So today, I'm gonna intro this by taking some of y'all all the way back into the mainstream gospel music archives. How many of you remember the back-in-the-day collab between The Winans and Aaron Hall (shout out to Teddy Riley for producing it too) called "A Friend"? Y'all, if I had social media, I would most definitely say, "Don't @ me" about the fact that Marvin Winans is one of the best vocalists…ever. But that's so besides the point.
I'm referencing this song because, at the very beginning of it, The Winans bring up this verse in Scripture—"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24—NKJV) That Scripture will preach because, in spite of what I'm going to share with you, there's no way to have, even one friend, if we're not a good friend to othersand a good friend to ourselves (not necessarily in that order either). Real talk, some people don't have any real friends because this is a point that they continue to overlook.
But for the rest of us who, it seems that with every passing birthday, we wonder why we either have or desire to have less friends, let's look into why we're not crazy to think so. According to experts on this very topic, there's some real truth behind why adults have so few friends—and also tend to have a particular "type" of friends.
How Many Friends Do Most Grown Folks Have, Anyway?
Is it just me or does it seem like back in high school, one of our greatest aspirations was to have a ton of friends? Now that I'm in my 40s, if I were to really sit and think about how many friends—based on my definition of the word—that I have, eh, it's probably somewhere between 10-12.
I've got a lot of cool and semi-close acquaintances in my life, but to call-them-in the-midnight-hour-always-have-my-back kind of friend? Yeah, they're hard to come by. Wisdom has taught me that it also requires a lot to be that kind of friend in return as well. Maybe that's why a lot of us had 30-plus friends back in the day. Our definition and expectations were way different than they are now. At least, that's my theory.
As far as actual data goes, according to a study that consisted of 2,000 Americans, the average American has somewhere around 16 friends. This number includes three life-long friends, five people they like a lot and don't mind spending one-on-one time with, and eight individuals who they like but don't really want to hang out alone with (umm, is that actually a friend then? Y'all tell me). The people surveyed also said that 50 percent of their friend circle came from folks who they met in high school; 31 percent are still friends with people they met in college. Something else that the study revealed is the average American hasn't made a new friend in the past five years. One of the reasons why is because there are two friendship traits that are pretty hard to come by—honesty and trust. I wholeheartedly agree on that last point.
So, take a moment and count up your friends. How many do you have? Then reflect on the last time you made a new friend. Do you fall into the survey's findings or not?
Don’t Have a Ton of Friends? Here’s Why That Just Might Be the Case.
Now, there's another study that brings in a twist to all of this. I say that because it claims that the majority of Americans (62 percent) have between 2-5 friends (that sounds more like it) and yet, even with the friends that we do have, most of us still feel lonely (the ones who feel this the most are young, single, male and typically a lower income). Some of this is because, these days, a lot of us work from home and since 42 percent of people make friends while at their place of employment, for entrepreneurs and telecommuters, that can be pretty difficult to do.
But out of all of the stuff that I read in this particular study, I think the fact that it pushed back on the whole "opposites attract" theory is what stood out to me the most. 62 percent of us have friends of the same faith. 74 percent of us have friends of the same ethnicity. 63 percent of us have friends who are on the same education level. 62 percent of us have friends who share our political views. 70 percent of us have friends with a similar social status and 69 percent of us have friends who are in the same life stage as us. It should also go on record that when it comes to evangelicals, 91 percent of their friends share their same faith, 86 percent share their same political views and 88 percent were their same ethnicity (I am tempted to preach a mini-sermon on that but…I digress). Oh, and when it comes to being friends with the opposite sex, 92 percent of Americans believe it's possible but apparently only 25 percent of individuals actually have one.
OK, so what all of this boils down to is most of us have under five friends who are very similar to us. If you're an introvert or ambivert like I am, that probably doesn't bother you in the least; if anything, it confirms why you are the way that you are. But if you are the kind of individual who wants to make more friends, interestingly enough:
I think this survey's findings offers up insights on how to make that happen. Get out more. Also, don't always gravitate to individuals who look and think the same way as you do (a couple of my closest friends couldn't be more different than me, in every way; they've caused me to grow, immensely, too). Oh, and if you're feeling lonely, tell one of the friends that you already do have; that's what they're there for.
And to those of us with a faithful few friends, let them know how much you appreciate them at some point this week. Life has taught me, sometimes the hard way, that if you've got even one true friend who is totally honest with you and you can trust with your life, you're better off than a lot of these folks out here who think that just because they know a lot of people, they've got a lot of friends. And won't that preach? Amen. Hallelujah, y'all.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports