I am grateful to have the recent experience of connecting with two friends in a new way: through a bit of structure and permission to really explore a more taboo topic together.

I walked away from our “Three Women” conversation series with the firm belief that if you ask different questions and hold space for the answers, new insights and different lines of connection emerge.

Three Women” is a book by Lisa Taddeo that explores female desire — predominantly in the realm of romantic relationships and sex — through the stories of three different American women. I was moved by the book while I was reading it, reveling in a deepening understanding of my own desires, and wanted to talk about it with others.

Two women friends who live on the other side of the country had just expressed wanting to be in closer touch. It seemed obvious. Why don’t we three women read “Three Women” and talk about it over three conversations?

I floated the idea, they were down, and I set our structure in place by preparing several questions for each conversation in a Google Doc. I ran the questions by them for input, set monthly calendar dates with Hangout links, and we were in motion.

Fast forward three months — we learned things about each other that we didn’t know before, and we were able to create insights for each other through our shared stories and pondering. It was exciting and powerful to have space to talk about sex, relationships, and gender in an open way, largely undiscussed in normal conversations with friends.

The structure of this (mini)book club gave our conversations more gravity, focus, and sense of purpose. We wrapped our last call with the question: how can we continue this conversation? And decided to carry on with monthly calls.

I am all for organic conversations and friendships. I also don’t shy away from structure.

Through this little project, an experiment if you will, I validated a hunch that if you give your friends an excuse to talk about personal things with a container that feels safe, they will find delight and relief in having that space to explore within the support of that friendship.

I encourage others to think about what topics their friends might enjoy talking about and then invite them to a conversation. You might just tighten your bond and learn new things along the way.

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