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  • In the 2009 study, she paired up two groups of female college students and had one set of women swap personal information about things such as sad or happy memories. The other group of partners coedited an academic paper. A week following the exercise, Brown found that the students who shared intimacies still had more progesterone in their systems. "You're not going out on a limb to think that the hormonal basis of social bonding is regulating your stress," says Brown, "maybe even making you more healthy."

    ON ELLE: Can Singles Ultimately Be Happy Alone?

    Lately, the manifold value of female friendship among all species is a hot topic. Feminist fist-pump-worthy findings abound: We now know that female baboons that form close bonds with their tribal sisters endure less stress and live longer. Also, lady elephants in Sri Lanka look out for their gal pals when essential resources such as water become scarce. And when a female prairie vole freaks out, a supportive same-sex partner can help her to settle down and relax. New York Times science writer Natalie Angier recently noted in an article that these female relationships are a force that "not only binds existing groups together but explains why the animals' ancestors bothered going herd in the first place."

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