The Happiness Project is a self-help book that I'm currently about 1/6 of the way through. Honestly I doubt I'll finish it, since I have a bad track record with completing self-help books, but for the most part this is an interesting read, primarily because the author supports her arguments and statements so well with research from a lot of different areas of thought (middle eastern philosophy, ancient Socratic discourse, psychological, anthropological, modern fiction). One of the statements she made in the book is that: "In fact, for both men and women—and this finding struck me as highly significant—the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women. Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference." She doesn't list a reference but it's something that has been completely and totally proven in my own experience.
When I was in high school, I was friends with a lot of women but I didn't feel a sense of loyalty with most of them. High school was a dramatic time and it felt like friendships were made and broken every other week. Recently I lugged out a box of notes that I had passed back and forth with friends in high school, and it was amazing how allegiances changed from week to week. In one note it would talk about how mad I was at Ashley for doing X Y and Z, and then two weeks later there would be a note between me and Ashley about Erin.
In college, I joined a sorority. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about working with and interacting with people, especially Asian people (who I had zero experience with), but I didn't really find any life-long friendships there. Mostly I hung out with my male friends, but I always felt strangely dissatisfied. Men are great people to spend time with--at the time, I found them to be much less critical and catty than women. (little did I know that that isn't necessarily true) but I still felt like there was something missing--there isn't as much deep dialogue about feelings with men as there is with women. I still sought out interactions with women that were fulfilling.
I think that part of the female experience is feeling like you have people who understand you. When I talk to my male friends or my boyfriend about their thoughts on life or themselves, when they ask me for advice it's rarely to resolve conflicting feelings or how to move forward given their emotions on a particular issue. It's usually very concrete: given these factors, what should I do? My boyfriend rarely vents to me, but when he does, it rarely includes an explanation of why he felt a certain way, it's always a breakdown of someone's actions and how they directly affected him or his work. I love him and I talk to him about a lot of things, but I've come to understand very quickly that there are just some things that are more gratifying to discuss with my female friends instead.
In the past few years, thanks to pole dancing, I've found women to be a rich infusion into my daily life (working in a male-dominated industry means I can literally go a full day without female interaction). Whether it is talking or emailing with some of the women who I've truly opened my heart to, or teaching a class full of women I barely know, I think it's definitely true that I've never felt so fulfilled and surrounded with love as I do now.