Why is “a women in love” presumably about a partner in her bed? When love is such a many-muscled and fearsome thing? When the biggest love in our lives may have nothing to do with sweaty sheets and sticky skin and everything to do with female friendships that are really life-partnerships? The kind of ride or die relationships that sometimes battle rough patches we have little language or fancy counseling sessions for? The kind of confidants that would shock our therapists, our spouses and even the IRS if said friend spilled every secret she knows about us. Why do we have so many words to titalate, tempt, date, dump, proposition, propose, shack-up, pony-up, divorce, separate and survive sex-hungry love and only borrowed misfits to describe what women feel as friends in life-long love?
I reached out to the mega babe, big brained and beautiful heart that is Liberian-born, Texas-raised writer, professor and social entrepreneur Wayétu Moore. I wanted to ask Wayétu, How Do Grown Ass women make Grown Ass platonic woman-love work? And by asking, what I really mean is: I was stalking Wayétu on Instagram, learning what it means to make a new friend in our age of digital apps for finding an instant bestie.
For months, I nursed an insatiable girl-crush on Wayétu. Scroll through her socials and you will understand why. This woman is SheWolf bad. Listen to Wayétu speak truth to power and you will appreciate a very simple fact, Wayétu has an electric and illuminating mind. Read her dazzling debut novel, She Would Be King, and you will decline any escape from Wayétu’s richly imagined world orbit.
How could I not want to be her friend?
So of course, I hashed out a fail-proof Let’s Be Friends strategy. Stalk the hell out of her socials! Like every picture. Comment on every major post and just generally do the most. I’m not saying this strategy shot me straight to the realm of making a new old friend, but I am saying Wayétu gave me some pro-tips on how to make friends (no stalking necessary) who will build you. And once you make those golden girlfriends, how to keep them. Below are some standout nuggets from our conservation.
On how to get you some friends worthy of your company…
Wayétu: “At the beginning of every year, I say a prayer on what I want clarification on. The year I asked for clarification on love—I met my husband. The year I asked for career clarity, I got a book deal. Last year I asked for clarification in friendships—I asked, who should be close to me? I’ve gone from single to being a married woman, from freelancing to being on the road. There’s so much that changed that I knew I needed clarity on my tribe.
The people around you, they have a lot of power. If you don’t have the right people in your life, how can you grow?
[After asking for clarification on friendship] People were ripped out of my life. Unsettling things happened, opened my eyes. I was stunned but it was empowering. It made me more active in pursuing good friendships.
As women, we make these lists when trying to find partners. We don’t do the same thing with our friends. We don’t say what we need with someone in a friendship. And because of this, we risk being in toxic or passive platonic relationships.”
Magogodi: I loved this stark comparison between how we typically approach our love relationships vs. our friendships. The clarity we cultivate making endless mental checklists of how “the romantic one” should be, makes our barely-conscious criterion for female friendship look like a dry bone gnawed down by a bulldog.
What resonates in Wayétu’s advice is having friendship standards in the first place.
I also love Wayétu’s wisdom on growing past pain points.
On how to stick to high standards and accountability in a good friendship…
“If it’s a relationship that deserves time, establish boundaries. Women are socialized with a certain level of passivity. That’s where the back-handed compliments come from. You’ve been feigning for so long that the only thing you know how to do is be fake around each other.
Be clearer about boundaries. Is that woman respecting those boundaries? And if she oversteps, that may be a sign to adjust the relationship. Accept them as they are. Appreciate them. But adjust the relationship.
Some women are meant to be brunch friends.
They are not someone to open your family and heart to. It doesn’t have to be a heartbreak. Surrender to the truth that this person is not as ready for an intimate relationship as you want them to be. Love them in this different way.
In situations of betrayal, where you don’t want something to do with the person any more, that person wasn’t meant for you.”
Man! This one hit me. How many times have I tried to carve something real from a surface-level friend? And then got all frumpy and flabbergasted from all the failure to launch?
Maybe I’m the sole quack job who’s gone down the bestie-breakup rabbit hole—starting with that one time my first grade bestie literally broke up with me. I’m here to let you know it did not get easier from there. Making meaningful friendships as grown women is hard. Probably harder than first grade. Maybe just as hard as marrying someone. Because really. What public commitment do you have binding you to your best friend? What social expectations are there to give it your all, to check into couples therapy and put your “family friendship first”?
Wayétu had some nuggets on this one too. If making and keeping strong friends in our womanhood is as difficult as The Atlantic says it is, then you’re going to need compassion.
“Compassion is also for yourself. We’re conditioned to give, more. To do, more. It’s seen as ladylike. Even to those who don’t deserve it. But when it hurts you and weakens your spirit, it stops being poetic. You need to remind yourself of what you deserve from other human beings. Once you’re self-compassionate, you’re able to have friendships that serve you and say goodbye to the ones that don’t.”
“But let’s be real. This whole interview thing was just me being a fangirl, trying to turn this queen into a new friend. And as deep as she is, this girl likes to have fun. Evidenced by best answer ever to fun friend date, “A vineyard. A day trip or a weekend. A girls trip. This past summer, I went to Miami with elementary school friends. Rested a bit. Talked. Getting away from the real world.”
And the single loudest Amen Wayétu gets from me is on why female friendships are so unique and important. “There is no more healing power than a good friendship.” It’s true. Men who live long tend to have long marriages. Women who live long tend to have good friendships. A good glass of wine shared with friends can be as important as a getaway IG-glut with your honey. So be good to your friends. And keep your new friendship muscle flexed. I don’t suggest stalking, but I highly recommend finding women who inspire and making their good-karma vibes part of what you look for in your new best friend.
Wayétu Moore (@Wayétu), is an award winning novelist and social entrepreneur. Buzzfeed picked her debut, She Would Be King, as a 2018 best read. Her nonprofit, One Moore Book, publishes culturally-relevant children’s books, with a bookstore in Monrovia, Liberia. Her memoir, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, hits bookshelves summer 2020.
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (@magogodimakhene) is a writer with all kinds of fancy awards, most recently the Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award. When she’s not stalking Wayétu on the gram, she’s cofounder of KYNDRED Company, a babeland startup making creativity simple and accessible for all.