May Is National Date Your Mate Month—And We’ve Got A Few Ideas
As far as observance days go, there are a few great ones coming up this month. There's National Prayer Day (May 2). Cinco de Mayo (May 5). National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 7). National Eat What You Want Day (May 11). Of course, there's Mother's Day (May 12). But if there's one that has totally gone under my radar, it's the fact that May is also the month that's totally devoted to dating your mate. How cool is that?
I think we all can agree that if you want to enhance your emotional connection, keep the sparks alive and bring some spontaneity and creativity into your relationship, one of the best ways to do that is to go on dates with your partner, no matter what time of year it is. Yet, as the weather is getting warmer and the flowers are blooming, it makes sense why spring fever is totally in effect and why now would be the time to get in a few more dates than usual.
So, whether you're only a couple of dates in or you and yours have been together for a decade or more, I've got a few suggestions for how you can get inspired to literally date your own mate—all month long!
New Relationships in May Dating Tips
Use Texting to Your Advantage
In a general sense, I'm not big on a tone of texting in relationships; especially new relationships. It's hard to read tone. Things can get lost in translation (emojis included). Folks tend to get super impatient if you don't get back in their allotted time frame. Ugh. But there is one way that I think texting works in a new dynamic. Use it as a way to build anticipation or establish some traditions between the two of you.
Shoot a text to ask each other what your favorite colors are. Then show up wearing them.
Figure out an emoji that can become an inside joke or "thinking of you message" between the two of you.
End the date by texting your favorite part of it once you get back home.
These are ways to use texting to establish a connection instead of it being merely a tool of convenience.
Make Sure You Both Plan Dates
I think we all can agree that the main purpose of going on dates is to get to know someone better. To me, one way to accomplish that is to trade off who on who plans each date. Meaning, once you've gotten to around date three or four (because by then, clearly you both dig each other), you plan one and then he should plan the next one. It's a good way to learn one another's interests and what each of you considers to be entertaining and fun.
Just think about it—if all the two of you ever do is go to a restaurant, a movie or hang out at each other's homes, you might get caught off guard when you eventually find out how much of a sports lover he is. On the flip side, he might not be prepared for how much you like to do random stuff like ice skating, making pottery and or indoor rock climbing. If you alternate plans, this is one way to figure a layer of each other out—easier.
Bring a Date Question Jar Along
Between trying to figure out what to ask and making sure that the man you're out with doesn't feel like he's being given the third degree, getting to know someone better can be a bit like a walk on a tightrope. Take some of the pressure off by suggesting that you both make a question date jar that you can bring on each date. Both of you can put your own questions into it and, at the beginning of each date, you can shake the jars up so that each of you ask three questions.
Based on what the questions are, you can learn more about how each other's minds work. And since you're literally picking questions out of a jar, it can be fun and even a little improvised.
Stay in the Moment
Spring weather is pretty mild for the most part. To me, it's Mother Nature's way of reminding us of just how important it is for us to chill out. There is something that is very special and also intriguing about the first few months of a new relationship. Use this month in May to not only go on dates but to sit back and relax as you experiencing the joy of actually dating too.
Great May Date Ideas
Have a Fresh Favorite Foods Picnic
A cool outdoor idea is to spend an hour or two at your local farmer's market so that you can pick up some food to make for a picnic later in the afternoon or evening. Although picnics are a spring/summer dating standards, they are actually really romantic if you put some intentional planning into it. Pick up a picnic basket and some champagne glasses. Don't forget to have a big blanket in tow. Also, you can set some ambiance (and keep mosquitoes at bay) by bringing along a couple of citronella candles too.
As far as what to cook, use this as an opportunity for you both to show off your culinary skills by having one of you make the main course while the other makes appetizers and dessert. The catch is that it must be some of both of your favorite foods, and all of the items should be picked up from the market (we've gotta support our local communities, y'all!).
Go for a Long Drive
A rental car. The right playlist. A cooler with your favorite snacks in it. A charged-up phone to take random pictures of the landscape and each other. No set destination in sight. There is something really intimate and super enjoyable about going on a long drive with someone you're really into, whether it's your third or 30th date with them.
For this to totally work, phone notifications must be turned off and the entire day must be devoted to nothing more than the open road and each other. If the relationship is new, make it a point to stop at a small eatery neither of you have even been to before. If you and yours are exclusive, call it a night at a quaint bed and breakfast, at least 50 miles outside of town.
DIY Some Ice Cream/Yogurt
Dinner and a movie are so…predictable. In the spirit of longer days and breezy nights, how about taking out a couple of hours to make your own favorite flavor of ice cream or frozen yogurt that you can enjoy on your front porch or back deck? According to many relationship therapists, cooking together is one of the best kinds of dates because it's comfortable, casual and one of the best ways to open up the lines of communication.
Plus, some cooking experts believe that ice cream can reveal a lot about a person. Reportedly, vanilla eaters are calm and balanced. Chocolate lovers are full of self-love. Coffee consumers are passionate and dramatic. I've even read that how you like your ice cream can say a lot about your sexual style too. Clearly, there's more to ice cream than what meets the eye. (Wink, wink.)
By the way, a site that has almost 40 of my favorite ice cream recipes is Epicurious. Start there if you need some ice cream making inspiration.
Chill on a Rooftop
When it comes to planning the perfect date, sometimes we do way too much overthinking. Spring, in the evening, is when the temperature is pretty close to perfection. Get a little quality time in by figuring out what the best rooftop bar is in your city, then hang out up there and talk for a couple of hours (at least).
You know what? I like this idea so much that I'll even take a lot of the guesswork out of finding the bar. All you've got to do is check out "The Best Rooftop Bar in All 50 States" and head on out. (You're welcome!)
Use May to Bring Some Spark Back
Download a Few Relationship-Related Apps
Question. How many apps do you already have on your phone? Follow-up question. How many of those apps are able to help your relationship? You might not be aware that there are quite a few that can do everything from making things extra spicy to getting your relationship back on track.
One app (that is currently available in 15 major cities) is One:Night. Basically, what it does is find the swankiest and sexiest hotels at the best prices, at the last minute. So, if you and yours want to get it in on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday, this app will totally hook you up.
Some other cool apps that will make your relationship better include Couple (which is great for long-distance relationships); Between (which is devoted to all things you and yours); Mystery Vibe (it's a smart sex toy); The Icebreak (it gives you questions to ask one another) and Kouply (it's an app that encourages better communication).
Get Tipsy on Some Homemade Popsicles
If you've ever wondered if sex is better when you're drunk or when you're high, according to science, it's when you're on that herb. At the same time, one way that alcohol tops that good-good green is when it comes to if you're looking for what will give you the nerve to try something that you wouldn't do in your "right mind". If there's a position your man has been trying to get you to explore or you're thinking that there's no time like the present to attempt a little outdoor sex, gas yourself up by sucking, umm, on an alcohol popsicle first.
Never had one before? Ease into them by making a couple of Vodka Gummy Bear Popsicles, Barefoot Moscato Strawberry Popsicles, Lemonade Moonshine Popsicles, Mango Bourbon Smash Popsicles or some Kahlua Coconut Cream Affogato Popsicles. They'll all easy to make, full of liquor and another great spring date idea.
Go on Your First Date—Again
I recently read a couple of articles that say nostalgia (when the memories are good) can be super beneficial to both your health and your relationship. The main reason why is because when you focus on things that bring you joy, they become an instant mood-booster (they can be a bit of an aphrodisiac too!).
The fact that you and yours are still together after all this time, your first date plays a direct role in that. So why not use this month to take a romantic—shoot, maybe even erotic—walk down memory lane by reenacting it? While you're at it, take things up a notch by making it a date full of "do over firsts"—your first kiss, reminiscing about the first "I love you" and, of course, the first…well, you know.
Pitch a Tent
After doing something like going to an outdoor concert, attending a wine tasting or even going food truck hopping (don't sleep on that last one; it's a lot of fun!), end the night by pitching a tent in your own backyard and gazing up at the stars together.
You can purchase a tent at a sporting goods store, hop on Pinterest for ideas on how to make one yourself or splurge on a transparent igloo that I personally think is pretty dope. It'll run you about $250 but sex underneath the stars in a ventilated shade igloo sounds like the gift that keeps on giving to me.
Whew! Can you feel it? Spring fever is definitely in the air. So, take out the next 31 days to embrace all that the month of May—and your date—has to offer, aight? Bet.
Featured image by Getty Images
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our weekly newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
5 Things That Are OK To Require On A First Date
The Things Men Say On Dates That Are Huge Red Flags
15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language
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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Summer Walker's 'Caresha Please' Interview Shows Why Yung Miami Is The Ultimate Girl's Girl
As one-half of the City Girls, Yung Miami (born Caresha Brownlee) has always used her voice to empower women, whether it’s telling them to boss up or leave a relationship that’s no longer serving them. And with her Revolt podcast, “Caresha Please,” Miami continues to uplift other women but in a more intimate setting.
The “Act Up” rapper’s latest interview with Summer Walker proves that she not only raps about it but she practices what she preaches. The interview covered everything from the “Unloyal” singer’s dating life to being a mother to her music career. When the conversation shifted to Summer’s anxiety, Miami used the moment to praise the Billboard music award winner’s qualities and talent.
Summer has been vocal about her anxiety in the past and explained that it sometimes affects her when she’s performing. While talking to Miami, she also shared that she struggles with being herself in public because she fears being judged.
“They be judging ratchet b--hes, like they really be judging ratchet b--hes,” the “Pull Up” singer said. “People be like, ‘oh, she look dirty, she look dusty, she’s ghetto, like dadada…so I be tryna just keep it together, and then I know it’s also hard for people to like understand the concept of multifaceted people like people that have different sides of them, like it’s not just one way, and it be confusing people, and they be like, ‘well, how she sing about this but she act like this.”
Summer continued by saying that that’s why she is generally quiet on stage because she doesn’t want to say anything “stupid.”
Miami quickly chimed in to let Summer know that it’s okay to be herself, and that’s why people love her. “Anybody that knows me know like I’m a big Summer Walker fan, and I feel like when it comes to R&B artists, we don’t have a R&B artist that’s showing their personality or showing a different side,” she said.
“When we see R&B artists, we just see like their music and just the reserved them, so I kinda feel like to have a new R&B artist that’s ratchet, that’s themselves, that’s what we need. That’s what’s missing, and that’s what make you, you, and that’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with you because when I found out who Summer Walker was, it was “Girls Need Love,” and then I remember, I saw like a twerking video of you on the pole, and I’m like, ‘I love this b--h.’”
She continued, “Like I never saw that from a R&B singer, and I feel like from one artist to another, I don’t feel like you should bury your personality or not be true to yourself because of perspective.” The “Jobs” artist ended her response by saying that people love others who are authentic.
Summer admitted that everything Miami said was true and that she never thought of it like that. “People just be in their head for no reason,” she said.
We love seeing women give other women their flowers and provide safe spaces. At the end of the interview, both Summer and Miami expressed how much they like each other and how they should hang out more.
Miami’s interview with Summer is the true definition of sisterhood.
Summer Walker Talks Realizing Her Self-Worth, London On Da Track, Lil Meech & More | Caresha Pleasewww.youtube.com
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