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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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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