The Roaring Twenties
The most difficult period of time to sustain female friendships is between the ages of twenty and forty. This period tends to see dramatic life changes, from tertiary education or moving away, to marriage, motherhood and career. Having a myriad of new responsibilities may cause one party to reprioritise friendships to a secondary level.
Some psychological experts argue that the intensity of female friendship begins to wane soon after a woman gets married and starts a family, as her spouse and children now fulfil her emotional needs. Mothers with babies and preschool-aged children barely have enough time to manage the little ones, juggle housework and run through a multitude of new and bewildering duties. This makes it tough to keep in regular contact with their besties.
Rita, 32, had a baby girl a year ago. She felt swamped keeping up with the constant feedings and nappy changes that she barely had time to chat with her girlfriends, let alone meet up with them for their bi-monthly movie and coffee dates. She felt that little by little her friends were growing colder towards her. While nothing was said directly to her, she got the message that they were unhappy with her when she was not invited to one of their birthday celebrations a year later.
Rapid globalisation in the past decade or so has seen more and more people relocate to other cities, often overseas, for reasons as varied as education, career, bringing up a family or retirement. The physical distance brought by the move can prove challenging for close friends who are used to regularly catching up in person.
Linda, a 40-something mother of two, had to move from Singapore to the United States when her husband was posted there for work. At her farewell party, her six good friends reaffirmed their commitment to stay close via emails, phone chats, Skype and visits. But after five years, she and her friends made fewer and fewer attempts to keep in touch. Linda admits that she is largely at fault because she was overwhelmed by the move and settling into a new country. During her latest visit back to Singapore, she did not catch up with any of her friends. She has since made new friends in the US. And while she misses her old friends, she is unsure whether she can ever be close to them again.