Date Your Friends: The Importance of Celebrating Female Friendship

As Valentines Day rapidly approached, I found myself experiencing my inevitable perennial dread — that without a date, the holiday would simply serve as a reminder of how lonely and unloveable my little old single self was. I began planning my course of action: logging off social media for the day, staying home and going full hermit mode to avoid the slightest reminder that I didn’t have a doting partner showering me with love and flowers and overpriced stuffed animals.

Then, a couple of days before V-Day, I planned a date. 

I arrived at the Olive Garden promptly at 11 a.m. on February 14, a box of chocolates in hand. A familiar grey car pulled up, and as I prepared to surprise the occupant with their gift, I was surprised by a knock on the window— my best friend, Eve, ready to surprise me with her own box of chocolates (hers, of course, was bigger than mine, as she somehow always manages to one-up me). We walked in, sat down and looked across the table at Sami and Cat, two more smiling, friendly faces that each lit up as we passed them their gifts. We laughed and talked about our love languages, silly birthday party ideas, obscenely specific Pinterest boards and our plans for the future. Later that night, we met up again at Sami’s apartment, where we got dressed up, took photos, drank wine and made our way (safely!) to a Krispy Kreme, where we shared creme-filled conversation hearts. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

The next day, I made dinner for twelve more women. It was our official Galentine's night— we talked, drank, played games and swapped tokens of our love. Sami brought me my favorite flowers, Shannon gave me my favorite wine and Tori and Lauren handmade cards for every single person in the room. Some of them I’d known for five years, others I’d only met a couple of months prior, but as I looked around at each of them my heart began to glow. I cannot describe the love that was emanating from and for each and every person in the room. It didn’t matter what gifts they brought or how fancy their cards were— it mattered that they were there.

I felt seen. I felt heard. But most of all, I felt loved, more than I ever could’ve thought possible.

In the last year, I’ve tried to work on strengthening my female friendships. As someone who’d spent their entire childhood annually moving from town to town, as well as a former card-carrying member of the “not like other girls” (but secretly exactly like other girls) club, building strong and meaningful friendships with other women wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I was too guarded, too shy, too focused on obtaining the holy grail of validation: the attention of a Boy™. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that through every up and down I’ve experienced, one of the few constants in my life has been my friends. And that deserves to be valued. They're the people who will hold you when you cry and cheer when you succeed. They throw surprise parties and give advice and stay on the phone until 3 a.m. while you rehash the same stories to each other over and over. They'll just as soon go dancing or rollerskating with you as take the time to visit you in the hospital when you inevitably break a bone from attempting to rollerskate. It's love, pure and simple.

I use the phrase female friendships, but I’ve experienced this same sort of unconditional love and support from women, men and non-binary individuals alike. I say female friendships because they carry a sort of depth I’ve come to associate primarily with women— a deeply empathetic connection, mutual concern and care for each other’s wellbeing, a shared set of core values, an open expression of emotion and truth that doesn’t leave you guessing where you stand. Anybody is capable of fostering these sorts of friendships, but what makes them unique is how they take the traditional heteronormative role of the woman as the nurturer and turns it inward as well as outwards to our community, building each other up while reinforcing our own inner strength.

This could just be a silly story about how my pals and I spent Valentine's stuffing out faces with ravioli at Olive Garden. Or it could be a reminder of how much the simple act of spending time together and showing appreciation for one another can mean to someone. Love isn’t something limited to romantic partners, and neither should our appreciation of it be. 

Girls having fun at party

The Official 2020 Galentine's Portrait