grown ups are like that....

Monday, July 30, 2012

Girlfriends

They hold hands, snuggle on the couch, and spoon under the covers.  They hug with true affection and often lift the other off of the ground in joy during an embrace.  They press their cheeks together and giggle when a photo is taken.

This sweet, affectionate couple is not a pair of young lovers nor is it an old married couple.  

This pair I speak of are two small girls.  Many, but not all, young girls give their affection to their friends free of charge.  The touches, the caresses, and close-to-the-ear whispers come without reservation and without self conscious embarrassment.

But when women grow up the affection they once shared with girlfriends wanes. Hugs may linger, but not much else. Curling up on the couch to read a magazine together or holding hands at the mall? No, this rarely happens during the adult years.  The door shuts on that physicality sometime in our twenties.  If we're lucky we let it tarry into our early thirties, but, really, the women I know now hesitate to touch each other beyond a simple hug.  My one dear friend always greets her female friends with a kiss, which I love, but I sense that others are shy about such an intimate gesture and find it strange or too "European."

I watch my girl, eleven, still eagerly cuddling with her girlfriends even now as she prepares for middle school.   They play with one another's hair and take pleasure in mutual grooming. They snuggle and hold hands and share a bed without hesitation during sleepovers.  In short, they cherish each other's touch.

I've always been a "touchy-feely" and "huggy" kind of a person, and I readily admit to  missing this sort of physical yet utterly platonic relationship with my women friends.  But this sort of intimacy is not the sort of thing one pushes with those that are more reserved or shy.  It isn't OK to expect people to reach beyond their interpersonal comfort zones in such a way.  Frankly, it is wrong to force such a thing.

Would the kinship we have with our female friends be different if we allowed platonic, loving touches back into our lives?  Would we feel more comfortable telling our secrets if we whispered them while holding fast to another woman's hand?  Could we become closer, more like sisters, if we didn't hesitate to brush the hair out of each other's eyes, loop our arms together as we walk, or kiss on the cheek when we met?

I can't really know for sure, but I expect that, for me at least, hearts would open and more love would spill out around us cementing the bonds even tighter than before.


photo courtesy of Melanie Macdonald

6 comments:

nad said...

Fabulous blog today! I need to open up and hug my friends more!

Sarahsworld said...

I can barely remember those times. I kind of miss that...

Nan | Wrath Of Mom said...

I was not raised in a household with cuddling or hugging. I write this without malice -- it just wasn't part of our family's "culture." Today I think that one of the greatest things about having children is that I get hugs, all the time.

Erm. Though sometimes I bribe my sons with cookies in exchange for a hug. Yup. I'm a hug-junkie now.

De said...

One of the issues that was raised back when the pediatrician was concerned about our daughter being a candidate for precocious puberty was that she would feel separate from her peers and might miss out on the girl-girl bonding that is considered a rite of passage through adolescence. And of course, that all ties in with the general over-sexualization in our culture that encourages girls to try to appeal to boys at an age much earlier than they really should. However, like you, I observe my own daughter and her much older female cousins, and I think girl bonding is alive and well. For myself, there are few friends who I hug or kiss. Luckily, for a while there, there was blogging, where I could hug, kiss and have crushes on women all over the world. And here's a big XO to you!

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