We were laying in bed and he said, “If I were going to marry anyone, it would be her.” I heard the words come out of his mouth and I was confused. Partly because we were both laying in my bed after he agreed to spend the night, but more so because after all this time, nothing had changed. He was in bed with me, but had been building a life with someone else, someone he had just confessed he could see himself marrying, someone who wasn't me. We had been “dating” for seven years, off and on, and I had nothing to show for all that time except late nights and broken promises.
There were feelings there, but they were surface-level at best. Deep down, I knew he wasn’t the one. On paper, he had all of the qualifications. He made a good living, he was charming, he was mature and we had known each other for years and shared friends. I knew that he had nothing to offer me, but he was comfortable. We knew each other, and he felt safe. He had been around for so many of my big life moments: getting my first job, moving into my first apartment, traveling internationally without my family for the first time.
However, who he was in my head and who he was in real life were not the same person. I tried to make the two versions of him real, but people are who they are. I knew that the one for me would never create such confusion in my mind, but by the time I realized this, I was already in love.
It wasn’t until a few months after he professed his preferred marriage choice that it dawned on me: He had never explicitly said the words, ‘I do not want you and never will.’ He had never and would never commit to me. Because if he had, I would have stopped years ago.
I spent the better part of my 20s wondering why. What was wrong with me? What could I do differently? What did this woman have that I didn’t? He always gave me just enough hope to make me believe that one day he would suddenly realize how amazing I was and pick me. Choose me. Love me. The day that he said those words was probably the first time I ever heard what he was truly saying to me.
He might have enjoyed my company but he would never see me as someone he could commit to.
I knew that his marriage proclamation was a direct response to the words that we had never said. We were both older now, several years had passed, and he knew that my life plan included marriage and children. So without saying the exact words, he implied that he would always choose me for comfort, but he would never commit to me. And for the first time, I heard the truth.
The truth was, there was nothing wrong with me other than I was accepting less than the bare minimum from a broken man. The truth was he would always return to me for physical comfort, but nothing more. His manipulation tactics worked well for many years because he was charming, but his actions never matched his words.
When we first started dating, he told me he had always been attracted to me. I thought that surely a man who had always wanted me would treat me as a prize, worthy of being earned; not as a toy. Once we established this, we decided that we wanted to get to know each other better as more than friends. He also decided that he would date me and this other woman at the same time because he could.
We knew he was dating both of us, and he clearly enjoyed having the attention of two women because it meant he was never alone, and also it made him feel irresistible. When he could no longer juggle his feelings for both of us, he committed to her while still holding on to me. When he told me that he chose her, I was devastated.
It never occurred to me that in this twisted game, I would lose. I questioned everything about who I was. My appearance, my personality, my intelligence, my accomplishments; I spent almost an entire year mourning what I felt was a loss. Every now and then, he would pop up and, through my pain, I felt honored that despite him choosing her, he couldn’t let me go.
Manipulators turn love into a game and that’s what it was for us. I enjoyed knowing the fact that he would come running whenever I called, and he knew how to give me just enough attention and hope to keep me hanging on. I didn’t see my worth and I didn’t believe that I deserved the love that I was dreaming of. It’s all the questions that kept me holding on past our expiration date. What if he suddenly decides he wants me? What if I walk away right before he changes his mind? What if he’s the one and he’s just scared of his love for me?
It took years for me to see that it was not honor, but selfishness. Unable to choose, he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Even though once they started dating, I was the other woman, I convinced myself that I wasn’t because we had both been there from the beginning. When their relationship ended, and he finally confessed about our indiscretions, she wasn’t surprised. Looking back I can see how even though we might have been pitted against each other, we were both allowing ourselves to be hurt by someone who claimed to care for us.
It took a long time for me to see how I played a role in my own heartbreak. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t believe that I deserved the love that I desired. We were both broken and our broken pieces fit together like a puzzle. He was desperately looking for love to fill the empty places in him, and I wanted to find somewhere or someone who would make me feel fulfilled.
The harder we tried to fit together, the more broken we became. I lied to him and myself by telling him that I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but the truth was I wanted him to want me as deeply as I grew to want him.
I settled for less and ended up getting less than what I settled for.
Movies and society have taught us that true love is messy and complicated. The more true it is, the more complicated it is. And while love can be complicated, because we as people are complicated, it shouldn’t be painful. I spent more nights crying myself to sleep than I would care to admit. I was at the point in my life where I felt that that situation was one of the only things in my life that I could control. I had graduated from college about a year prior and was still looking for a full-time job. Every rejection or unanswered email was a personal slap to me, and it made me dive deeper into the situation because he made me feel desired.
At least somebody wanted me, even if he didn’t want to be with me.
But that night in my apartment, his words finally broke the spell that he had over me. It had been wearing off over years, the more time I spent alone and in therapy. As he said those words and tried to explain himself, for the first time in a long time, his words fell on deaf ears. I had heard all that I needed to hear. I would never be the woman for him. And that was okay. I’m not meant for everyone.
It had been seven years of this ongoing saga, and that night as he lay in my bed and mentioned her name, I saw that he hadn’t changed or grown in seven years, but I had. I had moved into my own place, I had gotten a new job, I had traveled, and I knew that the woman I was and the woman I wanted to be were not compatible with the man that he was. And though the feelings were still there, all he could offer me was the past. Memories and history of what we had done.
Our ending wasn’t dramatic. I just stopped engaging with him, and when he asked me why, I told him that the relationship with him wasn't what I wanted. He tried to manipulate me into a conversation, but I never responded. I had spent years putting my needs on the back-burner and because of that, my needs were not met.
By walking away, I could create the space for someone who will want to be with me, not just use me as a placeholder.
Despite everything, we had shared a lot of time together. Our situation broke me. I had never known heartbreak like that, and I hope I never experience heartbreak like that again. However, I don’t look at it as wasted time, but lessons learned. I wouldn’t know the things about myself that I know now if it weren’t for him.
I wouldn’t know how I need to be loved if I hadn’t been loved. I wouldn’t know the red flags to watch out for if I hadn’t overlooked them with him. I wouldn’t know how to make sure that someone’s actions match their words. I also wouldn’t know that I could be strong enough to put myself first.
It’s been almost two years since we’ve had any contact, and I can honestly say I’ve never slept better.
My bed might be empty, but I’m at peace.
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 by Getty Images
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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 by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images