Friends. How many of us have them? Friends. Ones we can depend on? The older I get and the more time I spend on this planet, the more I think Whodini straight up preached in those lyrics. It really is true that, if you've got even one friend to speak of, you are truly blessed because, let's be honest—we humans are a trip out here. Two flawed individuals who are trying to make any type of emotional connection work is a feat within itself. But man, when one of those folks is fake, opportunistic, low-key envious, disloyal or simply doesn't know what being a true friend consists of, they can send you on an emotional roller coaster ride that is truly unlike any other. You can find yourself being a friend to someone who is literally the worst kind of enemy.
I've been there. Oh, have I been there. And to prevent you from experiencing the complete and totally WTF moments I have or maybe even help you recognize if you've got a pattern of having "non-friend friends", here are seven signs that just because you call someone your "friend" doesn't automatically or necessarily mean that they are even close to being a real one.
1. If You Weren’t Reaching Out, the Two of You Wouldn’t Communicate
There is someone I know who considers me one of her closest friends. Chile, no I'm not. For one thing, in order for us to be bosom buddies, I have to be able to get in on that decision (some of y'all will catch that later) and second, I haven't heard from that girl in months upon months. The funny—or not so funny, depending on how you look at it—thing is that, the last time I saw her, I told her that I wasn't going to initiate contact anymore, that the next time we spoke, it would be if/when she reached out. When she asked why I was implementing that little rule, I told her point blank, "Because the only reason we speak as much as we do is because I am the one who checks on you." She laughed it off and said I would hear from her the following week. Like I said, that was months ago.
I already know that when I see her again, she's gonna be on the flattery tip; she always is. And you know what? I ain't even mad. On a lot of levels, she's cool people. But are we actual friends? Nah. My friends call me. I call them. They email me. I email them. There's a consistent mutuality that exists—consistently so. This girl? She's basically just a nice person. There's no love lost. It's just that she's not in my inner court by any stretch. (If you want to know what I mean by that, check out "Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them"). Her total lack of initiative proves that she doesn't deserve to be.
2. Their Needs Are an Emergency While Yours Aren’t Even a Priority
When I wrote the article "Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'", what I meant by that is, if you are truly committed to someone and they are truly committed to you, there are going to be times when both of you are inconvenienced. Your friend might need you to stay up with her all night as she grieves the breakdown of a relationship (or friendship), or you might need a few bucks from them in order to pay an unexpected bill. In my friendships, it's not a second thought for me and my peeps to have each other's backs; it's a given. Oh, but there is a woman I know who is stingy as all get out. When she needs something, not only is she quick to ask, but she pretty much assumes that I'm gonna come through. Why? Because I always have. But the past 5-6 times that I've asked her for something, she has always had an excuse. When I brought it to her attention, she even had an excuse for her excuses.
Listen, maturity will teach you that no one owes us anything in life. But if you've got a so-called friend who always expects you to help them out, even though they do not show up for you in a pinch—sis, that is not a friend. That is a user.
3. They’re Your Friend in Your Face but Shady Behind Your Back
A wise person once said, "The person who hears other people talking behind your back but does nothing and might even join in is called an acquaintance. But the person who has a problem with it, will call them out, or will call you and tell you about it, they are a friend." I agree with this to a large extent. If I were to change anything, I would say that anyone who claims to care about you on some level and joins in on gossip about you is not really even an acquaintance. Low-key, they are a hater. Also, based on what your friends know about you and how you react to things, it may not be a good idea to bring certain things directly to your attention. Sometimes, that could make matters worse instead of better. What a true friend will do is handle it and squash it. They will definitely give yappers the impression that they are the last person who should bring up anything negative about you. Point blank and period.
I'm telling you, it can be a hard and oh-so-painful lesson to learn that some people aren't your friend for friend's sake. Nah, they just want to be around you in order to collect information to spread around. So yeah, if you can't say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the people close to you wouldn't tell your business, throw shade or stab you in the back outside of your presence, are they really your friend? Somehow, I doubt it.
4. They Are Low-Key Competitive
This is an area where I've had bad friends and been a bad friend. That's why I'm not big on building close relationships with folks who have low self-esteem. People like that dislike themselves so much that they don't have a clue how to be happy for other people, celebrate other people, or not feel like they constantly have to one-up other folks. When it came to those who were closest to me, yes, I used to be that kind of person sometimes. I resented them for how they looked, what they had, or even the quality of men they dated. And that turned everything into a bitter battle of competition—or straight-up bitterness.
It is damn near impossible for anyone to love someone else when they don't even love themselves. If you've got someone in your life who always makes you feel like they are trying to outdo you, not only is that exhausting but that's pretty toxic. Friends relish in each other's come-up; they don't compete with it.
5. They Are Narcissistic AF
I grew up in an entertainment industry household. Then, I became an entertainment writer which meant that a lot of my social circle consisted of entertainers and whatnot. Boy, did it take me for-e-ver to recognize that something that automatically came with this reality was knowing a lot of narcissistic people--oodles and oodles of 'em. And just how can you know that you've got a narcissistic "friend" in your space? They're always right. They can never be corrected. Sometimes they build you up, other times they tear you down (and you never know which person is going to show up). They constantly need attention and validation. They are control freaks (including when it comes to your life, if you let them). They're disingenuous. They don't take responsibility for their actions (ie. they deflect…a lot). They refuse to empathize with your feelings and needs. They don't apologize. They act entitled. They have split personalities (or are moody as hell). They wouldn't know a boundary, if it slapped them in the face.
Whew. You know what this all boils down to, right? They are basically emotionally abusive individuals. And abuse, in any form, should never be used in the same sentence (or context) as healthy friendship.
6. They’re Dismissive AF Too
So, I live in Nashville and not too long ago, we had a pretty devastating tornado. The way that it affected me personally is I didn't have electricity for about a week. (You can't even begin to process just how deep that is until it actually happens to you). As I was waiting to "get back on the grid", I had to find ways to rig up getting a charge, like using a car charger or going to a mall to work on my laptop. Anyway, there is someone who could've made all of this so much easier and they live a bike ride away. When I asked if I could charge up for an hour, they talked about how they wouldn't be home all day, so they didn't know when I could. When I asked a few days later to do the same thing, they wrote me late at night talking about they don't check their email as much as I do, so they missed the message. Hmm…that's interesting because when they needed some of my press contacts for a project they are working on, they replied back to back to my responses within an hour. And when they wanted my opinion on some of their music, I heard from them right after sharing my insights. It's basically been like this for years. Would a true friend be like this? I doubt it.
But here's the thing. Sometimes, we keep people around and allow them to have some of the same benefits that our real friends have because they're not bad people. It's just that, as you start to define your own boundaries and expectations, you realize that they don't deserve the same access and privileges.
For me, a "boundary" that I am learning to set is to not be close to dismissive people. Dismissiveness is a subtle form of folks not giving AF. And when you take into account what the actual definition of the word is ("indicating lack of interest or approbation"), it's basically a low-key form of disrespect. True friends take an interest in your life and your needs. Anyone who, through their words and/or actions, shows that they don't...they are not much of a friend at all.
7. “Safe” Is the LAST Word You Would Use to Describe How You Feel Around Them
Probably every fourth article that I write, I mention how important the word "safe" is. That's because it is. When you feel safe, you feel secure. When you feel safe, you're not wondering if someone is going to hurt or harm you. When you feel safe, you are confident that the people in your life are reliable, they have your back, and you are never alone to deal with the ups or the downs of this world. Something else that's cool about the word "safe" is there is no "kinda" to it; either someone makes you feel safe around them or…they don't. If when you just read all of this, you found yourself squinting because a couple of people came to mind who definitely caused you to be unsure, that is a very telling sign that they are not as good of a friend as they should be or as you deserve. No matter how long you may have bestowed the honor of the "friend" title upon them, they need to be demoted. Because a friend who isn't safe isn't a friend at all. Not. At. All.
Feel me? Please tell me that you feel me. And more importantly, tell me that if someone fits this bill, you will make some much needed adjustments ASAP. So that some real friends can come into your life. People who are as far from these signs as possible.
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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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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash