Gotta Have Friends
We all understand the joys of great women friends. They counsel us through our darkest moments, applaud us during our greatest triumphs, and provide lots of light and laughter during the times between. In fact, friends are so beneficial, they actually make us healthier. Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore (Rodale, 2004), says that women with strong networks of friends have bolder immune systems, get fewer colds, and are less likely to get cancer. "You really need pals. The rewards are both physical and emotional," she says.
But what happens when a friendship isn't so rewarding? When instead of leaving you excited and energized, your bud makes you feel anxious and drained? Should you call it quits?
When we're kids, the more friends we had the better. After all, there can never be enough birthday parties when you're 7. Even in our 20s, a huge gaggle of gal pals can make life fun and exciting.
But as we grow older, our needs often change. "A lot of women juggle work, family, caring for elderly parents, and then try to squeeze in a visit to the gym. They can't afford to have as many friends, and feel very stressed and guilty when they don't have time to nurture the women in their life," says Paul, who also writes a column on women's friendship for the Chicago Tribune.
So how do you know how many friends are right for you? "There isn't a magic number," says Paul. "People have different social appetites. Some people are happy with one or two close friends and some like a whole flock."