Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Re-defining Girls' Night:

An interesting letter from Carolyn's column on how "Girls' Night Out" changes when both members of a couple are women (I've linked to the second page of her column because that's where the majority of the letter looks like it's picking up in the middle, but you're only missing "Dear Carolyn:"):

Dear Carolyn:
I have a friend who is a lesbian. Whenever we have girls' night or traditionally women-only events (baby showers, bachelorette parties, etc.), her partner always comes. We are not really friends with the partner, although we frequently do get together as couples. It feels weird to not invite her, but it feels like she shouldn't come, either. Am I making this more complicated than it should be?

No, you have a fair point. To act on it, though, you're talking deliberate exclusion -- always, uh, challenging.
But if you state your case clearly that you see "girls' night out" not as man-free companionship but date-free companionship, and ask your friend what she thinks about that, and if your relationship with your friend is good, and if her relationship with her partner is good, then it shouldn't be a problem.
That's three "ifs" and a "should," if you're keeping score at home.

I don't even have that much to say about it, just wanted to throw it out there and see if other people have anything to share.

Seems to me that most people like to get together with their friends without their partners at least some of the time, and while for folks of any orientation there are times when the friend is the same gender as the partner (could I make this anymore semantically complicated...?), a lot of the time, for most people, this seems to break down easiest along lines of "girl time" or "guy's night." But maybe that is changing, or should?

This seems to be a case of one homosexual couple in a group heterosexual women. I wonder how this works in groups of friends who are mainly homosexual, or mixed to a more equal degree, and if that's where we'll find a useful model for emulation: creating splinter groups based on who actually enjoys certain activities ("shower for people who like tea cakes only"), or on shared history ("just college buddies") rather than along gender lines.

How have you seen this changing in your own life, or the lives of people you know?

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

This is an interesting letter. I don't generally read her column (I am an Amy loyalist) but in general, I think her advice is right on. I would never think of wanting to be included in my girlfriend's "girls' nights." First, Carolyn is right in pointing out that they are primarily date-free nights rather than girls-only nights. It's a good thing to be friends with your partner's friends, and probably more common when it is a same-gender couple. But I think the more important matter here is that it's healthy and sometimes necessary to still have your own friends. And part of having your own friends is these bonding girls' nights. Especially in the early phases of a relationship, these are often the times when you talk out with your friends how a new relationship is going-- and obviously having the new girlfriend there in person kills that. I can't imagine if my girlfriend was with me at every single girls' nights out-- I think I would go crazy.

Reading this letter, I wondered if the partner was tagging along because her girlfriend invited her, or because she wanted to come. The real issue might be that the partner has a less developed circle of friends and asks to be included for that reason. If that was the case, it would be nice if this circle of friends occasionally invited her out to social events that are more open. Perhaps she can meet new people to connect with and have her own girls' nights.

On a separate note, however, are baby showers really women-only?? I was at one recently, and it seemed natural and normal that the expectant mother's male as well as female friends were there to support her. It didn't even occur to me that that was not the norm.