Back in the day, there was a wife who, when it came to the subject of marriage, she used to talk to me like I was in junior high school. What I mean by that is, after she got married, she suddenly started acting like she had to either speak slower (like I wouldn't "get it" otherwise) or walk on eggshells when it came to topics like romantic relationships, sex and the day to day demands of her life, as if my being single somehow meant that I couldn't even begin to comprehend such matters. Lawd, that was draining. It's literally like when some people's tax forms switch over from "single" to "married" (no tax form says "dating" by the way; some of y'all will catch that later), they start acting like they should automatically be elected to the role of mentors — sometimes even "second parents" — to single folks…whether we asked them to do that or not seems to be completely irrelevant.
I've had this conversation far too often with other single people to know that this is actually an issue that should be addressed on an en masse level. Because while I know that a lot of single people will agree with me and say that marriage is a beautiful thing, that doesn't mean that there aren't times when we don't feel like we should be given more respect than we are oftentimes granted, by the married folks in our lives, while we in our single state. And so, if you're a married person reading this and you're not quite sure what I mean when I say this, I've got seven examples of where I am coming from.
1. ASK Us What We Need
I'm pretty sure that much of this particular point stems from Black church culture because, in spite of the fact that two of the biggest influencers of the Bible (Christ and Paul) are single, for some reason, a lot of Christians seem to think that marriage is an elevated relational status. Listen, I am a marriage life coach and a HUGE fan of marital covenant relationships. At the same time, I know that singleness is also a huge blessing and so, there is no hierarchy when it comes to who deserves more respect.
With that being said, is it just me or does it seem like some married people can't help but speak with a patronizing and condescending tone? It's like they automatically think they know more or better and therefore, many tend to tell us what we need (or need to do) rather than ask.
Look, I've dealt with a lot of husbands and wives who rank really low on the self-awareness tip. At the same time, I know many singles who thrive in this lane. Besides, a key component to any healthy dynamic is asking more than assuming. So, when it comes to what we need — emotionally, relationally, personally, or otherwise — ask us. We know more than a lot of y'all tend to give us credit for. Especially about ourselves. Geez.
2. Don’t Assume That We Have More “Free” Time than You Do
I've shared before that, while I don't tend to attend a whole lot of weddings (because I see them as sacred events; not just "something to do" on the weekends), when I do go and if it's a really close friend of mine, I have absolutely no problems with sobbing like a baby. A part of the reason is because I am thrilled that they are in their new season. Another reason is because I know that a part of our relationship is going to shift (check out "Your Bestie Just Got Married. Here's What You Should Expect From Your Friendship.") and while I'm happy for my friend, that is still something that I need to grieve. That said, though, just because my friend will need more time to focus on her marriage, that doesn't mean that I'm a single person who's just sitting around and twiddling my thumbs.
Lawd, if there's one thing that drives, just about every single person up the entire wall (just ask them), it's when there's an assumption that if we're not married (and/or have kids) that somehow the demands of our own lives aren't just as pressing. The only difference is your priorities and ours are different; however, our world can still be just as full. So, to assume that we can talk when you can or that we're available on a dime because you are— that is not only delusional but pretty presumptuous and arrogant as well.
3. On the Flip Side, Make Time for Us (Like We Make Time for You)
On the flip side to the point I just made, there's this one. A while back, I wrote "Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'" for the platform because…it's the truth. For example, I try not to call my married friends at night or on the weekends (even if it's so much easier for me) because I want to be sensitive to them using that as an opportunity to spend time with their family. I also get that sometimes I have to be a little bit "on-call" when it comes to us making dates because when someone is accountable to another human being, sometimes their schedule can't be as "firm" as mine is.
At the same time, though, my married friends know that sometimes, they need to be open to being a little bit inconvenienced too because, just because I'm single, that doesn't mean I've just got a wide-open schedule where I can just show up on a whim whenever they happen to have some free minutes because their spouse suddenly has something else to do. Just like I have to accommodate their time, they need to make time for me. That's how relationships work and marriage isn't the only kind of dynamic that requires compromise along with some old-fashioned give and take.
4. Be HONEST with Us About What Marriage Entails
A couple of weeks ago, two different wives commented about how they wished I would get married soon. Because both conversations transpired over the phone, they couldn't see me rolling my eyes. However, they did both hear me say, "Girl, for what? Do you hear what you say about your own marriages on this call? I'm in no rush" — and I'm not. It might seem weird to say that one way that married folks can respect singles more is by being honest about their own marriage yet here's where I'm going with that — some of y'all paint marriage like it's some sort of real-life version of a fairy tale or rom-com. And because you don't tell the REAL STUFF, you get some of your single friends all hyped for the good side of marriage without them being mentally and emotionally prepared for the challenges that come with it too.
Personally, I appreciate the married people in my life who are more in the lane of "Look, I love my spouse; I still have moments when I really miss my single days, though" because they are being upfront about the fact that there are pros and cons to both relational statuses. At the end of the day, you are honest with the people you respect. Be more honest with us, so that we know exactly what we are getting ourselves into when it comes to marriage — that way, we can make a far more responsible decision…if/when the time comes.
5. Honor Our Special Days…Like We Honor Yours
Hands down, one of my favorite episodes of Sex and the City is when Carrie lost a pair of her shoes at a married friend's baby shower. When her friend initially refused to pay for them (citing that they were a frivolous expense; see, there goes that "cocky" thing that I was talking about), Carrie said that she was throwing a party for herself and registered the shoes. Her friends got the point and made the purchase. Checkmate.
Have mercy. There is one married person, in particular, who I can't tell you how much money I've spent on all of their special occasions that have centered around their marriage and their kids. And yet, over that same time, I can't think of one present I've received from them. Ever. Talk about a hustle above all hustles. Birthdays matter to some of us. Promotions matter to some of us. Reaching certain goals matter to some of us. As a married person, your job isn't to decide if a day or situation is worthy of celebration in your eyes. As our friend, if we say that it's to be honored, you should follow suit…just like we do for y'all…just ask our bank account.
6. Acknowledge Our Accomplishments Outside of Our Relational Status
If there's one thing that a lot of us church-going (or used to be church-going) singles can agree on is that many churches could stand to do A LOT better when it comes to singles ministries. I once wrote an article for the site entitled, "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'" and so I'm well-aware of the fact that with words like original, exclusive, and special to describe what it means to be single, we've got it going on, on a few levels. That's why it's beyond shallow (and a little condescending) to think that the only thing that we should be praised for or you should get super excited about is the guy we're seeing or if/when he decides to propose.
Ask us about our job or career path. Ask us about what our plans are over the next several months. Ask us about what makes us tick outside of our hearts and libidos. Just like I'm pretty sure that you don't want anyone to treat you as if your only identity is being someone's spouse, at the same time, we don't want to feel like the only accomplishment you will ever fully and enthusiastically acknowledge is if we're "officially" with someone.
7. Don’t “Demote” Us
Listen, we're not stupid. We get that as you get deeper into this thing called "marriage", you are going to accumulate some more/new people in your life who can relate to what you are going through. All good. Still, just like I tell the cynics who somehow think that just because I'm single, I have no insight into how to make a marriage work, "50 percent of marriages fail, so don't assume that a lot of married people know what to do either." Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the source. And so, if you saw value in us prior to you jumping the broom, why in the world would that change, just because you are married?
We're still smart. We can still provide some pretty profound ah-ha moments. We can still offer up some support and encouragement. You being married and us being single doesn't change any of that. Respect what we still bring to the table and watch how it continues to only enhance your life — like it always has. Right? Exactly.
Featured image by Getty Images
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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