Question. Do you know what your triggers are? Before getting into that, do you know what a trigger is? I'm not trying to patronize you. I get that you understand what the basic concept of one is (something that is prone to irritate you at best, make you pop off at worst). What I mean is do you know where triggers stem from?
If you were to ask a psychologist to break it down for you, they'd probably tell that a trigger is something that is tied to past trauma. When you see, smell, or experience something in real time, it can lead to feelings like sadness, anxiety, or even anger because, whether consciously or subconsciously, it causes you to have flashbacks to when something or one, hurt or offended you.
For the past several months, something that I've been intentional about is deactivating my triggers. And you know what? It has been a total game-changer! Now that I'm able to pinpoint certain actions that totally piss me off (gaslighting, passive aggressiveness, and deflecting are some of my biggest triggers), not only has it helped me to be so much calmer in my day-to-day life, it's also helped me to know how to better handle people in both my personal and professional life. Because once you know where your triggers stem from and you recognize what certain common triggers are, you can stop giving your power away by reacting—or worse, overreacting—to things.
And just how do you train yourself to emotionally detonate certain triggers in your life? The first step is becoming aware of what certain triggers are (such as the list of really popular ones below). The next move is to heal the trauma (i.e., backstory) associated with your triggers. Finally, set firm boundaries with the people in your life who try to trigger—retraumatize—you. Even if that means leaving them completely alone.
What are some of the most common relationship triggers around? Let's name some:
7 Common Emotional Triggers In Relationships
Just about all of us have had someone in our world who was so manipulative that we couldn't help but ask ourselves, "Wait a minute. Am I the one who is crazy here?" They are called gaslighters and they would have it no other way. Their objective is to get you to question your own sanity as it relates to them, even if you have proof and facts to back up your perspective on just how toxic they actually are.
How gaslighters do this is by lying and/or telling you that they didn't say something that you know that they did and/or saying one thing and doing something else (in other words, their words and actions don't add up) and/or insulting you and then complimenting you (they build you up to tear you down) and/or accusing you of things that you know you didn't do.
Basically, they make it their mission to keep you in a state of confusion and uneasiness so that you appear emotionally unstable. The more you question yourself, the more they can take advantage of you. Therein lies their power.
Whew, chile. The love language of a true narcissist is love bombing. At first, they pour it on thick—compliments, gifts, dates, anything that will make you feel totally adored. Although it would be nice if they did that simply because you deserve it (and you do), their ultimate objective is to get you to feel like you need them as a source of love and affection. Then, once your guard is down, the puppet strings begin to come out.
Once you start to show signs of interest in anything or one more than them, they stop complimenting you and start berating you. Now you're the one who is selfish and not worthy of all of the love they are offering, so they pull away, hoping you will feel abandoned and alone.
What the heck does a narcissist (or any other kind of love bomber) get out of doing this? It's a form of "training" you. When you act the way they want you to act, you get rewarded. When you don't, you get criticized; perhaps even ghosted. Ugh. Just ugh.
The silent treatment. Making excuses. Having a selective memory. Making you feel guilty for what they know is their fault. Not keeping their word. Stubbornness. Making simple things complicated. Playing the victim (when they are actually "the offender"). Living by the phrase "hurt people hurt people". These are all telltale signs of a passive aggressive individual. I personally don't know if I detest any trigger more.
A passive aggressive person doesn't like accountability nor do they want to accept responsibility for their own actions. Just recently, I confronted someone about something they did that was dead wrong. Their response was how much stress they were under at the time. We all have things to feel stressed about. It doesn't take away from us needing to follow through on what we said we would do (and at the very least, apologize when we don't).
If you've got folks in your life where you find yourself apologizing for what they did wrong (it happens more than you think), you've got a passive aggressive individual on your hands. No doubt about it.
A healthy relationship—whether it's a romantic, platonic, or even a professional one—is going to celebrate the authenticity of who you are. They are not going to try and change you or get you to question your self-worth and value.
That said, if you're involved with anyone who doesn't make you feel very good about yourself (this includes them avoiding slick statements and backhanded compliments), if they create "rules" for how you are to be in your relationship with them (although you don't get to have any expectations from them at all) and/or if you somehow feel micromanaged all of the time—these are all indications that you are a victim of perspecticide.
It's not that what you are or aren't doing is wrong. It's that you've allowed someone to have so much power over your life that their perspective of you trumps your very own. (Scary, isn't?)
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "We're all looking for someone whose demons play well with our own." Creepy I know, but basically, it means that sometimes we're in toxic relationships and don't even know it. It's because what we have in common with certain individuals is our weaknesses, not our strengths.
Although this isn't the exact definition of trauma bonding, I personally believe it is a cryptic form of it. So, make sure that you're not connecting with someone simply because you can relate to one another's crap. If that's all you have going on, all you're doing is—as my mother puts it—emotionally throwing-up on each other. And making each other sick in the process.
As far as the clinical definition of trauma bonding, it's when you're caught up in the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discarding with someone. They build you up, then they make you question your value, and then they discard you like you were nothing without rhyme, reason, or warning. But since the good times were so good, you sometimes let them do this to you on multiple occasions before finally breaking things off.
Why would someone put up with trauma bonding? Because they don't realize that's what's happening to them. But if someone in your life is always making promises they don't keep, if they give you the silent treatment when you displease them, if your friends are constantly telling you that you could do better than the foolishness you're tolerating with an individual and/or if you keep saying you know that you should leave BUT YOU DON'T—these are all signs that point to being in a trauma bond.
The bad times outweigh the good, but you stick around for the next cycle of good times anyway. That is trauma bonding at its finest. And ugliest.
A dismissive person is a disrespectful individual—point blank and period. If I were to think of someone who immediately falls into this category, ghosters would have to be one of them. Other examples include people who don't deal with confrontation well, folks who don't like to express emotion, individuals who choose to multi-task while you are trying to have a serious conversation with them, people who are vague when you ask direct questions—oh and commitment-phobes. Some trigger statements that dismissive people tend to make is "Are you still on that?", "When are you gonna get over it?" or "Just move on."
Personally, I think the most frustrating thing about dismissive people is they treat you and your emotions like they are disposable. Or like you are a human ACT test. I say that because some of you might recall how some preppers told us to take it—Scan, Select, Discard, Move On.
You are not a high school proficiency exam. Don't tolerate anyone treating you as such.
Next to passive aggressiveness, deflecting is one of my other biggest triggers. I used to have a lot of deflectors in my personal space (I nipped that) and I see it quite a bit in marriage life coaching sessions too. It's basically when someone is wrong—dead wrong—but they try and find a way to get your mind off of it, oftentimes by changing the subject, pointing out that you do the same thing, or bringing up what they think is worse.
Example. You might say, "I really hate that you waste my time by always showing up late." A non-deflector would say something like, "I'm sorry. I'll work to get better at that." A deflector? They're gonna say something immature like (cue the nah-nah-nah-nah-nah voice), "You're late sometimes too" or worse, "Well, I hate that you cut me off when I'm talking."
OK. But if you hated whatever it is that I'm doing so much, why are you waiting until I bring up something that irritates me in order to discuss it? A deflector doesn't want to deal with their stuff. And it's really hard to be in a healthy relationship with anyone who refuses to face things head on.
8.LWS: Last Word Syndrome
I used to be this girl and I realize it was because, while growing up, I didn't feel like my voice was heard or respected very much. So, as an adult, I made sure that it would be—no matter how annoying this approach might've been.
About 9.5 times out of 10, a person who suffers from last word syndrome isn't even one-eighth as interested in what you have to say as what they've already said or what they plan on saying next. It's feeling like your insights and perspectives aren't respected or even appreciated that tends to be the source of your frustration while interacting with them. I get it but take it from someone who has gotten fully free from this—people who need to have the last word are insecure; they are still working through how to embrace the internal power that they have, both with and without a sounding board.
One of my favorite proverbs is, "Don't speak unless you can improve upon the silence." It's one of the best ways to handle someone with this particular syndrome. And once you call out all of these triggers—and trigger-ers—it's also one of the best ways to internally detonate how you react in the future to these kinds of people too.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Whether you prefer to travel in groups, solo, or on baecations, picking the right destination is a major component of ensuring a great trip. Where you go for your next vacation can come down to price, location, activity options, and a host of other things. We’ve seen how often group trips can go awry because each person has different interests and wants to do different things. But how do you pick the right place for yourself when there’s so many options to choose from?
Choosing a destination that will provide you with the most memorable experience comes down to your own needs, and believe it or not, your love language can help with that. Our love languages are a guide to how we prefer to receive love and support, as well as how we like to give it.
Knowing about our love language can help build healthy relationships, better self-care routines, and improve our overall well-being. Imagine centering your travel around the way that you like to be loved and then experiencing that each moment of your trip. Every place around the world is unique and thus can provide a different vibe and feeling for us. Figuring out the places that align with our love language can be a game changer in how we experience the world.
Whether you’re a quality time girlie like me or prefer acts of service, here’s some of the best destinations to visit based on the five love languages.
If your love language is acts of service, you might want to visit...
The “Eternal City” is home to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and all the pasta and gelato that your heart desires. People who value acts of service love when things are done for them, and life is made easier. If that’s your jam, consider going to Rome and experiencing an authentic Italian dinner cooked by locals for you. What better act of service than having someone cook a full meal for you in their home?
No need to learn how to roll pasta dough or knead pizza. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the free-flowing wine while learning about Italian culture and having a 4-course meal provided for you. After that, take a guided city tour where someone else can show you around all the popular spots, skipping the lines and avoiding crowds.
Having acts of service as your love language is not just about how others show you love but also about how you show it back. If you enjoy giving acts of service to others, consider heading to Thailand and visiting an ethical wildlife sanctuary where you can spend the day volunteering. Choose a place like Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where people are not allowed to touch or ride the elephants but can help with harvesting bananas, cleaning enclosures, or even helping out in the animal clinic. You’ll leave feeling a sense of pride and knowing that your time was spent in a way that made an impact.
If your love language is physical touch, you might want to visit...
There are so many ways that we can experience the love language of physical touch, and Guatemala is a tropical sanctuary that can provide just that. This South American country is full of rainforests, volcanoes, and ancient ruins and can be the perfect escape to get some TLC. Consider staying at a luxury hotel like Villa Bokeh, where you can get your physical needs met through massages, yoga, or rowing on their lagoon. And if you want to explore off the resort, get those steps in with a hike of one of Guatemala’s volcanoes.
If your love language is gift giving, you might want to visit...
There’s no better place to go to for all your shopping needs than Dubai. Whether you are a gift giver or like to be spoiled, this is where you need to be. To start, the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world at over 12 million square feet. With around 1,200 shops to choose from, you are bound to find something for just about everyone. Dubai is not a budget destination, so leave a little extra space in your luggage and prepare to spend a pretty coin while you’re there. If luxury gifts aren’t your thing, head to the Covent Garden Market, where you can shop local vendors for more affordable items.
If your love language is quality time, you might want to visit...
Whether you’re planning a cute baecation or a solo trip, quality time is all about disconnecting and spending intentional time with your loved one or yourself. Costa Rica is an ideal location to be off the grid and be present. Spend some special time with bae at a nice resort, enjoying a couples massage, a trip to the rainforest, or a sunset dinner. There’s something about being off the grid that allows us to be more present with each other.
If you want to get in some DND solo quality time, book a stay at Nayara Springs Resort, located on the outskirts of Antigua, where you can enjoy uninterrupted and secluded relaxation while indulging in amenities like yoga classes and a hot springs pool.
Marco VDM/Getty Images
There are many ways to spend quality time with yourself or others, so why not do it in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? Explore Dar es Salaam with family, learn about the history of Tanzania, and then spend more quality time at the beach on Mbudya Island. If you are looking for a more romantic trip or quality time on your own, go out to Zanzibar, the archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and can stroll through the historical Stone Town.
If your love language is words of affirmation, you might want to visit...
If words of affirmation get you feeling all tingly inside, then why not take a trip to the "City of Love," Paris, France? Not only is Paris considered the mecca for love, but French is literally one of the world’s romance languages. So take a French lesson where you can learn how to speak beautiful words about yourself, or if you’re with bae, take a stroll by the Eiffel Tower at night while sharing some of the things you appreciate about each other.
Bonus points if you can say it in French.
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