When it comes to stories about friendships, nothing compares to Sex And The City. As any fan knows, the heart and soul of the adored TV series has always been the extraordinary relationships between four vehemently different types of women: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Although the gorgeous fashion, endless Manolo references and incoming array of hot men made us swoon between episodes, it was always the strong bond between Bradshaw’s crew that kept our interest thoroughly piqued.
“Even though they are a bit older than me and my friends, the fundamentals of their bond are the same as ours, ” says fan Clare Douglas, a 25-year-old editorial assistant living in Toronto. “The way they communicate and the way they are always there for each other—laughing and helping each other figure life out—is universal.”
Which brings us to the true love story behind SATC and what we all want: friends who can endure the long, and sometimes hard, journey. However, it’s not quite as easy as Carrie and co make it look. Life’s road is often filled with hills, potholes and detours that separate the faux friends from the true ones.
Girl meets girl Douglas, for instance, sees her friends as an extended family. “They’ve been my true-blue friends for more than 17 years,” says Douglas. All four girls work in different industries—Douglas in publishing, while her friends are a police officer, a student and an account coordinator—yet they’ve remained friends even as each of them has made other, newer friends.
There’s a special resiliency inherent in our oldest friendships. “I think the reason our friendships have lasted is primarily due to the fact that we built strong foundations of trust and love prior to all the craziness that happens in your teenage years,” says Douglas.
Friendships form easily between young girls “going through the same developmental stages,” says Esther Kane, a Courtenay, B.C.-based psychotherapist. “There’s a lot of shared experience so these friendships are often intense.”
For the case of today’s twenty- and thirtysomething women, childhood friendships may have started on a deeper level too, when hanging out together meant actually hanging out, not just texting or comparing pics on Facebook.
Sure, we make new friends throughout our lives, but it takes a while for them to stick. “When we meet new friends, there are other priorities in life that weren’t there in our childhoods, so it’s harder to establish that same sort of connection,” says Catherine Frechette, 33, a media relations manager from Kelowna, B.C.
Rifts & Drift But even our longest friendships are not without their challenges. When you’ve been close for so long, BFFs can forget to turn on their filter and say or do some hurtful things. And breaking up with a long-standing friend can be worse than cutting loose a boyfriend. With a shared social circle, standing yoga classes, weekend club outings, or even family ties, it’s a painful and life-changing cut to make.
Tension often comes via a handful of realities that can be classed under education, work, love or a move. Or a man comes between you. Or you just resent the time hers is taking up. “I find a big problem with some friends is the replacement of their girlfriends by their boyfriends. They’re so involved with their romantic relationships they neglect their friendships. Although we’re happy they’ve found someone who makes them happy, we’re sad that we’ve lost a friend, in a way,” says Victoria Martin Evans, 25, a student from Toronto. (Time together becomes even more of a challenge when a friend has a baby.)
From BFFS to Unfriends “Fortunately, increasing numbers of women are fighting for their friendships—even going so far as to attend couples counseling,” says Kane.
If you don’t think therapy is the right option for you, give your friend some space and time. Take stock in your friend’s strengths and don’t take on any kind of crusade to make her or him into something that he or she will never be.
Saving graces Although Facebook and other social media sometimes get a bad rap, the reality is that technology and social-networking sites are a godsend for busy professionals, students with grueling schedules, new moms, jet-setters and other far-flung friends you love but have a hard time connecting with. So don’t feel guilty if texting has replaced tête-à-têtes with your best girls, or if Skype is your primary connection. A true friendship will outlast less-than-ideal logistics.
And, don’t forget: à la Carrie et al, it’s also possible that some of your future best friendships haven’t even started yet. You may meet your significant others in the near future: in university, at work, doing volunteer work or at the gym. Your girls are out there, waiting for you to find them. Retirement community buddies sipping cosmos by the therapeutic pool and talking sex at 80? Why not?
“Friends For Life” has been edited for FLARE.com; the complete story appears in the May issue of FLARE magazine.