Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 7, 2011

On Dating, "Frenemies," and 40 Days for Life

So, I have decided. Even though I certainly continue to pray for my future husband, whenever I should meet him, I simply don't have time for dating right now. I had three parking tickets in a week and almost burned my house down because I was so tired that I passed out while cooking something on the stove. My life is so busy going between three cities, that I decided dating is not an option - who has time to foster a romantic relationship when I cannot even remember to pay my parking meter. Not Edith.

However, I have been working to foster female friendships. I think these are such important relationships for us as single women. Say what you will about Margaret Mead, but I just heard a quote from her that hit the nail on the head: "There is a special place in hell for a woman who won't help another woman." And I think she is right. That is why this whole concept of "frenemies" makes 0% sense to me. To those of you who don't know, a "frenemy" is someone who acts like your friend, but secretly hates you behind your back. You can read about the phenomenon here (warning: since the whole entire thing is kind of trashy, don't be alarmed that this article is linked to Cosmopolitan magazine - one of its editors wrote the book).

Let me explain. I have been reading from Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild wherein she discusses the importance of fostering a woman's authentic sense of self. This authentic sense of self is warped, according to Shalit, when women are forced to take the "bad girl" oversexualized persona that is so jammed into our brains in this culture: think Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Kesha, Rihanna. Each one of these pop singers has one thing in common: sex. That is how they define their music, and that is what is incessantly blaring out of our radios.

I mean - I am going to go on a bit of a rant here - Rihanna's latest song is about how she loves Sado-masochism. Rihanna has a song where she belts out that she wants her lover to make her feel like she is the only girl in the world, the one who is in control, and the only one who makes her one night stand feel like a man. Through out the song, you get the sense that while she is desperately begging her lover to make her feel like the only person in the world who matters, when she wakes up the next morning, the feeling will be gone. And, just in case you were in any doubt, it will be gone in the morning - and he will too. Do I even need to talk about the others?

But, I digress. The point at hand was to explain why the concept of the "Frenemy" a. makes no sense to me and b. is linked to rampant promiscuity in women. You see, when a woman treats herself as a sex object, she actually becomes more shallow, less confident, and becomes obsessed with pleasing men. That is why many modern womens' magazines revolve around fashion, make-up, and sex - because really, if all you are is an object, what is left to talk about anyway? When women are encouraged to be sexual objects, they not only lose the ability to appreciate the goodness in men (they become jaded and lose hope in finding true love), they also lose the ability to bond with one another and see one another as sexual competitors. Hence, they become "frenemies." Scary world indeed.

As single women, I think we have a responsibility to foster authentic friendships with one another - the kind of friendship that builds a person up, that encourages gifts, talents, strengths, and yes - the kind of friendship that is genuinely happy when a friend accomplishes something awesome and when a friend finds a good man. In this way, we can help to build a civilization of love that respects the life of every person.

This Lent, I am observing the 40 Days for Life in Chicago. It is my hope to build friendships through this prayer and fasting campaign. I hope to build a better friendship with Christ as I discern my vocation and to foster friendships with all my fellow sojourners - both male and female. I believe that by fostering authentic human relationships, we can, by the grace of God, change people hearts about abortion. We are not frenemies. No, indeed we are not. We are called to love, as St. Paul tells us in Romans 12: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."


Dream Big said...

This is one of the best "articles" I've read on female friendships and the frenemy concept. Thanks for putting it so straightforward and for giving me words and thoughts to share with the teenage girls I work with

singlecatholic said...

Here, here! Thanks for posting. Friendships with other women have been one of the most important factors in my adult life--really, there aren't any words to describe their impact. That idea of "frenemies" just breaks my heart.

That's a great point about the concept arising out of our culture's sexual promiscuity. And interesting (and tragic) note on the same idea: it's to the point where very close, loving relationships between people of the same sex can't be viewed as anything other than homosexual. With love in the culturual mind being quickly reduced to nothing more than's time for us to learn how to form and live out good, loving, same-sex friendships.

Again, thanks for posting!

Wyld said...

Brilliant! I will keep this in mind.

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