Anna-Leena Harkonen




Best Friends Forever

Carol Shields describes friendship between two women in The Republic of Love as follows:

Among their ancient rituals is the exchange of elaborate compliments. “Well-snipped dill,” Fay will say to Iris. “Exquisitely combed hair,” Iris will say to Fay, or “That lip gloss brings out your essential you-ness,” or “Your shoulder blades are looking particularly goodish today.”

THIS IS EXACTLY what female friends do. It’s just as important to receive compliments from a female friend as it is from a man. If you buy a new blouse, you immediately want to show it to a friend, so they can confirm you have made a good purchase.

A female friend’s main duty is to keep your self-esteem high. Sometimes this means telling a little lie. “Don’t worry. Nobody even noticed that you had passed out on the couch in the bar.” Or: “Gained weight? You? Twenty pounds? I can see no difference!”

ANOTHER IMPORTANT duty for a female friend is to always agree with you.

I have a male friend who thinks it’s boring to agree on everything. He always tries to provoke and annoy me and engage me in a debate, basically on everything, successfully so.

Now he has promised to leave me be. Friends are supposed to give you energy, not drain you of all energy.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to expect understanding from your best friend, even when everyone else has turned their back.

I’m sure that my best friend would understand if I went berserk on someone. “We all have our limits. We all lose our temper sometimes,” she would say. Or: “They were asking for it!”

FRIENDSHIP IS FORBEARING, but does not endure everything.

Under no circumstances may you flirt with your friend’s boyfriend. You must not even dream about him—and if you do, you must wake up immediately.

YOU FEEL AT EASE in the company of a friend. If you feel, even for a moment, that you are being observed and criticized, everything is ruined.

You must not use your friend as a free therapist. Unfortunately, it took me a while to realize that I was doing so.

If promises are broken repeatedly, it’s time to reconsider. The same applies if only one of you keeps in touch, and the other fails to respond and always has a new excuse.

SOMETIMES friendship withers for other reasons.

I had a friend who used to punch me in the shoulder “playfully” when she wanted my attention. It hurt, and I also began to sense hidden aggression behind the “playfulness.”

One time I punched her back. She was driving, and we nearly ran off the road.

We are no longer friends

© Anna-Leena Harkonen 2022

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