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.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Introducing Chief Mom Officer: Where Working Moms Come First
xoNecole's Chief Mom Officer explores the 18-month post-pregnancy journey through the lens of our very own Chief Mom Officer, Shakyna Bolden. The series will serve as an inspirational and resourceful guide to help get through the early days of new motherhood as working moms knowing they are not alone in the hardships.
“I want to build my work around my life, and not my life around my work.”
I typed these words in my iPhone Notes as I fed my newborn daughter one morning during the first few weeks of having her earthside. I didn’t have much time for page-filled journal entries as my days were filled with nonstop feedings, soothing, and recovery…but I knew I needed to give those words space and life.
Prior to my maternity leave, I, like most working moms, was burning fumes juggling work and life. Since 2019, I’ve been running revenue operations here at this really cool company you may have heard of called xoNecole (hehe). I’ve been behind the scenes building our brand partnerships and negotiating deals with companies such as Ulta Beauty, Toyota, Target, Spotify, SheaMoisture, etc.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
I’ve co-produced our signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick while conceptualizing, selling, building, and distributing our original video and podcast content and podcast. The list goes on and on. I’ve helped build this small but brilliant company into what it is today, all while running my own small family. And that is not an easy feat.
In all truth, trying to be the best mom and partner I can be while also leading in my job has felt at times like a whirlwind where the rest of my life is passing me by. I don’t quite know where or when it happened, but I swear somebody pushed the fast-forward button in life, and I’m losing my edges trying to keep up.
My mind and body get so preoccupied with the management of life that my soul sits on the sidelines, waiting to take the reins and intentionally live it.
So many facets of my life, from my health and well-being to my hobbies and passions, have been placed on the back burner while tending to my young family and growing in my career has taken center stage. And for the longest time, I’ve wanted to flip the switch, but the pace of life just hasn’t let me restack my priorities.
That is, until now.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I couldn’t imagine adding more to my already full plate. Simultaneously, I was also relieved to know that my upcoming maternity leave would force me to press pause and catch my breath. Her birth in January 2023 was a much-needed reset, to say the least.
My maternity leave was the first time since 2019 that I had a second for dreams that were buried in the back of my heart to bubble up to the surface of my reality. I got a taste of what it was like to solely focus on my well-being and my home life. And I liked it a lot. My healing. My recovery. Sitting and really taking quiet time with God to search the unattended areas in the garden of my life.
I was cooking homemade meals on the regular and actually sitting down with my family at the table to eat. As grueling as those first newborn weeks can be, I was enjoying the long-awaited shift in my priorities; and I wanted that shift to stick. I didn’t want it to fade away after my maternity leave.
I want to build my work around my life and not my life around my work.
As a leader of an organization that speaks to millions of women every day about their well-being (and also in leading a team of majority women), I feel it’s my responsibility to carry this shift forward boldly. This is why I’m launching a new column here at xoNecole: Chief Mom Officer!
As I return to work full-time this month from my maternity leave, I want to regularly share my experience of trying to harmonize work and life. As an audience, you all share your raw, unfiltered journeys with us. For years, they’ve undoubtedly inspired me. I want to show up and do the same because I know this shift in my life will be quite the journey.
So for all my Chief Mom Officers—those of us who are constantly merging the imperfect and chaotic worlds of leadership in the office and wearing our crowns at home—I invite you to come on this journey with me and celebrate the ebbs and flows in how we show up for each.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image courtesy of Shakyna Bolden