When Women Bond


Saskia Wishart -Women Who Bond5.5A recent ‘This American Life” episode featured a story about two grown men attempting to become friends. It was funny and slightly awkward, and made me reflect on developing friendships as an adult. It can be so much harder to reach a deep connection with new adult friends, especially when you move to a new city.

Where to meet people? What to do with them? How to get to know them?

When I moved to Amsterdam in 2011, I knew less than a handful of people, most of whom I worked with, or was related to. I had no idea how to make new friends. Church overwhelmed me, because I didn’t know where to start or who to talk to. I often left as soon as the service ended. The three years prior, I’d been in a relationship with someone who was outgoing and confident with new people, and now I was single and not feeling energetic enough to do the hard work it takes to make new and real friendships.

So, my closest people in Amsterdam became the girls I lived with. There were four of us, of four different nationalities and four very different personalities. This was several years ago, but this past weekend we found ourselves together again, three of us heading to the fourth one’s wedding.

From the moment we piled into our rental car, the stories spilled out and as we found our way through the Czech countryside, we rehashed all the major life events since our last time together. Love lost and love found. Successes and failures, and life goals and career moves. Nothing was off limits and it felt good to be free in our honesty. Having lived with one another, there was little about ourselves that we could hide.

Originally, we started off as friends of necessity, not knowing many other people and operating as good housemates. But our friendship changed drastically when, halfway through our year living together, the boyfriend of one of the girls suddenly ended their ten-year relationship. He left her, and it was devastating. I still remember meeting her in our stairwell as she sobbed out the news and we crumpled together.

This was more than a detour, this was rather like the inertia you feel moments before your car spins out of control on an icy highway. The moment when braking will only make things worse and you have to simply give in to the terror and pray you make it out okay.

After their break-up, our home became a refuge, and over the next months the four of us bonded the way that women do when one has found her whole world imploding. We cried, we fought, we danced, we listened and laughed and became a deeply needed support system for one another. It was one of the most authentic times in my life.

And here we were once again together, retracing the lines of friendship and it fit like your favourite shoes, familiar and supportive. Watching the wedding of our friend together overwhelmed me with emotion. Each one of these women had been through so much, and yet here we were, sharing in something beautiful.

Saskia Wishart -Women Who Bond7

Here’s the thing I recognised this weekend: The detours in our lives—those moments of terror when things go out of control and send us careening off our planned path—are guaranteed to come. But these friends were there in my time of loneliness.  They have cried and laughed and danced with me through high and low moments. They weren’t necessarily the friendships I had set out to make in Amsterdam, and not the friendships you can plan for. Yet, they are the friends I needed. They are the ones who know my wounds, and my story, and take me as I am.