“Long before I got married I was living a really full, robust, valid adult life,” Heather, 65, says. “I’m not sure where it comes from, but occasionally women have this old-fashioned idea that marriage is the only validation we have, and that if you aren’t married or you are living outside of marriage you are somehow incomplete.”
Heather and Dianne, also 65, have been friends for almost 50 years, and while they have both been happily married for 32 and 30 years respectively, in their youth they saw each other through numerous jobs and relationships.
Dianne was always dating and looking for the love of her life, while Heather admits that her dating and sex life was rather stagnant in her 20s.
“I was happy taking care of myself,” Heather says. “I didn’t need someone to change a light bulb or a flat tyre. I was capable and confident enough to do it on my own.”
“Although I’m happily married now, I don’t feel that my getting married was the start of my adulthood,” Dianne says.
While there is an element of competition between women in their early lives, increasingly as women get older they are less likely to compete and more likely to bond.
“When I think about it,” says Dianne, “Heather was there long after my relationships ended. In the aftermath of those sad splits or the job departures, she was the one who rallied around me… She took me to lunch or invited me to stay with her, or talked to me for hours on the phone. I took a lot of comfort in that.”
Some experts believe there is a biochemical reason for women’s ability to support each other through thick and thin saying that many women will mirror other people and their emotions and also feel and respond with anguish when faced with another person’s pain to a much larger degree than men do.
Whatever, Heather and Dianne believe there is power in the female friendship.