What Rewatching Girlfriends Taught Me About My Own Friendships
Although Girlfriends originally aired on UPN on Sept. 11, 2000, I haven't been able to stop rewatching it ever since it hit Netflix exactly 20 years later on the same day. Because I was so young back then, watching reruns with my mom now has made me realize how little of the show I actually remember. And tuning in with a more mature lens makes me feel as though I'm watching it for the first time.
When watching a show like Girlfriends, it's almost impossible not to relate to one or more of the four women. Not only do I see glimpses of myself in certain characters, but I see my friends in them, too. And the more I watch, the more I realize it isn't just Lynn, Maya, Joan, or Toni I identify with, but the moments they share with each other.
It's important to see successful Black women on television. It's just as important to see Black women on television in their most vulnerable moments, navigating life and all the curveballs it throws their way. Whether those are between each other or tackling them together, Girlfriends reminds me that having my girls around is worth it even during times when it feels like the opposite. It reminds me that no matter what I'm going through, my girls will always be there for me, just like I'll always be there for them. Keep reading for nine things Girlfriends taught me about friendship.
Sometimes Tough Love Is Necessary
You hold your friends back when you allow them to repeat old habits that aren't good for them, like when Joan stops offering up her guest room and Lynn finally gets a job and a place of her own. Sometimes we have to fight the instinct to nurture and protect our friends because that shield of comfortability can hold them back from growing.
Expect There to Be Conflict
A fight (or a few) doesn't always signal toxicity or a need to cut people out of your life. In some cases, it's there to practice accountability for our actions and to consider perspectives that differ from our own.
Forgiveness Isn't Linear
It's normal to be fine one day and totally not the next. Although apologies show accountability, they don't erase the emotional trauma caused from the action. Only time can do that, and your friends will always be there.
Friendship Can Be Selfless and Selfish at the Same Time
There should be a balance between being there for your friends and taking care of yourself. That's where boundaries come in handy. Real friends will respect the ones you set.
Accept Your Friends as They Are
Lynn is the free spirit, Maya is the voice of reason, Joan is responsible, and Toni will tell you to definitely buy the shoes. Realizing what role each friend plays in our lives prevents us from putting unrealistic expectations on them where we're left feeling underwhelmed or disappointed.
When in Doubt, Show Support
If you disagree on something, consider whether your own feelings, fears, or opinions are at the center of your hesitation rather than your friend's. If you were in their shoes, maybe you'd do it differently, but remember — you aren't.
Even If They Fail, Support That, Too
Give friends the space to make mistakes on their own, and be understanding when they do. They should be comfortable sharing their failures with you without fear of judgment. Cheer them on to win, and comfort them when they don't.
Never Stop Learning From Your Friends
Take the time to learn and respect each other's backgrounds, no matter how different or similar they may seem. That's how you honor their journey and build perspective. Then you'll treat friends with the care they need vs. the care you want to give them.