Considering it's the year of the woman, we haven't been short of inspiring suggestions and tips on how to drop toxic friends or be even better ones. But what about those times when we're the ones who have actually been the friend that was toxic and didn't make the cut in our now ex-friend's "new year, new me" stance?
Yes, I've been that friend. While it's been a while since it's happened to me, I've been there. And sometimes there's this status quo that we're bad people because we didn't get the hint or didn't realize we were still growing. But in essence, while having a friend pull away from us is hurtful, there's certainly a lesson in it.
1.Do Some Self-Reflecting.
Whether she told you outright why she didn't want to be friends anymore, or you received a certain vibe that made it clear, that awkward first phase of no longer being friends is the perfect time to do a little self-reflecting. As hard as it is to admit, you could very well be the one who dropped the ball in the friendship. Whether it was not being supportive, or just not being there when she needed you the most, it's vital to look at things from her point of view. Sometimes we don't realize how we're treating other people, especially if we're going through things ourselves. We could be looking for someone to be there and support us, and not miss their multiple signals of them needing the same. That's the thing about being a friend, sometimes we have to be one even in those moments when we need it the most. I know that I've fallen short of this multiple times.
While those first moments of this lost friendship were me racking my brain about why she was "acting funny," sometimes it's better to just let it go. While we might wonder why she didn't just say something instead of cutting you off altogether, she really might have tried. That's where this self-reflecting comes in. Don't get me wrong. It's not about beating yourself up because you didn't answer your phone when she called or thinking of yourself as less than because you just weren't a good friend in some moments, it's really just about reflecting on what signals you missed and how you can become better for the friends that you do still have.
2.Forgive, Let Go, And Let God.
Having a friend ghost us is pretty painful, but you gotta forgive her sis. As tempting as it is to get those Twitter fingers rolling, this isn't the time to write subliminal messages on Facebook and Twitter (do people still do that?) trying to get her attention and share your side of the story. At the end of the day, people come into our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. Maybe the season of your friendship was over, and God had to show you that you weren't meant to be friends forever. As much as we want those life-long friendships we see in The Best Man, we have to be okay when that doesn't work out, even if it seemed like we didn't have anything to do with the decision and got the short end of the stick. You don't even have to let her know that you forgive her, unless the conversation comes up. If it doesn't, just make your own resolve within yourself that you're going to move forward.
3.Don’t Think You’re A Bad Person.
It's so easy to think that just because someone dropped us, we're not worthy of being a friend with anyone. You never know, she could have been going through her own thing and for whatever reason, showed her own true self to you. Just because you were the one who didn't do the ghosting doesn't mean that you're a terrible person. Even if it was because you were a bad friend, there's a lesson in it (some that might be best worked out in therapy). I've been known to be loyal to a fault. I've ignored those signs of "when someone shows you who they are believe them." Still, in those same situations, even knowing that the other person wasn't the healthiest friend for me, I never ghosted them. So when they did it to me, while it was hurtful, there was no way it was because I was a bad person. At times, you might be the friend who's dropped because your now ex-friend couldn't handle your success, or your new lifestyle if you've had a major change recently. Either way, you getting dropped doesn't mean that you're a bad person.
4.Let It Make You Better.
Once you get over the shock of losing your friend, and over the realization that it's very possible you were to blame, shake it off. I know, it sounds so minimal and so easy, yet it can make a big impact sis. Seriously. Sometimes we don't understand that losing a close friend is just as (and sometimes even more) painful than going through a breakup. But just like romantic relationships, even when you played a major part, it doesn't mean you're banned from ever having a relationship again. It just means you had to learn about yourself. Even though we might have thought we were beyond that lesson and are too old to be learning it, I completely understand being a late bloomer. At the end of day, you just have to put your life back together, reflect, and become a better person because of it. It's never too late to do that.
Why I'm Okay When Certain Friendships In My Life End – Read More
Dear Queen: An Open Letter to the "Strong Friend" – Read More
How To Build A Squad of Empowering Friends – Read More
Your Best Girlfriend Just Might Be Your Soulmate – Read More
Featured image via Giphy
Charmaine Patterson is a journalist, lifestyle blogger, and a lover of all things pop culture. While she has much experience in covering top entertainment news stories, she aims to share her everyday life experiences, old and new, with other women who can relate, laugh, and love along with her. Follow Char on Twitter @charjpatterson, Instagram @charpatterson, and keep up with her journey at CharJPatterson.com .
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
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A couple of weeks ago, as I attempted to listen to the radio (throwback music fans can read between the lines there; some of this music these days is violating as hell), it was like the universe was begging me to pen this article. First, it was Lilo Thomas’s “Wanna Make Love (All Night Long).” Then it was Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” (question: why I gotta throw my clothes on the floor when he’s gonna gently take his off?). Then it was (and this is my jam — but still) Lorenzo’s “Make Love to Me” (yes, I finally went to a throwback station to get all of this). And while one part of me had my head and neck swaying from left to right, another part of me was low-key irritated…like I almost always am…whenever I hear the phrase “make love.”
Sex. As making love. What in the world? I mean, if only married (or folks in long-term committed relationships…and I do mean more than just three months) were saying it, I could kind of get it. Okay, but you’ve been seeing someone, and after a few days, y’all have sex, and you say that he made love to you? How is that even possible? In the immortal words of NeNe Leakes, I feel like when love is tossed around so casually like that, it’s somewhere asking, “Now, why am I in it?”
Yeah…we’re gonna go there today. And while I totally get that this is my opinion, not everyone will agree, and there will be some pushback, please just entertain why, when it comes to describing a sexual experience, “make love,” more times than not (at least these days), is not the responsible depiction of what’s actually going on.
Where Did “Make Love” Even Come From?Giphy
Okay, so before we get into why I feel so strongly about “make love” as I do, let’s look into its origin story because I promise you that I have wondered, for years now, who even came up with the concept. I did some digging, and the closest thing that I could find is an English writer by the name of John Lyly, who once penned a piece calledHow To Make Love to the Moon: Intimacy and Erotic Distance, seemingly around 1590 — and he wasn’t talking about sex at all. He was actually referencing romance and courtship. Oh, but by the 20th century, it was used a bit more broadly, and then by the 1940s, it had become the slang term that it is now.
So, let’s start there, shall we? Initially, "make (produce) love (deep affection)" had nothing to do with the bedroom at all. It was about doing things to bring two people closer together on a mental and emotional level. Sex was so not the agenda.
Now bookmark that, please, as we move right along.
Why 'Make Love' Is One of the Most Irresponsible Phrases AroundGiphy
I already know. Some of y’all are gonna say, “So, are you saying that sex doesn’t produce deep affection?” It can. It most certainly can. My pushback would be that casual sex doesn’t do that, though. I mean, the mere definition of casual includes things like “without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing” — so if no one is seriously intending for anything more than getting off to happen, if they are actually making moves that by, direct definition, are careless (listen, I’m just breaking the words down) — how could any real affection come from that? Because, for the record, affection means “fond attachment, devotion, or love.”
How can someone be casually devoted or casually love you? THEY CAN’T — and yes, I am yelling it. Devotion and love are very intentional. Extremely so.
And for the people in the back who still are rolling their eyes at your monitor or cell phone screen because you’re like, “There have been times when I have felt extremely attached or devoted to someone who I had a casual experience with. Hell, sometimes I even felt like I loved them” — well, I really wish that one day all of us will take oxytocin highs literally and seriously. Yes, there is a hormone in your body that is designed to bond you to the people you sleep with; however, that speaks to a physical response far more than an emotional dynamic…and that’s just what trips a lot of people up: they don’t know the difference between the two.
Okay, but what if you are in something that isn’t casual? What then? I’ll say this: I once penned a piece for the site entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good.” The thing that you have to be careful of is using sex as a deflection from real issues that need to be addressed and then calling it “making love” to make you feel better about doing it. Because think about it — if you keep telling yourself that whatever the two of you are going through “isn’t so bad” because you just made love last night…do you get how deceptive that can (potentially) be?
Case in point. I know someone who is going through a divorce who said that because the sex with their spouse was so good, they would confuse great sex with a healthy relationship…yes, even in marriage. And because of that, they never really got to the root of their issues…which only made the problems and challenges worse. The worse they felt, the more sex they would have and the more they would justify staying…due to the sex.
Listen, no one said that sex isn’t mighty powerful. In fact, I’m the one who will stand on the highest hilltop and yell that it is with the biggest bullhorn. That’s why it needs to be approached from a responsible space and mindset — which is why, when it comes to the act, I have my own motto, one that puts “make love” into, what I believe is its proper place.
Sex Does Not "Make" Love; Sex CELEBRATES LoveGiphy
I’m aging myself. Plus, as pro-Black as I am and as triggered as I would sometimes get by just how WHITE the original Beverly Hills, 90210 was, I was still a fan. Hell, in college, my late fiancé and I would even sometimes watch it together. And a classic episode was when Brandon Walsh’s girlfriend, Emily Valentine, slipped him euphoria; he got mad, and she told him that if they made love, he wouldn’t be mad anymore. What he said in response was a checkmate for the ages: “In order to make love, I have to be in love.”
Yeah, Brandon was preachin’ right there. I mean, how many times have you watched a movie or TV show where two people have been having consistent sex and then, when one of them says, “I love you,” the other one will be semi-freaking out, talking about “It’s too soon to say that.” So…it’s too soon for someone to declare their love to you even though they are out here making love to you? Make it make sense, y’all. If love is what sex is making, shouldn’t love be produced after a couple of times?
Are y’all starting to see more of my point?
It is my personal belief that a lot of people feel uneasy about “love” being used too soon because, deep down, they know that making love isn’t what they are doing. Getting to know someone better. Enjoying their time. Sharing orgasms with someone who can get them there. Sure. LOVING THEM? Sex producing love? Nah. And that’s why I firmly believe that sex doesn’t make love; sex CELEBRATES love. Because if you don’t love someone outside of the bedroom, sex isn’t gonna make that happen…, and if you do, sex is simply a physical manifestation of a deep and profound feeling and decision (with actions in place that totally back it up) that already exists.
Just ask some long-term committed couples that you know if sex is what “makes them” love their partner vs. sex being something that they used to celebrate — proclaim, rejoice in, honor, praise, revere, revel in, bless — that has already been established. And gee, when you look at all of the definitions (and synonyms) of celebrate, doesn’t it make sense that sex should be seen through the lens of celebrating love rather than making it?
Because if you truly value love, if you esteem it as special and sacred, sex would be honoring, revering, and blessing the bond between two people who care about each other, far beyond the surface level — two people who are committed, who have been through some things, we have made some compromises and sacrifices…two people who love each other in the purest and most accurate kind of way.
This brings me to my next point.
Please Don’t Expect Sex to Do Love’s JobGiphy
About a year ago, someone asked me what I thought was the biggest mistake that women can make when it comes to sex with a new partner. There are several, yet the one that immediately came to mind was, “Please don’t ask a guy if he loves you during the act. What guy would say ‘no’?”
This isn’t rocket science, and a lot of women know it. So, why do they do it? Honestly, it’s a form of manipulation, whether they realize it or not, because they are using a very vulnerable moment, where folks are usually not thinking very clearly, to have a serious conversation. Then, if a man says “yes,” they hold them to it as if it’s the gospel. Out here, expecting sex to do love’s job is reckless and emotionally dangerous.
And that’s the reason one billion why “make love” irks me so. I’ll explain deeper. Because I am both a marriage life coach and a doula, sometimes “the lanes” cross. When a couple is in trouble, sometimes they will tell me that they think having a baby will make things better. A child is not meant to be anyone’s savior. And you know what? Neither is the act that gets them here (funny how that plays out) — sex.
Sex is not supposed to be expected to do love’s job because love is a HUGE responsibility. Being patient with someone? Constantly encouraging and supporting someone? Being steadfast in trying times? Honoring your word? Allowing reason to override emotion, so that you can make responsible and accountable decisions for the sake of your relationship? You expect love to make all of that happen for you? In what universe?
I promise you, the more that I have spent time pondering all of this, the more “make love” is something that I almost wish would go away. For those of you who actually love each other (mutually so), CELEBRATE LOVE all you want. Sex producing love? It’s just never gonna sit well with me. Love is too awesome, and "producing it" is not sex’s responsibility.
This brings me to my final point.
If Love Is Cake, Sex Is Icing (and Kinda-Sorta Barely That)Giphy
An ex of mine from back in the day, used to say all the time that if you need condiments to make your food taste right, it wasn’t prepared well in the first place. Now, if you paid attention to the title of this last section, I’m pretty sure that you can see where I am going with this.
My favorite cake is very specific: It’s Red Lobster’s chocolate cake (sidebar: did you know that the founder of Red Lobster stood up to Jim Crow laws back in the day?). Hell, I don’t even eat shellfish yet I’ll get some cake from that spot. Anyway, the icing is cool, but if one day I went there and the cake didn’t have any icing on it, I’d still eat it — that’s just how good the cake is. Oh, but on the other hand, if all they had was icing, I would take a hard pass. Too much icing can be overkill. Too much icing, without cake, can make you sick.
See what I’m saying? When it comes to cake and icing, I see love as “cake” and sex as “icing.” Icing can make the cake so much sweeter and enjoyable, yet if there was no cake…what’s icing’s freakin’ point at all? Icing is literally designed to accentuate/amplify something that already exists. It needs the cake far more than the cake needs it.
And for those who got through all of this and are still wanting to “But what if…” what I’m saying — listen, I write about sex too damn much on this platform for y’all to think that I don’t know that sex has layers to it. All that I’m addressing today is why I wholeheartedly believe that “make love” really needs to be used less. Honestly, I wouldn’t lose a bit of sleep if it got retired altogether. If you’re not in love, or in a mutually loving situation (because the two are not exactly the same), why not say what you’re actually doing: you’re having sex? It’s a way to keep you from programming your mind to make the reality of what is happening more than it is.
And if you are in love (or mutually love), give yourself more credit: sex is not producing love…sex is BLESSING the love that you and your partner have worked so hard to establish.
Aight. I don’t know how to drive this point home more than I just have. I think now I will listen to a true classic R&B song that totally cosigns on my point — what y’all know about Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack’s “Tonight, I CELEBRATE My Love for You”?
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Good, real stuff right there.
Celebrating what’s ALREADY BEEN made. Excellent.
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