One of the accomplishments I am most proud of in my life as an adult woman is cultivating new friendships that are fruitful and that elevate me. I pride myself on trying to be a good friend at all times. My mother could never understand why I was always so dedicated to my friendships, of course, she had six other brothers and sisters with built-in friendships. I, on the other hand, was raised as an only child for most of my life and had to build my own tribe. Friendships have always been important to me, they have shaped me at many different stages in my life and I don't know where I would be without those relationships.
It has been my firm belief that "to have a friend, you have to be a friend," and that has been my North star in how I operate and how I make decisions. Friendships can teach you a lot in the way of navigating relationships with others but I think the best part about friendships is that you get to practice grace. Too often, we forget to add grace in our lives and hold people to impossible standards which ends up leading to unnecessary disappointment. However, friendship gives you the opportunity to exercise having grace as well as extending it. It is in this space that we truly get to love someone, flaws, and all, without the pressure of expectations, and anxiety.
Every friendship has its place in your life and has a lesson to teach you.
Some friendships are temporary, some are seasonal, and some are evergreen. Over time, you get to see who falls into what category and who just simply falls away. At some point in every woman's life, I feel it is necessary to take inventory of who is around you. We tend to hold on to relationships from childhood thinking they will last forever, only to find out people grow and change and so should that friendship. The things we need as a child in a friend may not serve us in our adult lives with the trajectory we are on. Hence the need to make new friends in different stages of our lives.
Making New Friends In Your 30s
When I turned 30, there were a lot of major transitions in my life that were beginning to happen, I was coming out of a long-term relationship, turning 30, and trying to rediscover who I was post-relationship. I was faced with the very difficult task of re-evaluating every relationship around me which resulted in me ending several 15-year friendships. Including my best friend of over 20+ years. To be clear, we are still friends but I had to set some boundaries around how that relationship was to be reimagined and how I was going to conduct myself inside of it, as well as redefine what "best friend" means to me now.
Taking the time to do this gave me the courage to understand what I needed in a friend which was counterintuitive to how I was engaging in friendships. I thought that as long as I was the very best I could be as a friend, that would be reciprocated back to me.
But that was not always the case.
I have often heard that the older we get, the harder it is to make friends. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I can see why some would feel this way. The reality is the older we get, the more the landscape of forming bonds changes, and that is simply because we mature. We may have new careers, marriages, kids, etc. that are now providing context to the lives we live and this informs us how we choose people to be our friends. In order to do succeed in doing that, really hone down on the things you need in a friend and that will help guide you in finding the tribe that is right for you.
Here are a few tips on making friendships as an adult:
1. Lead with authenticity when making new friends.
OK, so the category here is VULNERABILITY. This works two-fold, you need to be vulnerable with yourself to admit what you truly need in a friendship. In addition to that, you also need to be open with your potential new friend. The first part of this is understanding what type of friend you are, meaning answering questions like this: are you someone that needs to talk to your friend every day? Do you like to spend quality time together or are you OK just catching up every few weeks? Get to know yourself first so that you can align with other like-minded people.
Next, when you first meet someone, be yourself. Don't try to fit into a mold of what you think that person may like in a friend. You will spend most of your time being someone you are not instead of being the amazing person you are. You have a lot to offer and that should shine front and center. I think a great way to understand how you and a potential friend function in any kind of relationship are to take the 5 Love Languages Quiz. Friendships are built on communicating on a deeper, more intimate level even though they are not always romantic. However, how we give and receive love for ourselves is the same when engaging others.
2. Create boundaries as you build trust in budding friendships.
I often hear people express fear around making new friends because of a plethora of reasons. But mostly it has a lot to do with whether or not you will be accepted fully after showing someone your authentic self. To this I say, be authentic and open but remember everyone has to earn the right to your story. Lead with your most authentic self, but you don't have to share everything upfront in the first five minutes.
I am not suggesting to hide things and be dishonest but I am saying reveal things over time. As you build trust, you should be able to let people in closer to you. Be clear on what information you don't mind sharing without fear of judgment. But there is a thin line to walk while you are building trust with a person. This is where boundaries come into play, you need to know how much you are comfortable sharing at different milestones of building a friendship.
Boundaries make it clear for you to regulate the direction in how your friendship is growing as well as how it will develop in the future.
3. Keep an open mind about the kind of friends you meet.
As we get older, we have the luxury of gaining knowledge from past learned lessons. This can only serve to be to our advantage in that it helps us step out of old patterns and discover something new. We have the ability to learn about new people with an open mind and really create friend circles with people who are different than us. I highly recommend creating friendships with people who seem different than you and challenge yourself to find things in common.
You will learn so much about yourself and things you never knew you could have access to, just by opening your mind. That is the beauty in all of this. Meeting someone new and finding your common interests amongst what seems to be different is an understated suggestion when it comes to tips on making new friends.
4. Learn to actively listen and communicate in your friendships.
Communication is a big theme in why so many relationships struggle. Commit yourself to relearning the art of conversation as well as the art of active listening. Quite often we misunderstand, misinterpret, or even miscommunicate because we forget the basic fundamentals of communication. Going into a situation where you are looking to meet new people, you need to have your communication skills on point.
It serves me greatly to listen and speak with engaged interest in the person I want to be friends with in the future. I am asking questions about the person, relating similar stories to what they said, and keeping the conversation going. I am showing interest and that I am open to being friends in my conversation. All of this can be accomplished simply by having great communication.
Truly, adult friendships are one of the things I enjoy the most in my life. The friendships that have been created were the ones that should have been in my life at this time. They align perfectly in this next stage in my life and I am truly grateful. Adult friendships between women and even men are totally possible and can be incredibly impactful. Going into this next year, challenge yourself to not only make new friends but become a great friend to the people in your life as well.
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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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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