5 dating advice from the series Girlfriends

 This year marks 10 years since the last episode of the famous sitcom Girlfriends. To celebrate the bittersweet ending of this African American cultural gem, I decided to rewatch the series.

One hundred and seventy-two episodes later, I had completed the eight seasons of pure emotional wisdom. The sitcom was not only about four funny black girls living their lives (Joan Clayton, Maya Wilkes, Lynn Searcy and Toni Childs), but about four women finding their voice in the world and hitting a few stumbling blocks along their journey.The show offered me valuable insights on relationships. Those are the lessons I have taken from

1: Fall in love with yourself, or you will never be happy in love

Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) had everything to be happy: she was the first of her group of friends to own a home, she had not one but two good careers, she had amazing friends and good health. However, throughout the eight seasons, she desperately longed for a relationship. The desire for companionship is not a bad one in itself. However, it is a red flag if singleness becomes a source of major insecurity. It took Clayton eight years of endless quest for a husband to find out that the most important person she needed to wed was herself. It was only then when she had finally accepted herself and learned to be at peace alone that she found the right man for her.

(Insert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYuqUp9YOM) Listen from 7:54-10:13 for the conversation that helped her choose herself first.

2: If you can fall in love once, it can happen again

The four girls went through ups and downs during their romantic relationships. Once in a blue moon, in the hopeless pool of candidates they dated, someone would appear and show them love and affection in a way they had never experienced before. For Toni, it was Gregory (her college sweetheart turned into a struggling artist). For Joan, it was Brock (the man who proposed to her within three months of dating). And for Lynn, it was Rashad (a Jamaican native who moved out from his motherland to pursue a relationship with her). The three women experienced a different kind of growth in these relationships. For example, Lynn, who had been mooching off her friends forever, learned how to be independent by getting  her own place for the first time in her adult life. These three relationships eventually came to an end, but they left the women changed forever. After the break-ups, the women were hopeful that true love existed and if that it had happened once, it could happen for them again (and spoiler, it did).

3: If it is meant to be, it will be

Or, better yet, you can fall in love all over again with the same person. Maya Wilks married her high-school sweetheart Darnell shortly after she found out she was sixteen. She tells her famous “pregnant during prom” story repeatedly on the show. After various bumps in their marriage, the couple divorced. Neither of them wanted to, but too many mistakes had happened (daily disagreements, emotional cheating, financial arguments, etc.). During their time apart, they learned to grow as two separate individuals. Maya went from being a desk secretary to a published author. Darnell opened a own dealership. Darnell came very close to marrying someone else, but instead, he chose to remarry his one true love. On their second attempt at marriage, they communicated better. They were aware that they could lose their marriage at any moment and vowed to never take each other for granted again.

4: Know what you want, and be strong enough to walk away when you don’t get it

Part of being intuned with yourself is that you are very aware of what works for you and what does not. In a relationship, both people may have their own personal boundaries. For the relationship to be successful, both sides need to be respected. Throughout the seasons, the girls were presented with different dilemmas: some small, some huge. One thing I admired, is that they always stuck to their inner desire. Joan got engaged to Brock on the last season. As they were preparing for the wedding, Brock expressed his desire to not have children. Joan knew she wanted to have children and that it was not a point she was willing to compromise on. Ultimately, she broke the engagement. As much as she wanted to be married, she also knew what kind of marriage she wanted and was willing to be single and wait for the real deal.

5: Try dating outside your usual type

Having a type can narrow down your dating pool and save you time. Sometimes, however, dating outside your type can teach you more about yourself. Lynn always was a free spirit. She was the more sexually experienced girl of the group and flaunted her sexual qualities to all her friends. In season seven, she meets Eldon Parks (Kadeem Hardison) during an open mic night. When she finds out he is a pastor, she initially tries to reject him, but when he continues to visit her on her performing nights, she gives in. Searcy had a bad relationship with Christianity and did not believe in celibacy, but dating Eldon opened her eyes on different questions she had left unanswered in herself. Although they did not last, her views on faith were transformed and she learned that it was possible for her to create a deeper connection with someone without sex on the table. She did not convert or made a chastity vow, but she used that relationship as a learning experience. And this, folks, is the single most important thing dating outside your type gives you.

Bonus Point:

In the midst of the hazard of dating, having close friends to help you stay grounded is a must. Maya, Toni, Lynn and Joan had each other to share their journeys. The bonus sixth advice would be to never lose sight of your tribe: guys come and go, but girlfriends are forever.