Sometimes in relationships, things can get…well, boring. Sometimes you just need a little healthy spontaneity to continue to get to know your partner on a more intimate level, especially if you have been in a committed relationship for some time now and things are starting to feel really comfortable, if you know what I mean. As humans, we are always evolving and changing. The person you are with today is not the same person you met when you first started dating.
They have their own autonomy, their own dreams, their own goals, their own insecurities, and their own fears. Because we are ever-evolving, it’s important for us to take the time to continue to get to know our partners so we communicate to them that we are curious about their lives and we care enough about watering the relationship so it can continue to grow and be fulfilling for both parties involved.
If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut with your conversations with your partner as of late, carve out some time this week, and set up a date night with no distractions (for my folks who are busy, even a small date night over dinner could be helpful). And take date night up a notch by asking each other the questions below to deepen your level of intimacy in the relationship.
As you ask the following questions, remember to stay curious about your partner's responses. Instead of judging or criticizing them for what they are feeling, notice what comes up for you in their responses and address it with patience, empathy, and compassion so you both can have an open dialogue about those feelings.
1.What is your honest opinion about me?
In relationships, sometimes we tend to put so much emphasis on “telling our partners about themselves,” pointing out all the things we don’t like about our partner, and telling them where they need to improve in order for us to feel better, especially during conflict. But when you’re comfortable with your partner, or maybe you’re even going through a rough time in your relationship, it’s important for us to focus on what we do like about our partners.
As humans we are wired for connection, we need connection not only to survive but thrive in our lives. In order to receive authentic connection in our relationships, we need to be loved and affirmed for who we are without our partner putting pressure on us to change the essence of who we are. Therefore, in order to have a healthy connection, we need to be affirmed for who we are in order to feel good about the relationship.
This question is great because it’s not just focusing on what you don’t like about your partner; it's all about honoring and respecting our differences without communicating to the other person that they are unlovable because of their difference. I love this question for healthy relationships because it reminds you of whyyou chose to be in a relationship with your partner. It also shows you that you can still love someone, even if you both have some differences or even if they do small things that might annoy you. As long as it’s not detrimental to the relationship, that’s what true love is all about.
2.What has your childhood taught you about love and relationships?
Our earliest relationships set the template for how we will connect/disconnect in our adult relationships. As children, we are dependent on our caregivers to help us not only navigate life but also show us what safe relationships look and feel like. If we didn’t have a template of what a healthy relationship looks like, it comes with a lot of shame and insecurity. And ultimately this may have an effect on our romantic relationships going forward.
It is imperative for us to become curious about what our partner learned in childhood, not to judge them but to better understand them. Depending on what your partner saw in childhood, it could potentially have an impact on your relationship. It’s helpful to ask this question so you can better understand your partner. Remember to enter into this conversation without judgment and remember to stay curious if you need more clarification on anything that comes up.
3.What are you afraid to show others that they probably need to know in order to connect with you on a deeper level?
This is my favorite question because it leads to deeper levels of emotional intimacy and vulnerability. Our authenticity is the essence of who we are. If we are afraid to show people or even our partners all of the parts of ourselves, we’re not giving them an opportunity to love us for who we really are because we may struggle to love, honor, and respect who we truly are.
I love this question because it taps into the most intimate part of a person's being, heart, and soul.
4.When you look at me, what parts of yourself do you see in me?
Intimacy is into me you see. In other words, our partners should show up as a mirror of everything we see in ourselves (healthy traits and characteristics). This question helps to deepen emotional intimacy by seeing your partner beyond their physical form and seeing them from the perspective of the soul. This is what we would call a soulmate. Someone who reminds us of so much of ourselves but also someone who teaches us so much about ourselves.
5.What does our love remind you of?
This is a great question as it prompts your partner to think about some of the things that your relationship reminds them of. Your partner may surprise you with their answers but what’s most important is to lead with curiosity and respect your partner's autonomy with their experience of their relationship with you. Perception is reality.
6.Tell me about the first time you felt it was safe for you to be vulnerable with me.
This is another one of my favorites. In relationships, so many of us remember that moment when we felt safe enough to let our guard down with someone and unfortunately they mishandled our hearts. But, to be in a relationship with someone you can let your guard down with, and they communicate with you through their actions that your vulnerability is safe with them? That's a feeling that is unmatched.
This question prompts you to think about the very first time you felt safe with your partner to do something that so many of us are afraid to do for pretty valid reasons. I love this question because it can really help you to stay in the present moment of how much emotional safety means to each of you.
7.Do you believe love is freely given or does it have to be earned?
This question is really good when you want to dig deeper into your partner's beliefs and values. Some people believe that love is unconditional, it is freely given regardless of the circumstances. Some people believe that love is conditional and that the act of loving someone has to be earned. This question can help you learn more about your partner's beliefs when it comes to love and commitment.
If you both have different beliefs around love, lean into why your partner feels this way with compassion and curiosity. What experiences in their lives have shaped their view on this? How can you both come to a place of common ground around love specifically for your relationship? What are the limits and boundaries when it comes to love for each of you? It’s definitely something worth exploring to deepen emotional intimacy.
8.How can I continue to support you in this relationship?
Oftentimes when I’m working with couples in therapy, one or both partners will come in expressing their grievances around their relationship, specifically towards the other person. Sometimes we can become so consumed with getting our needs met that we don’t take the time to think about what probably needs to happen in our relationship in order for both parties to feel more supported.
No one likes to feel like they are the “problem.” This leads to defensiveness, emotional withdrawal, and resentment because the relationship is no longer a safe space, it’s a warzone. Safe spaces are not always going to make us “feel good," but they compassionately hold us accountable so we can see ourselves a little more clearly.
Asking your partner how you can support them shows that you are thinking and considering their needs as well as yours.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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