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Why You And Your Friends Should "Date Each Other" More Often

Platonic relationships need quality time just as much as romantic ones do.

What About Your Friends?

I don't know about you, but with every passing birthday, it seems like 24-hour days get shorter and shorter. It's almost like once noon rolls around, it's a wrap for the day, because 7 PM is gonna come at me quick, fast and in a hurry. Since I barely have time to do what I need to get done on my mental checklist, it can be even harder to squeeze in a "What's up, fam?" convo with one of my peeps, no matter how much they might cross my mind throughout the day. I'm feeling overwhelmed and I'm over here single with no kids. Most of my friends are married and/or parents which makes scheduling quality time that much more difficult for them to do.

The solution? Dates. Literally going out on dates with my homies because, no matter how many good vibes, texts or emails I may send their way, in order to properly nurture my connection with them, quality time is required; in many ways, just like a romantic relationship needs it. Because when you think about the purpose of dating overall, isn't getting some quality time what it's all about?

If you're reading this and saying, "I feel you, Shellie, but I'm not sure it takes all that", do yourself and your friendships a favor. At least skim the five reasons why I think it's important to schedule some date time with your girls (and guys), at least one day a month (if you can). I think you'll see why I wholeheartedly believe that your friendships will remain so much healthier if you do.

Dating Is About Scheduling “Intentional Time”

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One of my closest girlfriends has a crazy schedule. She is married with a child, has a full-time job and is a part of a billion different clubs and organizations. When it comes to my married friends, it's a personal rule of mine to not do much nighttime calling; I feel that should be reserved for them and their family. This leaves maybe talking to her on her way to work or during her lunch break. Needless to say, trying to get some quality time in is a big time challenge. That's why we try and schedule dates.

Whenever we get together for dinner and/or a movie, it's kinda cute how giddy we are. She lets her household know what she's doing so that she can set her phone to vibrate. That way, we can catch up without interruptions. It really is like making up for lost time. Plus, when we get a couple of hours in, it can "tie us over" for six weeks or so. It's a great way to reconnect so that neither one of us ends up feeling neglected in between hectic schedules and busy lives.

You Can Learn More of Each Other’s Likes/Dislikes

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Earlier this year, I penned an article entitled "This Is How to Apply Love Languages to Your Friendships". I think it's an important thing to do because even friends need to learn how to express love for one another in a way that they are able to feel it the most. Well, one of the ways that you and your friends can tap into one another's love languages is going on dates that specifically center around them. For instance, if you are a quality time person, one date can focus on the two of you meeting for drinks at a rooftop bar or restaurant. Or, if your friend is primarily a gifts person, the two of you can go to a place that teaches you both how to make pottery or jewelry.

Something that I've personally learned while dating some of my friends is doing so encourages me to not be so passive when it comes to them. It reminds me that they deserve a little creativity and forethought. By trying out new restaurants or venues, we're both able to learn more about what we like and what we don't. By doing that, we are able to learn more about one another's personalities overall. Being proactive, in this way, always brings us closer.

You’re Both Able to Get “Off of the Clock”

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When's the last time you were on the phone with, pretty much anyone, and you did absolutely nothing else? The last time I was able to do that was on my birthday, and it was totally on purpose. Where I'm going with this is, contrary to the popular belief that a lot of us women have, NO ONE is able to do more than two things at once and do them extremely well. This means that even when we're chatting with our friends and washing dishes or cleaning our room, we're not able to give them the full attention that they truly deserve.

Another benefit that comes from going on a date with your friends is you can get away from the demands of your hectic lifestyle. The two of you can chill out, relax and really listen to what you're saying and where you're coming from.

This point is a reminder that dating your friends is not only good for the friendship, it can do wonders for your stress levels as well.

It’s the Opportunity to Treat One Another

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Although it took me a while to get there, I have some pretty stellar friends in this season of my life. One example is a friend of mine who, when I lost one of my main paying gigs, out of nowhere, he PayPal'ed me $400. No, he didn't loan it; he gave it (and without me asking for it). Life comes at you fast. About three months later, he lost his job. His anniversary was coming up and so I offered to get him and his wife a really nice room at a vineyard. I was more than happy to do it because when he had it, he gave; when I had it, I returned the favor. That's what friends do.

I get that none of us always have hundreds of bucks lying around to lavish our friends with. But a date is another way to treat them—to show them how much you love and appreciate them. It can consist of treating them to dinner, hanging out at a local museum, going to a concert, spending time at a local coffeehouse or bookstore, paying for you both to get a pedicure—idea-wise, the sky is the limit! Whatever it is, without even knowing your friends, I can tell you that by calling them up and saying, "Let's meet up for a bit", it will warm their soul. Just by the mere (proactive) thought alone.

You Can Do Signature “Y’all Stuff”

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A lot of us are familiar with the C.S. Lewis quote, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" When I think about all of my friends, each of us like to do things together that no one else really "gets". I get with one of my friends to eat chicken wings and ice cream (not necessarily in that order). One of my other friends and I watch period films and The Little House on the Prairie reruns (Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls was fine; you betta ask somebody!). Another friend of mine, we can discuss politics, music and gossip blogs until the cows come home. One of my closest male friends, we like to try new random stuff.

If I got all of these folks together, they would probably only tolerate the things that I like to do with only one of them. And that's my point.

Another beautiful benefit of dating your friends is you both can do the kind of stuff that no one else would appreciate but y'all. You don't have to explain, justify or rush. You can just celebrate the fact that you've got someone who "gets you" in the way that they do and spend a couple of hours together relishing in that very fact.

So yeah, date your friends, y'all. It's one of the best things that you can do to keep your friendship healthy, thriving and long-lasting. I can certainly vouch for that.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships

The 5 Must-Have Friends Everyone Needs

Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be 'Just Friends'

Good Friends Are Hard To Find! Here's How To Show Yours You Appreciate Them

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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