Musings + Essays

What Do You Talk about with Your Girlfriends?

By: Jen Shoop

Do you have friends with whom you share your entire self?

Others with whom you focus on particular subjects?

I suspect both are true for most of us, and that these compartmentalizations reflect life-stage, the conditions under which we’ve met, and how long we’ve known one another.

But I have been startled —

As I approach my 40s, I have noticed that many of my newer friends are capable of talking about just about anything. Conversations with forty-year-olds seem to go straight to the pith. Perhaps this is maturity? Perhaps a quiet relinquishing of the window-dressing that does not matter? Or maybe I have gotten better at recognizing the kinds of women with whom I want to be surrounded: the sort who arrange themselves around the things that matter, who respond immediately to my teary, heart-swollen texts about my son going off to school for the first time with wisdom like: “You should let yourself feel all the feels. It just shows how much you love your role as a mom.”

I am thinking specifically of three or four friends I’ve made since moving back to the D.C. area a year and a half ago. I know so much about these women. We have gone deep, and fast, but it feels right. I know their heartaches, their angsts. I know the questions that weigh heavy on their hearts. I also know what makes them laugh, their fashion preferences, their thoughts on the most recent Taylor Swift album and the irritating installation of speed bumps on Little Falls Road.

How did those candors emerge so quickly?

Has anyone else found the same to be true with aging? That somehow there is an unspoken emphasis on “fewer, finer” relationships, and that the ones that catch alight quickly?

There is still, I think, space for all kinds of relationships. For sentimental ones based on shared histories; for coincidental ones (say, born of being neighbors or parents whose children attend the same school or program); for ones arranged around hobbies. But I have to say: I am liking the lets-go-there model that seems to be emerging as I move through my late 30s.

What about you? Do you find yourself playing different roles in different friend groups? Avoiding certain topics with some, and digging into them with others? Do you like the mix?


+Narratives of friendship.

+On a failed female friendship.

+On missing my friend Elizabeth.

+There is a crack in everything.

Shopping Break.

+Adorable bow earrings, under $50.

+These adorable “hobby passports” from Letterfolk are 20% off with code BYE2022. These are such a great way to orient yourself around objectives for the new year, whether reading more books, hiking, cooking, etc! More gear for the new year here.

+Have heard Halfdays makes the best (and chicest!) performance ski gear that won’t set you back a few thousand dollars. (Ahem, Moncler.)

+This side table is 80% off — only $50. SO CUTE. The entire sale section is worth a gander — check out these chic bookends!

+If you work with your hands or wash your hands a lot (thinking of doctors, artists, teachers, etc), I just read about this product called Gloves in a Bottle that basically creates a shield-like layer on top of your skin to prevent dry, cracked skin. I feel like most men need this.

+I used superlative cards from Marrant Paper for a dinner party a few weeks ago that were SO fun. This cute NYC-based, female-founded brand, Dear Annabelle, has a clever fill-in-the-blank variation. I also love their themed notecard packs!

+These draped pants intrigue me. I’ve seen a lot of European street style starlets rocking this style.

+This pink puffer is so cheerful — and under $50!

+Well, these snow boots are epic.

+We have these Thibaut throw pillows in our living room. Designer pillows are such an easy way to update a living area! Also dig these.

+Loving this down pullover.

+OMG THIS SKIRT. Tuckernuck also has a really cute statement skirt out right now that I’ve been eyeing.

+Glitter boots — a big yes for me.

+Fun barrel-back dining chairs in great patterns.

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8 thoughts on “What Do You Talk about with Your Girlfriends?

  1. I think maturity plays a huge role in the candor of conversations that we have with certain friends, and the uncanny comfort we find in their company! Maybe it’s also a sneaky sign that we’ve accepted who we are as people (talk about maturity and wisdom!) and can share our own personalities openly and honestly when we meet someone with whom we’re intuitively more comfortable around.

    Also – you’ve given my cracked-to-the-point-of-bleeding hands hope with Gloves in a Bottle! Who knew!? I added it to cart instantly.

    1. Hi Jess – I so agree with you on “Maybe it’s also a sneaky sign that we’ve accepted who we are as people (talk about maturity and wisdom!) and can share our own personalities openly and honestly when we meet someone with whom we’re intuitively more comfortable around.” I do think some of the people I respect and am most drawn to are able to organically (seemingly, at least) “accept people as they are” and not try to change/rail against the way they live their lives. It’s just sort of “oh, interesting, I don’t do that, but that’s cool you do.” In a supportive way.


  2. Re: the Madewell draped pants – I love the cut. I don’t have that exact pair, but I have an Aritzia equivalent (their “Effortless” pant) and I love the unexpected flare on a trouser leg. I will say that they can have a tendency to swallow me if I don’t style them just right. Although I’m on the taller side, I usually prefer to wear them with a heel to elongate the leg, especially in more formal settings. If I don’t wear a heel and am wearing them with a dressier sneaker in more of a casual/streetwear look, I’ll balance the leg width out with a tighter, more cropped top. I hadn’t owned a wider-leg trouser before, so this was all news to me, haha!

    Oh, by the way, I went to Zara this week and they did not have the Prada-esque blazer/pin-striped dress in stock, so I couldn’t try it on. Will let you know if I decide to order it…

    1. Thank you for the styling tips – those notes make complete sense to me re: proportions/balancing. Chic!

      Thanks for the intel!


  3. I was just thinking this morning about how grateful I am to have certain friends who are willing to talk really frankly and graphically about a health issue we’ve both experienced. It’s not “polite conversation” as they say, but being able to compare experiences and get specific advice from someone who has walked the exact same road without being squeamish has been so wonderful. In fact, I’m going to write one of them a note to say that today!

    1. I love this, Anna. I totally know what you mean — I felt that way when mini had lice; it was such a relief to talk to a fellow mom who’d been there, done that and was not squeamish/put-off. We are lucky!!


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