Skip to content

Do you have friendship envy? Here's why ‘girl squads’ don't determine your self-worth

In what feels like a world full of Carries, Charlottes and Mirandas, it can sometimes feel like you're the only Samantha.

Do you ever see a group of friends hanging out in a bar or sharing lipgloss in the loos and wish you had a girl squad like them? Or do you listen to mates talking about their best friend from like, forever, and wished you had someone to share your life with who is as close as a sister, but perhaps without the sibling rivalry?

Having a girl squad has become a bit of a status symbol, and it’s natural to feel serious FOMO when you are bombarded with Instagram images of glamorous friends looking like they’ve stepped out of an advertising campaign for ASOS, living their best life with captions like #BFF, while you are curled up in your fleecy onesie watching repeats of Friends and wondering if it’s too late to try a Rachel cut.

The new Sex and the City reboot comes out this week and we love the show for its focus on female friendship as much as for the eclectic fashion.

But in what feels like a world full of Carries, Charlottes and Mirandas, it can sometimes feel like you're the only Samantha.

When you see celebs like Gigi Hadid and Kendell Jenner with their supermodel girl squad, who would rather forget their Fendi bags than their friends, it’s natural to feel a pang of jealousy or what’s known as friendship envy. But before you beat yourself up about it, friendship envy doesn't make you a bad person.

Just like how during lockdown, it felt like everyone was making sourdough bread and doing Couch to 5K without breaking a sweat, while we were struggling to get out of our PJs before midday, post lockdown, it feels like there is pressure to make up for lost time and go out with partying all the time.

But it’s hard to get yourself out there when you don't have a wing woman, and the loneliness we felt over lockdown didn't end once the restrictions were finished.

“I studied mechanical engineering where there were only seven girls in a class of over 300. We were of course friends but there was no girl squad in sight. The idea that we would have some kind of Sex in the City/Girls crew was unimaginable,” said Yassmin Abdel-Magied, 30, an Author and Social Advocate.

Yassmin continues, “Girl squads are presented as the ultimate way to live your best life. There’s definitely a sense that if you don’t have one, you’re missing out. Today it’s not romantic partners that are aspirational, it’s besties, but not everybody has that. It’s not like we don’t want it, but true friendship can’t just be found or bought. It takes time.”

Social media and celebrities have set some serious friendship goals, but how realistic are they? Ultimately, Instagram only shows a snapshot of people’s lives, but sometimes that picture perfect group can be less girl squad and more Mean Girls.

“I hang out with five friends, but the others have known each other since Uni so sometimes I feel left out because of the awkward dynamics,” said Vicky Nowak, 29, a Marketing Consultant.

“One of the group had her 30th birthday so I arranged for her roommate to let me into her flat and decorated it with balloons. When she came home, I discovered she had planned a night out with our other friends and I hadn’t been invited. They dropped me home in the limo they hired for the night and went off clubbing.

“I realised my need to be part of the group stemmed from my own insecurity and the lesson I learnt was I need to match my efforts to how valued I am in a friendship.”

Often changes in lifestyle like having children or in Becki Sam’s case, giving up alcohol means that you have different priorities to the rest of your friends and suddenly you can feel left out.

“I'd recently quit drinking ,which meant no more partying and realised all my friends were people I'd get drunk with. I suddenly felt really lonely, as if nobody knew ‘the real me’ (the sober me). Plus I had anxiety about making new friends especially with no alcohol involved. Like how do you even do that as an adult?” said Becki, 29, a Mindfulness Coach.

“All I saw were pictures of people having a fun girls night out. I was jealous of those relationships I saw. On Instagram, we curate what people see, but it's hard to remember that when you're being bombarded with images of what seems like an ideal life.

“Looking back, I probably portrayed my own female friendships differently too on Instagram, when in reality they weren't the friends I'd turn to in a crisis. If you're having that much fun, do you really need to document every minute or is it enough to be present with your friends?"

So why are we so tied by the idea of being part a girl squad even when those relationships become negative? Psychologist Lilly Sabir explained: “Our sense of identity and emotional wellbeing is constructed from the groups we belong to.

If we lack these social connections, it affects our self-esteem. We feel friendship envy because so much of our confidence is gained from us knowing who we ‘belong’ to.

“Whether it’s what you do or who you want to be, it will come from sourcing friends that share and influence your own ideas. If we lack those social connections which also approve parts of our personality, we can feel disappointed and lonely.

“Before social media, no one else knew what a typical Saturday afternoon with friends would look like. Now you see what friends, old class mates, exes are doing and group selfies are the way we show people who we are. This amount of access is creating even more importance around the friends we have and how they shape our identities.”

So what can we do about it? “Identify the triggers, then ask yourself why you feel that way” Lilly added, “ Then set goals to focus that energy onto enhancing your own identity, which will allow you to gain the confidence to engage with others and seek validating friendships.”

This is what Becki did when she decided to create her own girl squad by organising a dinner date for her closest individual friends who luckily all hit it off and now they regularly meet up.

“It was scary to put myself out there and arrange the initial meeting, but I’m glad I did as I can be my authentic self with them. Nobody would even know we're friends since we rarely post anything on social media because we're having too much fun together.”

Ultimately, being part of a girl squad should be empowering, but if it’s not, it’s better to do an Elsa and let it go. After all, if there was one thing we learnt from Samantha during all those repeats of Sex and the City, it’s that before seeking validation from others, we need to find it within ourselves and be our own girl squads.

This originally appeared on Glamour UK

Share this article: