I must admit that there's an irony here. What I mean by that is it is fascinating that, since one of my passions is reconciling divorced married couples, it's a little weird that I would even be open to penning a piece about friends who may need to get a "divorce". I think a part of the reason why I somewhat support the latter kind of break-up is because, I actually tend to see more people put up with toxicity in their friendships than in their marriages. It really is interesting—at least it is to me—that someone can vow "until death parts us" to their spouse and be out in two years flat, but an individual they did not make a formal commitment to? That person can talk about them, disregard their needs and ultimately prove to be more of a foe than an ally and somehow, there's all kinds of tolerance and second chances offered up in their direction.
I could pen an entire piece on how a lot of folks are more loyal to their friends than their spouses because they aren't actual friends with their life partner and probably never were…but we'll save that for another day. What I'll say for now is this—because I know, firsthand, all of the good that a healthy friendship can do and all of the bad that a toxic one can bring into your life, I do think that sometimes friendships need to end in their own version of a divorce; divorce in the sense of experiencing "total separation; disunion"—for the ultimate well-being of both individuals. And just what are some of the indicators that you've experienced enough to let a particular friend go?
6 Signs It's Time To Let A Friend Go
1.Does Communication Suck?
If you were to ask a divorced person you know about what led to the ending of their marriage, one of the things that they would probably mention is there was a breakdown in communication. Communication is what helps two people to mentally and emotionally connect to one another, so yeah, if that isn't happening effectively, couples end up feeling misunderstood, ignored and end up growing apart.
Same thing with friendships. If you and one of your friends aren't hearing each other out, respecting each other's feelings and perspectives, are ignoring each other's vocalized needs (and triggers), are impatient while dealing with one another, and/or aren't making the time to emotionally connect, these are clear signs of poor communication. And while it doesn't automatically mean that the friendship is doomed, what it does mean is you two aren't in a good space and, if you leave things where they are, the relationship isn't going to get better…over time, it's only going to get worse.
2.Is Any Form of Abuse Transpiring?
I've been through some stuff. Believe you me. But if I were to think about some of the most emotionally abusive situations that I've been in, it would have to be with people I considered to be my friends. How do you know if one of your friends falls under this category? Manipulation is a form of emotional abuse. Users are emotionally abusive. People who make you feel like you constantly have to walk on eggshells in their presence are emotionally abusive. Individuals who aren't open to negotiating, ones who take the "It's my way or the highway" approach, they are emotionally abusive. Ghosting in and out is a form of emotional abuse. Giving the silent treatment when things don't go their way is emotional abuse. Expecting you to be there for them when they aren't there for you is a form of emotional abuse. Gaslighting you is a form of emotional abuse. I'm sure you get this gist now.
And why do so many of us put up with this type of treatment? From my own personal experiences, 1) I think a lot of us don't realize that it is abuse in the first place and/or 2) we feel like friendship is about standing by our friend, even when they are being assholes. But here's the thing about the second point—an author by the name of Darlene Quimet once said, "Controllers, abusers and manipulators don't question themselves. They don't ask themselves if the problem is them…they always say the problem is someone else." So while you're out here thinking that you're "loving your friend through their abusive tendencies", if they are textbook abusers, they're probably not even thinking about, let alone caring about, how they're acting or how it's affecting you. And when someone isn't self-aware or respectful enough of others to make necessary changes…nothing changes.
Most of us wouldn't stand for physical or perhaps even verbal abuse from a friend. But if you're constantly being taken on an emotional roller coaster ride, that's a form of abuse too. And if you bring this to your friend's attention and, frankly, they don't give a damn, this is a really good reason to strongly consider initiating a friendship divorce. Stat.
3.Is Your Friend Disloyal?
Another reason why a lot of married couples end their union is due to infidelity; you know, one or both people being unfaithful. On the friendship tip, unfaithfulness tends to come in the form of being disloyal. Disloyalty can be someone who talks about you behind your back. Disloyalty can also be someone who breaks "the codes" that are between the two of you. Some other ways that a person can be disloyal include—telling your business, not having your back when times are difficult, being competitive over being supportive (which is oftentimes a clear indication of envy), acknowledging your friendship in different ways based on who they are around (you're their bestie unless someone they think is "more important" is in their presence, then they downplay the relationship), and/or them saying or doing things that prove to be deceptive or untrustworthy in any way.
Sometimes, we'll put up with someone like this because we met them this way. What I mean by that is they treated other folks like this, charmed their way into our lives, and somehow, we thought things would be different when it came to us. But like another author by the name of Chobir Dokan once said, "If they disrespect you to your face, imagine what they are doing behind your back." You are no exception to a point like this.
It's hard to be in a relationship with anyone who is disloyal. So, if you read this part of the article and someone immediately came to mind, just keep in mind that some definitions of disloyal include treacherous, dangerous and insecure. If you want to try and maintain something with someone based on those traits, all I've got to say is good luck. Oh, and be careful too.
4.Are You the Only One Who’s Working on the Relationship?
I think it's hilarious how much Divorce Court pops up in my YouTube feed. Sometimes I watch, sometimes I don't. But when it came to a particular episode where a woman was basically being a man's wife while he was being her boyfriend, I appreciated what Judge Lynn Toler had to say about it—"Never do wife duties at girlfriend prices…the first meal I ever cooked my husband was a week after we were married…you're not giving me a ring and some security, clean your own stuff. I ain't got time for that; I've got things to do. You think I'm good enough to share your body, you think I'm good enough to have your baby—you think that he thinks you're good enough that he can trust you with his clothes and his business but he can't give you his last name? Ugh."
Ugh is right. It's commentary like this that inspired me to pen pieces like "Why I'll Never Call Someone A 'Boyfriend' Again" and "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife". And, on the friendship tip, it inspired me to also write "Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend'". Trust me, I know what it's like to care for someone, both on a romantic and purely friendship level, and then move on those feelings without getting clarity on whether the person that I'm devoting so much of what I have to is on the same page as I am. When you don't take the time out to see if they see the relationship in the same way that you do, that is how you can end up doing most of the work to maintain it. Why? Because you value it more than they do. Plain and simple.
Coming to this realization isn't an automatic friendship deal-breaker. What should be is once you come to this realization, and bring it to their attention, nothing changes. Now we've got a real problem because, if your friend is cool with you doing 80 percent of what it takes for the relationship to remain intact, not only do they not care very much about the friendship itself, but they don't care as much about you as they should either.
And please tell me why you should remain friends with anyone who would disrespect you in this manner? Like Judge Toler said, "Ugh." Just ugh.
5.Do Things Seem to Be Getting Progressively Worse?
Some friendships, unfortunately, end up dying a very slow and painful death. The reason why is because, although we see the writing that is on the wall, we try and act like the relationship isn't getting to the point where it's proving to be unhelpful or non-beneficial to both individuals. When I think about this particular point, a former friend who stayed at least three years longer than they should have comes to mind. I knew there was a hard conversation that needed to be had, but I kept avoiding it because, since they were so arrogant and entitled, I knew that they would play the victim if I brought my concerns up.
In hindsight, I wish I had though, because if we had ended things sooner, I still would've had some level of respect for them. But because I kept allowing matters to get worse and worse, by the time I did officially dip out, I didn't even really like them anymore. I still don't. A big part of that is because I kept trying to be a friend while they kept being anything but. As a result, it made me resentful, then angry…and then abruptly done. The problem with that is it's a poor assumption that friendship divorces have to be ugly and messy. But if a relationship lasts way past its time, that's exactly how it could end up. A big ole' emotional mess.
Moral to the story—if you see your friendship is on life support, opt for quality more than quantity. End it sooner than later because the sooner that you do, the faster you can heal and open your heart to those who will be good friends in your life.
6.Have “Seasons of Separation” Never Worked Out for the Better?
One more. Whenever a married couple asks me what I think about them separating, the first thing I always say is, "If you're doing it because you need space in order to come back together and work harder at your relationship, I'm all for it." Then I recommend that they invest in the bookHope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed by Dr. Gary Chapman (the same guy who came up with the love languages theory that many of us apply to our relationships). The reason why I think it's so important to put this on record with troubled couples is because a lot of people just see separation as a step away from divorce. But really, what it needs to be is a time when two people can get the space that they need to see if and how to make their marriage work.
I think that sometimes friendships need the same thing. Several years ago, a former friend of mine and I kept butting heads so much that we took a break for several months. During that time, I really did evaluate the good, the bad and the counterproductive about us. By the time we had a chat about where things stood, I came to the conclusion that, although I would always love her, we really did need to part ways—to "divorce". It was years later before I saw her again, but when I did, there was hugging, there was catching up…there was peace. Then there was walking away from one another so that we could continue on with our lives—separately.
In hindsight, I think that our divorce is the reason why there was no bitterness and drama when we did finally see each other again. When two people choose not to communicate their feelings and needs, when ghosting transpires, that can leave real scars because, there's like an element of disregard and disrespect that's left behind. But as I oftentimes say, when two people come into a relationship together, they really should come to an agreement together if it should end as well. More times than not, this approach results in a "clean break" that still might be painful, but it also can make it easier to heal and move on as well.
Just like marriages, I strongly doubt that a lot of people go into their friendships with an ending in mind. But also, just like marriage, friendships should be healthy, fruitful and mutually beneficial. If you read all of this and that's something that you can't say is transpiring in one of your friendships, it may be time for a total separation—a friendship divorce. Think it over. Pray about it. Discuss it with your friend. If you discover that it is time to move on, there is a poetic irony here—coming to a place of accepting that you both need something different and perhaps better actually is being each other's friend. Even if that means not actually being friends with one another…anymore.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo courtesy of Tamara Taylor
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image courtesy of Tamara Taylor