You don’t have to look far if you’re seeking guidance on your romantic relationships. Whether you decide to seek personal, professional help through a relationship therapist, or you decide to go more general and seek out the advice of the millions of creators that specialize in dating content, it’s obvious that there is an industry for making sure we are all doing what we can to make our romantic relationships better.
But romantic relationships make up one of many types of relationships that we have. Arguably, some of the first relationships in our lives that require selection and work are our friendships. Our family, we’re usually born with, while our first friendships begin the lifelong journey of deciding who needs to be in our lives. This being said, it’s difficult to find resources that truly understand the importance of these relationships. That is what makes the work of Danielle Bayard Jackson, a friendship coach and expert, so important.
Originally a high school English teacher, Bayard Jackson would find herself giving advice to her junior and senior students about the problems they were having in their friendships. Then, in her career in public relations, Bayard Jackson found herself advising on similar dynamics when assisting high-achieving career women. When Bayard Jackson would go home to look up more resources on how to advise on friendships, she found that Amazon search results at the time were primarily for children.
“I thought to myself, ‘is this what we think of friendship?” Bayard Jackson told Passionfruit. “It’s something a kid would need support with and not an adult.”
She decided to use her skillset and degrees to teach people about the dynamics of healthy female friendships. When Danielle first started her work, there were very few people in the field of friendship coaching. Of course, your therapist would intervene if you came to them with a problem in your friendships, but when it came to a professional focus on friendships, the lane was wide open.
However, early in her career as a friendship therapist, Bayard Jackson found that it was a difficult niche to succeed in: “I was actually considering closing my business because some people weren’t taking what I do seriously. I felt like I was doing too much work to convince people that friendship coaching is a worthwhile thing.” She told her husband that she was going to give it two more weeks, and then she would shut down her coaching practice and focus on her other businesses.
Then, one of her TikToks went viral.
When Bayard Jackson first started using TikTok, she was using it experimentally. Most people at the time thought of it as an app for kids, so she didn’t have a lot of expectations around it. However, when the 15-second clip went viral, Bayard Jackson found herself with an influx of clients and media requests. TikTok had changed her life—and given her a major platform to share her message.
“I love being in the comments and people will come back and say, ‘I watched this video a week ago, I did what you said, and let me tell you, it totally changed my friendship…’” she said. “I have goosebumps right now even saying it.”
For Bayard Jackson, to have an audience of almost 200,000 people hearing her messages about investing in female friendships is integral in making people’s lives better.
“Research tells us that the simple greatest impact of our overall life satisfaction and well-being is not our income status, not our marital status, but the quality of our relationships,” she said.
So, while society has mechanisms in place to encourage us to work at romantic relationships, the same isn’t so for friendships. This often leads us to leave them or abandon them at the first sign of conflict. When Bayard Jackson sees women comment that they had never thought about it like that, or that they are more equipped to tackle conflict within their friendships, she sees that work as transformative.
Of course, there are drawbacks when it comes to being a content creator, particularly when it comes to disseminating advice in a TikTok that is only a few seconds long.
“Sometimes, I am trying to take one big message and distill it into 60 seconds. So, inevitably there will be people in the comments who are like ‘what about this, you left that out’… a lot of comments that are pushback, negative, or snarky mostly speak to not [seeing] the full conversation,” says Bayard Jackson.
That’s where her work as a practicing friendship coach comes in. TikTok can be a great launching pad to build an audience, but when it comes to a creator like Bayard Jackson, whose work extends outside of TikTok, it’s important to think about her content as one part of an arsenal of tools designed to improve female friendships.
“Maybe we go forward in a session where we’re talking for 75 minutes, or the book that I’m writing that’s 75,000 words…or in a podcast episode, that’s 20 minutes of me expounding on the thing that I’ve said in 60 seconds,” she said. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t understand that her TikToks are just an introduction to her greater body of work.
The other common complaint that Bayard Jackson gets is her emphasis on female friendships. Sometimes people will comment that she needs to start making content that includes men. But Bayard Jackson is staunch in her work as a female friendship coach.
“Our language and how we relate to each other is different… either come and get what you can take from this because a lot of it is transferable, or recognize ‘hey, this platform is not for me’. And that’s okay because not everything is for me,” she said.
But even with these complaints, Bayard Jackson still considers TikTok to be an amazing tool in the arsenal of her overall mission of encouraging women to invest in their friendships.
“To have people rethinking things they’ve been taught and approaching friendship differently is my mission,” she said.