Man. This certainly brings new meaning to the "seven-year" itch. According to scientific research, guess how long most friendships, on average, last? Yep. Seven years. Why? Well, the article that I read said it's due to a few different factors—never having a formal ceremony to profess your platonic commitment (that might sound weird but I get it; it speaks to intention), lifestyle changes that can cause people to drift apart and other relationships coming along that eventually take a higher priority (like marriage, kids, etc.).
All of that makes sense, but when I think of why a lot of my friendships now have the word "former" in front of them, it's usually because 1) they didn't need to be friends of mine in the first place; 2) my and/or their friendship needs shifted and/or 3) I didn't know the difference between what I call "friendship irritants" and straight-up deal-breakers were at the time.
What I mean by that last one is this. It is true that, sometimes there are people who come into our lives, who get closer than they should, and receive more benefits than they ever deserve. Once we come to the realization that they are not good for us, it's time to release them and move on.
But sometimes, if a lot of us were honest with ourselves, some friendships tank simply because we don't exercise enough tolerance, patience and forgiveness. Because, let's be real—even the best friendships consist of two imperfect people who are gonna do all kinds of imperfect things; including to each other sometimes.
That's why it really is important to know the difference between a friend who is toxic and a friend who sometimes simply irritates you. If one (or some) of your friends is guilty of the following friend irritants, maybe these tips will help you to work through them, so that they don't have to be thrown into your every two-, five- or seven-year friendship rotation. So that they can last much longer than that.
Petty is one of those words that is used so much that I think it's important to go over what it actually means, just so we all can be sure if we truly do have a very petty friend or not. When someone is being petty, they are caught up in things that are "of little or no importance or consequence" or they are operating from a place of "having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc." Whew. I don't know about you, but the first thing that comes to my mind, with both of these, are all of the petty exchanges that transpire across social media.
Anyway, if you were to apply these definitions to interactions in friendships, someone is truly petty if:
- They screenshot conversations and share them with others
- They are passive aggressive (aka sub-tweet a lot) on social media
- They like to be condescending or patronizing
- They continually dish what they can't take
- They hold grudges and seek revenge about things that aren't that big of a deal
Whew again. For the record, all of these might seem the opposite of "little or no importance or consequence" but the reason why I think they are spot-on with that definition of petty is because petty folk are kings and queens of making mountains out of molehills; something out of nothing. In other words, they cause drama out of stuff that, at the end of the day, isn't all that important. And, if they handled things differently, there would be far less fall out (consequences).
Anyway, on the surface, a petty individual might seem like a toxic person to be around. But I'd say that it all depends on how often a friend of yours displays this kind of behavior. If it's only when they're really upset or super stressed out, cut them a break. But if it's a pattern, I suggest bringing their pettiness to their attention, along with some clear examples (because petty people also typically have a bad memory and are never wrong). If they value the relationship, they'll tame their pettiness, even if it's just when it's around (or directly affects) you. If they don't, then it might be time to realign your boundaries. Because something else that people who are consistently petty do is drain the energy of those around them. If not immediately, eventually.
I don't know about you, but I've always been the kind of person who would prefer for someone to be pure evil all of the time than an angel on one day and Satan's cousin the next. Why? Because at least when you're always mean as a bat, I can come up with a way to deal with you. But if you're unpredictable, it's literally like being on a non-stop emotional roller coaster ride. One that gets sickening, after a while.
Although moody friends can be totally annoying in about every way imaginable, the reason why I don't recommend automatically cutting them off is, oftentimes, their mood swings are connected to underlying issues—hormonal imbalances, stress, problems that they're internalizing, sleeplessness, PTSD or Fantasia's version of "PTSD" (Post Traumatic SEX Disorder).
One of the traits of being a good friend is sympathy and, where it applies, empathy as well. If you've got a friend who seems to be any and everything but emotionally stable, set some time aside to treat them to dinner or to go to their house, look them in the face and ask what's up. Sometimes, just by you putting the (extra) effort in to show that you care, it can be the first step to getting your friend to a place of balance.
Know-it-all friends. Oh, you know the type. Argumentative. Patronizing. Condescending. Prideful. Always got a series of hyperlinks to send you to back up their theories on something. Then, if you do prove them wrong, they find some way to minimize your hypothesis. They give advice but can't take it. They're always talking but can't ever seem to listen. They can easily point out your problems but are somehow never fully capable of resolving their own. These are the type of people who always seem to be in a weird form of competition with those around them. You just started a business but, instead of congratulating you, they spend 15 minutes talking about their own goals and plans. Your man just proposed and when you want to tell them about it, suddenly they decide to discuss the trip they are about to go on with some friends. Everything is about one-upping, whether they are self-aware enough to realize it or not.
Still, you don't want to toss the friendship away because they are mad loyal, always have your back and can be a lot of fun, more times than not. In this case, what do you do? Not too long ago, I penned a piece on here entitled "According To Aristotle, We Need 'Utility', 'Pleasure' & 'Good' Friends". Friends who think they know everything oftentimes can't handle an in-depth conversation about humility (which is something that they definitely need). So, maybe scale back a bit on some of the things you typically discuss with them. Also, take some time out to figure out what kind of friend they are. Maybe they're not meant to know a ton about your life. Maybe they are the friends you visit a winery with or pray with. Not every friend has to check every box. Accept that and life—and your friendships—will be so much easier for—and on—you.
An author by the name of Shannon A. Thompson once said something that I totally agree with—"Sometimes an outside perspective is the clearer perspective." If you're truly on the quest for wisdom, maturity and evolution, you will be open to receiving advice; especially from people whose consistency in your life has proven that they really do care about you.
But as someone who has a strong personality and gets paid to give advice, I have learned that when I'm having a conversation with a friend, they say something that seems crazy, counterproductive or I just don't agree with, before forcing my opinions and insights, I'll start off by saying, "Do you need me to listen or did you want me to say something?" If they go with Door B, sometimes I'll follow that up with, "OK. Do you want Shellie at 100 percent or watered down a bit?" It might sound funny, but you'd be amazed how much tension those two simple questions are able to alleviate.
If the thing that super duper gets on your nerves about a friend of yours is they have appointed themselves to be your personal sensei, it's OK to let them know that you are not always looking for a counselor, therapist or teacher; that when you need their advice, you will totally let them know—by asking for it.
Only ego maniacs will take offense with this kind of boundary. And, if that is the kind of friend you're dealing with, trust me, you've got a lot more challenges going on than the advice that they're constantly trying to force on you on your hands. Just sayin'.
Social Media TMI (or Passive Aggressiveness)
While recently watching an episode ofRighteous and Rachet (shout out the KevOnStage and DoBoy) on YouTube, they were interviewing a fellow comedian by the name of Akaash Singh. As they were chatting it up about how to pronounce words like "Pakistan" and "namaste" and what real Indian cuisine consists of (it really was an enlightening conversation), Kevin mentioned that he's got some friends who get in their feelings (my words, not his) because he, as he puts it at the 12:50 mark, doesn't like "the social media version" of them.
When you read that, didn't you have a friend who immediately came to mind? Maybe they are constantly telling ALL of their business, they seem to post 10-15 times a day, they are selfie addicts, they sub-tweet their man every chance that they get, or they always have something to complain or throw a pity party about.
If other than this, they are a stellar friend, I say do what Kev does. Although I'm not on social media, back when I was, I always saw my profile page to be MY page. So, when people came over to my side of cyberspace to try and "police" me, that really got on my nerves. Post and talk about what you want to on your page and I'll do the same thing on mine, thank you very much. Here's the thing about that—this is a rule that I shouldn't only enforce but respect. Meaning, just like I should be given the space to do and say whatever, so should the folks I interact with on social media sites.
That said, just because you and someone are friends in real life, that doesn't automatically mean that you have to be connected on social media.
I actually know some married people who don't follow each other; not because there's something to hide but since they also share so much of their lives together, they don't really want to see each other show up in one another's feeds.
So yeah, if the biggest issue you have in your friendship is that they get under your skin whenever they are online, "hide" their profile or unfollow them. If you think they are going to feel some type of way about it, give them the heads up. If y'all are true friends, it really shouldn't be all that deep. It really shouldn't. After all, you're not rejecting them. You're simply letting them be without you getting triggered or irritated in the process.
Here's a "friendship irritant" that is kind of subjective. I say that because, while you may think that friends should talk once a week, you might have a friend who believes that you damn near should be on-call 24 hours a day. In my world, I have friends who I talk to, pretty much on a daily basis. It's not because we're on our phones, though. It's because I write for a living and they are online doing branding stuff, promoting a gig or something along those lines. So yeah, it's nothing for us to shoot a few emails back in forth. Then I've got friends who are not the biggest fans of being online or talking on the phone. For us to stay connected, we have to literally plan out times to connect and catch up.
Before I figured out that that was how some of my friends are, I would get irritated when I felt like I was doing most of the calling or putting in the most proactive energy to make the relationship work. But once I stopped pouting about it and brought it up to them, the effort has had more of a balance to it.
No one person should do all of the work to make a friendship last. If you're currently irritated because you feel like that person is you, before you assume that you are being neglected or taken for granted, talk that over with your friend. If they are a good friend, I can promise you that 1) you come to their mind more than you think and 2) now that they are aware that your communication needs are different, they will figure out how both of you can be happy. Again, if they are a good friend, they will do this.
Me? I'm the one who likes my friends to keep their word. My friends, though? One of them hates—and I mean hates—for you to not show up somewhere on time. Another one feels some type of way if I don't set aside quality time for her. One of my male friends just wants his birthday to be remembered and commemorated, on time. Another friend is big on words of affirmation.
The reason why I know all of this is because I've made the time to study my friends and ask them what they expect from our relationship. Personally, out of all of the things that I shared, I think this point might be the cause of the most irritation in a lot of friendships. The root of this one is either one friend not knowing what the other expects or assuming that a friend should have the same expectations that they do.
I'll give you an example of how this can cause things to go awry. I've got a friend who is pretty sketchy when it comes to her phone. What I mean by that is sometimes it's on, sometimes it's off. Sometimes she brings it to work, sometimes she doesn't. Meanwhile, she's got a friend who is, let's say "hyper-vigilant", when it comes to communication. Because my friend is very "blah" about her cell, it causes her friend to feel as if she is being flippant or dismissive. Then, by the time her friend is able to track my friend down, she comes off as needy or high-maintenance, which totally puts my friend off. Her friend is a good friend, though, so she doesn't want to cut her off, even though this has been a lasting issue that gets on her very last nerve.
From what she's shared with me about the quality of their relationship, she shouldn't let her friend go. But there does need to be an open dialogue about what's going on. Then both of them need to come to a point and place of compromise. That's what friendship is all about. Not necessary getting all of what you expect but finding a way to get what you need while providing what your friend needs too; even if they are not one in the same.
It takes real maturity to want to work through "friend irritants" but if someone means a lot to you, it's worth it. What they bring to your life is of far more value then the nerve that they get on. When it comes to friendship preservation, it's words to live by, y'all. It really and truly is.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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