Every time I get some braids, you basically can't tell me nothin'. Then when you take the cute factor up a couple of notches due to how convenient braids are, sometimes I have to literally talk myself into taking a break from 'em (like now). Anyway, while I'm not sure if I'm going to get my signature box braids in for the summer that is only a few weeks away (can you believe it?!), I definitely know that if I do happen to book an appointment, I'm going to do all of the things that trial and error have taught me is an absolute must.
A wise person once said that she who learns, teaches. Keeping that in mind, if you're seriously considering getting some braids soon, please take a moment to run through this 10-point checklist. That way, you can be confident that your hair will turn out just the way you want it to—and that your natural hair will be good and protected in the process as well.
1. Find Someone on Referral (or Meet with Your Potential Braider First)
I can't think of one time when I didn't go to get my braids done based on either a referral from a friend or by doing a thorough amount of research beforehand. When I got them as a teen, I only went to one person. When I got them a couple of years ago (and wore them for a few "rounds"), I not only read the online reviews of that particular salon, I also met up with my braider before booking an appointment. Listen, you're going to be spending too much money, sitting in that chair for far too long to be out here wingin' it. You need to go to someone you trust, so that you can get the best results. The extra time it takes to look into who is qualified is definitely well worth it.
2. Discuss the Types of Hair That Are Available
A huge mistake that a lot of women make when it comes to getting their hair braided is believing that all hair is the same. IT. IS. NOT. I remember once getting my hair braided by a dope braider yet the quality of hair was on the cheaper and itchy side (which is oftentimes the case when synthetic hair is packaged poorly and/or it's coated with a base that can trigger an allergic reaction). That's why it's also a good idea to ask your braider what kind of hair they have available and what would be the best kind for the style you want to have. Sometimes they may have the right hair on tap. Sometimes they may not.
For instance, the last set of box braids I got, I wanted a really natural ombre look, so I ordered some ombre-colored braiding hair online myself. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because the hair was good quality, felt really light on my head and the color ended up looking fabulous once the braids were in. I also got to knock some of the price off of my braiding appointment since, most times, the hair is factored into the prices. That made it a win, all the way around.
So yeah, don't just hop in a braider's chair without knowing what kind of hair they'll be working with. It matters just as much as the price, style and how long they presume everything will take.
3. Be Open to Getting More than Just One Style
Not all braided styles are created equal. That said, if you've got a good braider, while it is their job to make sure that you're happy as a customer, they should also offer up a few options that could be more complementary and/or take less time and/or could last longer than what you initially have in mind. Shoot, there have been several times when I thought I wanted something like Janet Jackson's hair inPoetic Justice, only to walk out with smaller braids in a lob (long bob) and I had absolutely no regrets.
I've also had moments when I thought I was married to jet black (my favorite color) braids and yet wound up with some random white and brown braids throughout my look and adored every minute of my reflection. Sometimes, the style we're after isn't the best when it comes to our face structure. Or, it's going to end up being heavier and hotter than we thought. Or, we just aren't aware of how many different braided styles actually exist. That's why going into a braids appointment with a couple of looks and also an open mind can never ever hurt. I can certainly testify to that.
4. Understand the Required Maintenance Beforehand
There are a couple of people in my world whose braids end up looking crazy about three weeks in while mine don't really need a retouch until week seven or so. The difference? They seem to think that braids require no type of maintenance at all and chile, that couldn't be further from the truth. Braid sprays can help your hair to retain moisture. Hot oil treatments can soothe and nourish your scalp. I don't know why folks think that they don't need a silk or satin scarf or bonnet to wrap their hair up at night (it reduces frays and frizz). High ponytails and top knots can put too much tension on the middle of your head and lead to breakage.
Wash days are still required (kinda; more on that in a sec). You definitely need to care for your nape and edges (more on that in a sec too). And, if you know that you're going to experience a good amount of regrowth, getting your edges tightened (which basically means getting the front and sides of your hair re-braided) is something that you need to schedule in too. While all of what I said may not hold a light to what you currently do, my point is you shouldn't overlook that braided hair still requires a regimen. Just something else to keep in mind.
5. Exfoliate Your Scalp
OK, now the prepping for the braiding itself. Remember how I said that sometimes the kind of hair that you use can lead to itching? It can cause a lot of irritation too. That's because our scalp is used to natural strands not synthetic fibers. Oftentimes, our scalp is already not in the best shape on braid day, so maybe 2-3 days before your braid appointment, consider prepping your scalp by exfoliating it. That can help to detox it and also remove any flakes.
Some people do detox their scalp by giving their scalp a massage with a bit of a warm carrier oil (such as jojoba, avocado or, my personal favorite, grapeseed which is great at treating dandruff) with a few drops of lavender (it cleanses the scalp) or peppermint (it invigorates the scalp) essential oil.
Others opt for making their own scalp scrub out of ingredients like brown sugar, sea salt or even lemon juice. If you'd prefer to go the second route, there are some easy recipes that you can try here.
Speaking of scalp irritation, another tip to keep in mind is to keep your scalp nourished once your braids are in. Sweet almond oil is great when it comes to providing moisture. Chamomile is wonderful if you want an oil that will soothe your scalp. Just get a bottle that has a nozzle for its top (that makes it easier to apply the oil in between your braids) and commit to oiling your scalp, eh, every couple of days or so. A soothed scalp means your braids can remain in longer without you being bothered by them.
6. Deep Condition Your Hair
Braids are definitely considered to be a protective style. The main reason why is because, two of the main benefits of getting them is 1) you literally don't have to do anything to your hair for 4-8 weeks and 2) your natural hair can get a break from constant styling and manipulation. However, there's no point in getting braids if, when you take them out, your own hair is a hot ass mess because it's dry and brittle due to lack of proper pre-hair care. That said, your natural hair needs as much moisture as possible before it's covered up in synthetic strands. That's why it's so important to deep condition your tresses, 1-3 days before braid day.
It will hydrate your hair. It will make it soft and manageable. It can also make it easier to either find fairy knots or prevent them. I've shared before that I like to deep condition my hair by mixing some regular old conditioner (pretty much any braid will do) and then adding some Chebe powder and sometimes some Jamaican black castor oil. After shampooing my hair, I'll apply the mixture and leave it all on for at least a couple of hours. My hair feels so amazing, every time I do it (which is every wash day). If you'd prefer to take another approach, check out "8 Hair Masks & Deep Conditioners That Revitalize Dry, Damaged Hair" and "5 Deep Conditioners Your Curls Deserve". You should be able to find a conditioner that you like there.
7. Prepare to “Baby” Those Edges
I know someone who was so used to wearing braids that she no longer has any edges left. Y'all, if constantly pulling, tugging and even brushing and combing your hair can weaken your edges, just think about the weight of what braids can do over time. This is why your braider shouldn't braid your hair so tightly that you basically look like you got a free facelift. As far as the kinds of styles that can take some of the pressure off, feed-in braids or halo braids are ones that can do it. Whatever look you decide to go with, definitely keep the updos to a bare minimum.
Oh, and the baby hairs that so many of us still try and make happen? Please don't make that a daily occurrence and, when you do go with an edge control, make sure it has no alcohol in it (alcohol can dry out your hair and lead to breakage). One more thing, "feed your edges' follicles" by applying some olive, coconut or that Jamaican black castor oil that I already mentioned. Since your edges will still be (somewhat) showing, they need to be "babied" a little more than the rest of your hair does; especially while your braids are in.
8. Understand What Your Wash Day Requires
Wash day is interesting when you've got braids. The reason why I say that is because some people prefer to shampoo their hair, pretty much like normal while their braids are in while others would actually like to cleanse their scalp only (so that their braids can remain as intact as possible). Me?
Usually, I just keep my scalp clean by either parting my scalp and cleansing it with something like Sea Breeze astringent or Cantu's Apple Cider Vinegar Root Rinse (I really like it because it has a nozzle that makes it easy to apply to the scalp). If your braids are only going to stay in for about a month or so (and you don't typically experience a lot of flaking when it comes to your scalp), focusing on your scalp only can reduce the chances of your braids frizzing up.
Oh, and if you're thinking that dry shampoo can do the trick, please avoid that at all costs. It will definitely have your braids looking dusty and could irritate your scalp as well. If you do decide to all out wash your braids, it's probably easiest to do it in the shower. Be sure to go with a mild shampoo (preferably one that is sulfate-free because you still need to protect your natural hair and sulfates can dry it out). Put your shampoo into an applicator bottle (that's one that has a nozzle attached) and apply the shampoo directly to your scalp.
While you are washing, use your fingertips on your scalp and DO NOT rub your braids together. Let the shampoo naturally flow down to your braids, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then rinse your hair thoroughly. As far as conditioning goes, spraying some leave-in conditioner onto your scalp and braids is probably all that you will need to do. I won't lie to you—wash day with braids (especially if you've got a lot of 'em or your braids are long) can take several hours.
Many people just let them air dry; however, you can sit under a hooded dryer (or put on a hood attachment to a handheld dryer). Just make sure that your braids dry thoroughly because they can get mold in them (yuck, I know). Anyway, if you're more of a visual learner like I am, the YouTube channel Shanique Buntyn has a video that can walk you through the steps of how to wash your braids so that they come out looking as frizz-free as possible. You can check it out here.
9. Keep Them in No Longer than Eight Weeks Tops
Listen, I've seen plenty of videos out in cyberspace where sistahs have tried to "rig up" keeping their braids in by knotting up (literally twisting the hair or tying the roots into a knot) the new growth. Yeah, don't do that. All you're ultimately doing is asking for your hair to either lock up or for it to be pure hell for you to get everything untied when you're ready to take your braids down. While most stylists will say that six weeks really needs to be the limit for how long braids stay in, please don't push it past eight.
Otherwise, your natural hair could start to break, your scalp will probably get irritated (dabbing some peppermint oil onto your scalp with a Q-tip is a great hack for this), your hair follicles could weaken (due to the weight of the new growth combined with the weight of your braids)—it's just not a good look all the way around. Oh, and don't book your next braid appointment to be a mere couple of days after you took your braids out either. Even though braids are indeed a protective style, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing; your natural hair needs to breathe.
Two weeks off to wash, deep condition and let your hair rest are ideal.
10. Get Your Mind Right When It Comes to Taking Those Babies Out
I don't think there has been one time when, about halfway through a braiding appointment (for the size and length of the braids that I typically get, two women on my head ends up being 5-6 hours of braid time), I won't think, "Damn. I'm gonna have to take these out at some point." When your hair is relatively short, it's not that big of a deal because you can kinda cut the braids wherever you want and unravel them. Get a little length in, though, and it can definitely turn into an all-day process. SMDH.
The main things to keep in mind is 1) you need to be patient when cutting the braids so that you don't cut your own hair; 2) you need to find something fun to do to distract you (like binge-watch a television show), and 3) you definitely need to wash and super deep condition your hair once all of the braids are out. However much time you need to set aside to accomplish those three goals, that is what you need to purpose in your mind to do.
Putting braids in requires some hours. Taking them out does too. Both are worth it yet lawd, they both can get on your very last nerve. So, when it comes to getting braids (and getting rid of them), please make sure your head is—pun not intended—in the game. Happy braiding, y'all.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
Featured image by Kanobi Pollard/xoNecole
Charge it to the fact that I am such a fan of music, but whenever I’m out shopping, I tend to pay attention to what stores are playing. And if there’s one song that seems to show up just about everywhere, it’s a light rock classic by Don Henley and Patty Smyth entitled “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” I promise, even if you don’t know it by the title, you’ve heard it yourself, at least a dozen times in your lifetime — and whether that kind of music is your “scene” or not, the reality is that the words are true.
Even now, in real time, I’m dealing with two clients who love each other very much, and still…they are gearing up to file for divorce. Why? One reason is that, although the love is very strong, the type of love that the husband has for the wife is very different from the kind of love the wife has for her husband (hers is more of a friendship/agape love). Another reason is because, over time, their values have become very different (get someone who complements your life; it makes all of the difference in the world). And still, another is the wife feels that, if she were to stay, she’d be choosing to remain stagnant as an individual because the kind of life he wants isn’t the kind that she desires…anymore.
Because I am super Team Covenant, for me, in many ways and on many levels, it's all tragic. Divorce is indeed like a death. I am a survivor of it from my own parents. I am watching two children who I love very much currently go through it. And as a marriage life coach for over 18 years now, although I’ve been able to help more couples stay together or even reconcile after divorce, my “record” is not spotless. Yet you do live long enough, and you see that, sometimes, no matter how much love is present, if you want to go the very far and beautiful distance of “’til death parts us” on a literal level — you need more than just love to make that happen…no matter how romantic or even idealistic the notion might be.
Let me explain, in a bit more detail, just where I am coming from.
What It Means to Actually Love Someone
Have you ever thought about what it actually means to love another individual? I promise that if you rely on social media to define it for you, you’re about to be set up for a mighty fall because easily 60-70 percent of the content on there is self-centered, unrealistic, and very feelings-and-nothing-else driven. What I mean by that last point is folks seem to think that love is ONLY a feeling when it is actually so much more than that.
For starters, love is a daily choice. Yep, ask any married couple who has more than a decade under their belt, and they will be quick to tell you that no matter how much they love their partner, sometimes they don’t “feel” like they do, and so they have to push past their feelings and remember that they chose that individual, they made sacred promises in the form of vows to that person, and so they must choose to honor them. THAT IS A FORM OF LOVE.
Know what else love is?
Love is being someone’s strongest support system, greatest advocate, and biggest hype man or woman. That requires a lot of patience, a ton of prayer, and quite a bit of believing in someone because, if they were perfect, why would they need any of that? Yeah, another thing that’s sad about what many people think about love is they expect the person who they say “I love you” to, to be whatever version of love that they conjured up in their mind — and usually that is very idealistic, which is extremely unfair.
Yeah, it’s mighty interesting that if you look to the Good Book for love definitions, things like “love is patient” (I Corinthians 13:4) and “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) are what immediately come to mind and yet humans? They don’t wanna wait for nothin’, and they definitely don’t think that they should sacrifice anything. Wild.
Another thing about love is it transforms. Not "changes someone" (some folks think they are supposed to use love to manipulate, and that isn’t love at all) — it transforms them. And that takes time. Contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith once said, “Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.” Transformation plays a role in the healing process. Here’s the thing about that, though: if people didn’t have anything wrong with them, what would they need to heal from? Transformation invests in others; in order to invest, you must give — not just take.
Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” Transformation is about understanding someone without trying to change them. Unfortunately, far too many people fail miserably at this. And yet, how arrogant is it to be out here thinking that it’s your job to change someone? Who are you to appoint yourself to that? Do you even understand the person who you’re trying to change? Or are you only coming from the angle of who and what you want them to be? That’s not understanding; again, that is manipulation.
To be honest with y’all, I could go on and on about what love is, yet this is an article and not a book. For now, I’ll just say that I think it was important to amplify those three talking points because they are the “angles of love” that oftentimes go overlooked. That’s why I wanted to lay some foundation on what genuine and mature love looks like before getting into why sometimes love is enough because it’s its own pandemic: the amount of people who call what they are in with or towards someone “love” when it's actually…anything (and sometimes everything) but.
Five Things That Should Come with Being in Love
Okay, so with all of what I just said, you might wonder how you could actually hit the three love points that I shared, and it still not be enough to keep a relationship going — at least, a healthy and purpose-filled one. That’s a really great question. So, because love is so vast…let’s keep building with five things that should be happening, MUTUALLY SO, when two people are actually in love with each other.
1. You’re becoming a better person. There is a Leo Buscalgia quote that I’ve shared before (more than once, actually) that I absolutely adore. It says, “As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” And honestly, the quote says it all. If you think you’re in love with someone, yet you AND they are not becoming better as a direct result of the love experience, something is definitely awry. At the end of the day, if you believe that “God is love” (I John 4:8&16), love should definitely be improving you and him in a myriad of different ways and on a thousand different levels because a spiritual relationship with the Divine does just that. No wiggle room.
2. Your life is moving forward, not back. On the heels of what I just said, love shouldn’t have you out here living in a state of stagnation. Love is to liberate you and make you feel like you can release what is holding you back so that you can run toward what will improve your quality of life. That said, if since you’ve been with “him,” you can’t name three things that have shifted, drastically so, when it comes to how your life is progressing, that is a bit of a red flag as well. Love is to fuel you into newer dimensions, not keep you in hamster wheels of cyclic (and typically counterproductive) patterns.
3. You are receiving peace and being a conduit of peace too. I can’t believe how many people on social media get triggered whenever they hear that someone wants to be with a peaceful and peace-filled individual. What in the world? Peace, in a relationship, is about harmony. Peace is about tranquility. Peace is about being on one accord, having a strong and solid friendship, and feeling calm in another person’s presence. Peace is not turmoil. Peace is not stress. PEACE IS NOT DRAMA. A lot of people out here? They think that because their relationship is passionate or intense that love is present. More times than not, the answer is “no.” As a woman by the name of Mary Helen Doyle once said, “Choose love and peace will follow. Choose peace and love will follow.” If that is not your personal reality with your significant other…you’ve got some serious thinking to do.
4. Your views on love and relationships are maturing. Have you ever known a relationship that is childish? There’s no other way to put it. The two people involved are always trying to one-up each other. When they’re mad, they’ll go days without speaking. You find yourself watching a soap opera online that you didn’t ask for because one or both of them are constantly being passive-aggressive about each other’s mess on their social media pages. Ugh. Remember how I said that peace isn’t drama? Yeah, true love isn’t either. In fact, one of the main things that love does is provide you with a safe space to be held accountable so that you’re able to grow in areas where you wouldn’t have otherwise. If your “love relationship” isn’t maturing you…that’s another flag on the play.
5. Sex is the “icing” not the “cake.” A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “What If The Sex Is Great? But The Relationship Sucks.” And yeah, this point? Listen, oxytocin — the natural hormone that bonds you to the people you are physically intimate with — can have you out here thinking that just because a man makes your body feel good that he’s good for your mind and spirit too (check out “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?”). In other words, sex can be deceptive, which is why I don’t like the term “make love” (check out “I Absolutely Hate The Phrase 'Make Love.' Here's Why.”). Truly, it can’t be said enough: sex does not MAKE love; sex CELEBRATES a love that is already in place. People who are truly in love know this.
Okay, so this is already quite a bit to think about, right? It’s also essential and relevant because, before you can come to the conclusion that love is not enough to keep your relationship going, you need to make sure that love is what you’re actually experiencing. IS IT?
Now, let’s get into the main reasons why this article has the title that it does.
It’s Damn Near Impossible to Love Someone You Don’t Respect
I’m pretty sure that, at one point or another, we’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Y’all, that is absolutely how I feel about providing this kind of content for singles — and to me, “single” is individuals whose tax records say that they are. Because no matter how much you may care about someone, again, ask anyone who’s gone through a divorce, and I’m pretty sure they will tell you that breaking up (no matter how difficult it may be) will spare you a lot more heartbreak than ending a marriage will. And so, with that being said, one reason why love may not be enough to try and stay with someone you are seeing (in a dating or even engaged dynamic) is if you don’t respect them — or they don’t respect you.
Scripturally, when it comes to how wives are to treat their husbands, I always think it’s amazing that women are told, not to prioritize loving their husband but respecting him (Ephesians 5:33). If you go to I Peter 3:2 (AMPC), it defines respect in this fashion: “…to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].” (Did y’all see “prize” in there? I DID.)
Ask any man worth his salt, and he’s gonna tell you, I believe without hesitation, that the way he feels love is by feeling respected. So, when you take all of those words in I Peter into account, do you respect your man? And if you don’t, why don’t you? I promise you, with every ounce of my being, that if you don’t respect him, it’s only a matter of time before your relationship either ends or becomes highly dysfunctional because respect is paramount in a healthy, loving dynamic.
And yes, you deserve to be respected as well.
- When a man respects you, he is honest with you.
- When a man respects you, he values opinions.
- When a man respects you, he honors your boundaries.
- When a man respects you, he doesn’t “hit below the belt” in disagreements.
- When a man respects you, he is careful in how he treats you.
- When a man respects you, he prioritizes you.
- When a man respects you, no kind of abuse transpires (including neglect).
Hmph. When you marinate on all of this, one might say that you can’t be loved without being respected. While on some levels, that’s true — believe you me, I have dialogued with many couples over the years who love each other yet they don’t respect each other’s boundaries or they don’t fight fair. And that’s because one or both of them weren’t taught to prioritize respect.
I will say this, though: even if you do love your partner, if you don’t respect them and/or they don’t respect you, love is not going to be enough. Not to go the distance in a mutually beneficial kind of way, it’s not.
LOVING Someone Doesn’t Mean That the Two of You Are COMPATIBLE
Yep, I’m gonna bring some Scripture back into this. Back in the Garden of Eden, when God decided to bless Adam with a helpmate, the Classic Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 described her to be this: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.’” Suitable means “appropriate” and “fitting.” Adapted means being able “to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.” Complementary means “the quantity or amount that completes anything.” Complete, in this context, speaks to “having all parts or elements; lacking nothing.”
Y’all, there are a couple of men who I loved, but it didn’t work out. I was mad at first — and yet, in hindsight, it was never meant to be. Why? Because I was not the right kind of helper for them, and they were not the right kind of protector and provider for me. There were things about us that didn’t “fit.” There were areas where we weren’t willing to be flexible in order to make the relationship work. When it came to our values, perspectives, and goals, significant things were lacking.
And that’s why I tell couples who come to me prior to marriage that they need to take COMPATIBILITY into serious account before saying “I do.” Compatible literally means “capable of existing or living together in harmony” — and I can’t tell you how many married folks have either been at their entire wit’s end or have ultimately called it quits due to this being such an issue.
It can be what seems like something “minor” at first too. For instance, don’t underestimate if you’re the kind of person who likes a spotless home and your partner’s house isn’t the cleanest. Don’t think it’s not a big deal if you’re an extrovert who likes to go out a lot and your partner seems like he barely even likes people (I know a married couple who have suffered, greatly, over the years because of this). Don’t go into denial if you’re a spontaneous person and your partner is very much “married” to routine.
Some of my male friends? We are very close, and I adore them; they adore me, too. We ain’t ugly either. Yet we are close enough to know and accept that the way we do life as individuals, there is no way we would be harmonious as a couple. Yep, sometimes love isn’t enough because the two of you simply aren’t compatible (or compatible enough) to go the distance.
Being with Someone You Love Isn’t the Ultimate Goal. Being in a Healthy Relationship Is.
As I wrap this up, one more point. A hill that I will forever and a day die on is far too many people put being happy over being healthy. Hmph, I’ll even take that a step further and say that far too many folks think that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make them happy when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, if you don’t even know how to keep yourself happy all of the time, how the hell is someone else supposed to pull it off? Ridiculous. And you know what? When two people are able to see things from this perspective, when they are able to fully grasp that 1) happiness is about inner work, 2) happiness comes and goes, and 3) being healthy is what should matter more — then they can find another person who feels the same way. And that is a solid foundation to build on.
Definitely, two healthy people get that when it comes to being in a long-term relationship that is thriving and flourishing, having someone to love who loves you back is pretty awesome. However, what keeps the relationship together is ensuring that the dynamic is HEALTHY.
So, am I saying that you can love someone in a very pure and genuine way and the relationship be unhealthy? 1000 percent. I’m not speaking of extreme things like abuse, either. I mean…a word that oftentimes comes up whenever healthy is mentioned is “vigor.” Vigor speaks to strength, power, and ability. And if, by being involved with the person who you love, you are not getting stronger, becoming more powerful, and feeling more capable of becoming your best self as you are doing the same thing for him — there are elements about the relationship that is the opposite of healthy: unhealthy, and that means that love isn’t enough. In fact, you should love each other enough to let each other…go. So, that you both can be joined by those who will support and encourage you to become a more…vigorous individual.
Whew, this was a lot. I know. It was also necessary. Because it’s time (past time, really) that we stop romanticizing love to the point that we lose sight of what its purpose is: the fuel needed to keep a healthy relationship going. And hopefully now, all of these words later (LOL), you are able to see that certain things have to be in place, outside of love, for things to not only work…but work well.
“Sometimes love just ain’t enough” is both a mouthful and the truth.
Choose wisely, sis. Love yourself enough to do that…please.
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