Here's my true confession for the week. It's only been within the past 12 months or so that I can honestly say that, when it comes to at least 95 percent of my relationships (be it personal or professional), my needs are being met. Whew, girl! I can't tell you how good it feels to say that.
If you've read even a couple of my articles on here (especially the relationship ones), I'm pretty sure that I'm being redundant when I say that I spend A LOT of time in self-introspection. When it comes to this particular topic, I think the combination of coming from a broken home (two times over), being abused (sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally—not every day but enough to break my spirit) and choosing some of the wackest friends, boyfriends and sex partners as a direct result, all played a part in me not getting my needs met.
Because I wasn't really taught how to value myself, I didn't.
And because I always wanted someone to value me in order to fill the void, I found myself in a constant state of immense codependency. You know—out here doing most of the work just so that I wouldn't feel alone. I find it to be no coincidence that the moment I said to myself, "Wait a minute. This is crazy. Let me tend to 'Little Shellie' so that Big Shellie can get out relationships what she truly deserves," that things took a turn for the better. The much better.
I don't settle for work situations that want me to compromise my platform, my standards and, to a large degree, even my expectations. And on the personal tip, although I strive for peace with everyone, I don't try and keep people around who, through their actions (or lack thereof), don't act like they want to be there; a clear sign of when that's the case is when someone knows what you need—not necessarily want but need—and refuse to do anything about it.
Did you just read all of that and suddenly feel the urge to scream "yes!" from your desk, couch or bed? If you can relate to where I'm coming from, but you have a hard time figuring out why you're constantly in a state of being deprived in your own relationships, here are five points that helped me to get to the root of why it was happening to me so much. I pray it sets you free, sis.
You’re Not Really Sure What Your Needs Are
If you're a parent, an aunt or even if you've simply babysat before, you know what it's like dealing with a toddler who doesn't know what they want. They're crying, maybe even throwing an all-out temper tantrum, but when you keep asking them what they want, they don't have an answer; plus, they are mad at you for not figuring it out for them.
A lot of grown people are just like this. They think that because someone loves (or even deeply likes) them that they should be going above and beyond to get to the root of what their needs are; that reading their mind is evidence that they truly care.
Toddlers get a pass because they are still trying to figure out what a need is, let alone how to express it. Adults? Not so much. No one should be expected to read your mind. Bigger than that, no one should be expected to know what your needs are when you can't even figure them out.
If your needs are never met, maybe because you are the first one who doesn't have a clue what they are. Hmm.
Once You Figure Them Out, You Don’t VERBALIZE Them
I'm a woman and even I get worn out by some of the women in my life who prefer to drop hints rather than be direct. I'm supposed to guess what they want to do for their birthday or I'm supposed to be so in tune with them that I know when they want to hang out and when they need their space.
Having these kinds of unrealistic expectations are not only unrealistic, they are also unfair and bring unnecessary pressure to the relationship dynamic. People who truly care about you and want to be a part of your life want to know what your needs are. If you truly care about your connection with them, state your needs. Don't hold people accountable for what you never put on record in the first place.
You Automatically Think Others Should Do for You What You Are Doing for Them
It's an esurance commercial where one senior woman is posting pics on her wall, thinking that's how FB functions. When she tells her two friends about it, one of them irritates her and she responds by telling her that she just "unfriended" her by removing her photograph. Her friend then replies by saying, "That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works."
When it comes to trying to get your needs met and attempting to do it by incorporating the Golden Rule—you know, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"—I think that old lady's response applies. Translation—just because you may go above and beyond to meet the needs of others, that doesn't automatically mean they will do the same for you (you'll have to trust God and karma to give back, but not necessarily a particular individual).
One way you can know if this is a pattern (that is more like a rut) for you is to think about how you feel immediately following and then a few days after you do something for someone. If there is a part of you that is resentful because you don't think they responded in the way you would have 1) check your motives for what you did in the first place and 2) accept that this particular point probably hits really close to home.
Getting what you need doesn't always come as the result of giving others what you need. The Golden Rule is a reminder to treat people like you want to be treated. However, it is not a guarantee that they will or that they'll respond/react exactly the way (or in the time) that you do/would. Always remember that.
You Overcompensate in Virtually All of Your Relationships
One of my once-upon-a-time-closest relationships, after we had a pretty big disagreement and worked things out, one of the things I said to them was, "I'm going to quit doing 80 percent of the work in this. So, we'll be whatever we're going to be if I'm not doing most of the work." I haven't heard from them since. It was a great relational experiment—and lesson.
I'm a big giver. It's one of my spiritual gifts (if you've never taken a spiritual gifts test before, they are actually pretty cool; you can take one here). But it took me a LONG time to learn the difference between giving as a form of ministry (serving others) and giving in a relationship where there should be some type of reciprocity.
A lot of us are not getting our needs met because we are doing far too much of the work. We're sending the message that all someone has to do is the bare minimum and we'll be absolutely fine with that. If you're not—and you shouldn't be—here's where my final point comes in.
There Are No “Consequences” for Them Not Being Met
When it comes to disciplining children, I once read that while punishment is typically an emotional reaction on the parent's part, consequences are designed to correct and improve a child's behavior. In a nutshell, punishments can sometimes be nothing more than painful while consequences are the direct result of cause and effect.
If we were to apply this to grown folks dealing with one another, I think the article "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead" applies. Back when I was just out here punishing people for hurting me (or even just disappointing me), it only caused more harm. Now, when I have a need and it continually doesn't get met, I simply release that individual. It's cause and effect—if you don't see the value of my needs, then you must not need me around.
If someone truly wants you in their life, they'll learn from their consequences.
If nothing changes, well, maybe you didn't need them quite as much as you thought you did. Hmph.
Featured image by Getty Images
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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.
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 masturdating? 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 masturdating 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 Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. 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 masturdating 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 masturdating 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 masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
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 masturdating 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” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating 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 masturdating 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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