THE “SHE” TO MY ‘NANIGANS…
WE all have them…..those days when something is just “off”, right? Or, you cannot decide which job to take……should you travel more or take that extra class? It can be almost anything at all…..
I don’t know about you, but I find that if I can spend a leisurely lunch or coffee with a great pal…the “off” just disappears. Gal Pals are just the BEST therapy! And, the fun, laughter and sore cheeks are worth it every.single.time.
So it won’t surprise you to know that there is some science behind this amazing “feel good” visit.
“Research shows that women, more than men, need those connections. It increases serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone,” says Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT. Studies at Stanford seem to confirm this, as did a UCLA study showing that in times of stress, women don’t just experience the drive toward fight or flight — they also release oxytocin. This hormonal surge can compel women to “tend and befriend,” a.k.a., to protect their kids (if they have them), but also to connect with other women.
Maintaining those bonds becomes even more important as we age, according to Dr. Bash. “We get busier, with more responsibilities,” she says. “It makes us feel nurtured and validated to hang out with friends we can be totally ourselves, minus the outside pressures.”
That’s absolutely the case for NYC-based Aly Walansky, 38, who notes that her girlfriends give her “no judgments,” just a sort of candid, no-holds-barred support that she doesn’t find anywhere else. “With guys, or my family, I have to temper things so as not to offend them or make things weird. But my girlfriends will tell me the truth, and that’s everything,” she explains.
Julia Antenucci, 25, of Rochester, also draws comfort from the uncomplicated acceptance her “squad” of college girlfriends offer her. Though they’ve scattered across the state since graduating, they make time to get together at least a few times a year, and their connection doesn’t wane.
“I’ve never felt as capable of being myself … than when I’m around these women,” Antenucci says via email. “It’s beautiful to know that no matter where I am in the world … there are these women that truly know me, love and support me. It’s a feeling of safety that I’ve never felt before, not even with my family.” (excerpted from The Stanford Study)
I know what she means. And, I think you do too!