Issues That May Be Preventing You From Finding Lasting Female Friendships

Most girls, teens, and even young women operate within a close-knit group of girlfriends until adult milestones like marriage and parenthood arrive. For many, by the time they feel they can breathe again, their original friends have moved on, and new ones seem much more difficult to come by. A 2020 study published in Personalities and Individual Differences reveals that this is due to the fact that adults struggle more to trust new social contacts than younger individuals do, and this is especially true for women.


According to Harvard Business Review, the absence of a close group of female friends might even be what's standing between you and the next level of professional success. In a study of Harvard MBAs seeking executive positions, the male candidates were successful as long as they were central in the student network, regardless of the gender of their contacts. Women, however, were only successful in landing comparable positions if they were central in the student network and were associated with a close network of female contacts. It appears that women need other women to break through the societal limitations they face in high-profile positions. If you're struggling to identify why you're having trouble making genuine, long-lasting connections with other women here is your guide. 


Adult obligations

Between careers, kids, spouses, and keeping a Pinterest-worthy home, time and energy are incredibly scarce resources for many women. This exhaustion is typically exacerbated by an often-unfair division of labor inside the home. As reported by Berkeley's Greater Good Magazine, women are more likely than men to take on managing their households. Even when they work full-time, they continue to orchestrate their family's schedule, perform more physical household chores, and take on more parenting duties.


Domestic inequality doesn't just drain your time and energy; it's also associated with a higher chance of experiencing symptoms of depression. It may be tempting to just give up on trying to make time for friendships during this chapter of your life. However, research has shown that socializing with other women on a regular basis can actually benefit your physical and mental health and your longevity and eventually help support you through your golden years (via Forbes). 

Mother wounds

The way a woman feels about other women is often dictated by her early experiences with her mother, as detailed by Psychology Today. If you grew up feeling unloved, rejected, betrayed, or unsafe at the hands of your mother, you might find that you now struggle to feel trusting of other women as an adult. This can manifest in different ways for different women. One might find herself feeling guarded or standoffish when approached by other women, while another might engage in people-pleasing tendencies and come off as over-eager in her interactions.


Healing mother wounds takes time, energy, and commitment. You may wish to seek professional help in the form of a traditional therapist or an alternative healing practitioner. If you prefer to work through these types of issues all on your own, consider starting with learning about the process of reparenting yourself (via The Holistic Psychologist). 

Societal expectations

Women face a plethora of unique societal expectations, many of which are left over from periods of patriarchal and puritanical rule. Another often overlooked origin of the most common social issues between women may be evolution. In still recent human history, women largely depended on men for their survival and the survival of their offspring. Another woman moving in on her mate posed a very real threat (via Archives of Sexual Behavior). As society has progressed, the need to compete with other women has transferred to every area of life, from the workforce to social media.


If you find yourself viewing other women as competition or feel inexplicitly threatened by them, it is possible to change. You'll need to become much more conscious of your instincts by getting truly real about your innermost beliefs. Once you've identified the feelings that keep you from connecting with other women, you'll be able to start modifying your behavior. 

Feelings of insecurity

Comparison is the truly the thief of joy when it comes to your female friendships. Because women have historically been valued by society largely based on superficial facets such as their attractiveness to men, feelings of insecurity are rampant. This is especially true surrounding body image, as detailed by Vox. The phenomenon that can go both ways. You might find yourself looking at your friends' bodies or faces in a way that starts out as admiration but ends in simmering feelings of envy and inadequacy. Or, you might feel the eyes of your female friends on you and then observe how their behavior toward you changes.


There are ways to minimize the frequency of comparison that takes place between you and your friends. Avoid asking for opinions on your clothing or makeup. While you may have pure intentions when asking these questions, they will undoubtedly draw attention to your face or body and open the door for comparisons. When a female friend asks these questions, simply tell her she looks great and quickly change the topic. Be careful with your choices when consuming social media content as well and ask yourself if certain creators or aesthetics trigger your insecurities. 

Focusing on quantity

Despite social media's obsession with #squadgoals, most Americans only have three to five close friends, according to the Survey Center on American Life. A rather significant 12% of respondents even reported having no close friends at all. The idea of a girl gang being the norm is completely false. When it comes to your friendships with other women, quality should always matter more than quantity. It is far more beneficial to have one friend who truly cares about your well-being than 20 who are only around when the selfie stick is out.


Humans are a very social species who require deep and meaningful connections with others in their lives, as scientist Matthew Lieberman explains to Scientific American. Your outlook on your social life will change drastically when you let go of your preoccupation with assembling a crew and start looking for the women you connect with on a deeper level, no matter the number.