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When Your Best Friend's Mr. Right Is Mr. Wrong

Love & Relationships

I've cried over plenty of men. My text messages have been referred to as scriptures.

I have tried to rationalize why what is happening is okay, even if I feel like sh-t. Most importantly, I've done it more than once. Sometimes it seems like I have never learned the lesson despite how much time has passed. Knowing this truth about myself makes it much easier to not look down on or feel indifferent to other women struggling with the same thing.

But goddamn, have you ever been peacefully chilling after a long day and then BAM, here comes Stacy ready to talk your ear off for an hour via phone call about her dude? The worst part? You knew that's what she was calling for when the phone rang because this is nothing new. I've definitely been there and if you have "that" friend, I'm here to tell you it's okay to feel bothered. And it's definitely okay to want to tell her, girl, leave him or me alone.

Even in the 6th grade, I was sitting on three-way phone calls listening to my best friends and their significant others fight and make up. On my friendship resume, you can find "third wheel" under my skill set after "virgin until after high school." While my best friend and her boyfriend were having sex on the couch next to me, I was simply enjoying ice cream and reruns.

Unfortunately, when you ride or die for your girlfriends, that isn't always the most viable response. So we sit through, follow along, and get emotionally invested in their dramas. In turn, we usually end up secretly hating their partner (if not them). I had to make peace with this being a part of my friendships with people in relationships. Especially since, in retrospect, I too find myself venting about my relatively dry love and sex life, which is sometimes on baby daddy repeat.

So I've compiled a few thoughts and recommendations about ways to deal with your friends or family members who always come to you to talk about their relationships.

You Can Take A Rain Check

In an effort to put yourself first, know that it's okay to tell your friends that you're just not up to taking on anything other than yourself for the day. It's especially easier to do this if all they want to talk about is the same thing they always talk about. Do take caution here and use proper discretion as to not leave someone who REALLY needs someone there hanging. Just know that not responding, answering the phone, or rescheduling for a brunch or dinner does not make you an awful person- it means you care as much about yourself as you do anyone else.

Lend A Quiet Shoulder

There really is nothing worse than offering advice to someone who wants to argue with you about why your advice doesn't make sense for THEIR situation. Sis, nine times out of ten, as a single person, I don't think your situation makes sense at all but whatever. Depending on the kind of friend you're dealing with, they might not want any advice and just need to blow off steam. This is also totally fine, just try to suppress your urge to scream "ABANDON SHIP" and "RUN B-TCH" as often as possible.

It's Okay To Say "I Don't Know"

It's flattering having a friend that wants your advice and values your opinion, but you can only do it so many times. After you've given the same advice upwards of three times, it's time to throw in the towel. Having no advice at all is ok and "I don't even know girl" is my go-to line for these situations. Eventually, they will pick up on the idea that you no longer have much to say about it and will stop asking for your input. They might even stop venting altogether.

Keep It Judgement-Free

If someone in your life is coming to you with their most vulnerable frustrations it means they trust you and deserve to be treated with love and respect. The best way to maintain that is to keep it a judgment-free zone. We can sit around and talk about how we think we would never do this or that, but until you're in that situation you never really know. Give your friends the same safe space you might need when you try to make things work with your baby daddy for the 27th time- not me...I'm just saying.

Always Be Supportive - She's Grown

You ever listen to your girl cry for a few hours on the phone the night prior to waking up and seeing her dude as her MCM? It happens all of the time. My number one rule for this is plain and simple - if she is not in any imminent danger or suffering from some form of abuse that was disclosed to me, then it's just not my business. Everyone is an adult and everyone gets to make their own decisions pertaining to how they want to spend their lives. All you can do is be supportive of your friend and refrain from any "I told you so" verbiage if they circle back to your line a week later.

Relationships may come and go, but sisterhood SHOULD be forever. Try your very best to establish boundaries for your girlfriends, as well as yourself in order to maintain healthy long-lasting friendships.

It's important to stay gentle, but remain true to what you're feeling and things will eventually balance out for you.

Whether you're on the receiving end, or the one doing the venting, keep in mind that the most important thing is that you love each other. Know your limits, advise only when asked, support your friends no matter what, but be ready with a bat when they are finally ready to tear his car up.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

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