It was a huge mistake, I now know. When I got married at age 23, I focused all my energy on my husband and on couples as friends. I didn't keep my single female friends. I didn't hang out with them. And I noticed that's what other women in my generation did. What a pity!
So another of the things I have learned as I age is the absolute necessity of having female friends—or what I now call "girlfriends." I don't call myself a "girl" since I really haven't been one for decades now. I'm a woman, not a girl. But in these last years, I have embraced the word "girlfriends" for those treasured relationships I have with my female friends. The term just conveys so much more than does "female friend."
I love the men in my life: my fiance, my three sons, my four grandsons, my brother and those men I consider friends. And I also realize how deeply I cherish the women in my life because of our shared experiences: my sister, three daughters-in-law, five granddaughters and numerous friends. Because we live in similar bodies and share many experiences, we develop a shorthand of language and heart. Many of the things we say to one another need no explanation. We just know. We empathize.
I often say my girlfriends are essentials in my life. I need them. No matter what else happens to me, I will not give up those relationships again. That means that I invest in them—time and energy. And I am fed by those relationships. What a gift! I'm glad it's one of the things I learned through the years.