their worst. And let’s find the friends who will do the same for us.

Each of us has only so much emotional capacity and we need to protect it. If you have a friend whose presence strengthens your emotional capacity, make more time for her. If someone consistently drains your capacity, get better at setting boundaries. You’ve heard of “close” friends. I suggest you also identify what I call “dose” friends — the people you can only take in small doses. And as for those “friends” who are always mean to you, whose jealousy shows up in cruel remarks and actions, or who try to sabotage what’s important to you, let’s leave them behind.

When we’re kids and teens, we put up with a lot from other girls because we’re so desperate to call them our friends. Now that we’re adults, we need to stop doing that. We need to use our limited time and energy to support the people who make us laugh, love, learn, and grow … and wish the others well as we walk away. If you’re not sure how to do that, or the thought of ending a toxic friendship is overwhelming, make an appointment to talk with one of our professional counselors. That may be the first step in creating the kind of friendships that last a lifetime.

Brittany Gipson is Clinical Manager of Care to Change, and helps women with anxiety and depression, and those with addiction-related issues.

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