Life is interesting. The very day that I sat down to pen this piece, one of my favorite YouTube channels, The Skin Deep, premiered a new episode between two friends—Lafi and Eboni. When it comes to the topic that's at hand, I don't know if growth spurts can get any more extreme than one friend who is a new mom and the other friend who is currently transitioning from female to male. And here's the thing, y'all—no matter what your personal feelings are on transgenderism, I still think the episode is worth watching—and pondering. One reason is because it's clear that the love and loyalty between these two individuals are rock solid. Second, I believe that their personal and friendship journey beckons us all to ask the question, "What would we do if a friend of ours made a significant life change?" Deeper still, "What would we do if they made a decision that we either couldn't relate to or perhaps didn't personally agree with?"
The interesting thing about the word "growth" is increase and development can mean different things to different people. So, while you're trying to maintain a friendship with someone who may define growth in a way that is different from your own, how do you discern the differences between growing together and growing apart?
As I watched the entire episode, one of the questions that I really liked was, "How has your love changed for me over time?" It served as a reminder that none of us are the same from five years ago; we'll also be different five years from now. As you're trying to balance how to maintain your friendships in the midst of you and your friends' growth spurts, here are some tips to help you both keep your connection intact.
Know That Growth Spurts Are Completely Normal
I know, right? When it comes to the world that we live in, what does "normal" even mean? I am going with that word from the angle of growth being a standard—it is a standard for all of us to experience things that will result in us expanding, evolving and, hopefully maturing. When those things transpire, we change. As we change, our relationships change.
One of the closest people to me, when we first met, we used to spend hours on the phone, talking about basically everything and nothing. But less than a year into our relationship, she got engaged. A few months after that, she got married. We then went from always being on the phone to constantly emailing one another. After the birth of her first child, emailing got a lot less too. As her life has shifted, we've had to come up with "new normals" in order for us to still nurture our relationship. Our friendship serves as a constant reminder that, if you live long enough, folks meet new people and cultivate relationships that alter their lifestyle. It can take some real getting used to but still, it is very normal.
Accept That Growth Spurts Are Oftentimes Uncomfortable—and Unpredictable
My youngest godchild is about to enter the cutting teeth stage of her development. We can tell because, for the most part, she's a pretty chill baby. But right through here, she's sleeping more and she's also more irritable than usual. The good news is she's about to get her first set of teeth. The sucky part is she's on the way to having a few months of pain.
Most of us want our friends to thrive in life. But when someone decides to start their own business, move to a new city (or country), take their relationship to another level, totally switch career paths, embark on doing things that will be better for their physical and/or psychological well-being—while the transitions are necessary, that doesn't mean that all of the newness doesn't take some real getting used to. In the midst of the growth, some things are going to be uncomfortable and unpredictable.
So, you know what that means. If your friend already doesn't know how to feel about what they are going through, they aren't going to be the best at offering up tips on how to help you adjust to their adjusting. The key is to remember that, just like teething, growth spurts come in waves; things won't be all topsy-turvy and disheveled forever. Try and be calm, supportive and not super sensitive. Things may be a little "weird" right now, but this too shall pass.
Also Accept That They Rarely Happen in Sync with Each Other
Remember how I said that a part of what comes with friendship is learning how to know the differences between when you are growing together or apart? It's my personal belief that some of us put unnecessary strain on our friendships because we don't factor in growth spurts into the dynamic. If you just took a job out of state and your BFF takes a new career path that has demanding hours, that doesn't automatically mean that the two of you are growing apart; it may just mean that you both need to be more intentional about making sure that you schedule time to catch up. If another friend of yours recently had a religious experience that altered their perspectives and perhaps even their value systems and, at the same time, you had a different type of spiritual awakening that changed you too, it doesn't mean that you both can't still coexist—you both just need to remember to respect one another's path and be open-minded to where you both are…now.
Some people end friendships that honestly could've went the distance if they had simply realized that, although they changed individually, that didn't mean that the friendship was doomed. It simply meant that the love and mutual respect that they shared had to make room for the friendship to transition a bit. That both individuals still need one another—just maybe in different ways than they did in times past.
Know That Patience and Open Communication Are Required
I've shared before that one of my all-time relationship-related quotes is, "People change and forget to tell each other." At this stage in my life, there are only a handful of people who I've been friends with since the turn of the century. My pregnancies changed me. Heartbreak changed me. Leaving corporate America to be a full-time writer changed me. Leaving the denomination that I grew up in changed me. Learning how to set some freakin' boundaries changed me. Letting go of toxic family members and releasing counterproductive friendships changed me. I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist.
As I think back on all of the changes, and the people who have rocked with me throughout each of them, I know for a fact that we wouldn't have made it through if it hadn't been for their patience ("the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like") and commitment to listen to my needs as I gave them the stage to offer up their own as I was going through all of my transitions.
Real talk, some friends fall out because one or both people become impatient as they witness their friend's changes. But what my friends have shown me is when the love, loyalty and commitment are there, so long as the changes don't cause the friendship to become unhealthy, supporting your friend is the only real option you've got. And yes, that support requires quite a bit of patience and open communication. For a season, until everything settles, anyway.
Prepare for Some Things Needing to Shift Within the Relationship
One of my closest male friends is one of the most ambitious cats I know. It's like every six months or so, he's got another big idea that requires us to shift our talking schedules and it sometimes requires that I lend my support in a different kind of way. If he didn't bring so much consistency, confidentiality and outright joy to my life (because he is hilarious), it would be easy to let all of his professional changes to cause us to grow apart. But since I really do adore all of what he brings into my life, whenever he hits me up with the, "Hey, I'm on this right now", I have learned to respond with, "So, what do you need from me in this season?"
Different seasons have different purposes and needs. That goes for the weather; that also goes for relationships.
What a friend of yours needed from you last year may be totally different from what they need from you now. Same goes for you as it relates to how they relate to you. Handling one another's growth spurts can be so much easier if you're both simply willing to meet current needs rather than settling into the rut of doing what you've always done for one another. This tip alone? It can be a real friendship lifesaver. It really can.
Remember That Embracing Growth Is a Part of What Commitment Is All About
The more work that I do with married couples, the more that I admire marriage; especially when it comes to couples who have more than 10-15 years under the belt. Because man, what those marriages model to me is how much commitment is required to remain with someone who is constantly changing as you change.
I make it no secret that I am a control-freak-in-recovery and so, sometimes in times past, as certain friends would go through their own process of evolution, me not liking the changes would result in me almost punishing them for changing. It was like I was so accustomed to the predictability of things being a certain way that, when they weren't that way anymore, I would emotionally disconnect.
Being a marriage life coach has shown me that, one of the most profound ways to show someone just how "in this" you are, is to give them the space to grow while still remaining solid in your commitment to them. It's like saying, "While you're out here metamorphosing, I'm gonna be right here, having your back every inch of them way."
When people know that they've got individuals in their life who don't merely tolerate their growth spurts but actually embrace them, not only does it cause them to evolve; it evolves the relationship as well.
As the individuals grow, the friendship grows. And when both people keep that in mind in the midst of the turbulence of the growth spurts, the end result can be a truly beautiful, sacred and lasting thing. Something that all of us ultimately desire from our dearest friendships. See what growth can do?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Reginae Carter Opens Up About Dating And Why She Puts Herself First
Actress, reality star and entrepreneur Reginae Carter has demonstrated that she isn't afraid to speak her mind on a wide range of subjects, including dating and relationships.
In the past, the reason why Carter, the daughter of Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter and Toya Johnson-Rushing, has been vocal stems from her numerous high-profile unions—the 24-year-old previously dated rapper YFN Lucci on and off from 2018 to 2021. In recent years, Carter has been romantically linked to YouTuber Armon Warren.
To date, the current status of her relationship with Warren is unclear because Carter has since removed what appears to be all the posts, including the singer, on social media. Despite that, Carter was open to discussing dating and the topic of placeholding when she recently sat down with Revolt's Black Girls Stuff hosts.
According to Goalcast, a placeholder occurs when an individual non-exclusively dates someone for an extended period as they "wait for the one." In the May interview, Carter shared her insights on celebrity relationships and why she refuses to settle.
Reginae On Relationships
During the conversation, Carter shared that many people view placeholding as a way that benefits one person.
The Boxed In star claimed that despite the difference of opinion, she considers it beneficial for both parties in terms of celebrity dating because the couple could be placed holding each other for a come-up.
"Some people are looking at placeholding as if like you know you're benefiting off of them or they benefit off of you. Like, say, many celebrity relationships, I feel like they placehold each other to get up or get on top or clout chase," she said.
However, Carter added how "industry relationships" could be detrimental to the person being used as a placeholder. Carter revealed that the individual being used may feel like their time was wasted.
"It's a lot of industry relationships where they go to the 'it' girls when it's probably like a girl they've been messing with for a long time," she stated. "That girl may feel like, 'Damn, I was placeholding, just for you to go get a more lit b--h.'"
Reginae On Being A Placeholder And Not Settling In Relationships
As the discussion transitioned to if she ever had someone in a placeholder position, Carter said that because she is "a fairy tale lover," the only people she has been romantically linked to are those she considered special.
"I don't think I placehold. I'm like a fairy tale lover, and I just love. So I feel if you ever came close to even getting a place to hold, I guess, you are really something," she explained.
When the topic of men having placeholders out of fear of being alone came up, the Terror Lake Drive star expressed that although she doesn't believe that all "men cheat," she shared that some have placeholders for specific things like sex and companionship because women allow it.
"My opinion is, I feel like not every man cheat. But I feel like every man got a little placeholder that they can call up, and they holding some place," she said. "They might be holding the ‘Oh, I just sleep with you place.' Or they might be holding the wife one, because we allow that. We allow men to do that."
Carter wrapped up the interview by saying that she refuses to be in that predicament because of the amount of love she has for herself, and if it ever happened to her, she would leave.
"If somebody makes us mad or we find out, like 'no baby, you gone, bye.' I know me. I'm not about to keep letting you come... It's too much. I don't play about me.
“So it's like, I know you sleeping around, I'm not about to let you sleep in this bed," she stated.
Reginae Carter on Relationships, Placeholders, and Growth | Black Girl Stuff
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