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I remember this girl I dated when I first moved to DC. She was one of those types that had trouble keeping female friends but collected male orbiters like stinger-less bee drones to honey. Perhaps she incited the jealousy of other women with her brazen sexuality, or perhaps she tried to make friends with women out of her social league. I wasn’t sure and I didn’t care, even though I had to put up with listening to her woeful stories of victimology.

I’ve learned many mythbusting realities about women over the years of loving them, but one of the most disappointing lessons I’ve learned is how threadbare, shallow and tenuous are their friendships with female peers. For all the jabbering they do amongst themselves, the bonds that hold girl friends together are a surprisingly superficial amalgam of Machiavellian maneuvering, parched politesse, feigned sympathy, self-absorbed clucking, and fickle loyalty. It’s as if female friendships exist only to serve the banal purpose of group cohesion and social climbing, in stark contrast with male friendships that can strengthen unencumbered by ulterior motives and which often require nothing more than the tacit assumption of “I’ve got your back”.

One time I took this girl to a party where female friends of mine would be in attendance. (About 1/3 of my friends are women, and 2/3s men. After 5pm, that ratio reverses.) She noticed one of the girls was flirty around me. I agreed that she probably was nursing a long-held #1 crush. Out of earshot, my date then proceeded to call this girl fat, and grabbed my hand to walk with me in front of the girl, ostensibly to provoke seething jealousy. I didn’t appreciate it. This was evidence that my date was a woman of poor character.

Some months later we broke up, and through intermediaries I learned that she had become good friends with the chubby girl she formerly ripped to pieces with a gleam in her eye. I wondered if she knew of her new friend’s less than complimentary opinion of her, or if it was all bitchiness under the bridge.

Gossip is a natural property of human nature and something in which almost everyone, men and women, indulge (though women to a far greater extent than men). It is probably an evolutionary outgrowth of human status hierarchies, and so isn’t going anywhere soon. For that reason, I’m generally bemused if I hear that friends are gossiping about me. It’s all part of doing business as a DNA carrying replicant. Nothing much to get worked up over. But there is a line crossed where gossip becomes corrupted and twisted by resentment and ill will; when it becomes less a feature of human social dynamics than a bug. The caustic whisperings and barely concealed snarls behind phoneyfemme smiles and exaggerated “Hiiiiiiii!!!”s that hit six different musical notes hide a dark, bitter soul. Invariably, it is women who are the shameless practitioners of this viciously psychological ego-feeding art. Occasionally, the poisoned opinions get out there in the ether like slimy tentacles, afflicting every social circle conversation with a brute manipulative face-saving veneer. But most of the time, the vaj vector of dirty gossip is skilled enough to keep her real feelings under wraps.

Not every girl is like this. I have dated girls, bless their hearts of gold, who had nothing but kind words to say about their girl friends behind closed doors. In fact, one of the key indicators that the girl you are dating is girlfriend material worthy of your non-penis time and attention is what she thinks of her friends when she has the opportunity to unload on them. Listen to what she says about her friends when it’s just you and her. This will give you tremendous insight into how she will treat you over the long haul.

To those girls who possess a depth of untarnished loyalty for their friends — in the middle of the night with the shades drawn and no one but the company of your conscience, you know who you are — don’t think for a minute that we men don’t notice your good character. You are a rare catch. Most women have no need for the virtue that makes you stand out…

Integrity.

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