Your friends can save your life

Have a great group of female friends? They can keep you healthy says new research (and Lili Radloff).

Yesterday, someone tweeted:

“Don't try understand women. Women understand women, and they hate each other.”

I giggled a bit, because it is funny as a part of the ‘women are insecure, jealous, bitches’ stereotype. Of course, it is also complete and utter hogwash.

All this talk around female jealousy and competitiveness would have us believe that we’re all a bunch of power-crazy megalomaniacs who use our stilettos as grips to climb over each other in a bid for the top all the while cackling like maniacs at others’ misfortune.

We all know that’s not the case. In fact, study after study on female friendships and woman to woman behaviour has shown that quite the opposite is true.  Consider this latest study. Now we’ve all heard how our bodies secrete adrenalin when we’re stressed, waking in us either the fight or the flight response. Well, it turns out when they did the same experiments with women, researchers realised that we work rather differently.

In response to stress, women also secrete oxytoxin, a hormone that is associated with empathy, trust, love and bonding. So, when a stressful situation occurs, the men fight and flee to their women, while the women would gather the children, and seek comfort with other women. More oestrogen creates more oxytocin and eventually this leads to an all over calming response.  This calming response does not occur in men. Poor things.

This might explain why women who have good female friends recover faster after disasters, have better health and tend to live longer than their lonely, male counterparts.

Basically, our girl friends keep us sane, even on a biological level. So, make time for the women around you. Lend a hand of support at work. And make time for your friends. Cherish them and allow them to cherish and comfort you.

We are pack animals, and it seems more and more likely that the relationships between women keep the pack together.

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