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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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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