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So, Exactly What Do We Celebrate On August 1?

Read on to find out!

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Close-up of women holding friendship bracelet during a picnic in the park
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From National Backward Day (January 31) to National Banana Cream Pie Day (March 2), there are a lot of holidays you probably haven’t heard about.

But one you should mark on your calendar is National Girlfriends Day, which takes place on August 1. According to the National Day Calendar, "National Girlfriends Day encourages women across the U.S. to get together and celebrate their special bond of friendship.”

The evolution of girlfriends

Where would we all be without our girlfriends? From childhood to old age, friends make us laugh, cry and feel less alone. Throughout our lives, we make friends — ones we grow up with and ones we meet in school, at work or through parenthood. There are girlfriends we have known forever and others with whom the bond is so strong, and so quick, it feels as though we have known them forever.

Making new friends

As psychiatrist Gail Saltz, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, and host of the How Can I Help? podcast from iHeartRadio, explains: “There are many different components that go into a friendship, and these things change over time. Women can lose friends for many reasons. They grow apart, they move away, or they die.”

While the quality of friends is more important than the quantity, many women have more free time in midlife but fewer natural opportunities to make friends. “When women are younger, they meet new people all the time through work, their spouse, their children,” Saltz notes.

So, how do you make friends as you age? Through shared interests and activities.

“Men commonly prefer activity-based friendships, while women prefer an emotional connection," Saltz says. “But women can use activities to meet. And such activities can include yoga classes, volunteering at a shelter, church, cooking classes — to meet similar-minded people and possibly ignite a deeper connection.”

Making friends as you age requires a willingness to take a risk: putting yourself in a new situation, starting a conversation or inviting someone you just met to grab a cup of coffee. As British author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

Remember that not every friendship will be a “ride or die” connection. While close relationships are wonderful, all types of healthy friendships can be beneficial.

Just because you don't share intimate details of your life doesn’t mean the friendship doesn’t add value. For example, you can have a friend you aren’t comfortable discussing your children with but whose company you enjoy at book club.

Keep the old

Longtime friendships are special. Shared memories and experiences add depth. That doesn’t mean longtime friends can always read each other’s minds or know what the other needs. No relationship is perfect; even best friends argue and get on each other’s nerves.

As we get older, some friendships get easier. We become more tolerant and patient, able to appreciate friends and forgive their faults.

But sometimes friendships become strained. It can become hard to overlook how a friend disappoints or hurts us, especially if this is a pattern.

Saltz cautions against throwing in the towel too quickly on an old friendship.

“Today’s societal vibe is individualistic,” she points out. “There is a lot of concern about ‘what works for me’ and taking action if it doesn’t. But the reality is that loneliness is on the rise in our society, and healthy friendships are vital for our well-being.”

Before ending a friendship, assess whether the good outweighs the bad.

Saltz says, "Ask yourself, 'Does this relationship add something to my life?’ or ‘Does it make me happy in more moments than it makes me upset?' You may find it best to take a step back rather than to cut things off totally. Or perhaps an honest conversation, one without blame, can put the relationship on a better path."

That said, there are times when a friendship has run its course. “While you don’t want to underrate a shared history, just because you’ve been friends for so long doesn’t mean a friendship should continue if it’s not working anymore,” Saltz adds.

If you do want to end a longtime friendship, have respect for the relationship and don’t ghost the friend. Instead, explain why you need to remove yourself from the situation and do so with grace.

In a quote about the end of a friendship, author Ally Condie writes, “Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”

How to celebrate your girlfriends

National Girlfriends Day is likely a made-up holiday, though that doesn't mean you shouldn’t celebrate. But forget any elaborate plans. Instead use the day as an opportunity. Let your friends know how grateful you are to have them in your life. If you can get together in person, great; if not, give them a call or send a text.

“Everyone appreciates heartfelt words,” Saltz says. “It can be as simple as ‘You’re such a good friend’ or ‘I value all you bring into my life’ or ‘I love all the fun experiences we’ve had together.’ Even if you think your friends already know how you feel, tell them anyway.”

What will you do, if anything, to celebrate National Girlfriends Day? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships