When you get married and have kids, it’s so easy to let the world beyond the nuclear family contract. Can you talk about the ebb and flow of your feelings about maintaining female friendships?
For so much of my 20s and 30s, I was laser focused on finding a romantic partner. I stopped having as much time for friends. Then I got married, but all my friends were having babies, so I still felt apart. The day after my wedding, I told my husband, “It can’t just be me and you. I need all the windows open. I need circulation.” I always had this need for close friends — intimates where sex is off the table but I’m borrowing your sweater, I’m going to drink out of your drink, you can stop by with no formality. But it was through one particular friendship that I began to feel entitled to friendship.
And how did that friendship become the focus of your book?
I started the book in 2019, and it took a long time to find the heart of it. At first I thought I wanted to write about how my jealousy and insecurity with other women got in the way of friendships. This plagued me my whole life. In my late 30s, I began to see how my problems in friendship were causing me as much pain as my problems with other kinds of relationships. I started talking about it with this woman I’d met through an Al-Anon meeting. It turned out she’d struggled with similar problems around female friendship. So the two of us decided to embark on this betterment project together. It’s a story about getting well around friendship, of how the two of us set out in a deliberate way to work at becoming better friends to each other. Along the way, I learned a lot about her, but also about friendship in general and how much I needed it in my life.
Books on women’s relationships get put into the category of chick lit. They aren’t taken seriously, whereas books about submarines or conspiracy theories supposedly contain a universal truth. Did you feel any of these contradictions or pressures as you were writing?
The one thing I knew was that this was going to be a book for and about women. I’m not not writing for men, but I’m not worrying about it. If that limits it, I don’t really give a shit.