First Date Rules I'm Not Afraid to Break
Leave it up to movies like Think Like A Man and Two Can Play That Game, and you'll swear that the only way to get and keep a man is to play by a set of well-documented rules. But as much as I appreciate the opinion of my male and female counterparts, I must admit that I've never been one to be on my best behavior in hopes of locking a man down.
Rules are designed as a way to perpetuate standards, moral values, and to maintain boundaries. When applied to a dating lens, they're more so dependent on the trust and comfort levels of the person you're with. I've read article after article touching on first date rules and dating no no's, and I've realized I've never been one to follow many first date rules.
The tried and true method ultimately does not work for me. In fact, I felt that I wasn't being true to who I was on a first date because I was too concerned about what my date thought of me based off of a list of first date rules that were, in my opinion, very much outdated. I wondered if there was something wrong with me for dating rules like “never return a call or text immediately" or “wait three days to call" never worked for me. That was until I started thinking for myself during dates, feeling the man, reading the moment, and allowing myself to be.
So here are my rules, the ones that may go against the grain, but have yet to keep me from being in fulfilling relationships.
Do Ask the Guy
When we talk about the principles of the chase, it stems from women's desire to be certain that a man is interested in her. How can you know he's interested if you become the pursuer versus the pursuant? You can ask. I don't believe shyness or fear of rejection knows gender roles, so that guy that sits three seats up from you in class or the barista who makes your vanilla bean frap everyday who you think will just ask if they are interested could be having that very same thought about you. If you want to go on a date with someone, just ask. It takes a lot of pain out of beating around the bush and/or making assumption after assumption.
Do Talk About What You Want
Again, the pretenses. While I don't think that you should talk about your desires to wed in Hawaii by the time that you're 30, I do think that it's important to be clear and direct about what you want, even if it means giving a canned answer of “I'm going with the flow". I think this is important because sometimes women aren't honest with even themselves that they are looking for something serious out of fear that the man they're dating will run at the slightest hint of commitment, but if that's what you're looking for and he's paralyzed by the idea of it, you've saved yourself the time and energy of getting to know someone who isn't the one for you. If you feel like you have to play cool to get the guy, you're not starting things off on the right foot and you should ask yourself the question of why you feel you must hide behind a mask.
Do Mention Your Ex and Do Hear About His
Okay, if he left you a couple of weeks ago and the wound is still fresh, you should probably sit this one out. But I think a lot can be revealed about a person when you have an ex talk. There's no need to write an eloquent detailed history for him right then and there about Mr. Wrong, but it's worth it to touch the surface a little bit. With that one conversation, you can learn how fresh the relationship is, whether or not he is over the situation, whether or not he is capable of accepting blame or if he sees himself as perfect, and most importantly, what that lesson has led to him as far as discovering what he wants in a future partner are.
Do Wear Whatever You Want
It's unsettling to hear at times the feeling of ownership society has on what women wear and how they define or label us based on those decisions. If you feel sexy in a turtleneck, some jeans, and those vintage All Star Converses in your closet, wear them. If you feel sexy giving enough cleave to the gods, do it! I think we internalize what everyone thinks so much that it silences our own wants. Wear what makes you sexy and even though there are men out there like Rev Run who believe, “Dress the way you want to be addressed" – do you. My value is not entwined in what I decide to wear and if you're going to radiate confidence on your first date, wear what feels most true to you.
Do Talk About Whatever the Hell You Want
It's usually taboo to talk about any hot button topics that could potentially cause an argument, especially when you don't really know a person or have that comfort level to properly diffuse situations without being offensive. I don't think that should stop a natural progression of a conversation though. If it comes up that you love God and you're a devout Christian, talk about religion. If it comes up that you don't believe in Trump's desires for foreign policy, so be it. Let the conversation go where it flows. If a difference in opinion is something that he can't handle, that could indicate whether or not you'd like to see him again. And some of us like intellectual debates with our dates. It shouldn't have to take a backseat just because it's your first.
Do Focus on the Present
All in all, a lot of the weight that comes along with acing a first date comes with the pressure we place on ourselves as far as expectations go, especially when we're really into someone. Truthfully, one of the best ways to stay true to yourself is to stay in the now and don't look so far ahead at where this date may lead. Just be. The real you is under that bundle of anxiety-ridden nerves so let go and focus on the moment. Don't think about whether or not he'll call, get to know him, and decide whether or not you like him.
Do Engage in Kissing on Either Set of Your Lips
This is not for everyone, but I am a believer that sometimes chemistry is instant and sometimes you might want to kiss him at the end of a great night, sometimes you want to do more than kiss him. Do not allow the stigma of first date rules stop from doing something you want to do. If you've learned from past experiences that sex too soon makes you a stage five clinger, you might want to refrain until you're certain about how you feel. But if you're all for the count, you feel comfortable, and you want to, by all means, why not? Sex does change things though when it comes to dynamics between two people. The best thing that can happen is that you have a night of fun where someone you were into was equally into you and swept up by the flow of the night and lost themselves in you as wondrously as you did into them. The worst that can happen is that he doesn't call you after. But I'd like to emphasize that if he doesn't call, he never planned to call. Sex doesn't make a man lose interest, and if it does, they weren't interested enough in you to begin with. And if that's the case, did you really want him anyway?
Keeping that in mind, be one with yourself and true to yourself. Don't worry about what he thinks about you and instead worry about what you think about him. That's the way to survive the dating world. I am a firm believer that if you value yourself and know what you want, the world can see that. There is no need to follow a set of rules to act as guidelines to get you to the commitment you want so if you break a couple, so what? Just be yourself. Truthfully, that's the kind of genuine connections you should be gravitating towards and holding close to you in your world anyway. A finger is constantly being placed in our faces when we act on our desires in an act to tell us “no", and I'm just here to say, “yes". Yes. Yes. YES!
What first date rules are you not afraid to break?
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.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
Featured image courtesy