How lucky are we that Netflix, like most other major companies, chose to immediately capitalize off of the June 2020 uprisings by adding a plethora of Black shows to its line up ? Short of not having the Cosby Show (which we will never see syndicated anywhere ever again for reasons) and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (which I hope they will add soon) Netflix pretty much is killing it with the Black sitcoms right now. Among them ,one of the best depictions of intelligent, beautiful, successful Black women out there IMO, Girlfriends.
In the pilot episode we are introduced to the four title Girlfriends; Joan, Maya, Lynn and Toni.
Joan and Toni , both successful professionals in their late 20s, met in second grade and have been friends ever since. Quickly we understand the dynamic of Joan and Toni's relationship as one where Joan is the "giver" and Toni the "taker" . This dynamic becomes evident when we learn that Toni is dating Joan's recent ex. (Ew.) To which Joan (falsley) claims she doesn't have a problem with. After a series of "hefers" and "bitches" has been thrown about , and some threats of ass kicking made, it is revealed that Joan in fact DOES have an issue with this (probably because she is a woman with a brain and a pulse ). Toni and Joan ultimately kiss , make up and continue on with their co-dependent, 20+ year, and (in my opinion), extremely toxic, sometimes volatile friendship.
If you take the time to watch all 8 seasons (which you should, it truly is a wonderful show) you will perhaps find yourself questioning , as I did, if the dynamics portrayed were even true to life . Are there women who threaten to beat each other up, or constantly make jabs at each others' families and lowly upbringings , the way Toni and Maya do? Are there friends like Lynn, a hippy scholar with 5 (obsolete) college degrees, who sees no shame in couch surfing, and living exclusively off her successful friends for years because having a real job is not "her calling" in life. Are there really friend groups that spend every major holiday together and the small ones too? Do friendships that monopolize space in ones life like this really exist? I struggled with wrapping my mind around the idea that they do.
However, the deeper I went into the series and the more I questioned how true to life the relationships depicted were, I realized ,it's because I've never come close to knowing another woman as my best friend that this felt so foreign to me. Because I've never had a BFF much less one I grew up with, I don't know what would lead up to A. even considering dating your "BFF"s EX or B. LIE about not being bothered that your friend is dating your EX.
The way my forgiveness is set up I could NEVER, you hear me, NEVER! forgive certain things. And even if I did, I would never forget and we would never be the same so what would even be the point? I would cease the pursuit of deep friendship the moment loyalty even had to be questioned.
Not to say I haven't done my share of forgiving.
Actually, I've forgiven many a girl in my day for transgressions both big and small. Offenders forgiven range from my friend, who in a drug-fueled rage once told me I was wasting my time by dating my now husband and should instead join her in her career as a prostitute, to the friend that threw me under the bus with my cheating ex boyfriend over something benign, because unbeknownst to me, they were apparently better friends than her and I were (they weren't, he was well-liked and she wanted to be well-liked by association) and lest I forget my other friend who didn't feel it necessary to let me know cheating ex-boyfriend (yes, the very same one) had been texting her on the low, and it was not to talk about me. I believed that last friend, when she said she just didn't know how to tell me without hurting my feelings, but she also believed it no big deal to be friends with literally every girl that hated me and wanted to pull my hair out in high school , which she explained as "her not wanting to take sides" so there's also that. I forgave these girls, and still keep in contact with them all, but I know our relationships would look very different had these events not transpired.
(**Side Note: the particular EX in question came to be my boyfriend after he cheated on his EX, my former friend, with me. So, don't cry for me Argentina! What's that saying? How you get em is...)
Simply put these 'Girlfriends' friendships are, to me, unrealistic and unrelatable.
As a child and teen, I didn't know how to process the lack of close friendships and would often question what it was about me that drove girls away. Granted I was and still am, a bit of an acquired taste. I am admittedly analytical to a fault and blunt in my delivery of analysis. One of the great contradictions of peoplekind is that they claim to value honesty and transparency but hardly know what to do with either. I learned early that everyone hears and sees the world through the scope of their experiences and mine were just not relatable to those around me, ever. Alternating for many years between the suburbs and inner city was a double edged sword that resulted in both my being able to plug myself into a vast variety of social groups (hood, Paisa, preps, rockers, Black , White etc.) while still somehow leaving me on the fringes of them all. Invited to the party but denied the exclusivity of the pre-game or after party.
Maneuvering through my formative years on my own was, tough to put it mildly, and it is no wonder I developed the callous I did, when I did. For transparency sake, I should mention I did used to have one close friend.
Nina, one of the only other little Brown faces in my heavily Caucasian neighborhood, was a beautiful soul who treated me with plenty of love and loyalty between the ages of 8-13. We bonded over our being of different ethnicities than the majority of the other kids, our love of Harry Potter and those ugly initial purses that were popular in the early 2000s. We alternated sleeping over at each other's houses every Friday, and every Sunday we held a picnic by our community pool where we would each bring snacks from our respective cultures to exchange. It was the purest of relationships.
But, as is the norm for many pre-teen girls experiencing daily tsunamis of excess hormones, I, the more "popular" of the pair, eventually began to treat her in a less than stellar fashion. I began to prioritize hanging with the stereotypical mean girls, bonding over our boy obsession , which Nina hadn't developed into yet. She remained unseen, unheard and ultimately left behind. Until one day, "the popular girls" decided it would be total hilarity if we took Nina's backpack, which she had left in my care, threw it in a giant puddle and left it there. With it, all of her personal belongings. No rhyme or reason other than to fuck with the nerdy Thai girl.
In short, I was a snobby little cunt that let the Plastics peer pressure me into being shitty to the only person who had ever been a genuine friend up to that point. We all, including Nina blew it off as one big joke, but of course it wasn't. It had been a hateful, catty thing to do. Eventually, we grew apart Nina found her own band of misfits and at some point we even got into a physical fight at the behest of the those around us because "haha why not". I moved to the inner city at the onset of high school, never to see Nina or anyone resembling a "best friend" ever again.
Currently, as I stare down the barrel of my 30s, I can say that sure, I have friends, but I can count many more acquaintances, and (with the shining exception of my husband) I certainly can not think of even ONE best friend.
I don't spend loads of time at anyone's house, I've never taken a "girls trip," and there are no group chats in my phone to speak of. For some time I theorized that having gotten married and becoming a mother so young may be currently playing a part in my still not having developed any close female friendships akin to those on Girlfriends (or its Caucasian counterpart Sex in the City, equally as unreasonable a portrayal of female friends IMO). This would stand to reason considering many depictions of close female friendships center around single, unwed females of similar age, bonding over either navigating the dating pool and the quest to get married, or navigating ascending in their careers. This , combined with having mounds of free time, that typically accompany being a young single woman, to bond with other women in similar circumstances, is a recipe for an easy development of friendship.
Because I crossed the matrimonial threshold at 20 years young ,I was left unable to relate to the trials of being an adult woman struggling to find the right partner. My life is mostly consumed with being a wife and mother, leaving little time to make random coffee runs or have wild weekends in Vegas. If anything I'm an adult woman struggling to find the right female friend.
I do feel these are some factors on why I still, now, feel a disconnect from several women in my life. I mean, let's be real; talking about sex with your girls is considerably less fun if most of the sex referenced is with the same person, and that person is your actual spouse, not some rando you picked up on Tinder. Additionally, someone who isn't a mother or isn't in a similar space career/work wise, just isn't going to be easy to relate to without some elbow grease.
In all honesty, however, the idea that it is my marriage that has prevented me from having close relationships with other women is a bit of a reach. I have many friends and acquaintances that are both married and parents. The truth is, this is always the way it's been for me. Solitary.
As much as I had craved for a sisterhood growing up I never got it and frankly at this point I'm unlikely to get one. Somewhere along in my adult life , I began to question if I myself even had the bandwidth to foster those relationships in the first place. The answer, is "No". Not only do I not have bandwidth to nurture them I don't have the bandwidth to even understand them at this point. As cute and fulfilling as those dynamics seem, I know I am not, nor would I be a very present or consistent BEST friend to anyone at this point. No, at this point, the fortress I've built around myself includes a gator filled moat and phones lines that only dial out. This article does an excellent job explaining why deep and meaningful friendships are harder to come by past the age of 25.
I see women that take each other's kids to doctors appointments and extra curriculars, women that get matching tattoos, women that spend holidays together, vacation together and even some that still stay the night in each others homes like we all did as kids. All of this is so far removed from my norm that I instinctively do not trust women who are not only familiar with but also claim to enjoy this dynamic with their friends, but frankly, that speaks more to my personal experiences than anything.
I am the Queen of forgiving but not forgetting, and because, as I've admitted above, I have not always acted with the most integrity, it is my life's struggle to fully trust that others are not merely waiting for their opportunity to smite me somehow.
Oddly enough, I also , equally do not trust women who claim to prefer men as friends OR no friends at all on account of their being 'less drama' that way. Sis, if there is drama wherever you go, its you. You are the drama. But not me. On the contrary I genuinely love the female friendships I am a part of. My social circle, however spaced out and distant it may be, includes many talented, intelligent , beautiful and generous women that I firmly consider it an honor to know. These women include my friend who was the first call I made when I thought that I could be pregnant and just didn't want to take the test alone; my friend who provided me with a job after I confirmed my second pregnancy, my friend who showed up on my doorstep with diapers and food at a time when I had 2 kids and $0.00 to my name , and my friend who let me crash on her couch for a few days when I needed a break from my husband.
As such, I am aware, some might read this and take offense, perhaps getting ready to pucker your lips in protest and tell me a lot about how you really are my real close friend not just a surface friend. That our relationship is not a result of proximity or convenience but rather a friendship rooted in genuine chemistry and a deep understanding of each others platonic needs. As tempted as you may be to overstate the closeness of our friendship, I implore that you spare us the awkwardness. We know what it is. You all that consider yourself my friends know you maintain me at arms length and truthfully, vice versa. Whatever the reason for our distance, it's there, and it's likely mutual.
I doubt I am the first friend any of my friends call when they just want company. In fact, through the admission of my friends (at least the ones who answered my IG poll on the topic), I am mostly the friend they call when they need honest advice, or to invite to all the BIG moments in life. I am not, however the friend summoned to casually hang out and shoot the shit with, without an unloading of emotional baggage being tossed into the mix. Never have I attended a Friendsgiving, never have I ever been asked to be a bridesmaid, nor did I ever get to be a Quineñeras' dama.
I've made peace, for the most part, with that this is the dynamic that exists in all of my relationships with women. But, it can get lonely. As much as I thank whatever celestial powers are responsible for blessing my existence with my husband, (who is the only person I am 100% at home with), sometimes, I do feel like "FUCK! who am I supposed to talk shit about him if he is my best friend?" I guess, to him. *shrugs*
To make sense of this in my head and perhaps make myself feel more accepting of my fate as everyone's designated fair weather friend ; I began telling myself that I am less like water, which people need everyday, and I'm instead more like Champagne, in that one brings me around for celebratory or coping purposes only. The only time my friends think of pouring a glass of Jess, is when a major life event is underway. The way I see it, at least I'm not something useless like expired milk. People will invite me to their kids birthdays once a year but not their homes to binge Real Housewives, which is what I really seek. But that's quite alright because honestly I don't extend myself either. I can comfortably say I receive the same energy I put out.
Be honest, do you even know how many siblings I have in total ? It's ok if you don't I probably don't know how many you have either.