Girlfriends are like superheroes who know us better than anyone. They’re our confidants and consciences, and they never ask for anything in return. Here are 10 reasons why we need them in our life.
Why Women Need Their Girlfriends to Thrive
A while back, I wrote about how women should go out with their friends twice a week for better health. I also talked about the benefits of traveling with girlfriends. In fact, over the years I’ve talked a lot about the power of friendship, especially for us women.
Today, I want to pull all of that together and offer you a few more great reasons to call up your pals for a girls-only weekend (as if you need a reason, right?). Some of them are even backed by science. Keep reading to check them out.
1. Girlfriends help lower your stress levels
Let’s start with one that’s actually backed by a recent study. Just last year (2021), the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology did a study looking at whether age and familiarity affect how well women communicate. If you’re curious, the answer is yes. They found that older women communicate better with strangers than their younger counterparts.
However, that’s not the interesting part of the study. Well, at least not in terms of why women need their girlfriends. Researchers also discovered that “communicating with female friends decreases stress hormone levels for women across the lifespan.” It just verifies something I think we all know: spending time with friends helps relieve stress.
2. They’re like therapists that you can drink wine with!
Friends really are like talk therapists. We can tell them anything without worrying that they’ll judge us. They’re always there to talk us through our biggest problems and support us as we figure out this crazy ride we call life. The best part? Unlike our regular therapists, we don’t have to pay them to listen AND we can drink wine with them!
3. Good friends help you create the best version of yourself
An interesting study done in 2013 by the University of Virginia found that we humans are “hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us — friends, spouses, lovers — with our very selves.”
Lead researcher James Coan explained, “With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves. “Our self comes to include the people we feel close to.” In other words, you become the people that you empathize with the most. When you surround yourself with amazing girlfriends who love and support you, you’re basically creating the best version of yourself.
4. They pick us up and put us back together again
Sometimes we just need our girlfriends to come over, drag us out of bed (and out of our funk), slap our broken selves back together again, kick us out the door and say, “You’ve got this.”
Reese Witherspoon explained it best. She said, “I don’t know what I would have done so many times in my life if I hadn’t had my girlfriends. They have literally gotten me up out of bed, taken my clothes off, put me in the shower, dressed me, said, ‘Hey, you can do this,’ put my high heels on and pushed me out the door!”
5. Friends just might protect us from serious health issues
According to a recent report, “Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.”
For example, loneliness increases your risk of heart disease by 29%, stroke by 32%, and dementia by a whopping 50%! It’s also linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. So, in other words, the CDC recommends having friends. 😀
6. Your girlfriends can actually relieve your pain
I think this is probably one of the most interesting studies of all. In 2016, the University of Oxford found that people with more friends have a higher pain tolerance. In fact, according to the research, the pain-relieving endorphins released while spending time with friends rivals that of even the strongest prescription pain meds.
Now, I’m not saying an afternoon with your friends is enough to relieve, say, the pain of a broken bone. However, it could help you cope with other types of pain. Even if you’re dealing with major pain, spending time laughing with your girlfriends while you’re recovering definitely couldn’t hurt!
7. They’re just as important as family
Many of our friends ARE family to us, so it’s no surprise that research shows their role is equally as important in our lives as our “blood family.” William Chopik, a professor at the University of Michigan and the author of the study, explains that when we’re young, both family and friends are linked to our well-being. When we get older, though, “the link remained only for people who reported strong friendships.”
He’s quick to point out, however, that it’s not just the number of people you have in your circle that matters, but the quality of those friendships. Surrounding yourself with fake friends won’t help you live longer. In fact, they may actually negatively impact your health. People who said that their friends drained their energy reported having more chronic illnesses. So keep that circle tight and fill it with people who bring out the best in you.
8. Friends help us feel like we belong
Sing it with me! “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same.” (For those who didn’t grow up in the 80s, that the Cheers theme song).
Seriously, sometimes we just need to be among people who are always glad we came. To feel like we belong, that someone “gets” us and accepts us, quirks and all.
9. They intuitively know what we need
Our friends have this amazing ability to figure out exactly what we need, sometimes before we even realize we need it. We don’t even have to ask them for help, they just know. For example, you could be having the worst day ever and out of the blue your friend just calls you up and says, “Let’s go to lunch.”
Not to sound all mystical, but it’s almost like we can sense changes in each other’s energy or something. It’s like the more time you spend with your girlfriends, the more in-tune you become with each other. It’s really quite extraordinary, isn’t it?
10. Girlfriends help you live longer (or at the very least, live better)
When you put all of the above together, I think it’s easy to see why having girlfriends helps you live longer. Lower stress translates to better heart health, for one. Spending time with friends helps us combat all of the health issues associated with loneliness, for another.
Even if they don’t actually help us live longer lives, you can’t argue that they definitely help us make the most of whatever time we have on this planet. If that’s not a good enough reason why women need their girlfriends, I don’t know what is!