Yes, it may be true that I haven’t been on a date since dinosaurs walked the earth, nor have I visited Atlanta in months, but one thing I do have at my disposal is a very ‘well-pinned’ Pinterest board and an Instagram app bookmarked with my most wanted date night spots in Atlanta. The southern town that has become the mecca of all things culinary and refined- Atlanta has truly centralized the best of all cuisine options to include a balance in ambiance, style, decor, and of course, food selections.
Here is a list of a few places that I have saved in my Instagram profiles for whenever I finally meet the perfect match on Hinge.
St. Cecilia (3455 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, GA)
This European-posh restaurant is fit for clean girl aesthetics and a sophisticated palate. St. Cecilia offers a picturesque menu that captivates delightful and filling sea-to-table fare. For the model couple that loves taking Instagram photos sans the filter, this is a fresh ingredient complimentary ode to what happens when you combine good flavors and design. From their oyster dishes to their fresh pasta and pastries. The aesthetically beautiful restaurant nestled in Buckhead’s Pinnacle Building is a local trip to Europe that will leave you satisfied without the travel fees.
The James Room (661 Auburn Ave. NE, Suite 280, Atlanta, GA)
The James Room reminds me of opening a fresh bottle of Apple Crown Royal on a dark and stormy night. It’s just that sexy and mature! This sophisticated cocktail lounge is very Noir Atlanta with a speakeasy vibe by night and a cafe by day. A place for the couple that doesn’t mind starting the line dance in the club- The James Room as described by their website is “a vibe.” They create this vibe through the love of music and food colliding to create the perfect accompaniment. With a nostalgic R&B vibe, patrons can create their own grown and sexy conversation amongst a variety of food options including- charcuterie boards, salads, and crab cakes, just to name a few.
The Wisteria (471 North Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA)
A true southern classic that reads like a storybook- The Wisteria is a coastal Georgian’s date night palace. If you’re a couple looking to be swept away into the moss trees of the low country like royalty, the Wisteria’s adaptation of rich, fried southern cuisines does not disappoint. This date night spot is a satisfying classic that aims to please. Featuring signature bar drinks and an elevated take on southern classics like fried chicken, Brussels sprouts, and oysters that will bring joy and comfort to you and your date. This is a spot for the couple who need a reason to get dressed up before they Netflix and chill.
The Capital Grille (225 East Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta, GA)
Combine work and play life at Capital Grille. This regional American steakhouse is a classic spot for those who want good food in a signature location with a wide variety of wine and steak options. This place is great for traditional couples who love good eateries that have a consistent and nostalgic taste. The food here is an experience that many want to indulge in far beyond Valentine’s Day.
Read Shop by the Merchant (4300 Paces Ferry Road SE #125, Atlanta, GA)
Sometimes the best Valentine’s date is one that involves peace, much like what Read Shop by the Merchant provides. This darling bookstore is the perfect place to turn off your brain and relax in satisfying bliss while reading or enjoying a hot beverage. This might even be a cute place to write how much you love your honey for V-day while you both enjoy your favorite novels.
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.
Feature image by MesquitaFMS/ Getty Images
Lori Harvey has achieved many things in her life such as starting her own successful sold-out skincare line, SKN by LH, and modeling and partnering with many high-fashion brands such as Burberry and Tiffany & Co. However, her love life has always made its way into the forefront. It’s no secret that the model has had many male admirers and has been attached to the likes of Future and Michael B. Jordan, and now it appears that she is dating Snowfall actor Damson Idris.
Wilbert Roberts/GC Images
But for whatever reason, her dating life has consistently been a topic of conversation and sometimes ruffles a lot of feathers. Black Twitter lit the internet up when the socialite made her relationship with the British actor Instagram official a few weeks ago. Some people even made off-color jokes about how she changes men like she does her underwear, or Damson is the next man she’s checking off her list.
Seeing how angry her love life makes people, especially Black men, is exhausting. Anytime her latest relationship hits the blogs, so does a slew of hateful comments calling her hurtful names and making assumptions about who she is. Now, not to sound like Chris Crocker (Cara Cunningham) or anything, but leave Lori alone.
Fortunately, there is one good thing about her overexposed dating life. It has revealed the poisonous double standards between men and women in the industry.
How can Future, Diddy, and others have a troupe of women and, at times, seemingly degrade those same women’s characters, but Lori can’t actively date as the 26-year-old that she is? Diddy appears to currently be dating several women (with one he recently had a baby with) including City Girls rapper Yung Miami. No one rarely says anything about how he moves but constantly attacks the women he’s dating online.
Let’s not even get started on Nayvadius aka Future. How many women have Future dated and publicly humiliated including Lori after dissing her in a song? Not to mention, at that time he was linked to rapper Dess Dior.
While Lori is often judged for her decisions in dating, others applaud her. Many Twitter users utilize her name as the “action” of leaving a man alone or the title of their next chapter in life. They applaud her for knowing her worth and not choosing to turn her wheels for the sake of a relationship.
Lori has clarified that she will not settle and nothing is wrong with that. She recently sat down with E! Newsand shared the details about her cover with Essence, her thoughts on love, including her father, Steve Harvey’s advice. When shooting the cover, Lori explained how it was an honor to grace Essence’s “Black Love Issue” as a single woman. Months prior, she called it quits with Michael and it was before her current relationship with Damson.
“I feel like it’s always been [about] me attached to something or someone: This time, it’s about me. It’s my time,” she said.
Lori also spoke about her growth – as a woman and individual – and how she won’t allow her past relationships to overshadow this period in her life. However, my favorite part was the advice she said her father gave her. “Just remember that you’re the prize always,” she playfully stated. So, what does his golden rule look like for the 26-year-old?
“It just means not compromising like, my values, my happiness, my peace. Not settling for less than what I know I deserve and not being afraid to walk away from a situation if it’s, like, no longer serving me,” she said
During her E! News interview, the entrepreneur admitted to finding the rumors about her “entertaining” and dispelled some of them, including dating a father and a son (alluding to dating Diddy and his son Justin Combs.) However, as she continues to grow, she is also allowing herself grace and letting the negative things people say roll off her shoulders. I can always stan a graceful queen who knows what she wants and moves silently.
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 Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co
I saw a tweet the other day that said, “The dating pool has piss in it.” This message came from a woman talking about an unfavorable courting experience she recently had online. Now, I’ve seen this phrase numerous times online and I’ve also heard multiple people say it when discussing their frustrations with dating in this day and age. The amount of times I've heard this line of thinking has me thinking that there may be some truth to this phrase. According to Olivia, an author/blogger on the website, The Right Kind of Black Girl, folks are tired. And I can see why.
In a recent post, she shared her thoughts on whether or not there's really pee in the dating pool, stating:
“Men are tired of being used as EBT cards. Women are tired of being asked what they bring to a table with no legs. I’m personally tired of the inability to hold a conversation and plan a date.”
If you ask me, she has a point! When it comes to dating, people are tired of being treated as objects rather than human beings. We have so many expectations around what men and women “should” be doing when they are dating because so many of us are afraid of someone seeing our insecurities, but when we set up all of these rules and expectations for dating, we rob people of the authenticity they need to express to cultivate relationships with people who are in alignment with their values.
Whether you want to admit it or not, we all have some red flags about us because we are human. The dating pool may have 'piss' in it but it’s all about your perception and what you’re calling in. Your perception of your dating experiences will come from the lens you are viewing them through.
Are you viewing your dating life through a lens of abundance and wholeness or through a lens of lack and insecurity? What are you learning from these experiences? How are you showing up differently in the types of people you are choosing? I believe now more than ever, people are becoming more aware and unapologetic about what they want out of their dating experiences and setting the standard to achieve those things.
As we continue to navigate through the “pissy pool” of dating (your words, not mine), the following are some dating trends to expect to see in 2023.
Emotional Availability Only
We are starting to see more women stand in their power of getting their emotional needs met in relationships. For many years, toxic masculinity has encouraged men to strictly be providers and achieve social/career status but now that women are more educated and financially independent, women no longer desperately need men for day-to-day survival (taking care of the bills, etc). Now more than ever, women are expecting more depth and emotional maturity in their relationships. This requires men to show up in areas they have been conditioned to disconnect from, which has lasting impacts on their emotional intelligence, emotional awareness, and emotional regulation skills.
Many women are no longer tolerating toxic masculinity or avoiding vulnerability. Many men have been getting more in tune with their vulnerabilities and having more conversations around mental/emotional health and dismantling misogynistic ideas/beliefs. Trust me, they are out there. The question is…are you checking for them?
Are you putting yourself in spaces with people who resonate with those ideas/values? Or are you listening to people with a microphone and a podcast spewing hate and their own insecurities onto other people? Put yourself in spaces with people who are like-minded and don’t entertain anything less than that.
Inner Work = Less Time for B.S.
During the pandemic, people all over the world were ushered into doing some inner work. The pandemic took everyone out of the security of autopilot and showed people how they really felt about themselves and their lives. Whether it was the loss of a loved one or the ending of a relationship, many people experienced loss and grief during the pandemic that completely altered their reality and forced them to confront things they may have been avoiding. Many people realized that life is too short and in order to stop having the same dating experiences, it’s going to require a different version of themselves.
For the past three years, people have become more interested in doing their inner work through therapy and various other forms of self-help. People have been reflecting on close relationships in their lives and most importantly their relationship with themselves. With doing inner work comes an awareness of not only your own insecurities, but you also start to become more confident about what it is that you are seeking and what your expectations are for yourself.
Now people are more in tune with their needs and their boundaries so this means fewer people seeking situationships/trauma bonds (unconsciously) and more people wanting healthy connections.
Side-Stepping Comfort Zones
Now with more people working remotely, people are becoming more interested in expanding their dating options. People who are dating are becoming more interested in the idea of long-distance relationships or even long-distance dating experiences because they have more time on their hands to explore and spend time with potential partners. Thanks to the new age of social media and a more flexible work life, finding someone in a different city or state has become more accessible without the hassle of work responsibilities.
In 2023, you can also expect to see people dating outside of their “type” as more people are learning that maybe their “type” isn’t actually their type and it’s simply just an initial attraction/pull towards someone due to familiar dynamics/characteristics in childhood. With this awareness, people are becoming more open to dating different people and giving themselves opportunities to have different experiences.
Self-Care Over Everything
This dating trend is like a part two for a couple of the previous dating trends mentioned. With more people starting their own businesses, working from home, etc., people are more interested in actually living a life that is fulfilling rather than simply surviving. In 2023, people are yearning for more of a work/life balance with self-care being a priority.
Also with self-care being prioritized, more people are willing to walk away from relationships that do not serve them or aid in their lives in positive ways. Have we become super rigid with this? Maybe to a certain extent, but in the case of abusive relationships, for good reason.
I think so many of us have lived through and witnessed the negative impact that staying in unhealthy relationships dynamics can cause and because we do not want to repeat those same experiences, we are quick to say no to physical/mental/emotional abuse and manipulation, making phrases like "choose yourself" a reality.
More Talk, Less Shame
With the rise of various social media outlets, people are becoming more vocal about various topics that were once taboo. People are more open to talking about sex and finances without carrying shame or guilt around it. People are starting to see that these topics are unavoidable and essential to have a healthy relationship.
We are also starting to see a rise in more research-based dating advice as people are becoming more open about talking about relational trauma, trauma bonds, attachment styles, childhood trauma, and how they have a lasting impact on their dating experiences.
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 andreswd/Getty Images
This is a dating guide for trans girls becoming women quicker than it feels like their hearts can survive the journey through the hands of men. As a young trans woman, the world has already taken so much from you. It has tied your wings even before you learned the feeling of flight into the world and your lover’s arms. You would think that men would be gentle with women who have had so much taken from them. You would think that they’d recognize your vulnerability to the elements of the world and put themselves in front of you, as protectors, instead of leaving you to weather its storms alone. You would think that others would not feel the need to create competition with girls who are most often not considered “real” women and who are killed in the act of un-naming them.
Even with these hard truths forging you in their fires along the way, there is hope. Your journey is one that ultimately fashions a passionate, resourceful, and fiercely self-loving woman. There is however the issue of survival against destructive forces. The intimate space that young trans women navigate in the exploration of romantic love with men is often a high-stakes game of minesweeper.
These are some of the trials and characters you may meet along the way:
Lipstick Alley Headline
Things may often seem very unfair. Cis people love to pass Black trans women's photos around the internet as a "warning" to men. They love to pass around a trans woman’s photo and perform a ritual to tear apart her beauty, nitpick her face and try to destroy her reputation and image. I pray for spiritual protection for all trans women. Pray with me. Our beauty is not defined by the cis tribunal. You do not have to feel shame for your desire and others’ desire for you. Do your best not to allow others' behavior towards you to define you.
An unending party of vibes and vaguery that never ends. There are many men who will not create safety for you or openly express their feelings for you, yet will try to push a sexual agenda on your body and place you in a dangerous space of ambiguity. They will try to turn a “vibe” into sex, without any communication or admissions of romantic affection. This can be extremely dangerous for a trans woman. It may work for cis people, as a moment of fleeting pleasure, but often you may find it just feels scary and unsure. Allow them to do the work for you. All girls deserve an admission of desire and an allowance of care. Allow him to establish a context of safety as a beautiful bridge into the erotic.
The Casual Criminal
It’s no big deal. Nothing is a big deal, even when you need it to be. There’s not much room for intimacy, only vibes. These are men who see you as one of the world's many buffet offerings for his perusal, as opposed to honoring your unique needs and vulnerabilities as a trans woman. You’re considered the same as everyone else in his circus, the only problem is you’re not. You’re not for men who don’t have the time to consider you, the offering of your vulnerability, or your safety. He may be using the idea of “sameness” to avoid intimacy and accountability and considers all of his work done for being “cool” about you being transgender.
Sometimes cool can be too cool. So cool, it becomes lukewarm, stale, and tepid. You don’t want boring. Hold out for a little passion. Be a big deal. You are one and you deserve it.
Completely disappears after the slightest moments of intimacy. Reappears when the chemistry fizzles out to keep the cycle going. Cycles of intimate rejection and painful revolving doors rarely end in the love you seek. You are the magician and your magic is in the craft of your heart, not disappearing it.
The Therapy Bill
Not sure why but you feel terrible after every interaction. He doesn’t create or encourage a context of safety or transparency. The longer they know you, the more increasingly psychologically complex they become in their emotional terrorism of you. You keep waiting for things to let out into peace and clarity, but instead of an ocean, it's a drain circle. If you have to ask your friends for too much advice to feel “okay” or if at every turn you are more disturbed and confused than the last, it's likely a negative cycle, not a deepening intimacy. Hold out for a man who is a friend to your mind.
You deserve more than men who target vulnerable women and use them as a kink. You are not a kink. You are a woman. You are easy to love and therefore you do not have to worship a man for finding you beautiful. Men who move through vulnerable communities of women for their own emotional and sexual pleasures are simply a different type of misogynist. And no one deserves an award for loving you. You are alarmingly beautiful and unconditionally inspiring of love.
There are men who talk a good game about liberation and fill their bookshelves with the self-righteousness of their own literacy. Do not be surprised if they never apply any of it to relate to you. There are men who will learn just enough emotional depth and get in touch with their feelings just enough to use them against you. There will be sensitive poets and writers who ultimately only understand their own pain and the desire for their own freedom, while yours largely remains a theory or a cudgel to use against others. There will be many who define their own liberation as the right to quiet you.
When you explain your sufferings and ask for a reprieve from your pain, they will talk about how it's really them that's suffering. These men rarely actively address their own sufferings, merely use them as reasons why they should be able to abuse freely. Your job and your labor of love as a trans woman are to live the freedom he can only ever read about in books. Walk out of the pages and away from his hands.
Is this a date? Are we friends? Are we attracted to each other? What is happening? No one involved has any idea and so you float until there is finally heartbreak to free you. There are men who have no idea what they are doing and in the space of ignorance, they keep you at arm's length, while using you for whatever desires randomly emerge during a drunken night. There are men who are far too afraid to face their desire for you, yet they can’t let you go, so they keep exactly the information you need to make the best decisions for your own life. There are men who are criminally casual. In the face of stagnation and emotional poverty, pray and walk steadily from these lands until you find love.
There are unfortunately men willing to kill in order to preserve their sense of self and enact power over vulnerable women. Develop a practice of safety that serves your unique circumstances, honors your truths, and practice not sacrificing your own safety and body in the pursuit of romance or pleasure.
There is often someone trying to “clock” and “check” your womanhood. There is an impossible standard of beauty imposed upon trans women. Nothing short of perfection is ever enough for the naysayers and even a few of the well-meaning. No one has to be as beautiful as you to be loved.
Therefore, it may seem like everyone else but you can be loved. You will wonder what is the formula to be considered “human.” A change of hair, more hips, boobs, a bigger ass, lighter skin. When it comes to the dominant cisgender values on beauty, rarely is anything ever enough. You are always one shifting goalpost away from “enough.” You are always one hair out of place from being unmasked as “unreal.” The beauty that the dominant messaging tries to impose on trans women is a beauty of surveillance. You will often find eyes searching for a reason to unmask what they see as “the trick” of your womanhood. Especially if you are Black.
You may look around while you are hungry and notice a lot of instant noodle romance: Images of love that promise to feed you, but lack what you really need to feel nourished. Everyone seems to have come with the right ingredients in their cup to be instantly loved, ingredients that never seem to include the things that make up women like you. Love may seem instant for others, while yours seems like a longer reach from God. There are many men who may fight their feelings for you because you are far from a woman who is convenient to the status quo. Others may seem to have an easier time in love than you. It may reach them quicker, with fewer obstructions and more open desire. Yours is not a quick plate love, it is a slowly opening one. God’s love for you is flavored to the bone.
Your success in romance, will not come from contorting yourself to a man’s fantasy and avoiding his disapproval by trying to manage his emotions with a tireless performance of femininity. You are not responsible for a man’s emotions and feelings about his attraction to you. Men will often lay this burden at your feet and create a dynamic of constantly courting their approval. They enforce this dynamic through intimate partner violence, from the emotional and psychological to the physical. Men who date trans women often develop a habit of making their fear your problem.
Don’t let a man’s fear of you define you. There will be many men who are too afraid to openly face their desire for you. They will often see you as a shameful desire, like a porn category they can shut their laptop on when they’ve had enough. When they are ready again and the blood rushes to their head, they reappear. They are not reappearing for a better relationship with you, they are appearing for another hit. Repeated behavior without deepened intimacy does not get better, it’s a compulsion, not a relationship.
Men who act on compulsion for you, instead of connecting to you are adversaries to the self-realization of your own humanity. This is always the goal of a trans woman. Our goal is not to prove to others that we are worthy of love. Our goal is not to save the world, it is to remove the projections of inhumanity that society has placed over us and to constantly ritualize our own humanity back into our focus. Our goal is to recognize that we are beautiful, not because we align with images of what is “allowed,” but because we walk the path of life’s wild and unpredictable beauty itself. We are nature unfolding in the personal truth of rare shapes and intoxicating bloom.
The Glitch in the Matrix
Be wary of men who loop. When men perform repetitive cycles of shallow engagement, they are tuning into you as an object of erotic fetish, not a human being. They are extracting pleasure as a means of avoidance and ego, rather than engaging in acts of care and protective love. You will likely find a certain type of guy who enjoys the attention of young trans women but withholds deepened relationships with her.
When asked to clarify attraction, commitment, or intention, this man will withdraw and make the trans woman feel punished. He will reappear when enough distance has been created to restart the cycle and enough time has passed to “forget” your needs. You may think the reappearance means that he is prepared to meet those needs. It does not. He repeats the cycle of rejection and reappearance if you ask again. Over time, the trans woman learns that asking for her needs to be met will be met with withdrawal and abandonment.
When the black cat of a man’s ego appears twice, choose yourself.
The Backseat Driver
There are many who will demand perfection from you that they do not even demand from themselves. There will be people who will say that we deserve to die for not navigating relationships with men according to their idea of “perfection.” Always choose your own safety as you learn not to open where you cannot reveal the truth of your body and your own experiences. Having access to you is a secret menu that many just cannot afford and they do not have the special passwords.
“Perfection” will likely be a huge theme in your life. Lack of perfection for a trans woman can sometimes mean harm or even death. It is not your job to be perfect, it is your job to be “love.” It is your job to live, according to your own needs, not the projections of others. You may face many disappointments in love and with them will come learning. A lot of women struggle with self-blame when relationships end or become destructive. I think a better way to approach a painful relationship is not “what did I do wrong?” but “nothing in that relationship was conducive to me succeeding.” You likely were not set up for success. Dispense with guilt and shame. When you are set up for success, you don’t have to be perfect.
There is room for you and your learning. This includes your romantic life. If you are not supported away from the self-blame of overthinking and being invited into care, you mistake performance of goodness for connection. If you have to fix things all on your own, by lashing yourself with a constant demand for your own perfection, the connection demands too much of your own blood and suffering to be safe for you. If the connection dissolves when you discontinue this practice, it was not of love.
There will be many men who are just not for you. Even if they want you, they ultimately just cannot make the leap across what society tells them they can and cannot have. Only the one can make the jump. Hold out for a “Neo.”
The Concern Trolls, the Bad Faith Actors and Finally, You
There are many people who wish for you to remain in pain and for sadness to reside permanently in your heart. As an act of political and intimate necrotism, like when Colombus set dogs upon queer Indigenous people as his first act of setting upon their land. You do not have to live that way. You do not have to live in competition. You do not have to live in fear. You do not have to waste time fearing for your life, merely let go of the loves that do not become you. You do not have to live in lack, you simply have to practice sumptuously in your prayers. You do not have to argue talking points about your humanity, you simply have to orgasm in the privacy of your templed hands.
If the men do not show, as often they do not, make worship of your love for life in the approach of their death. My advice to you is to live and always forgive yourself for the hard acts against you. Dear young, Black trans woman, we used to follow the stars and night for freedom. Now we follow the Sun.
Featured image by janiecbros/Getty Images
No one is ever 110% ready for a relationship. Let that marinate because I know it may sound strange, but really think about it. No one is ever really 110% ready for anything. You kind of just make a choice to move forward and take any feelings of fear or anxiety with you instead of allowing them to cripple you. Although no one is ever 110% ready for anything, I think it’s important to still have an idea of what to expect from ourselves to make sure we are walking into new relationships with healthy intentions.
In order to assist with this, I curated a list of questions to ask yourself to assess your “readiness” to date. If you find yourself getting stumped over any of these questions, don’t beat yourself up! No one is perfect and we all have things we can improve on. What is most important is that you have an open heart and an open mind as you read through these questions to explore what comes up for you with compassion and curiosity and whether you believe these questions are essential to you and your journey as you move toward dating and cultivating healthy relationships.
1.Am I really ready to date or am I just trying to escape the feeling of loneliness?
Everyone gets lonely sometimes. We have all experienced the feeling of loneliness but loneliness is not an invitation to form a connection with just anyone. Oftentimes the feeling of loneliness has a lot to do with our perception: we feel there is something missing, we feel empty, and we feel there is not enough.
Loneliness is not an indication to use someone as a bandaid to avoid our own discomfort with being with ourselves. It’s actually an invitation to turn within and retrieve the parts of ourselves that we may have lost in other people or have completely disowned within ourselves. Take a look at your current life. What’s no longer serving you? What needs to change in your environment? What needs to change within you?
When we are dating people out of a place of loneliness, we are attempting to get our needs met from a place of desperation. When you try to get your needs met through desperation, you end up becoming a vibrational match to the very thing you don't want
2.Have I identified my core values?
Your core values define the essence of who you are. In the article, “Why It's So Important for Couples to Talk About Their Values” by Kristin Fuller M.D., she states: “Core values in a relationship are the guiding beliefs that direct your words and actions. Knowing your core values will help you know when another individual's core values do not align with yours. If you are not aware of your core values, it will be difficult to find a partner with whom you are truly compatible.”
Often, we get into relationships without taking the time to truly understand our core values because society has conditioned us to disconnect from our values in order to maintain a connection with someone else. Look at examples such as the media and entertainment; it’s reinforced in subtle ways to disown yourself in order to receive love. Unfortunately, this can quickly become an issue for so many of us because when we are disconnected from our values, we are disconnected from our authenticity–which is not only a basic need but a driving force in our level of satisfaction in our relationships and with ourselves.
Identifying your core values will save you time and heartache. Moreover, identifying what is important to you in not only your relationships but in your life will help you define a strong sense of self so you can walk into new relationships without rejecting the essence of who you are to maintain connection. Healthy relationships do not require you to do that, it actually creates space for both. Your authenticity and the relationship.
3.Have I built my confidence in those values/needs?
This question ties into the last question. It is not enough for us to identify our values/needs, it's also important for us to understand that a lot of our needs and values are tied to what we did not receive as children. If you didn’t receive it as a child, how could you truly know what it looks and feels like in a relationship with someone else? It’s imperative that you build your confidence in getting those needs met by learning how to give them to yourself. When you work on loving yourself in this way, you become a living example of the qualities you would like to see in someone else.
If you want someone who is honest, when was the last time you were honest with yourself? If you want someone who is consistent, when was the last time you followed through on a promise you made to yourself? Once you start to identify your needs and your values, as well as build your confidence in really understanding what they mean by giving them to yourself, you will begin to believe that it is possible for you to receive them. You will believe that there is someone out there who can meet your needs because you’re a living example of everything you’re seeking.
When you pour into yourself in this way, you will be able to confidently recognize these characteristics in someone else without having to guess if they are the right fit for you or spending years and years in the relationship begging them to change. When you learn this, you automatically increase your level of discernment when choosing a partner.
4.Am I actively being the type of person I am looking for?
Oftentimes people are asking for things in relationships they have yet to cultivate within themselves. It is counterproductive for us to set the intention that we want a healthy relationship but our lives are a contradiction to the very thing we say we want. It is not enough to just set the intention that you want a healthy relationship, you have to live a life that flows in the direction of what you’re saying you want.
When you say you want a healthy relationship, shift your focus from what’s happening externally and focus on turning inwards. Start by looking at some of the other areas in your life. When was the last time you put your mind to something and followed through with it? Have you carved out some time to pour into yourself or are you constantly living in survival mode? Healthy relationships are all about creating a space for liberation and safety; survival mode is literally the opposite of that. Healthy relationships start with you.
They start with you preparing the soil and planting the seeds for a healthy relationship to grow. If the seeds you are planting are rooted in the soil of survival mode, you will continue to get the opposite of what you think you are planting. We cannot throw new soil on top of old soil and magically receive the harvest we are seeking. When you take the time to reevaluate every area of your life (your career, academics, friendships, parenting, time management, etc.), you will start to see the places that are not in alignment with what you’re saying you want.
These are the places that need your attention so what you are calling in can flow to you naturally. So, what needs to change within you to make a vibrational match to the very thing you are seeking?
5.Am I able to communicate my desires honestly?
It makes sense why many of us don’t communicate our desires in relationships. As humans, if we are wired for connection, if we communicate what we want and it isn’t in alignment with the other person, we may face rejection. Rejection is the opposite of what we are wired for. Although we all struggle with the fear of rejection, it’s more so about how we manage it.
Everyone is not going to accept us or meet our desires just because we want them to. We are not for everyone and everyone is not for us. This is not a “bad” thing, it’s actually a good thing because we protect ourselves from being connected to people who are simply not for us.
Being honest about your desires will create space for the RIGHT people to come into your life, who not only recognize your desires but find joy in meeting, honoring, and respecting them.
6.Have I identified past traumas/triggers that may have an impact on my dating experience?
Our childhood trauma can have a huge impact on how we show up in our relationships. When our trauma is left unresolved and unintegrated, it can show up in our reality in ways that harm our relationships. No one ever gets into a relationship “fully healed," but what’s most important is that you recognize your triggers and actively do the work to make healthier choices to respond to them. It could be helpful to work with a licensed professional in identifying what your specific triggers are in your relationships and learning how to manage them in a way that is cohesive to a healthy connection.
7.What are my core beliefs around relationships? Am I holding onto any limiting beliefs that may be keeping me from connecting authentically?
Limiting beliefs are negative core beliefs that have been ingrained in our subconscious from our past lived experiences (childhood, past relationships, etc.) Negative core beliefs such as “All men cheat” or “All women are gold diggers” are not conducive to a healthy relationship. When we are holding onto limiting beliefs around relationships, it does exactly what it says: it limits us.
When we carry negative core beliefs based on our experiences, we do not take the time to consider that our perception is very limited as human beings. The reality is, we are unable to experience all perspectives of life. Instead, we are only able to create one perspective, and that comes from our lived experiences. When we start to carry this black-and-white thinking (a defense mechanism to keep ourselves safe) into our dating experiences, we do not open ourselves up to getting to know people and seeing the complexities of what it means to be a human being.
Human beings are not “all good” or “all bad.” Everyone is a mix of both due to their own life circumstances, their own autonomy, and free will. In your dating experiences, it could be helpful to challenge any limiting beliefs you have that may be holding you back from connecting and experiencing true intimacy.
8.Am I willing to accept others for who they are without trying to change them or alter myself to be with them?
A relationship is when two or more individuals create an emotional bond through intimacy. Think about the phrase intimacy as "into-me-you-see." When you’re building a connection with someone, you are taking the time to see them clearly for who they are: their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, their dreams, and their insecurities. But when you’re dating and spend the entire relationship trying to get them to be someone they are not, you are not accepting them for who they are, which is the quickest way to get everything you don't want.
In order to build true intimacy, it is imperative that we understand that everyone has different needs and values, even people we find attractive. Instead of taking it personally, we have to understand that in healthy relationships, it is not our job to change our partners to manage our own discomfort around who they really are or alter ourselves to be loved by them. If you find yourself trying to alter them or yourself, it could be possible that maybe the relationship is not a right fit for you, and that is okay.
9.If I do not see a future with a potential partner, am I willing to be honest with them about the incompatibility?
When dating, sometimes we know that we are not compatible with someone off the bat, but we may have a difficult time being honest with them and telling them how we really feel because we may be afraid of hurting their feelings or facing some kind of resistance from them. What’s important to remember is that it is unloving to be dishonest with people we care about. When we are being dishonest about where we are, we are not giving ourselves or the other person a fair shot in finding what can be a true match for them, a better fit.
Trying to control someone's perception of you or avoiding their resistance to your boundaries can be manipulative, even if you aren’t doing it intentionally. It’s important that we take the time to be honest with ourselves and normalize being honest with others in our dating experiences.
10.If a potential partner does not see a future with me, am I willing to honor their feelings?
This question connects with the last one. If a potential partner does not see a future with you, are you able to honor their feelings and their free will? Do you write them off as a “bad person” or accept the incompatibility? Do you honor their boundaries or do you chase them and beg them to be with you?
These are all important to consider when dating because as much as we want people to respect our boundaries, we have to take the time to respect theirs as well. Oftentimes we have a difficult time respecting someone's boundaries because we view boundaries as rejection by internalizing it to mean something negative about ourselves.
When you learn to not take things personally and see them through the lens of just a difference in values, you have entered into a place of security within yourself, which may indicate that you are ready to date.
Featured image by Marko Geber/Getty Images
Last month, Michelle Obama sent the internet into a frenzy by opening up about her marriage to Barack Obama. During her conversation with NPR's "Life Kit" podcast, she shared her thoughts on the glamorization of dating and its impact on the reality of marriage, how partnerships are rarely 50/50, and when it comes to the ebbs and flows of commitment "young people quit too soon." She later clarified her thoughts in an Instagram post:
"As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of places, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve only ever had one real home. My home is my family. My home is Barack. But here’s the thing—our marriage has never been perfectly 50-50. One of us is always needing more or giving more. We have to be willing to listen to each other, honestly and without defensiveness. Only then can we evolve together. Over the years, a lot of young people have asked me about marriage. And my response usually goes something like this: You have to prepare yourself for long stretches of discord and discomfort. You have to learn how to make real compromises in the way you’ve lived as an individual. Glamorizing a relationship while you’re dating will lead you straight to difficulty once you’re married. You can’t paper over problems when you’re living with someone day in and day out.”
Her caption continued, “So you’ve got to ask yourself: What are you trying to get out of this relationship? Have you truly thought it through? Do you want a wedding or do you want a lifelong partnership? Those are two very different things. Together, you are answering the question: Who are we and who do we want to be?”
I completely respect everything she mentioned above because that is her experience of what it takes to sustain a long-term, successful marriage and that is what has worked for her. While I believe that what she mentioned is true, I think it’s important that we also get into the nuances between trying to make a relationship work with someone who is equally committed to the relationship as you are versus trying to make a relationship work with someone who has reached an expiration date in your life.
Not every relationship is meant to last long-term and that doesn’t have to be a “bad” thing. Some people come into our reality to show us who we are so we can learn and grow and some people come into our lives to spend a lifetime with us. As you are dating, it’s important to discern the difference.
To help you do that, I have compiled a list of eight signs that it might be time to break up with someone. Check it out and share your thoughts below in the comments.
1.When you spend the entire relationship trying to alter yourself or the other person to "make it work."
Our values connect us to our hearts. When we are not in tune with our values, we will alter ourselves just to be in a relationship with someone else. Now this most likely did not just start “out of nowhere." This is a learned behavior that kept us safe in our environment. As children, we are very dependent on our caregivers to be in “attunement” with us. Attunement means to be in harmony with us; to respond to our needs, and to mirror to us what we’re seeking and what we’re giving out.
If your caregiver was unable to attune to you, you most likely had to alter yourself in some way to get your needs met. For example, if mom was always consumed with work and came home in a “bad” mood, maybe you had to alter your good mood to cope with the unsafety that came with her “bad” mood. Another example, let's say maybe if you wanted to be an artist but your family of origin communicated to you with their actions or an overall lack of response, that your dreams and your interest were not “good enough” to receive love from them. As children, we don’t just “get over” that. We internalize this as a rejection of the essence of who you are, the rejection of your authenticity.
We then learn that we must be someone else outside of ourselves to receive love, approval, and validation. We develop this core belief that love has to be earned and you have to work really really hard for people to accept you, and not only do you alter yourself, but you will then try to alter other people who do not fit into your standards because that’s what you learned to do in order to connect. In your mind, that’s loving.
But the truth is you never have to alter yourself or anyone for love, you don’t have to disown your boundaries, or say and do things for others that create this internal conflict with you and your values. When we alter ourselves for love, we are in our most inauthentic expression, which attracts people who are attracted to our most inauthentic expression. Even if we’re unconsciously in our most authentic expression for the sake of survival, the tragedy is that we become a match to the very thing we say we don't want, which leads to more heartache and pain.
I made a post on Instagram a few weeks ago that said, “When you are performing for love, you attract people who are looking for nothing more than to be entertained.” If you cannot be yourself around your partner without feeling shamed, chastised, unworthy, or unloveable, it may be time to reconsider if this relationship is the right fit for you.
If your partner cannot be themselves around you without you trying to change them, it may be time to reconsider if this relationship is the right fit for you.
2.When there is emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse present.
In relationships, we all have standards and boundaries in regard to how we would like to be treated. Standards and boundaries are not meant to push people out, but they are clear guidelines we communicate to others about how we would like to be treated and what helps us to feel safe in our relationships. Abuse of any sort is unsafe for your mind, body, and nervous system. If you find yourself hiding what’s really happening in your relationship from your friends and loved ones, you could be in an abusive relationship.
There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, although there can be so many reasons to leave. If you or anyone you know is struggling to leave a physically abusive relationship, call 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788 for support.
I’m hoping in the future, we will have more resources out there for anyone dealing with emotional and psychological abuse. In the meantime, it could be helpful to speak with a professional for your safety as well as receive some resources to leave the relationship.
3.When there is an overall lack of accountability from your partner.Starz Professor GIF by Power Book II: GhostGiphy
One of the things I’ve learned being a couples therapist is that if you and your partner are in conflict, it’s you and them against the problem, not you and them versus each other. When you get into conflict with your partner and they seem to deflect, withdraw, ignore you, or shut down when you’re explaining something to them that is hurting you, it may be time to reconsider the relationship and reconsider your options.
Most relationships fail when we make the other person out to be the “bad guy” rather than understanding that everyone is complex, and depending on what triggers us, we have different reasons for why we respond the way we do, oftentimes for protection and survival. Externalizing conflict in the relationship will help you to build intimacy through empathy, patience, compassion, and understanding but BOTH partners have to be open and willing to identify the childhood wounds that cause them to put up the defense.
When a couple fails to identify the childhood wounding that causes barriers to connection and when one-half of the couple blames their partner for their triggers, there is no room for accountability. If you or your partner has a difficult time holding themselves accountable, it’s helpful to assess how this defense mechanism will have negative effects on the relationship moving forward.
4.When your values and the mission for your life do not align.
Your values define the essence of who you are. When you start to compromise your values just to be in a relationship with someone, you are choosing them over choosing yourself, which leads to nothing but insecurity and resentment. Healthy relationships are not about putting one person's needs over the other, it’s about finding ways to honor BOTH people. The truth is, you should have never been put in a position to do that but so many of us learned to do this in childhood in order to maintain a connection with our caregivers, which we take with us into adulthood and reenact that same wounding in our romantic relationships.
When we don’t choose ourselves, we disown and reject who we are, which further damages our self-trust and confidence. When you are unclear on what your values are, you will fall slave to someone else’s standards (remember, not everyone's standards/values are for us, so you don’t want to go unconscious and give your power away for the sake of maintaining a connection with someone).
There is nothing “wrong” with people having different values, but it is our responsibility to consciously and intentionally put ourselves in relationships with people who align with our core values and find joy in meeting our needs. When we are in a relationship with someone whose purpose for their life is not in alignment with ours, we are holding ourselves and the other person back from something that could be a better fit for us and the other person.
It’s helpful to address any attachment wounding that may show up here, as well as any grief. As I mentioned before, this does not make you or the other person a “bad” person, you just have different values and that’s okay.
5.When the relationship is one-sided or their behavior is inconsistent and unpredictable.Giphy
Our relationships need to be consistent and predictable in order for them to feel good. Consistency and predictability offer a sense of safety and security in the relationship. When you are in a one-sided relationship, not only do you feel insecure but you are also drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You also can enter into this state of hypervigilance because the relationship is so unpredictable; you’re constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for something terrible to happen because you never know what you’re going to get from this person.
If you’re in a one-sided relationship, you may also find yourself getting excited when the other person is finally able to offer you the bare minimum. You start getting excited over basic things that a relationship actually needs in order to survive because you’ve spent the entire relationship starving waiting for breadcrumbs to fill you up.
If you resonate with this, this could be a prime indication that you are in a one-sided relationship. One-sided relationships tend to leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, resentful and drained. If you feel you are pouring more into the relationship than your partner and you’ve surpassed having multiple conversations about what your needs are and what makes you unhappy, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
6.When you’re constantly creating a fantasy around the relationship, or you're only interested in their “potential.”
In relationships, it is not enough to believe in who you want a person to be, you have to believe in who they are in the present moment and who they want to be overall. When we are only interested in someone's potential, we are creating a barrier to true intimacy and connection with them. To love someone is to accept them for who they are and assess if that version of themselves that they’re presenting in the present moment is in alignment with you.
When we put all of our hopes in someone's potential, we are believing in something that does not exist. Loving someone is about meeting them where they are. If you are unable to accept the essence of who they are in the present moment, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
7.When you only feel seen, loved, and desired when you’re having sex.
Oftentimes when we are not getting our emotional needs met in a relationship, we begin to put other forms of connection on a pedestal. When our needs are not getting met, we become desperate to be seen, loved, and desired, even if that connection is only temporary. If you are being deprived of love, consistency, respect, support, etc., your needs are not getting met in your relationship. Sex is the fastest way to achieve what feels like a “connection” to another person. This is why when people start to feel distant or disconnected from their partners in relationships, they may try to connect through sex first. It’s the fastest and easiest way to feel…something.
When we are operating from an “I guess I’ll just take what I can get” mentality when it comes to relationships, we are communicating that we are willing to do any and everything to avoid losing connection, even if the connection is not good for us (a deep fear of abandonment). With this mentality, we also disown our boundaries and our standards, which is crucial when it comes to communicating how we would like to be treated in order for someone to have access to us.
This may stem from childhood where maybe you had a caregiver who was very inconsistent. Maybe sometimes they were able to show up for you and other times they were caught up in their own problems. As a child, this becomes very confusing. Nevertheless, this becomes the pattern that plays out in your romantic relationship.
So in having sex with this person, although it may feel like it, it’s not really about the person or the sex. It’s about the high that you get finally feeling loved, wanted, and seen in the act of having sex. You're attached to the feeling the person gives you, not necessarily the person (especially if the relationship is unhealthy).
If you find yourself using sex as a coping mechanism to distract yourself from reality and soothe feelings of abandonment/rejection/loneliness or unworthiness in your relationship, it may be time to reconsider and really think about if this is a relationship dynamic that is sustainable for you.
8.When the only reason you’re still together is because of “history” or because you do not want to disappoint yourself or other people.
People stay in relationships for a plethora of reasons. Some stay for the sake of comfort and some stay for the sake of not disappointing their loved ones (family, friends, and children). But love does not require you to tether yourself to someone who is not for you. When we are staying in a relationship for the sake of other people, especially for our children, we communicate to them that relationships are about sticking it out regardless of how you feel and regardless of how you are being treated. You are teaching them to disown themselves (especially if the relationship, is less about irreconcilable differences and more so about abuse).
This is unhealthy because what we are communicating is that our feelings and our needs don’t matter and we are willing to disown ourselves in an attempt to control someone else's perception of us and the outcome of our relationship to soothe our own anxiety.
It could be helpful to work with a professional when it comes to any shame or guilt you feel around leaving a relationship that no longer serves you. When we live our lives to avoid disappointing other people, not only are we showing up inauthentically but it eats away at our self-trust and self-confidence. It creates a barrier to intimacy because we are unwilling to open ourselves up to receive support.
If you find yourself having a difficult time leaving a relationship because you’re afraid of what other people will think/say/feel, it could be helpful to do some work around how you’re perceived and core beliefs around a relationship not working out.
If you believe that the ending of a relationship means you failed, you may have a fear of failure or maybe some inner work to do around reframing why a relationship ending even means that you or the other person “failed.” If you were able to walk away from the relationship and integrate the lesson from it, how exactly did you fail?
Featured image by Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images