Here's How To NOT Lose Yourself In A Relationship
We've all got that one girlfriend. The one who is the best friend ever when she's single, but once she gets caught up in some guy, suddenly 85 percent of our calls get pushed to voicemail, she's canceling dates at the last minute and when you do actually get around to catching up with her, she can't go three minutes without bringing her man up…again.
Then we've got those other friends. The ones who, when we find ourselves venting about our girlfriend, they chalk it up to us hatin' or wishing that we had what she did. Deep down, we know that's not the case. We're happy that our girl found love. What we don't like is the fact that it seems like every time that she does, it's at the expense of losing herself in the process. It's as if she has no real reason for living her best life if she doesn't have some dude in her life.
If you can totally relate to where I'm coming from, there are two things you should do. First, lead by example. Meaning, make sure that you're not the kind of person who is prone to doing what your friend does. You can do this by skimming this article, just to see if any of the points hit home. Secondly, forward this on to your girl. Sometimes, when we're all Anita Baker-ish (you know, "Caught Up in the Rapture" of love), we don't realize what we're doing to ourselves until someone who loves us tell us.
Show your girl some love today by bringing these points to her attention. Pronto.
5 Ways To Avoid Losing Yourself In A Relationship
1.Get into a Relationship for the Right Reasons (and Motives)
Sometimes, I'll have my television on as background noise as I write. Recently, an episode of Living Single came on. The one when Regine was dating a married man and didn't know it. When she finally found out, she stuck around a bit longer than she should have; however, when the situation ultimately blew up in her face, one of her girls (the character escapes me at the moment) said, "You keep looking for a man to carry you" to which Regine asked, "What's wrong with that?" to which Khadijah quipped, "They keep droppin' your ass."
The fact that Regine asked what was wrong with looking for a man to carry her sheds a lot of light into why 1) she probably overlooked signs that dude was married in the first place and 2) she decided to stay with him after she found out.
See where I'm going with this? If you're getting into a relationship because of what you're hoping some man can do for you and not because he will simply add to your life that is already pretty dope, you could find yourself losing yourself—whether it's your standards, your morals, your integrity, your needs…it kinda runs the gamut.
2.Remember a Good Man Loves a Woman's Sense of Identity and Independence
While binge-watching a web series called The Marriage Tour, there's an episode when one of the main characters is trying to get rid of all of his chicks so that he can commit to one woman; one of the gals' names was Tiffany. She was attractive. She could cook her tail off. And she was sooooo accommodating that she came off like a crazy psycho. Example—when she ran (literally) to warm up a plate of food that he didn't even say was cold, ole' boy looked into the camera and said, "OK. It's good to cater to your man but damn. No need to buy the cow, when she gives me all of the milk I want for free. Don't make me work for it or nothin'? She even pulls the tit out for me sometimes." (That's hilarious and sad—simultaneously.)
Keep in mind, this isn't the woman he kept around; it's the woman he left behind. It's a great reminder that a healthy man doesn't want to come into a woman's life and become it; he simply wants to add to what she's already got going on. A healthy man is really drawn to someone whose life is SO BIG and world is SO FULL that he feels honored that she would decide to "fit him in."
The cool thing about this kind of woman is, if he leaves, while it might sting a little, she's got too much going for herself for the lack of his presence to stop any show.
3.Do Some Things Totally Apart from Your Guy
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for me to talk to single women who have a list of things that they want to do with their life. Unfortunately, they are intentionally putting those things on hold until they get into a relationship.
I want to go to Cape Town…maybe I'll do it for my honeymoon. I would love to talk a salsa class…once I get a dance partner. Wine tasting sounds fun…for a first date.
The problem with having this kind of mentality is—actually, there are two issues. One, tomorrow is not promised and yet you're choosing to put your life on hold as if it is. And two, you're conditioning yourself to think that you can't/shouldn't do certain things without a man being in your life. Then, as a result of feeling this way, once "he" does come along, you end up overwhelming him with all of these plans—things he may or may not want to do (or has already done because he didn't need a woman to do them).
Moral to the story is this—if you're already used to doing things BY YOURSELF or with your girls, then you'll still be used to living that way once a man comes along. Not only will that keep you from becoming the clingy chick, but it will also give him the opportunity to suggest some of his own quality time ideas.
It will also help you to love in a way that the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "Love in such a way that the person you love feels free." For someone to feel free, they need their space.
4.Make Him A Priority Not THE Priority
There's something about Judge Lynn Toler's delivery that makes her constantly sound like her pearls of wisdom are totally off of the cuff. Take the time I heard her say, "A man is not a plan; he's a perk." BAM!
If you've read even a couple of my articles on relationships, you know that I am a HUGE fan of them—when they are right, healthy and full of purpose. I also adore men; especially Black men. Whether we as women are in romantic relationships with men or not, they are important to have in our lives.
With that disclaimer on the table, yes, I totally get where the judge is coming from. If all we have on our bucket list is get married (and possibly have kids), that makes having a man the only real plan we've got—and that is all kinds of unhealthy. Toxic even.
When you make a man your ultimate plan, he becomes the only real priority. If you're not careful, that means he'll come before your needs. You could even mess around and turn him into your personal idol (not good). But when he's a perk, he's a great thing that happens in addition to so many others. As a result, he's a priority but he's certainly not the end all to be all. That's a good thing.
5.Embrace, Don't Force, the Seasons as They Come—and Go.
Some of us get so consumed in our relationships, we give so much so soon that we automatically assume that it will last forever, even without any evidence of that being an actual fact. Then, because we got so caught up, once it does come to an end, we're utterly devastated because although we were taking good care of the man and the relationship, what we didn't maintain was ourselves.
One of the best ways to love someone else is by making sure you love yourself. That you make sure your needs are met, that you pamper yourself and that you do things that will remind you of your worth or value OUTSIDE of the relationship that you're in.
Relationships are oftentimes a lot like seasons. They come and they go. But the one thing that will always remain a constant is you. Love you best and you will never lose yourself…should your relationship with ole' boy somehow take a turn for the (so-called) worst.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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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.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images