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One of the biggest reasons why some women shy away from “chick” events is because to them, women are scary. As a result, many women shut down the girlfriend side of themselves and deem the only relationships necessary are the ones they have with their husband and kids.

Ladies, if this is you, I believe you were made for more. Your husband and kids cannot meet all of your relationship needs – they weren’t designed to. We were created to live in community. We all need girlfriends, and they need us.

Here are five tips for becoming an authentic friend:

1. Look beyond the clique

Too often we relive our high school hurts by trying to be part of the “in crowd.” Avoid cliques. It’s not about being good enough to be in their group, but they are probably too well established and too busy to include someone new. Plus, they don’t need a new friend, but the woman across the room might. When looking for a friend, don’t simply look for the woman who could be a good friend, look also for the woman who might need a good friend.

2. Make the first move

Don’t wait on someone to ask you to lunch or out for a play date. Many women are too busy or too shy to reach out. We all have an inner tape telling us why someone isn’t going to like us. Be the one who ignores that nagging tape and bravely takes a chance.

3. Be fun

Try not to let every conversation you have with your new friend center on kids or problems. Rediscover the girlfriend-side of yourself and have some fun. Talk about music, art, your dreams, movies, a fun date idea you want to plan for your husband or your hobbies. Minimize the potential for drama, and by all means, NO GOSSIP.

4. Be accepting

Allow your new friend to be herself. If she’s the kind of girl who goes out in full make-up or pajama pants, be accepting. If she feeds her kids all organic or dino nuggets, be accepting. If she works outside the home or is a stay-at-home mom, be accepting. Women need support and grace, not judgment.

5. Stop competing

Some moms are very competitive:

“My son walked at 4 months.”

“My daughter knows three languages.”

“My son plays Mozart.”

“My daughter did our taxes last year.”

Resist the temptation to compete with other moms. When moms start competing, I typically counter with statements like, “Wow. That’s great. My daughter painted her crib with her poop!”

The bad news: some women might hurt you. The good news: some women are going to love you. Rejection hurts, but so does loneliness. So be brave, take a risk, and make friendship beautiful.

Tasha Levert, PhD is a licensed professional counselor and the executive director of Broom Tree Counseling . Tasha is a conference leader, worship leader and author: