Float like a butterfly, sting like an awkward Bumble BFF date.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them…
In light of International Women’s Day, I felt this would be an apt opportunity to write a little something about female friendships. They’re complex, deeply personal and the good ones can last a lifetime. I’m very lucky to have met girls throughout various periods of my life who are very much my “people”. I began curating my lady-list from around age 4, so I’m pretty chuffed with the fabulous mix of women who make up my sisterhood (although it is sans travelling pants, I’m afraid).
Almost all of my gal pals have made it over to Stockholm for a visit in my first 6 months. And, in fairness, those that haven’t quite made it yet have either (a) also moved abroad at a similar time (b) had a baby within these 6 months or (c) have plans to come in the Spring! So it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of girly time, despite the distance. And that’s not even mentioning the weekly FaceTime dates and ever buzzing WhatsApp groups.
On reflection, I’ve been very privileged when it comes to female friendships. There’s never been a time in my life where I’ve not felt the presence of a small army of sassy females ready and waiting to have my back. I realise this isn’t always the case for some women, and that sadly girls aren’t always very nice to each other. This recent reflection has, in many ways, increased my reluctance in finding new friends in Sweden. Surely - at the ripe old age of 28 - I don’t have enough emotional space left over for new acquaintances, let alone full-blown friendships!
Of course, in Stockholm I spend plenty of time with my husband and the puppy. Life here is very much centred around the home, which has been a welcome change vs. the bank-balance-sucker that we know as London. That said, now the winter weather is beginning to thaw, I’ve started to feel like a little baby chick in search of other, well, chicks! It’s not that Stevie isn’t wonderful company, but sometimes we girls need to be with our own. Strangely my husband isn’t massively keen on sipping overpriced cocktails and reciting Mean Girls quotes… who knew.
Where we live is totally perfect for outdoorsy living, our house in perched on a lovely little cul-de-sac opposite a nature reserve. Great for dog walking, not so great for human contact. This, coupled with the saying “Swedes are like coconuts” (incredibly tough to break into the friend-zone, but super sweet once you’re in), I was a little bewildered as to how I should go about this “making friends” business.
In normal life, we meet our friends in shared environments such as school, University or work. So without a workplace, I was again at a loss. I did meet a really nice girl who was working in Acne Studios once but then, what do you do? HELLO PLEASE CAN WE BE FRIENDS? It’s creepy at best, desperate at worst.
Enter: Bumble BFF. I’d never used dating apps before because I met Steven at Uni. Safe to say I was not buzzing by the idea of starting now. Although, after a few swipes, it was clear that most ladies (all ladies, BFF is a bit sexist but I’m ok with that… sort of) were in the same situation as me.
Expats. New to the city. Mostly in relationships. Enjoy cocktails and yoga. Perfect!
I’ve had a total of 5 dates (meet-ups?) so far including a few coffees, drinks and dinners. It feels a bit like going for an interview but you don’t have to pretend your biggest weakness is working too hard. The blog title actually refers to meet-up number two, it wasn’t wholly awful but we just didn’t gel. It might have been the hardest I’ve ever worked over coffee however it was still really nice to hear someone else’s experiences of Swedish life. We haven’t spoken since but hey, you win some, you lose some. Luckily that has been my only awkward experience and everyone else I’ve met has been a babe.
The most obvious but also odd thing about BFF is that - unlike actual dating - you openly chat about who else you’re meeting. Very quickly you feel part of a community, especially in somewhere like Stockholm where the app isn’t exactly a hive of activity, so everyone pretty much knows each other! In fact, last week I went for a lovely lunch with 3 other engelska tjejer and we’d all met separately through Bumble!
Making new pals can be really scary, even for relatively confident people like me. I think the best thing to have in mind is that you can test out new friendships and it’s totally ok if it’s not quite the right fit. It’s also really refreshing to surround yourself with people who are different to you, as it makes for really interesting convo.
Finally, thanks to Bumble BFF, I’m beginning to build my own little colony here in Stockholm. I never should have doubted the potential for more amazing women to find space in the sisterhood. After all, who run the world…