Female friendships and feelings of infatuation | SummitDaily.com

Female friendships and feelings of infatuation

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc Nicole VanCleave sits, Wednesday in a Breckenridge coffee shop.

SUMMIT COUNTY – When I was 8 years old, I always sat right behind Cassie on the bus ride to school. She was an impossibly sophisticated fifth-grader with permed hair and sparkly nail polish.One bright day, Cassie asked me if I wanted to sit with her. I was nervous but excited. During our ride to school, my admiration for her only grew.She was my first girl crush.The new term can be heard on television shows and in conversation and even posted on numerous blogs. Applied to friends, strangers and even celebrities, “girl crush” refers to a feeling of non-sexual infatuation, interest or admiration a heterosexual woman develops for another woman, who seems beautiful, sophisticated, charming or accomplished.According to a recent article in the New York Times, social scientists say this phenomenon of female adoration isn’t a new one. What’s new is 20- and 30-somethings’ frankness about the issue.Although Summit County women may not be putting the “girl crush” label on their experiences, the feelings of female affection are still very much alive in the High Country.

Frisco resident Annie Cusack, 21, has never thought about her feelings in the context of a crush, but said the concept aptly describes her relationship with her best friend, Heather, whom she met when she was 19.”She was really smart and not pretentious. She does a really good job of communicating what she’s thinking and feeling,” Cusack said. “It was very much like when you have a crush on a guy. I wanted to hang out with her 24/7. I thought she was so cool.”Nicole VanCleave, 22, of Breckenridge was attracted to similar traits in her own best friend, Morgan. The two met in eighth grade and have been friends ever since.”It was definitely her independence. She’s always thought for herself and been very self-aware,” VanCleave said. “I find that when I’m talking about her I glow.”VanCleave said she was nervous when moving to Summit County by herself but followed through with it because Morgan had so much confidence in her that she could do it.Sometimes people even ask her if Morgan is her girlfriend.”It doesn’t bother me. I just laugh and say, ‘No, she’s just my best friend’,” VanCleave said.

According to Cusack, some women try to use questions about their sexuality to their advantage to attract male attention.”Our society has come so far as far as homosexuality is concerned, but there’s a stigma still attached, especially among men, that if you’re open with each other, you’re a homosexual,” Cusack said. “It’s that male fantasy of seeing two women together, so some girls purposely seek attention for it.” Jaya Spencer, 29, said people getting the wrong idea about seeing two girls together is a particular issue in Summit’s small community.”If you spend too much time with your girlfriends in this county, people start to question,” she said.But being labeled gay isn’t a concern for VanCleave, who said she thinks the freedom women have to be more open with their feelings toward each other is related to women being more comfortable with themselves.”Men so often feel like they have to prove their masculinity,” she said. “Girls are more sensitive for the most part, so we’re more emotional with our friends. It’s OK to be more open. Men’s relationships don’t seem as intense.”Betsy Kornelis, 27, agreed with VanCleave’s sentiments, adding that as a heterosexual female, there’s no sexual tension or pressure in relationships with other women. And though she hadn’t heard the term “girl crush” applied to the situation, she said it totally sums it up.

“I think you gravitate toward people who embody those qualities you may lack,” Kornelis said. “You get nervous around them and want to act cool and say the right thing, but it’s on a different level (than with a man).”She said she thinks it’s a product of growing up and seeing beautiful women in magazines and becoming envious of those qualities.”You want to relate to that on a personal level. And it’s easier to connect with other women on a personal level about things,” she said. “I think (women) are raised to be more open with our feelings and emotions.”Straight, gay, married or single, VanCleave simply summed up the experience of having close female relationships:”It’s just great to be a woman.”Jennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at jharper@summitdaily.com.

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