Dee Benson on celebrating friendship this Galentine’s day

"Galentine’s Day is for celebrating friendship, and I think it’s just as important as celebrating romantic love."

This post was written by Dee Benson, author of Glow Up, Lara Bloom.

Everyone knows what day it is on February 14th each year. The shops are filled with rose bouquets, chocolates in heart-shaped tins, and sappy cards that you can buy for your Valentine. But not many people know about the celebration that takes place the day before on February 13th: Galentine’s Day 😍

Galentine’s Day is for celebrating friendship, and I think it’s just as important as celebrating romantic love. Good friends boost your happiness and confidence, help you cope better with stress, give you a sense of purpose and belonging, and just generally enrich your life in so many ways.

When I began writing my debut novel, Glow Up, Lara Bloom, I knew my major themes would be body-positivity, self-esteem, and confidence. And I quickly realized that a huge part of these things is friendship, as it’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re surrounded by negative people who constantly put you down. So friendship became a major theme of the book, too.

Lara Bloom, my main character, is clumsy and fun-loving but also pretty angsty and easily stressed out. Her friend circle highlights a few important things about friendship:

You don’t have to be clones of each other

The strongest friendships are between people who have a lot of similarities and are yet quite different. But those differences tend to be complementary rather than the type that would make them incompatible.

In Glow Up, Lara Bloom, Lara’s three friends are all different yet compatible. Kayleigh loves doing new things, which means she’s always pushing Lara and the others out of their comfort zone. Anaya is very supportive but she’s also the sensible one, meaning she often stops the rest of them from going too far. Becky is easy-going, which means she acts as a buffer between the stronger personalities in the friendship group.

Lara benefits from Kayleigh’s challenges, Becky’s calming influence, and Anaya’s supportiveness. Their differences, as well as their similarities, are why their friendship circle works.

You don’t need to have all the same interests

Lara loves football. None of her friends do, but they still support her and even get their school to throw a party when the girls’ football team does really well. You don’t need to have all the same interests as your friends. Enjoy your shared interests and find other people for the other interests you have. This leads nicely to the next point:

You can’t rely on one friend for everything

You are a complex person with a variety of interests and needs. To find someone you can connect with on every single thing might be…hard, if not impossible! So expecting one person to be your everything and ‘one true friend’ would be a lot of pressure on them as no one person can meet ALL your needs.

That’s the beauty of having numerous friends. You might connect with your best friend over a common love of fashion, but if she doesn’t have the same taste in music as you, she might not be the girl you call when you want to discuss the latest album from your favourite band. You might need another friend for that.

In my novel, Lara, apart from her three besties, is also good friends with Lottie, a girl on her football team who shares her love of football. She also has her cousins, one of whom is a hair expert, and another she can trade gossip with; and she has a guy friend, Jay, with whom she engages in friendly banter.


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Frenemies: The dark side of friendship

When I was growing up, there was this girl who I thought was super cool and really wanted to be friends with. Before long, we were best buddies, but that’s when I realized she wasn’t always very nice and could sometimes be really mean and nasty. I held on to that friendship for years. In the end, there was no big fall out. We just lost touch. It’s been many years since our friendship fizzled into nothing but I still remember a lot of the hurtful things she did, and they’re a reminder to me of what I’m not looking for in a friend.

A lot is said regarding being careful about the romantic partner we select, looking out for red flags, making sure they’re not toxic, etc., and we need to keep these things in mind when making friends too, because a bad friend can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your life.

Bad friends tend to be a source of negative peer pressure, put you down, wreak havoc on your self-esteem, are dishonest, don’t seem to care about you much, talk about you behind your back, or bully you or other people.

No friendship is perfect, but in contrast, a good friend will respect your boundaries, encourage you, be honest with you, reciprocate your interest in them and your friendship, engage in good gossip (meaning if they talk about you behind your back it’s positive), see the great things about you that you can’t see, and never bully you.

Don’t feel bad about not wanting to be friends with someone if something feels off or wrong about the relationship. And remember, sometimes the other person isn’t necessarily ‘bad’. They might just be bad for you. Not everyone is compatible and that’s okay.

Tips for making good friends

• You don’t have to be the most interesting person ever in order to make great friends. You just have to show interest in other people and be friendly.
• Be yourself. If you put on a false personality, the people you attract will be interested in that false version of you instead of the real you. Be yourself and people who are interested in your unique blend of strengths and quirks will gravitate toward you. And you can rest assured that they genuinely like the real you.
• Be open-minded. Talk to people you don’t usually talk to. You never know who would make a fantastic friend for you.

Friendship is so important. Good friends can make your life so much brighter and happier. On Galentine’s Day this year, I hope you’ll take a moment to let your friends know how awesome they are.

Get your copy of Glow Up, Lara Bloom by Dee Benson here.

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