GIRL TALK CAN HURT


Girls are not like boys. But you knew this didn’t you? You knew it even when it was bad form to say so and if we did, ohmygawd, this was sexist. Except of course it was nothing of the sort. It was reality — you know — facts strung together.

String this factoid in with it: it is not always good to express your emotions, say what you feel, analyze and generally, let it all out. Despite the plethora of professionals ready to escort you down the rabbit hole of emoting — I warn you, hold on. Especially if you are a girl, are the parent of one or generally have fond feelings for one or possibly two or more.

Here’s the story behind the story.

Yakking away with your friends during teen years strengthens bonds. But it comes at a price for girls. Rumination — that habit of thinking of the same thing over and over and analyzing it over and over, and telling your friends about it over and over — is not good for you. It leads to depression and anxiety and self blame.

Let’s say a teen girl is absolutely positive the guy she is in lust with is going to ask her to a big dance. He gives her all the signs and signals that say, “We’re good to go.” But then he doesn’t. He asks someone else. Our teen is devastated. She calls the girl squad and the analyzing begins: too fat, too ugly, too stupid, butt too big, not smart enough, too smart, not athletic enough, too athletic. Whatever. She’s to blame, it is as clear as the unblemished skin she worked so hard for. She talks and talks and talks about it.

And although she has convinced herself that one or all of the above flaws is the reason it is none of the above. Our teen boy is simply more interested in one girl than another at this point in time. Fickle is the fatal flaw of most teens and his love will change in a New York minute. But our teen girl hasn’t lived long enough to know she has no flaw so big that she is not dating material. She has been trained to head to the girl squad for succor and good for her! This ability to communicate and share with friends is what makes females, females. Up to a point, it bodes well for our teen girls.

But a study by Amanda Rose at The University of Missouri found increased rumination and discussion of a problem is counterproductive and leads to a vicious cycle where the rumination turns to depression and anxiety which sends the girls back to talk again about the same problem even if nothing has changed.

It doesn’t seem to be the problem of boys so much. However, if the boys have emotional problems, they too will only be hampered by increased talking.

If we need to teach the girls of our culture anything it is how to be resilient. Life’s curveballs are everywhere and the faster we pick ourselves up from a setback, the easier to get back in the game. Sharing life’s disappointments is fine but making them the focus of every conversation is the fast track to not learning how to dump them and move on.