Letters

Some readers thank Rebecca Traister for her insights on female friendship. Others suggest that she "save such stories for Oprah."


Salon Staff
October 6, 2004 11:00AM (UTC)

[Read "Girlfriends Are the New Husbands," by Rebecca Traister.]

This article hit home. One of my best friends moved away and I can flat-out say she broke my heart. Thanks for the great article.

-- Naomi Roth

It's both odd and sad: the degree to which women seem compelled to constantly, constantly insist on the disposability of the men in their lives. I found this article essentially redundant. Women's cable networks, chick lit and a whole "grrrl" industry (from female-oriented magazines to Web sites) have already done a formidable job of hammering into men's heads their basic worthlessness to women, so why this article? It says nothing new, nor does it offer any solutions to the massive rift that's developed between the sexes in the new millennium.

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I wonder if it would come as a surprise to the author of this piece that male friendships have also diminished the importance of wives? (Well, that and mistresses and getting a new, younger wife every six years or so.) Why don't men need cable networks and a whole genre of literature to crow about such achievements?

Maybe because they're not achievements. On either side.

-- Thom Frost

I'm so glad to read what I've already known for years: Girlfriends are not a springboard or steppingstone to real relationships. Instead, they are on par with those that came before and will come after. Thank you for recognizing the importance of time shared with a best friend.

My best friend and I told each other long before she got married and had a baby, and I ended up in an adult long-term relationship, that we wished we could marry each other. We waxed poetic about getting dressed up, having a big party with all of our friends and family and ultimately ending up on the porch swing of a great house, with our dogs, sipping iced tea together in our golden years. We were wistful, as we knew that great guys would steal our hearts away (just like we hoped).

While we're both happy, I think we both still miss our "lonely" single years every so often.

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-- Blaire

I just read this great article by Rebecca Traister, and I would like to share with her that as a gay man, I too have experienced the same -- many times.

I am the perpetually single person in our crowd. I have experienced close intimacy with friends both male and female, straight and gay. It's really hard to go through being the one who gets left or "replaced." It's difficult to slide from being the first one called to 3rd or 4th position.

One day my dear friend, 20 years married, gave me some insight and counsel. Her advice was difficult to hear, but nonetheless has taken a little of the sting out of this bittersweet pattern in my life.

She said, "You deserve to have continuity with a special man, and you get that by having a primary relationship. Friends come and go (that's what friends do), but that special person will always be there. We need to find someone for you."

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Still working on making this happen for me. In the meantime new buddies are plentiful, and the process of letting go is getting (a bit) easier to experience.

-- David Brunet

Rebecca Traister writes of single women, "During our formative 20s and into our 30s, women provide us with the emotional and intellectual sustenance and shared curiosity about life that we're not getting from our parents anymore, or from husbands or from our temporary or nonexistent sexual partners." From comments like this, you would have to wonder where male friends fit into the picture. My male friends provide me with plenty of emotional and intellectual sustenance, and I wouldn't trade any of them for women.

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-- Alisha Creel

Rebecca Traister proves again that women talk too much and are silly.

I'm about to turn 45 and I've known my best friend for over 30 years now. In that time, he moved upstate, I moved 2,000 miles away, I slept with someone he was trying to date, he slept with a someone I had dated. He grew to be 6-foot-4 so he started whacking me like a baby seal when we played basketball. He got married and had kids. For a year he moved to Europe.

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We never thought our friendship was over when any of these things happened. We trusted our friendship. We didn't feel depressed if we couldn't chatter like chipmunks. And we never let other people (spouses, friends) define our friendship.

Sounds like the author doesn't really make friends.

-- R. Wellor

Bravo, Rebecca, for your fearless introspection -- a great piece of writing and a courageous leap into your next stage, with its new possibilities.

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Girlfriends as placeholders? Definitely. Girlfriends as dry run for marriage? Nope, can't agree with that. Nothing can prepare you for the soul-searing, psychic ripping of your average marriage. When they say marriage is hard work, they mean the part where commitment to something bigger than your own pleasure forces you to turn yourself inside out to get over natural self-centeredness. It ain't pretty, but that's growing up.

-- Sharon Agassi

Of course the importance of bonds among women is critical. But to focus exclusively on women implies that men don't share this bond. It sadly feeds the cultural stereotype of men as one-dimensional beings while holding up the view of women as complex life forms, so much so that only a fellow female could relate. It's insulting and immature to perpetuate this stunningly anachronistic perspective, and it ultimately takes away from what is an otherwise tender story of a connection between friends.

That's really the key here: It's friendship, not female friendship, that exists. Special bonds exist in male-male and female-female relationships, and it's the same common perspective that makes those connections so valuable. The author is sad to be losing her friend to a man. We men, believe it or not, go through the same thing when a worthy woman comes along and romances our friend.

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Save such stories for Oprah, who I am convinced doesn't believe men have souls, except for when they can be brought up on her stage to be feminized and ridiculed by her lobby of empowered women.

This letter will do nothing but make the author scoff, which is why she will remain single -- until, that is, she realizes that a man with the depth she is seeking can, in fact, get to know her to her core just as quickly as another woman can. Don't flatter yourself too much: Men and women ultimately aren't that different, despite what the self-help gurus tell you.

-- Daniel Stern

Rebecca Traister had a lot of interesting insights into the relationships between young women. There almost isn't even really a decent word yet to describe the bonds we make, because it seems like more than simply "friendship." It also feels like family, and in a lot of ways partners.

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However, I don't think these deep female relationships are placeholders for husbands. I think they can and should continue throughout our lives. A husband can never, and should never, replace the type of female relationships we form during the post-childhood pre-marriage period of our lives.

-- Kate Roberts


Salon Staff

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