Why We Must Have Friendships That Aren't Based On Drama

"The Sex and the City Syndrome"

I'm a girl's girl. Always was. From as early as first grade, I just knew there was a bond in my best female friendship that was indispensable. That one person who really got me. The one who knew my secrets and wouldn't judge, who I would talk and laugh with for hours about nothing and everything, who would wipe the smudged eyeliner from my eyes after one of those tearfilled "learning experiences" everyone hopes to eventually gain enough wisdom from to render obsolete.

It was an exclusive spot, that "BFF" spot, though no one person remained comfortably in that position for more than about 3 or 4 years. I hated it. Each time one of those friendships ended was just as tough as any breakup with a significant other. And, as with a break up, each time I would examine what went over the years, I began to look for common threads. While there are a few, there is one in particular that I've learned to look for early on as a "red flag" for an undoubtedly close but unhealthy best female friendship.

I call it "The Sex and the City Syndrome". Now, before I go further, I'm going to tell you that I love the show. For years, every Sunday night at 8 p.m. was sort of a sacred hour for me, as the show provided comic relief that could make even the most stressful upcoming week seem like a manageable feat.

That being said, I'm going to go ahead and assume that, given the show's popularity, you've seen it or at least know the basic premise, but if not, here is a rundown: four women bond over life's trials and tribulations, much, if not most, of which revolve around love--unrequited love, deceitful love, awkward love, forbidden love, etc. Inherent to such situations is a sort of drama that leads to the previously mentioned tear-soaked "learning experiences", and often, on the show, the pain is dulled with cocktail sedatives and pledges from the women that they will never hurt each other the way men have, and that no matter what life brings, their friendships are forever.

People who stand by another through an intense personal ordeal develop a sense of intimacy as a result--this is why we value these friendships more than their more surface level counterparts (for example, the coworker you meet for the occasional happy hour but generally only disclose your thoughts and feelings about pop culture, the workplace, and that dress you got at a great Macy's sale).

Now, I'm all for women supporting one another. I think that this type of dynamic poses a problem though, as it leads to women bonding primarily over highly dramatic situations. And in my early twenties, i noticed that many of my best female friendships that I ultimately decided to end had some variation of this dynamic. The problem with friends bonding over "drama" for lack of a more fitting word, is that in order to maintain the friendship as is, the drama must be perpetuated.

I'm talking about the friendships in which girls spend nights drinking their sorrows away--while they may have fun together, this isn't helping anyone solve their troubles. These friendships also become defined by drama and being there for one another in tough times-- a la Sex and the City. In such friendships, you may find that when times are good, the conversation between you then what? The friendship wanes, you drift you learn to stay focused on the dramatic times in order to fuel more nights of "bonding" with your friends. To create more reasons to drink one too many cosmopolitans, and show the world all the excitement in photos on Facebook-- complete with captions only you and your besties can understand, leaving everyone else to wonder what they are missing.

The key, in my opinion, is that there must be balance--we are all going to endure hardships during which we will benefit from the support of our friends. It's healthy to bond during those times, and let intimacy develop naturally as a result, strengthening the friendship. These times must be balanced with healthy times of celebration, however, over each other's successes. And if times are tough, and it's difficult to find things to feel celebratory over, then spend time finding ways to overcome the tough times--rather than getting "stuck" in them.

Now, I get it. A friend said to me recently "serenity is kind of, well, boring..." And I can see the point in this. Problems lead to drama, drama leads to excitement. There are positives and negatives to everything, and I suppose even being emotionally healthy has its down side. But now that I choose not to foster friendships that are characterized by The Sex and the City Syndrome, I'm not living my life counting down the days until the weekend...I can live in the moment b/c generally, I'm happy. I chose a career I love, I play guitar as a hobby, I love to my best friends and I have fun doing things. We exercise, take our pets to the park, cook, etc. It's a different way, and I like it.