I’m gonna tell you what. This time last year, while everyone was out here talking about how much the new year was going to be the better, I was like, “I think it’s gonna be more like 2.0." Why did I feel that way? Because I wholeheartedly believe in the sowing and reaping process in all things and the seeds of 2020 had to “sprout up” somewhere. That’s why, with all that has been a trip about this year, on pretty much every level that there is, very rarely have I been surprised, let alone shocked. Disappointed (especially in how dysfunctional and cyclic this country has the tendency to be)? Sure. Shocked? Nah.
I’m thankful too because when you learn — and I mean, really learn — that the only person you can (and should) fully control is yourself, it prevents you from letting humans shake you too much. This includes your relationships which includes your friendships. Besides, it’s usually in times of great testing that the cream really does rise to the top — that we really do get to see who in our life is genuine and who, well, has other plans in mind.
So, as we’re in the last month of the calendar year (which is when a lot of us tend to do a significant amount of reflecting), when it comes to your own friendships, what have you learned? What (or who) will you leave behind and what (or who) will enter into this new season of another year with you — and why? From what I’ve personally experienced and also observed, here are the five greatest friendship-related takeaways that I’ve gathered that came from a year like this one.
2021 Probably Taught You: Who Your True Friends Are
You know what? It’s easy to have a ton of friends when you don’t need anything or, more importantly, when you are the main one who’s doing most of the giving. Oh, but let you be going through some ish and that’s when you really get to see what’s going on. If this year caused you to lose a job, go through some real financial strain, experience a heart-wrenching break-up, experience a health issue or scare, have some mental health issues or anything else that really challenged you, who were the people who really had your back?
It's “funny” because I have one friend, in particular, who I was catching up with not too long ago who said to me, “I used to think you were ridiculous for being like ‘I don’t call a lot of people my friend; that word is serious to me’ until I went through some stuff this year and I saw who was suddenly unavailable or who didn’t even really hear me out. Sometimes, you need tough times for folks to reveal themselves.”
Truer words have never been spoken, y’all. A true friend is going to be loyal. A true friend is going to be giving. A true friend is going to be committed. A true friend believes in reciprocity. A true friend is a safe space.
The folks who have proven to be a good friend, be a good friend back (check out “5 Things You Can Do Today To Be A Better Friend”) and let them know that they are appreciated. The ones who haven’t? Well, before deciding what to do with those jokers — I mean, people — check out my next point first.
2021 Probably Taught You: Friendships Have Levels
The older I get, the more I’m resigned to the fact that there is a lot of space in between certain things. What I mean by that, in the context of this article is, just because someone isn’t a friend, that doesn’t always or automatically make them an enemy. Or just because you don’t love someone, that doesn’t always or automatically mean you should hate them. That’s a part of the reason why I wrote the article, “Always Remember That Friendships Have ‘Levels’ To Them” for the site last year and “According To Aristotle, We Need ‘Utility’, ‘Pleasure’ & ‘Good’ Friends” the year before that.
This year, something that I intentionally did was get quiet around some of the people who, while they are cool ‘n all, I know that we pretty much only interact when I put in the effort. Some of them stepped up and started initiating communication more. Others, I haven’t spoken to, literally, all year long.
One of the people behind Door #2, I ran into, not too long ago. Back in the day, I would’ve dished out an attitude or mini-sermon about their communication patterns (or lack thereof). This round, I greeted them, we caught up and I kept it moving. Oh, and when they said, “I’ll call you,” I simply say, “OK” because I don’t hold them in the same space as some of the other people in my life. They’re fun. They’re funny. And I’m sure (if we can ever get COVID under control) that we’ve got a couple of more lunches in our future. But are they my inner circle tribe? Heck no. Do I dislike them because they aren’t? That’s not accurate either. They are in the in-between space.
I’m willing to bet you’ve got some folks who have revealed themselves to be this way too. Y’all aren’t in a bad place it’s just…they aren’t really who you rely on or who you will allow to rely on you. And you know what? That’s OK. Some people should just be someone you can have lunch with at work or someone you can catch a movie with on the weekends from time to time. Like an onion, the word “friend” sometimes has layers and levels. Making peace with that can only benefit you in the long run.
2021 Probably Taught You: A Lot of People Don’t Want to Be “Inconvenienced”
Back in my 20s, financially, I was all over the place. Because I wasn’t really taught any type of financial savviness (at school, at home or at church), I had to learn the really (REALLY) hard way. During that pretty tumultuous time, I had a girlfriend who used to just randomly send me checks from time to time. No special occasion or reason. Just because. And I never forgot it. Fast forward to our 40s and she’s been going through some challenges (singles, PLEASE go through thorough premarital counseling before jumping the broom; it’s never a waste of time). When she shared with me some of what was going on, I set aside a few hundred bucks, just in case she needed it. It’s not because I’ve “got it like that”; it’s because she’s my friend, she has proven to consistently be that way and when you’ve got those kinds of people in your life, you’ve got to be open to being inconvenienced sometimes (check out “Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are ‘Inconvenient’”).
Boy oh boy. In the context of relationships, to be inconvenienced is to be contacted or needed at an inopportune time or when it doesn’t really benefit you one bit. Sadly, a lot of folks are so self-consumed that they think relationships should never inconvenience them. Those of us with emotional intelligence and maturity know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. My tribe knows they can call me whenever; that if they are in distress, I’m gonna try and help them find a solution. And if they have a need, I am going to be open to being inconvenienced at times to meet it…because they have done all of these things for me.
If something that you learned this year is a lot of people who you call “friend” only wanted to hold you down when it was convenient for them, please rethink the place that they hold in your world. Life is too…shoot, much right through here for you to think that you’ve got people in your corner who are only willing to be there when it suits them. Straight up.
2021 Probably Taught You: There Is a Huge Difference Between Fun, a Distraction and Being Dependable
The flip side to the friend I just mentioned is a guy I know. Our journey is a long and semi-complex one. Yet all these years later, what I do know is he’s not my “inner circle”; he doesn’t deserve to be. Still, we do have a lot in common and when we hang out, it’s usually a good time. He’s just not really all that dependable and so, I’ve stopped expecting him to be.
Y’all, there are some people who are pure fun. There are some people who we like having in our life because they are welcome distractions (like, you might be really stressed from work and talking to them on the phone about absolutely nothing for an hour once you get home is something that you look forward to). Then there are those who, you know that you know that if you called them at 2 a.m., for whatever the reason, they would be there. If there is one thing that I hope 2021 taught — or confirmed for — you it’s that you shouldn’t automatically merge all three of these things together.
The guy who I just mentioned? The last time we met up for lunch, we talked for a good three hours. However, something recently happened in my world where I needed some assistance and when I tell you that he didn’t even cross my mind? Again, he’s not dependable like that. That doesn’t make him a bad person; that just means he’s not who I rely on. That also doesn’t mean he should be punished for that. I just simply know his place in my life — and I keep him there.
Sometimes, we fall out with folks, unnecessarily so, because we try and make them be either what they don’t want to be or are incapable of being to us. When that is the case, it’s important to step back and assess if they do indeed hold some value and, if so, how? When you know where someone stands, it’s easier to know where to lean. Know what I’m sayin’? I’m sure that you do.
2021 Probably Taught You: You Deserve the Kind of Friendships That You Need — and Your Needs May Have Changed
This. One. Right. Here. Sooner than later, I’ll touch on how, I think, we all should approach outgrowing someone. For now, what I will say is — trying times not only test us, they oftentimes change us too. And when we shift on some level, sometimes the needs that we have become different. Through open and honest communication, some friendships are able to swiftly adjust and still move forward. Then there are those where either one or both people have no interest in making necessary transitions which ultimately results in them growing apart.
If your needs have changed, don’t feel bad about that. At the same time, if some of your friends have different needs now, they shouldn’t be blamed either. It happens and it really can’t be said enough that the root word for relationship is “relate” which means (among other things) “to establish a connection.” A connection is a bond and a bond is something that holds two things — or in this case, two people — together. If nothing is holding you with someone else but time and memories at this point, it really is OK to “loosen the reins” or even release one another (check out “Why I Don't "Cut People Off" Anymore, I Release Them Instead”) — not because you’re now enemies but so you won’t become that as you both keep trying to give each other what neither of you are succeeding at doing.
Besides, giving your heart room to receive what you need at this time in your life while doing the same for a friend is one of the “friendliest” things you can do. It’s selfless. It’s loving. And it’s how we avoid letting resentment and bitterness set in.
2021 was a doozy. There is no way around that fact. Here’s to learning the relational lessons that you needed to, so that you can step into next year knowing who belongs where in your life — and why. Feel me? Sis, I know that you do.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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The Scorpio man and Pisces woman form a relationship that is heartfelt, sincere, and not for the weak. There is an immediate connection and familiarity between these two, being that they are both water signs and are both ruled by their emotions. They are on a similar playing field in life, yet they go about their desires in love in a very different way.
Scorpio Man And Pisces Woman Love Compatibility
Ultimately, a partnership being formed between the two is an intimate and emotionally transformative one, and this is a relationship they both never forget. Things can get messy, but if they are willing to do the work within, then the love can also be pretty amazing for them as well. They are all in or nothing when it comes to partnerships, and they learn a lot about true commitment and vulnerability through this pairing.
What attracts a Scorpio man to a Pisces woman?
The Scorpio man is attracted to the Pisces woman's mysterious aura and emotional demeanor. The Pisces woman is attracted to the same things as the Scorpio man. See, these two are more similar than most signs of the zodiac, and they can intuitively feel this about each other right away. Pisces and Scorpio often share similar interests and have a lot of opportunities to meet each other because they like to do the same things and are often in the same places. These are two creative and artistic souls, and there is something that they both find inspiring about each other right away.
The connection and synergy of a Pisces and Scorpio couple is undeniable, and there is a strong force in life that often brings these two together. The Pisces woman can feel that there is more to the surface than the Scorpio man presents right away, and this is instantly intriguing to her, being that she rules the 12th house, which is where everything is hidden in life. The Pisces woman has secrets of her own, and she sees the Scorpio man as someone who can resonate with how she feels and dive deeper into the relationship together.
What is the relationship like between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man?
The relationship between the Pisces woman and the Scorpio man is emotional. Emotions run very high in this relationship, which is often a good thing, but can turn into something entirely different very quickly as well. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man often get into a relationship together quickly. They are not earth signs that take their time developing a relationship; they are water signs that base their decisions on their emotions and go with the flow of the currents here.
So when they meet and they feel that instant connection with each other, they often jump into a pairing with one another right away.
This couple will enjoy spending time together and will feel like they are deeply understood in the relationship. There is a comfort here that is truly profound, and if anything, they are best friends first and foremost. However, the Pisces woman and Scorpio man tend to let their emotions overwhelm them and can turn little things into something bigger. Arguments or disagreements in this relationship can get messy, and they are both somewhat emotionally impulsive. Neither will forgive and forget easily as well, so reaching a point of forgiveness or harmony after something challenging occurs may never happen.
This relationship works best if both parties have already experienced a long-term commitment or have learned their lessons in love and evolved. The longevity of the relationship will depend on how they begin it. However, the love they have for one another is undeniable.
What is the sex like between a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman?
The sex life between the Pisces woman and Scorpio man is transcendent. They tend to have no issues in the bedroom, and that instant connection they feel when they meet often has an underlying energy of sexual compatibility as well. This isn’t the type of couple to wait a long time to explore each other in the bedroom, and they form a deep intensity here right away. They are looking to connect on many different levels, and they feel enough compatibility in the connection to do so.
The Pisces woman is willing to explore in the bedroom, and the Scorpio man is ready for anything. This is a couple who will entertain role-play, bondage, etc., and there are a few limitations to what they are both interested in. With the Pisces woman providing a safe space to many, the Scorpio man feels comfortable opening up in many different ways, the main one including behind closed doors and in the bedroom. They are emotional at their core, however, and will still want a level of intimacy with each other that goes deeper than just sex, so although their sex life is great, there is more they both want at the end of the day.
What makes a relationship between a Pisces woman and a Scorpio man work?
What makes the relationship work between these two water signs, is that they both understand each other deeply. They don’t have to explain themselves or work too hard on getting to know each other because it’s almost instant that they do. They speak the same language, in other words, and they can learn a lot from each other in the process. They are more open with each other, and their more reclusive demeanor changes in the presence of one another. This is a couple that likes to spend time together doing things that each other has an interest in.
At the end of the day, these are just two people who want to love and be loved, and they can give each other that.
The Pisces woman helps the Scorpio man open up more, go with the flow, and trust the universe. The Scorpio man helps the Pisces woman step into her power, stick up for herself more, and live life fully. There is something creative and eye-opening about this pairing, and they create their own world together. Trust is everything between the both of them and once they have that, they lay the foundation for the relationship to grow and thrive.
What may cause a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman to break up?
The thing about a water sign relationship is that things can get messy. Emotions are always running high, and if they are not on the same page, this can lead to the energy of the relationship being all over the place. The Pisces woman is loyal, attentive, and compassionate, but she is also a free spirit who likes her space and freedom. The Scorpio man, on the other hand, craves deep intimacy and partnership and may have a hard time trusting the Pisces woman, and that trust needs to be had in a relationship.
Scorpio may find Pisces to be too wishy-washy for his liking, although Pisces just sees herself as someone open-minded and flexible and doesn't understand why the Scorpio man can’t be a little more like that as well.
This relationship can fall apart due to things becoming overwhelming too quickly. They tend to get into the relationship quickly and break up just as fast as well. If they can act on mental clarity as much as they do their emotions, then this can create a more solid ground for the relationship to grow and continue to grow upon. You would think that being with someone who is the same element as you is a recipe for success in a relationship, but two of the same things can be too much at the end of the day.
Summary: Is a Scorpio man and a Pisces woman compatible?
Ultimately, this is a relationship with high compatibility, and depending on the two people at hand, it will determine how things unfold here. They have the tools needed to form a sincere, loving, and compassionate relationship but will have to confront each other's differences with the same attitude to work. Once the first challenge or conflict arises in the relationship, how they handle it afterward will determine if the relationship is going to work out or not.
These two are perfect when things are going well, but can be dramatic when they are not. The Pisces woman and Scorpio man can’t get enough of each other at the end of the day, and this will indeed be a relationship that they will never forget.
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