Are You Guilty Of Making These Dating Mistakes?
You would think that a word as simple as "date" wouldn't be as complicated as it is, but y'all. First, there's the dictionary definition of date—"a social or romantic engagement or outing". OK. I think most of us can agree on that. But then, if you put "What is the purpose of dating?" in Google, you're gonna see a lot of Christian websites discuss how it's so you can find out who is suitable to be a spouse or not.
I mean, that might be the case for many people, but what if you're someone who is currently happily single and just want a little company and not a lifetime partner (at least not just yet)? Then, to make things even more confusing, there's a study that was published on USA Today's site a few years ago. The gist is that 2,647 people between the ages of 18-59 couldn't seem to get on the same page about what constitutes a date and what is more like simply hanging out.
So yeah, let's start right here. When it comes to all of the dating mistakes you could probably make, perhaps the most slept on one is going out with someone thinking that you're on a date, while they're out with you thinking that it's something else entirely different. Or, to add to that, going on a date believing that he feels one way about you when that might not be the case at all.
When two people aren't even on the same page about why they're spending quality time together or what they ultimately desire to come from doing so, it's almost expected that some other dating faux pas will ensue.
Ones like what? Let's begin with some of the ones that we as women have the tendency to make.
Last spring, Vox published a piece with a subtitle that particularly caught my attention—"Calling 911 means different things to white and black people" (LISTEN. SMH.) It was basically delving into how dangerous—and I'll throw in the word "ridiculous", for safe measure—it is for white people to call the police on us (Black people) for no good reason.
What does this have to even remotely do with the first dating mistake that far too many of us tend to make? We as a people—especially our Black men—find ourselves in unfair (and honestly, illegal) situations where we're interrogated by law enforcement. So, the last thing we need is to go on a date and be inundated with a billion-and-one questions; especially if they come with a tone and delivery like the answers are demanded and not simply requested.
Although dates should be about getting to know someone better, any information that is shared is privileged not a right. It's always important to remember that.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Several years ago, I did a radio interview with a pastor (yes, pastor) on singles and dating. Even with as much as I talk about sex, he even threw me off when he said (on air) that he advises high school and college-aged men to masturbate so that they won't be "too forward" with the ladies.
If you were a Being Mary Jane fan, you probably recall the time she used a vibrator before she met up with David so that she wouldn't be tempted to have sex with him (again). I get that. But is it just me or did the pastor sound more like he was trying to keep young men from being low-key sex offenders?
Anyway, the overall point is this. If I were to give advice to young women, I'd probably say in the 48 hours leading up to a date, don't watch a rom-com, reruns of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette or anything else that will have you wishing that you were going on a date that has a four-figure budget, rose petals on the floor and maybe…just maybe a helicopter.
Why? It's simple. If you go in with super-high—which usually means totally unrealistic—expectations, 99.5 times, you're probably gonna be disappointed. And get this—it won't be his fault. It'll be yours.
Rambling About Your Ex
If you've been rocking with us over here for a while, you know that we've all got interesting insights in exes. One of us shared that she thinks it's healthy to remain friends with an ex. Another talked about how she still has sex with her ex. Another sistah shared how her ex ghosting her turned out to be a good thing. I've thrown my two cents in about what to do if you can't seem to find closure with one of your exes.
Whichever one of these stories you can relate to, let me tell you who doesn't want to hear much about it—the current guy that you're dating. Bottom line, unless he comes right on out and asks you about your experiences with your ex specifically, keep that topic of conversation to yourself. Just like you would roll your eyes if he went on and on about his past lady, it's totally understandable if he shuts down if you went on and on about an ex-boyfriend (or ex-fiance' or husband).
Ignoring Red Flags
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about things men say on dates that are red flags. The purpose of red flags are they help you to discern things on the front end that could start off being minor irritants or inconveniences; however, if you let them slide, they could become huge issues up the road.
A man who flirts with a server in front of you, takes calls while on the date, doesn't have enough money to cover the check, expects sex out the gate, doesn't answer direct questions, gives backhanded compliments, doesn't make you feel emotionally or physically safe—girl, I could go on and on, but I think you get where I'm coming from. If something in your gut is telling you that something is off, something somewhere probably is. And to ignore that feeling could turn out to be a colossal mistake.
Not Being Open to Trying New Things
Every once in a while, Maverick Movies (on YouTube) will capture my attention. In one of their movies about four women and their relationship journeys, a lady came really close to missing out on a good man all because he took her on a picnic instead of to an expensive restaurant. Without giving too much of the flick away, yes, his money was tight, but it was because he was investing in his own business.
The thing that was a trip about her is she admitted that, although it wasn't the kind of date that was her preference, she actually ended up liking it a lot. Moral to the story—some of us miss out on great date potentials in the real world because if it's not the kind we're accustomed to, we build up a wall.
If the man you're seeing (or are thinking about seeing) suggests something that is totally out of your comfort zone, why not give it a shot? At the very least, he gets an "A" for originality. Plus, you'll know that he's someone who thinks out of the box. I don't know about you, but that kind of man is a major plus in my book.
Falling Too Quickly
All of us have that one girlfriend who loves being in love with love. All she has to do is meet a man, establish a mutual attraction, go on two dates and she's hopping on Pinterest to figure out what kind of save-the-dates she should send out. While we might tease her for being this way, if it's a pattern, it really isn't much of a laughing matter.
One type of addiction that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserves is love addiction. In a nutshell, it's the kind of people who want to be in a relationship so badly that they'll settle, put themselves in compromising situations or become so intense in the beginning stages of a connection that they run the person off.
Guys are able to sense love addicts from a mile away. If you don't believe me, ask some of your male friends how many they've dated before. Out of all of the dating mistakes I've shared, this might be the one that freaks them out the most. (If you want to take a quiz to find out if you are a love addict, click here.)
I can't tell you how many married couples I've dealt with whose main complaint is the person they married isn't the person they dated. It's not because they are dealing with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (so to speak). It's because their partner was so busy trying to be perfect that a lot of their "humanness" caught them off guard once they jumped the broom. They weren't confrontational while they were dating, so now they seem contrary and difficult. They never saw them without make-up (or wigs or weaves) and so, waking up in the morning is…an adjustment. They were always in the mood before marriage and so the many sex droughts are throwing them off. Waaaaay off.
Author Brene' Brown once said, "When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver!" What I'll add to that is perfection is the ultimate form of "false advertising" because you're presenting an image that isn't fully authentic. It isn't truly you.
Not one is saying to belch or fart on the first date but, once a true connection has been established, if you're hiding parts of yourself because you're afraid he want love, like or want you if he finds out, that's not only a big dating mistake but a serious relationship one too.
Whenever I ask my male friends about the biggest mistakes that women make (according to their estimation and experience), what tends to come up A LOT is many ladies rush things. And that ends up ruining things.
Now, I'm not talking about if you've been with someone for a year, met his mama, bought him a birthday and Christmas present and you're wondering what's up (check out "Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?"). I'm talking about after three great dates, all of us a sudden, your online status is "in a relationship", you're tagging him in all of your posts and giving him the third degree for not calling you back or texting you every day.
The best kind of relationship is the one that organically evolves over time. Don't sabotage a good thing because you're so busy trying to get to the next chapter that you can't sit back, relax and enjoy the one that you're currently in.
Out of all of the dating mistakes that you could make, this one could end up causing you to lose what will come to you in due time. Set your standards but try not to rush the process. Aight? Cool.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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