Jacqui Felgate: ‘Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates’

Old female friends are there in the good times and bad, and are the ‘best kind of blessing’, writes The House of Wellness co-host Jacqui Felgate.

Last year I celebrated a milestone birthday – I turned 40.

I spent a week with my girlfriends, our husbands and our children on the other side of the world.

I look back on that time as one of the happiest – if not the happiest – week of my life.

We originally booked the trip during lockdown and it really did keep us going.

The group chat was all about where we would stay, what we would eat and even “would this trip ever even happen?”

It seemed like a little miracle when we finally did manage to co-ordinate a time and a place to be together.

Eighteen months on, I still find myself drifting back and thinking about the dinners we had together and that wonderful week we spent eating, sightseeing, swimming and smiling.

It really was magical.

Realising the value of long-standing friendships

I met my best friend when I was six years old and the rest of my girlfriends in year 7.

We’ve been through the best and worst of times together: the angst of the teen years, break-ups, make-ups, marriages and children.

Now, as we head into middle age, I realise more than ever the value of female friends.

To have old friends is a true blessing.

And to have old female friends is the best kind of blessing.

How girlfriends can be soulmates

It got me thinking about a Sex and the City quote (not the new series, I haven’t watched it) but the original one.

Carrie, speaking about yet another failed relationship, opines: “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”

I feel lucky to have many soulmates.

Of course, I have my husband, whom I love dearly, but this same group of friends has been the one true constant in my life.

There’s long been a narrative about women trying to take other women down.

I’ve experienced this personally many, many times during a 20-year career in the media.

It’s so much sexier to pit women against women.

Whether it be Kate and Meghan, Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh or Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe, these so-called rifts sell papers.

Very rarely do feuds between two men command the same number of column inches.

Women can be your biggest supporters

Here’s the thing: the biggest supporters I’ve had in my life have been women.

When I work with people, I love working with women.

I currently have three women who run my professional life.

They work so hard and nothing is too much trouble.

I once had a male boss tell me he preferred to hire women because they were the hardest workers – especially mothers.

We just get stuff done, I suppose.

The link between female friendship and longevity

Jane Fonda famously said, “It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be”.

I love this.

I absolutely agree: my female friends keep the starch in my spine too!

And there’s science behind the value of female friends.

A 2022 UCLA study found that female capuchin monkeys that are better integrated into social networks with other adult females tend to survive longer.

These monkeys clearly know where it’s at!

The mood-shifting power of female friends

I’ve always thought a problem shared is a problem halved.

And when I’m having a bad time, whether it be personally or professionally, talking to my female friends helps.

Whether it’s over a glass of wine, a walk in the park or over the phone, there have been so many times in my life where I’ve sought the advice of my closest friends, and I feel so much better for doing so.

In the past, I have found myself anxious when making new female friends later in life.

How, as adults with busy lives, do we make time for new friends too?

Once we do, though, it’s such a rewarding experience.

Different friendships for different stages

Friendships are constantly evolving – and I think you can have different friends for different times of your life.

It doesn’t mean I don’t value certain people or don’t want to be friends with them, rather that I seek out certain people depending on what I value and need in a friendship.

Life is just better with women in your life.

And all I can hope for is that I’ve been as good a friend to my friends as they’ve been to me.

Written by Jacqui Felgate.