Oh, the amount of "What the heck was that?!" I could've been spared if I had read an article like this, oh, I'd say about 15 years ago. I'm telling you, the older I get, the more cautious I am about using the word "friend", no matter how popular social media has made it. It can't be said enough that just because you and someone may vibe or have certain things in common, that doesn't automatically make them your friend.
Acquaintance? Sure. Cool associate? Possibly. But the amount of effort, commitment and consistency that goes into cultivating a friendship? It's kind of like the difference between a great first date and your husband—there's a lot of work that's required to get from one point to another.
An opportunist? They are banking that you don't have enough insight or boundaries (more on that in a bit) to know what true friendship looks like and/or requires. They think that so long as they turn on the charm and compliments, you'll let down your guard and welcome them into all areas of your life—resources and connections included. If they have to act like your new BFF in order to make it happen, so be it. So long as they get what they need from you, that's all that really matters.
Scary, huh? And just how can you know if someone who has recently come into your world is an opportunist (wolf) in friend's (sheep's) clothing?
6 Signs Your New Friend Is Actually An Opportunist
1.From Day One, They Are Oozing with FlatteryGiphy
There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "He who speaks flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children will fail." (Job 17:5—NKJV) That's how little even the Word thinks of flattery—and flatterers. I get why too because while on the surface, a flatterer's compliments may sound good, they usually come with an ulterior motive intact. People who flatter others are not doing it purely for affirmation's sake. Matter of fact, many times, they don't even really believe that they're saying. They're just telling you that you're attractive, brilliant or impressive so that they can fuel your ego, disarm your discernment and ultimately take advantage of you.
An example of flattery that comes to mind is a man you just meet who is dripping with comments about how good you look. Then when you don't return his advances, he says something insulting. Flatterers of all forms are a lot like this. If they can manipulate you into getting whatever it is that they want, there are plenty of affirmations coming your way. If you're not goin' for it, the same mouth they used to "praise" you will be the same one they use to tear you down and gossip about you with.
2.They Wouldn’t Know a Boundary If It Hit Them in the FaceGiphy
Something that gets on my nerves about opportunists is they are pushy as all get out. They'll find out you know someone they would be interested in meeting or that you've got access to an opportunity that they want to be a part of and either they keep dropping hints about it or they won't let up on asking you if you can "hook them up", almost as if, just because you are cool with them, they are entitled and you automatically should.
Pushy people like this are not go-getters; they are aggressive and disrespectful of your boundaries. Hmph. Come to think of it, one way to really tell the difference between a friend and an opportunist is a friend is all about honoring your boundaries while an opportunist barely even acknowledges that you have any. I'll take it up a notch—opportunists so don't care about your limits that when you express them, on any level, they try and make you feel guilty or like you're the bad guy for doing so.
3.They’re Constantly Asking for Things While Offering Nothing
On the heels of the point I just made, while we shouldn't keep tabs on what people do for us, when it comes to our real friends, we don't have to. That's because the give-and-take cycle is so consistent that it's hard to even keep up. But an opportunist? If you feel like a person in your life is draining you and is always on the receiving end, that's because that's probably exactly what is going on.
There is someone who used to be in my life who, when I sat and thought about how much money I had spent on them over the course of knowing them, it was well into the thousands. Over that same period of time, I got a box of lip gloss that they lost and a ring that cost five dollars. Hey, I was codependent back then, so I'll own some of that. But I also have to admit that while we had some good times, when I think of all of the ways they benefitted from my resources—both personally as well as professionally—I also know, for a fact, that they were a total opportunist.
4.Both Online and Off, They Are Trying to Infiltrate Your Circle
Back to the flattery thing, I know they (whoever "they" are) say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but all it does is irritate me. I want you to do you while I stand over here and do me. That's why I don't find it complementary that when someone gets in good with me, they suddenly feel like they should buddy up with the people in my life.
There's one chick I know that I had to release for this very reason. The moment she found out I was friends or even close acquaintances with someone that she thought could benefit her, she would try and befriend them, send them DM's with questions (including questions about me) or, if we happened to be out together and we saw someone that I knew, she would try and find a way to get their contact info. It got to the point where some people were even asking me, "Yo, what's up with your girl?"
That's the thing about opportunists. It's not good enough that they drain your resources; they want to tap out all of the ones attached to the people you know as well.
5.You Feel Like They Are “Forcing” the Friendship
You don't have to take my advice, but don't say I didn't warn you. Watch out for the person who declares after one conversation that the two of you are going to be really good friends. While the initial sentiment might sound sweet 'n all, my best friendships happened organically and definitely without any kind of agenda—spoken or unspoken.
Agenda. That's a great word to describe what an opportunist is typically up to. The fact that getting close to you is a mission rather than something that naturally happens is another sign that you should probably keep your guard up, if not totally keep your distance.
6.Something Feels “Off” About It All
If there's a silver lining about an opportunist, it's that they are definitely ambitious. But when you're trying to cultivate a true, meaningful and lasting friendship with someone, you don't always want to be around that kind of energy. You don't always want to talk about networking, resources you have available or what you can do to get someone to the next level. An opportunist is just the opposite when it comes to this way of thinking because, chances are, the main reason why they want to get close to you at all is because of what they think you can do for them. Take it a step further, the main reason why they think you should be in their life is to help get them to where they want to go.
Most of my friends, they are highly accomplished in their own right; they really are. But whenever we get together, most of what we talk about has absolutely nothing to do with work. Matter of fact, it's like watching a rerun of Seinfeld or The Office because although we're entertaining to one another, we're not really discussing much of anything consequential. We're just loving being in each other's space.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Keeping what I just said in mind, if a new person in your life seems OK, but you always feel like you are "on the clock" with them or "peace" and "chill" are not two words that you are ever able to associate with them and, if the more you read this article, something definitely feels a little off, don't doubt your spidey sense. It doesn't feel right because it probably isn't right.
Not to say that an opportunist has to be totally kicked to the curb. All I'm saying is 1) do some serious pondering and evaluating before classifying them as a "friend" and 2) be alright with possibly placing them into the "work associate" or "acquaintance" category only. Either way, create some boundaries so that they are not the only ones getting something out of the relationship.
What this all boils down to is I'm not saying that opportunists are the devil; with the right approach and clarity, they can be beneficial at times. I'm just saying that when it comes to your friendships, if there's a word that should never been synonymous with that kind of situation, it's "opportunist".
Please don't learn this the hard way.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images