I'll never forget the moment I found out my ex cheated. Knowing another woman lingered in our home while I was committed to our relationship was the most violated I have ever felt. All I could think about was "her". How her lips touched our wine glasses. Her body slept in the bed we shared. Her moans echoed in the home where we once said, "I love you." I could almost smell her perfume. It was the perfect formula to make any woman see red. My anger took over our once happy home.
You can imagine my dismay when my ex reached out years later. Turns out, HE needed closure. Yeah, you read that correctly. Every part of me wanted to "boy-bye!" his ass up out of my phone, but I didn't. I had so many unanswered questions that lingered in my mind for years. I knew it was time to put my pain to rest. I texted him back and we had one of the hardest conversations of my life.
Healing is not always sunshine and rainbows. It's also not as colorful as the wellness pages on social media. We all process pain differently, therefore we all heal differently.
Sometimes the process of healing looks like emotional breakdowns in your car or regular dates with your therapist. Overall, healing is difficult for everyone and we will all face hardships along the way. Here are some hard truths I've run into during my healing process.
It Happened, Period.
I found the moment I accepted things for what they were, the easier it was to move forward. He cheated, it happened, and there was no changing it. I could yell all I wanted, but the fact is the deed was already done. I had to accept that there was a woman who was important enough to sacrifice our relationship for, period. Me staying angry forever or justifying his actions to give him a second chance won't change the past. This is no shade to those who have gone back after cheating. I'm just speaking from my own experience.
Whatever hurt you, happened. I know this may sound a little forward to most people, but we keep it real at xoNecole. In my experience, it was easy to get wrapped up in the whole, "Is this happening to me? Nah, this can't be happening to me."
I learned denying that it happened or justifying the action to make it less painful, doesn't mean it just goes away. Denial or justifying is just an excuse to suppress your emotions or not face the reality of the situation. This can only lead to prolonging your healing process.
To start our healing journey, we must accept what happened and that we are hurt. We live in a society where we are encouraged to "look at the positive" or ask yourself, "what did we learn from this?" three days after it happened. You are allowed to admit a situation sucks and feel those emotions for what they are. It is OK to validate our pain if it means moving forward.
Sometimes You Have To Call Yourself Out On Your Toxic Traits
If you think you don't have any toxic traits, you're lying. Yes, sis, you have a toxic trait and so do I. We all have a toxic trait or two. Although my relationship ended due to cheating, that doesn't mean I was exactly perfect either. I had a few toxic traits that didn't help my relationship thrive. I had the classic "daddy issues" which made me extremely codependent. I also suffered from a strong case of "hood mentality" due to my upbringing. I didn't know how to talk about my problems. I just knew how to fight about them. This was a huge issue in our relationship.
It's hard to admit that we have toxic traits because no one likes to feel "wrong". Confessing our toxic traits also means "showcasing" our weaknesses. Letting others in on our weaknesses is an extremely vulnerable place to be in. Admitting we have a toxic trait may take time, but it can make us aware of it. Becoming more self-aware with our whole being will only make us better in the toughest of situations. We will be able to detect our toxic traits when they arise and have more self-control.
You Owe It To Yourself To Heal
Unfortunately, it's not the job of the person who "hurt us" to heal us. In fact, I have a confession to make. There was a period in time where I felt my cheating ex should've made up for what he did. Crazy, right? As if a Michael Kors bag (don't judge, they were popping back then!) was the answer to all of our underlying issues. What I was subconsciously doing was placing MY healing in HIS hands.
My healing is my responsibility, just like it is yours. You owe it to yourself to heal. If you rely on those who hurt you to heal you, you might be hurting for a while. Taking charge of our healing is taking back our power.
Closure & Forgiveness Are For You. Read That Again.
When I agreed to meet up with my ex after some time, it was because I needed closure too. As selfish as it may sound, I decided to embrace closure and forgiveness for me, not for him. I spent years being angry and labeling all men as "ain't shit" because of what another man did. All I accomplished by choosing to "stay mad" was block other relationships that could have been great for me. I was tired of being a "bitter woman". I was ready to forgive and release all of the pain I found comfort in.
Closure and forgiveness don't always require a meet up at Starbucks. It can consist of your journaling or organically coming to terms with how things ended. If you do choose the Starbucks route though, make sure to prep before going. Write down a list of key points you would like to mention and do your best to be in a good headspace. Remember, holding on to situations that no longer serve us is holding us back from our higher purpose.
Toxic Relationships Shouldn’t Be Turned Into Friendships
This may be an unpopular opinion, but trust me sis, I'm trying to save you. If your situation was toxic, give him back to Jesus, and move forward with grace. Turning any toxic relationship into a friendship is still holding onto the toxicity; it means we're not ready to let go. The point is to let toxicity go so we can thrive into who we're meant to be.
My ex and I tried to have a friendship after we broke up and it got messy. The issues we had in our relationship began to roll into our friendship. Arguments about people we were dating, mixed signals, and old wounds from the past began to come up again.
The friendship felt more stressful than the actual relationship itself. I realized If I wanted to move forward with my life, I had to let him go completely. I gracefully gave him back to Jesus.
Letting go of my ex and the grudge I had against him has helped me find peace. I truly feel happier, free, and more aligned with myself than I ever have before. I've learned to fall in love with the woman I am today and embrace all of me. I love my independence, peace of mind, and the beauty marks I have gained along the way. I wish my ex well and I truly hope he has also healed from this experience.
I hope these hard truths are a benefit to your healing journey. These truths have helped me find acceptance in many ways. The hurt you are going through now is molding you into a strong phenomenal human for the future. I promise it does get better. If you need someone to talk to during this time, please reach out to me on Instagram. Happy healing.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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