So as of September 11th, 2020 Netflix added one of our nostalgic girly favorites—Girlfriends. The early 2000’s series recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary showcasing the everyday lives of four unique Black women navigating adulthood, romance, friendship, and everything in between. Everyone was eager to dive back into the series many of us indulged in way before we could fully understand and resonate with. We are rewatching— now in our 20’s and beyond, with a chance to fully digest the content and messaging. Twitter especially has been buzzing with commentary, critiques, and revelations. A common theme I’ve noticed throughout these conversations is that of friendship being something we as women do not navigate as well as we should. Yeah we have close friendships, maybe best friends, loved ones, we go out, we cry together—all of the things. But beyond the surface, what value do we place on and pour back into our friendships?
In season 1 we’re introduced to Joan, Maya, Lynn, and Toni. Joan is a hopeless romantic lawyer, Maya is a receptionist and family woman, Lynn is a free spirited serial student, and Toni is a realtor looking for a rich husband. These are vague descriptions in comparison to each woman’s complexities but we’ll start here— a dynamic group of friends with various strengths. We see four very different life paths with one thing in common, their friendship. But, within the first few episodes we see miscommunication, dishonesty, and avoidance amongst the friend group. Other times, we’re shown times of communal support, emotional encouragement, understanding, and compassion. Our friendships are just as complex as any other relationship dynamic. Imperfections exist.
In actuality, many women could probably relate to the bonds within the girlfriend group. Truthfully, Joan, Maya, Lynn, and Toni could all be better friends. I’m sure that is true for all of us. But what does that look like in practice? What does that really mean? It is interesting to think we put so much energy into learning and discussing romantic relationships rather than platonic ones, especially those with our girls! Overall, friendships are still relationships and should be tended to as such. No relationship is perfect or without fault but I believe great ones are based on love and desire for growth.
Nurturing our friendships while balancing life day to day in adulthood is different. It requires more intention. With distance, packed schedules, work, other relationships, and responsibilities, it is up to us to make time to enrich our friendships. Everyone is different meaning we all need unique things within our relationships. Understanding our communication styles, beliefs, triggers, values, and love languages are all important within healthy friendship. This is how we grow our connections, constantly learning about one another.
Learning each other is necessary especially when it gets hard. Friendships can be difficult. There are times where things get rocky or maybe even strenuous. Having a strong foundation allows us to move through our friendships with love even amidst difficulty. Having conflict should be an opportunity for growth not for destruction. Open communication and transparency have to be a baseline for healthy resolution. This applies to both parties. Just as we listen actively we need to be heard. Just as we are transparent we need transparency in return. Loving and caring for our friendships should mean extending the energy required to create a fulfilling space for both people.
I’ve noticed as we change with age, our standards and expectations change. Our wants and needs shift. What may have once been fulfilling in a friendship may no longer be fulfilling. Outgrowing each other is okay too. Change is okay. We learn we need connections that mutually benefit both parties. Sometimes we grow together other times we fall off. As long as we are honest with ourselves and others in our friendships, we can’t go wrong. What is meat to be will last, but some bonds are only for a season. We can still learn and build through these experiences.
No matter how long it’s been, all friendships need continuous love and support. We can call be better friends. Growth is always an option. We deserve fulfilling relationships with our girlfriends. We have the power to choose the people in our lives. We must choose wisely. But ultimately, we must be the friend we want in someone else.