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Benefits of Group Friendships
May 11, 2010 @ 12:06 AM
So as I confessed last week, I'm not really a Sex & The City follower.

However, that is not to say that I can't see the attraction and appeal. So in the name of research this month, I have given myself the homework assignment of watching the first few seasons from the vantage point of those of us who value friendships. (Bless my sweet husband who has sacrificed his Netflix queue for the cause!)

In the first season there is an episode of Carrie narrating that while her life was being consumed with Mr. Big, she realized that she had committed the Cardinal Sin: neglecting her girlfriends upon getting into a relationship.

So she comes up for air, so to speak, and meets her three girlfriends for dinner. There, she discovers that while she had been previously distracted they all had some stories of their own.

Value of Group Friendships
What struck me immediately is another reason why I am such a fan of group friendships: back-up. This is perfect. Carrie had been unavailable, but the other three had still supported each other, been witnesses to each others stories and had been present in each others lives. So while they had missed Carrie-- they weren't without a friend during the interim. There was back-up already in place.

Back-up is crucial. Not back-up in the sense of being less than, or secondary. Rather, back-up in the way that there are already other people who know your life and are present without needing a lot of updating and context.

When we have back-up in place then when one friend is distracted (and while we're known to do it for the starts and ends of romantic relationships, it also happens during a busy project at work, when our mom needs extra care, when our kids are filling up our calendars or when we get the travel itch), we still have good girlfriends in place.

If you don't have back-up in place-- you're more likely to blame that friend for her absence. To resent her for not being there. To get annoyed with her for not focusing on you. You blame her. When really-- it's your fault for not having back-up. That's your responsibility to make sure you have a wide enough circle of close friends. Not hers. Life happens and she simply will inevitably break the Cardinal Rule every so often. We all do.

Five More Benefits of Group Friendships
Group friendships are some of the easiest and most meaningful connections you can build. In a day when most of us hunger for more relational connectedness, but don't necessarily feel like we have more energy and time to foster them all, committing to a small group can prove the most effective.

Here are five more benefits:
  • Takes less time: It takes less time to hang out with four women on one night each week than it does to hang out with each woman four nights of the week.
  • Shares the responsibility: When someone goes through a rough patch, it is much easier for many friends to reach out and support than for one friend to feel the full weight.
  • Multiplies the benefits: It is meaningful to feel the safety net of women who are connected to each other as they each give to us with unique stories, perspectives and gifts.
  • Invites rich diversity: A group of friends invites different women into our lives than we'd experience if we were hand-picking only our one-on-one friendships-- whether it be the crazy & wild one or the quiet & thoughtful one that you think you wouldn't typically connect with by yourself.
  • Sustains the bond: With a group bond, you can easier absorb each others life stages and changes, rather than feel like you need to identify with every single one of them as we sometimes do in one-on-one friendships. When a friend marries, has kids, or goes through a divorce, a group friendship can provide a wide enough bond that can encompass the ebbs and flows of each person.
So while I am still watching all these episodes hoping I will find out how they all met each other originally (they do tell us at some point don't they?), this time it was but a simple reminder: there is value in a circle of friends.

Indeed it may be easier to just rely on one close friend you trust, but if even the consummate girlfriend Carrie Bradshaw can go MIA, then I vote you set up your back-up before then!

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