‘When female friends say, “Text me when you get home,” it’s not just about safety.’

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The following extract is from Kayleen Schaefer’s book, Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship. 

Text me when you get home. Usually it’s late when women say this to each other, the end of a night that at some point felt thrilling. We might have been at dinner, a concert, or a cocktail bar. We might have been just hanging out talking even though we knew we’d be tired the next day. Maybe we shared secrets or surprise compliments (or both). Maybe we danced. Maybe we hugged with total joy. Maybe we were buoyed by booze or maybe we just felt light because of our love for each other.

My best friend, Ruthie, who lives a few blocks from me in Brooklyn, and I say it to each other after these kinds of nights. “I love you,” one of us will say. “Text me when you get home,” the other will say. We’re saying the same thing.

LISTEN: Kayleen Schaefer talks to Mia about her book, Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship. Post continues after audio.

I hear it on the street sometimes, like the other night when I passed a woman walking away from her group of girlfriends and into a rowdy crowd. “Text me when you get home,” one of her friends called after her. I hear it on television, too, on the HBO show Insecure, which is more about the star, Issa (Issa Rae), and her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), than anything else.

Men do not tell their friends to text them when they get home. Some guy somewhere must have been worried about his buddy finding his way back okay at the end of a night, but he probably just said, “Get home safe,” or didn’t say anything at all.

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This is because women who say, “Text me when you get home,” aren’t just asking for reassurance that you’ve made it to your bed unharmed. It’s not only about safety. It’s about solidarity. It’s about us knowing how unsettling it can feel when you’ve been surrounded by friends and then are suddenly by yourself again. It’s about us understanding that women who are alone get unwanted attention and scrutiny. Should I hold my keys in my hand? Why is this driver talking so much? Is this guy following me? Am I too drunk? Is that guy who just said, “Hey, gorgeous,” going to say anything else? My place feels so empty.

The words, and the corresponding texts we send when we do get home, are a web connecting us, winding through the many moments we spend together and apart, helping us understand that whenever we’re unmoored or terrified or irate or heartbroken or just bored, we’re not by ourselves. It’s a way for women to tell each other, I’m always with you. I won’t forget about you when you walk away. I am here when I’m standing in front of you or any other time you need me, no matter what.

It’s a way women are saying, through our care for each other, that our friendships are not what society says they are. We’re reclaiming them.

What we’re doing by holding each other close in whatever ways we can is lifting our friendships out of those stereotypes. We’re not going to let the kinds of relationships we want to have be undermined any longer. We won’t accept that we’re mean girls or that our friends should be also-rans compared to our romantic partners or children or anyone else tied to us with an official title. It isn’t true. Our friendships – the ones we’re living every day – can stand on their own. They are supportive, enthralling, entirely wonderful, and, often, all we need.

To hear more from Kayleen, listen to her chat with Mia Freedman on the latest episode of No Filter.

Kayleen Schaefer’s book, Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship is available online.

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