xoNecole's I Read It So You Don't Have To is a recurring series of self-discovery that breaks down self-help books into a toolkit of takeaways and tips that are meant to assist you in finding the best life you can live. Take what works for you, and leave everything else where it is.
Of all the emotions, love is the pinnacle. It’s the one emotion we all desire for a lifetime, but it’s also the emotion that many people feel unequipped to sustain and grow within themselves and others. Former monk, host of the #1 health podcast in the world, On Purpose, and New York Times best-selling author, Jay Shetty debuted his second book, 8 Rules of Love: How to Find it, Keep it, & Let it Go, in February 2023.
There are tons of books on the shelves about love, but something I’ve been extremely intentional about investing in within the last few years is reading books about healthy and nourishing love. So many of us know the love that was introduced to us as a child, but that love is only what our parents knew, and it may not always be what we needed. So as an adult, it’s your turn to fill in all the gaps of what they missed in love and what new habits you want to cultivate to experience healthier love that sustains itself and gracefully lets go of love when needed.
Here are 8 rules of love Jay Shetty taught me during the informative read of his book. I hope each rule can meet you where needed most, with compassion first, accountability second, and love last.
1st Rule of Love: Let Yourself Be Alone
Allowing yourself to be alone for blocks of time in your life is one of the most rewarding things you could ever gift yourself. It was just a few years ago that I recognized the detrimental cycle I was looping myself into, going from dating one person to the next to fill void after void. As Shetty writes in his book, “Researchers at the University of Toronto found through a series of studies that when we’re afraid of being single, we’re more likely to settle for less satisfying relationships. Specifically, we’re more likely to become dependent on our partners and less likely to break up with them, even when the relationship doesn’t meet our needs.”
After my last relationship ended, I promised myself I would sit in the void, pick it apart, and understand how to heal it. And in a year of exploring solitude to every extent possible, I developed my voice and stood unapologetically on my values. As Shetty states, “In solitude, we practice giving ourselves what we need before we expect it from someone else. Are you kind to yourself? Are you honest with yourself? Are you emotionally available to yourself? Are you supportive of your own efforts?”
It was in that season of my life that I truly found comfort in solitude and not seeing it as lonely and missing something.
2nd Rule of Love: Understanding Parental Gifts and Gaps
We must be very conscious of our parental gifts and gaps because it can put unnecessary pressure on our relationships if we can’t fill that gap by ourselves. “If there is a gap in how our parents raised us, we look to others to fill it. And if there is a gift in how our parents raised us, we look to others to give us the same.” We can acknowledge ‘xyz’ happened to us, but we must change the narrative, not fall victim to life's circumstances, and always expect our partner to solve our issues.
“So often in relationships, we reject or repeat what our parents did. If they argued, you may avoid conflict. If they had a certain power dynamic, you may expect the same in your relationship or avoid it at all costs.” The domino effect doesn’t have to continue once you’re aware of it and are willing to change the narrative for your life. If you grew up around defensive and unhealthy conflict resolution styles, you can change it if you commit to doing the work to heal from it.
3rd Rule of Love: What You Want From Someone Else First Give to Yourself
Your happiness is your responsibility. It was your responsibility when you were single, and it still is your responsibility when you’re in a relationship. Shetty writes that "that’s why it’s so deeply important that we heal ourselves, taking charge of that process instead of shifting blame and responsibility to a partner.” Your partner's role in the relationship is that of a supporter, not a fixer; no one can tend to what you need better than you.
Any request you want from a partner, make sure you can provide the same support so that you can support each other in times of need. “A partner can’t fill every gap. They can’t unpack our emotional baggage for us. Once we fulfill our own needs, we’re in a better place to see what a relationship can give us.”
4th Rule of Love: Know Your Partner’s Learning Style
To be in a relationship of any form means to be open to growing together. It’s essential to know how your partner learns best so that when they are working on anything personally or professionally, you can send them things in that context to support them. However, “wanting to help our partner should not be confused with wanting to control our partner. One of the most common ways we try to control our partner(s) is to impose our timeline on them.”
Lead by matching their learning style. If it is hearing, send a podcast. If it is visual, send a YouTube video or master class, and so on and so forth. Most importantly though, allow them the space to learn or not learn at their own pace.
5th Rule of Love: Don’t Criticize, Judge, or Abuse
Just think about it, when you ask your partner for their opinion on something, you’re hoping to feel supported and met with compassion; now, that needs to be returned in every area of feedback you give them. “Gurus don’t use anger, harsh words, or fear to inspire their students. They realize that fear is a good motivator in the short term, but over the long term, it erodes trust. Criticism is lazy communication. It’s not constructive, compassionate, or collaborative. ”
Constructive feedback leads with love; instead of saying, “You never do x; you’re so bad at y,” say, “I appreciate it when you do x.” Or instead of saying, “If you ever do that again, I’m leaving you,” replace it with, “This is how it makes me feel when you do that.” Speak to the matter based on the present situation, don’t make generalized comments because it will make your partner feel like they do nothing right; we know that’s not true.
6th Rule of Love: Take Turns Prioritizing Your Purposes
As you grow in your relationship, your goals change, and so do your partners. Implementing conversations around these changes paired with an action plan in heavy transitional seasons is essential for both of you to grow as a team and feel supported. “While some couples do have this ‘tit for tat’ mindset, successful couples have a mindset that is, rather than thinking about it as ‘me vs. you,’ […] about a conceptualization of ‘we’ as the most important piece of the puzzle," Shetty writes.
And as time goes revisit the plan and ask how your partner is feeling based on how things are going, be open to making adjustments that work for both parties, and lastly, be open to returning that support when it’s your turn to pitch in extra for your partner’s transitional seasons in life.
7th Rule of Love: Every Time One of You Loses, You Both Lose
We’ve all been in those times with our partners when we are on opposite sides of a situation, and we casually see them as an opponent. However, wanting to win every argument or be right about everything is more harmful than helpful to your partnership. “Every time one of you loses, you both lose. Every time the problem loses, you both win," Shetty explains in his book simply. Sometimes it’s best to take a break from the conversation when you feel like you're going in laps of who's right or wrong because that’s not solving the issue; it’s just amplifying it.
“If we deal with disagreements as they arise, then we have a better chance to resolve issues before we say things we don’t mean and end up feeling worse without having resolved anything.”
8th Rule of Love: Give Yourself Closure
When things go entirely left, and you feel like there is no more room for the relationship to be repaired, it's time to let that love go. In that process, Shetty writes, “Let yourself feel every emotion. You can’t heal until you feel. Walking away from something doesn’t reduce it. If you don’t give an emotion the attention it deserves, it amplifies. In order to truly recognize these emotions, you must articulate them, look for patterns, and explain them to yourself.”
And to find peace at the end of that experience is by you creating your closure. Reflect on what you gained, lost, and learned about yourself in that relationship. “Every ex gives you a gift you may miss out on if you don’t take this step. It could be a piece of advice. It could be a connection they made for you. Maybe they supported you through a tough time. Maybe you learned that you really need to be with someone who makes healthy choices. Maybe you discovered that picking someone who checked off every box on your list wasn’t a good way to see who was standing in front of you. Honor your ex for the gifts they gave you.”
Create the closure because it was a gift to love them and a gift to let them go and be open to love once again. To truly love starts with making space for understanding and loving yourself to your core so you can be open to extending that love to others.
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Ajeé Buggam is a content writer and fashion designer from New York City and an alumna from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She specializes in writing about race, social injustice, relationships, feminism, entrepreneurship, and mental wellness. Check out her recent work at Notes To Self
This New Scalp Care Line Is Exactly What Your Wash Days Need
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
7 Underrated Signs That He's Truly 'Marriage Material'
While in an interview a few months back, someone asked me what I personally thought it meant for someone to be “marriage material.” Off top, the first thing that came out of my mouth is that it had to be an individual who actually desires marriage (more on that in a bit) because that kind of person will be proactive about doing what needs to be done in order to prepare for that kind of life journey.
Another indication that someone is marriage material is they don’t see marriage as just “a long-term relationship.” Yeah, don’t get me started on the fact that a part of the reason why divorce is so high now is people think that a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic is the same thing as a husband/wife one. It absolutely is not. Marriage-minded folks hold marriage in high regard, which means that they seek out someone who isn’t a “we’ll see how it goes” when it comes to relationships; nah, they are looking for the complement who will be far more permanent. Marriage-minded people are vow-keepers (‘til death do us part), not just sentiment-sayers (I love you, boo).
Marriage material — and please get this one all the way down in your spirit — is also about not just sitting around rah-rahing about what you deserve. What I mean by that is people are not truly ready for marriage if they’ve got a what-I-want-in-a-spouse list that is 10 miles long, yet they aren’t even 30 percent of what’s on the list themselves. Listen, I will forever say until every single cow comes home that if you are out here declaring what you DESERVE in someone else, that means, by definition, that you are QUALIFIED to have all of those things. And qualified means “having the qualities, accomplishments, etc. that fit a person for some function, office, or the like” (which is why you can’t be out here dictating what you deserve without hearing what others feel that they deserve in return).
Geeze. With all of this out in the open, I probably should write an article about signs that a woman is ready for marriage (noted). For now, let’s dive into some unsung signs that a man is truly marriage material — so that you can discern, quicker, who is the better “husband fit” for you.
1. He Knows His Purpose
We’re gonna have to take this article to church a bit because, when it comes to the topic of marriage, it’s my personal opinion that a lot of them don’t last because people fail to factor in the spiritual component that can help them to truly see the distance. And when it comes to men, if you look at the Bible, two things that Adam (the first husband who’s in the Good Book) had before his wife was BROUGHT (he didn’t pursue her; she was brought, by God, to him — Genesis 2:24-25) his way is he had a relationship with God and a life purpose (Genesis 1-2).
And since the way that a woman is first defined in Scripture is being a helpmate (the Hebrew term for this is ezer kenegdo which translates into lifesaver — Genesis 2:18) to a man — does it make sense to marry someone when you don’t know what you’re helping out because he doesn’t know what he’s here to do in life? How can you complement what is so vague and unsure?
That’s why I’m not a fan of folks expecting marriage during college. College should be about figuring out who you are outside of your parents and also discovering what you want your life path to look like. If you come into school knowing and you’re consistent about it, cool. Yet if you have no idea, that’s okay too; take your time and get some clarity.
Anyway, bottom line here is, some definitions of purpose are “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” and “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal,” and when a man is purpose-minded, there is a level of clarity, maturity, and moving-with-intention about him that is totally unmatched. That’s part of the reason why the late and super great Dr. Myles Munroe was so big on men knowing what their purpose is in life — it says a lot about him.
So, if you’re currently seeing someone and it seems like he’s dragging along as far as moving forward in your relationship, I recommend asking him, “Do you know your purpose?” It will reveal a lot about him. It can also bring some insights on if you’re a good fit for each other — whether right now or later. Trust me. Try it.
2. His Dating Life Is Intentional Instead of Random
Men who are ready for marriage don’t tend to be vague about it; they realize that time is of the essence, so they tend to make that pretty clear upfront. Another thing? Their actions will line up with their words.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they will be racing to the altar in a year or less; however, what I can assure you is that marriage-minded men are not going to be out here casually dating. Casual literally means things like “without definite or serious intention” and “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; relaxed; nonchalant,” and no man who is gearing up for a wife rolls in this kind of head or even heart space.
I will give a heads-up that, initially, this doesn’t automatically mean that he will be exclusive with you — and honestly, he shouldn’t have to be. If he wants to figure out who his right life partner is, he should “interview” a few women (same goes for you if you desire a husband). However, the process will not drag out for years on end, and once he has figured out who the one is for him, he tends to have no problem not just cutting other ties but getting engaged sooner than later.
In other words, I don’t know too many marriage-minded men who take more than a couple of years to not just date someone but get engaged in that timeframe, too (check out “Experts Say You Should Date This Long Before Getting Married”). That’s why, if you find yourself dating someone for several Christmases, you definitely should ask them if marriage is even on their radar. Chances are (especially if they are over 35 as a guy)…it isn’t.
3. He’s Seen a Therapist. Or a Life Coach. Or Both.
Uh-huh. If the first thing that came to your mind is, “Yes, please see a therapist,” honestly, it is my opinion that ANYONE WHO WANTS TO GET MARRIED should do so. I don’t mean go to premarital counseling once you are already in a serious relationship or engaged (although yes, you should definitely do that, too); I mean that…getting prepared for marriage includes making sure that your mental and emotional health and well-being are in a really good space and a therapist and/or life coach can help to make that happen.
Should you see both? Maybe. Check out my article, “Thinking About Hiring A Life Coach? Read This Before You Do,” so that you can get some clarity on that. What I will say, for now, is that a therapist tends to deal with things of your past as they offer up some tips and insights on how to handle your present and future, while life coaches (ICF-certified ones, that is) focus on asking you the kinds of questions that can help you to get a handle on how to handle your present and future.
I have a male friend who is the COO of a life coaching company, and one of the things that he and I have discussed is a lot of men who are serious about planning for their future will see a life coach, especially when it comes to their professional life; the main reason is that it can help them to get things organized so that they are prepared for a wife and family.
My takeaway from that? Asking a man, eh, maybe 4-5 dates in, if they have ever seen a therapist or life coach could be pretty revealing. Because even if the topic of marriage has not even been broached yet, what it can reveal is how proactive he is about getting his life in order — and that’s always a good thing.
4. He Can Clearly Articulate Plans for His Future Wife
Thanks — yet no thanks — to rom-coms, far too many people think that it’s fine to get married just on feelings alone. Yeah, please don’t do that. It’s also another article for another time that people who are serious about wanting to get married will be in a consistent state of preparation whether they are in a relationship or not.
When it comes to what that looks like for a man, one thing to keep in mind is he will be able to clearly articulate what he desires in a wife (by the way, please don’t try and challenge a man about what he wants; he has to live with her and, besides, you wouldn’t want him to do that to you. Either y’all are a good fit or not, yet don’t attempt to control his own narrative). Not only that, but he’ll be able to explain why he thinks a wife would be a good fit for him in this season, what he wants to bring into his future wife’s world, and some of the short- and long-term plans that he has for her and their marriage.
In other words, he won’t be like a guy I know (who is now divorced after 15 years of marriage) who, when I asked him why he was getting married (when he pretty much sucked even as a boyfriend), all he said was, “If I don’t do it now, I never will.” His marriage proposal was piss-poor, the marriage flailed the entire time, and even on the back end, he comes off as pretty nonchalant.
So many people’s marriages are less-than-impressive, even to them, and a huge part of the reason is that they failed to plan for their spouse and their marriage. They put a lot of thought into the wedding…and that’s about it. Red flag, red flag…RED FLAG.
5. He’s Emotionally Intelligent
Okay, so before we dive into this particular point, you might be tempted to assume that being emotionally available is the same thing as being emotionally intelligent. Yeah…not really (check out “5 Signs A Man Is Emotionally Available. 3 Signs He's Not.”).
While emotional availability is about being open to sharing your feelings and meeting the emotional needs of others, emotional intelligence is all about things like understanding emotions, articulating emotions, and maturely handling one’s emotions.
Listen, out of all of the things that we’ve already touched on here, a lot of people end up in divorce court because not only did they choose someone who was pretty emotionally unintelligent, but they also were lacking in that particular area themselves.
That said, emotionally intelligent people are:
- Proactive in praising other people
- Gracious and grateful
- Able to use more than “mad”, “sad” or “happy” to describe how they’re feeling
- Also able to receive feedback
- Great listeners
- Express themselves well
That’s 10 traits, and honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what emotional intelligence requires. Yet, I’m sure you can see that if more people looked for someone who was emotionally intelligent, it would definitely make their relationship — and their life, in general — go so much more smoothly.
6. He’s Sexually Healthy
This one, boy. Okay, so when I say that he should be “sexually healthy,” I’m not just speaking of him having a cleared STD test. No, what I mean is — and this is somewhat of a Shellie-ism more than anything — I don’t really trust ANYONE who claims that they are ready for marriage while they are still out here all willy-nilly in these streets, male or female. Because if you don’t have some sort of sexual self-control leading up to your wedding day, jumping a broom isn’t really going to change much of anything. Why? Because a wedding is an outward expression of some inward adjustments and decisions that have already transpired.
So yeah, a man who is truly marriage material? It shouldn’t be odd to you if he’s been abstinent for a season (several months or more). It shouldn’t seem strange to you if he speaks of sex from less of a recreational space and more of a spiritual and intimate one. If he admits that he used to be, umm, “super-friendly” and now he wants to take things slow, don’t assume that he’s got someone on the side — it could be a form of sexual discipline that he’s displaying (and good for him).
Now that I think about it, it’s kind of wild to say, yet I’ve got several male friends (over the age of 37) who used to be beyond promiscuous, who’ve all told me that it’s been months now since they’ve had any form of sex. None of them are in a serious relationship or necessarily even looking for one; they’ve just said that sex, just to be having it, has gotten old. Plus, oftentimes, the drama that potentially comes with it isn’t worth it, so they’d prefer to focus on self-work and wait until sex with someone is more meaningful (hey, they have no reason to lie to me; we’re just friends).
Guys like this? They are pretty close to being marriage-minded. Straight up.
7. He Actually WANTS to Get Married
Final point. Although it might evoke a collective "duh" from some of y'all, you'd be amazed how many women end up wasting very precious time that they will never get back, and it's all because they got involved with a man who liked or perhaps even loved them yet he didn't desire to get married. And either because they simply assumed that he did or they thought they could "love him into" wanting to be a husband, they ended up getting their feelings hurt. Extremely so.
Another thing to keep in mind? A man who wants to get married has no problem vocalizing it very early on. Meaning, on the third date, it won't be foreign for him to say, "I would love to start a family in the next couple of years," without you even having to coax it out of him. Guys who aren't interested in marriage — they tend to deflect from the topic altogether as much as they possibly can.
As we close this all up, I will say that it's important to keep in mind that just because a man doesn't want to be a husband, that doesn't mean he's not a good guy — GREAT even. So please don't manipulate matters by thinking that a man who doesn't want to be married somehow has some sort of "issues" (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?" and "12 Couples Reveal Why They're Happy With A Long-Term Commitment Instead Of Marriage"). Thinking like that speaks to your projecting more than anything else.
All I'm saying is a guy who is marriage material is a guy who will say, out of his own mouth, that marriage is on his menu, and so he will engage you in that manner — meaning, he will take time with you seriously, and if you are a good fit, he will state it; if he thinks you are not "his one," he will share that too…so that you both can get out of each other's way.
The thing about being “marriage material” is you’ve got to be cut from the kind of cloth that has marriage on your mind — not constantly yet enough to where you move with clear, thoughtful, and mature intention.Hopefully, this article sheds some (additional) light on what this looks like for a man. Hopefully, it also served as a heads up — or reminder — on what, in many ways, he’s looking for in a woman too. Proceed with discernment, y’all. And keep me posted. #winkLet’s make things inbox official!
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