I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one, who can absolutely attest to the fact that, if there's one thing 2020 provided, it was the opportunity to go totally ham when it comes to checking out what various forms of media provides. What I mean by that is, you've probably never been on Twitter as much, binge-watched television shows as often or checked out movies that you never ever would've considered otherwise, had it not been for this pandemic.
Well, a movie that I personally, that actually serves as the inspiration for this piece, is entitledOpen Tables. It's basically about a whole bunch of white people, who sit around dinner tables, in order to share tales of their relational experiences. Out of all the stories, there was one, in particular, that had me be like "wow". See, there was this couple who were basically on the verge of breaking up. Then, the guy ended up having an accident that caused him to have a bout of very short-term memory loss (kinda like the movie 50 First Dates when Drew Barrymore's character could only remember a day; then she would go to sleep, wake up and mentally start the same day all over again). The woman, his ex, took on the challenge to be his temporary caregiver; since his short-term memory was shot, he was perfectly fine with that. The woman then decided that she would take advantage of his injury by getting him to do all of the things that she wished he had done when they were "officially" together. Pretty soon, she realized that she had fallen for the man she "made up", only for him to eventually regain his memory and want nothing to do with her. Why? Because they had already broken up and he remembered it. Finally.
When the woman went back to the doctor to share how absolutely devastated she was to know that her relationship—the one she had manipulated into becoming just how she wanted it—had once again come to an end, the physician said something that was super on-point. "He was on a feedback loop. You all were on a feedback loop". Then the doctor followed that question up by looking the woman directly in the eyes and asked, "My question is, what made you stay so long?"
Feedback loops. Y'all, won't it preach? Some of us are still caught up in cyclic patterns with our own ex (sometimes, it's even more than one ex) and it's all because of our own customized feedback loops. Are you ready for me to break this down even further so that you can fully and finally get free?
How a “Feedback Loop” Plays Out in a Lot of Relationships
Listen, if anyone is a top candidate to rock a "Feedback Loop" T-shirt, it would definitely have to be me, chile. Articles that I've written on this site like, "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour", "Why Running Into Your Ex Can Be The Best Thing Ever" and even "You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?" are just three documented examples of how I know what it's like to be in this kind of pattern with a man from my past. That said, even though I've already provided you with a fictionalized example of what a feedback loop is, perhaps you're curious about how it tends to play out in the real world? I get that, so let's start with looking at two definitions of the word "feedback", OK?
Feedback: the furnishing of data concerning the operation or output of a machine to an automatic control device or to the machine itself, so that subsequent or ongoing operations of the machine can be altered or corrected; a reaction or response to a particular process or activity
Alright, so since we're human beings rather than machines, for the sake of where I'm going with this, when it comes to the definitions that I just provided, swap out the word "machine" for "experience" and the word "device" for "mind". Then, you're able to better understand that feedback is data that comes directly from an experience, that goes into the mind so that the experience can then be altered or created. While we're here, it's also worth noting that feedback is the reaction or response that comes out of when this happens too.
Whew. Let's now present this in a way of dealing with an ex. Every single relationship that we have collects data. Our mind collects data. Our heart collects data. If we were sexually active with them, our body collects data too (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'"). OK, well when we're on a feedback loop with someone, it means that the data that our mind, heart, and body collect are oftentimes altered. Altered by whom? Altered by us.
- We may alter it by only reflecting on the good times with our ex.
- We may alter it by focusing on how great the sex was while ignoring how bad the relationship was.
- We may alter it by minimizing how unhealthy the dynamic actually was.
- We may alter it by telling ourselves that we were the only one with the problem or issue (or they were).
- We may alter it by telling ourselves that it's better to be with him than to be alone.
And when we manipulate data in this way, it's very easy to then get a call from our ex or even want to reach out to them—you know, in order to react or respond—because we aren't working with all of the info that we should. We're only seeing what we want to see while ignoring the parts that caused us to end it with them in the first place.
Again, I know exactly what it's like to be caught up in this because, on some level, I've been going around and around with my first love for a couple of decades. No joke. Matter of fact, just last month, we spoke again and there was a part of me, for the billionth time that was like, "maybe…just maybe" (what in the world?!). The good news is I've learned to love myself more than him (that hasn't always been the case) and so, when he told me, also for the billionth time now, that he still loved me and wanted me in his life and we even broached the subject of trying to be friends, I actually considered it. Yet when I told him what I expected from my friendships and again he did not follow through, I realized that what was really going on is I was getting over my feedback loop. Well, kinda.
What I mean by that is, that the way he was even able to get 30 minutes of my time, yet again, is due to my own feedback loop that I still need to silence more than I thought. Because he was my first everything, there is a 19-year-old part of me who still giggles at his jokes and finds comfort in our incomparable familiarity, even all these years later. But y'all—there ain't enough time in today or tomorrow to tell you all of the reasons why we needed to break up—and stay broken up. I will always have profound feelings for him (virgins, be careful who you give it up to; the bond tends to be indescribably profound) yet the loop has to break. Once and for all. Because while he continues to be fine and some mo' fine and there is a chemistry that is bar none, I now get that the manipulated data is the ONLY THING that truly catches me up. It's also what's caused me to waste a lot of time, pondering irrelevant "what ifs" too.
So now that I've put some of my business out in front street in order to paint a clearer picture, ask yourself—are you currently in a feedback loop with someone? Is there a person who you share data, in the form of experiences and memories with, who you keep manipulating/editing the reality of the situation, in order to justify still involving—or even lightly engaging—yourself with them? If so, what really are you getting from that? How is "running around in a loop" getting you anywhere?
How You Can Prevent Using a “Feedback Loop” with an Ex
If you after seeing a feedback loop for what it is, your immediate response is "F—ck! I am most definitely in a feedback loop. What do I do now?" first, don't beat yourself up about it. Chile, it happens to the best of us. Second, I'll lightly touch on a few tips that can hopefully break you totally free—so that you can create better and more beneficial data with someone else.
Write a goodbye letter about the relationship. To yourself. In order to break free from the manipulated data that you've been feeding yourself, the first thing that I recommend is writing a goodbye letter to and for yourself; not so much about the break-up as the feedback loop that you've been in as a direct result of it. Make sure to include why you're in the loop, the experiences and memories that you've been leaving out about the relationship, and why that man is your ex for a reason. Then conclude it with why you deserve more and better (because you do). Store the letter somewhere where you can access it, each and every time you are tempted to "get back in the loop" again so that it can serve as your reality check when all common sense and discernment are totally out of the window.
Stop rehearsing the past; with yourself, friends, or with him. I've gotta admit that probably the main thing that keeps me and my ex going through over and over…and over again, is the fact that whenever we do speak, it's only a matter of time before we find ourselves walking back down memory lane (editing out most of the icky stuff, of course). That ends up feeling so good that we both tell our friends about it and, based on who that is, sometimes they feed into the feedback loop by talking about how precious or romantic all of the reminiscings are. Then, once get the cosign, we keep playing it back over and over…and over in our minds until we convince ourselves that it's meant to be. Somehow, someway, we're gonna make it work.
Listen, we rehearse things either to get better at them or to not forget them. So, if you want to truly break out of the feedback loop with your ex, that means you're gonna have to start a new narrative. Yep, you're going to have to leave the past in the past—right where it belongs. With you, your friends and with him.
When engaging with your ex again, be clear about why. It would be unfair to not put on record that there are people who are able to stay friends with their ex. Issa (from Insecure) even tried to make us believe that it's possible to be friends with an ex's new boo. Shoot, back in the day, our managing editor even said she could handle still having sex with her ex. To all of these scenarios, the main thing to keep in mind before even considering them is why you would do it. It needs to be more than because you miss ole' boy. When you're in a relationship with someone, it changes you. You need to consider how having any kind of "realness" with him will benefit the person you are now—the one you've become, in part, as a direct result of the relationship and it coming to an end. If you can find five good clear reasons, along with a male and female friend who can see the sense in it as well (because sometimes we need folks to see our matters from the inside out), then it is possible that you can keep an ex in your life and not run in a feedback loop with them. Tricky yet possible.
Be honest about what is required to fully move forward. One more tip. I'm gonna be honest with you—while I don't think that it's impossible to keep your past in your present, it does usually require some extraordinary finessing; especially if one or both of you have some sort of strong attraction or feelings for one another. Back to my ex, because there are always things, even about his personality, that I'm always gonna adore, I'm honestly playing myself to say that we can be "just friends". And it's the lack of honesty that gets me caught up in the feedback loop, no matter what, oftentimes when I absolutely least expect it. Yet isn't it interesting that a feedback loop is all about manipulating data? Therefore, doesn't it make perfect sense, that the way to break out of the loop, would be by being as genuine, sincere, and honest with oneself as possible?
Sis, do you need your ex in your life? If so, why? Because if keeping him around is going to leave you stagnant in some way, being "stuck" is never good. The people in your life should help you to move forward. Otherwise, you really should strongly consider leaving them behind.
Listen, this pandemic led me to that movie and that movie brought me to a phrase that I'll be using for a really long time. Feedback loops are manipulated data that we tend to respond to—and you deserve to not be manipulated by anyone; including yourself. Some exes suck forever. Some ex dynamics can be restored. Yet no relationship should have you running around in a loop that will get you absolutely nowhere. If you're in a loop, download ALL the data and react accordingly. A feedback loop might seem beautiful at first but it's not the total truth and a lie is just that—a lie. Choose wisely, sis.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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