The Role of Female Friends in the Management of Affairs
This chapter focuses on the role of friends, specifically the role of female friends, in the construction of the relationships. It suggests that it is friends who may know about a person's affair long before family and kin, and that this sharing of information is a powerful way of delineating boundaries and determining who "counts" as significant within a person's social network. The chapter considers the social landscape in which women's friendships occur. It explores the various processes female friends go through when news of an affair comes to light by drawing on archival and other empirical data. It examines the consequences affairs can have on friendship practices, showing that "working through" a friend's affair can alter women's understandings of what constitutes friendship. Then, it also focuses on those women who seem to have high levels of self-awareness and good empathy skills, and thus provide powerful examples of the time-consuming, exhausting friendship practices that many female friends often do together.