Several years ago, one of my closest friends violated a boundary.
A very firm boundary that she was very much aware of. When I confronted her about it, rather than taking full ownership for what she did, she deflected—and by that, I mean manipulated—by taking a victim approach. When I called her out on that as well, she claimed that she needed some time apart to figure out where things stood between us. Fast forward to a year later and, out of the blue, I received a (count 'em) whopping 10-page letter about all of the things she thought I did wrong and what I needed to do in order to restore our relationship.
Look, before even getting deep into this topic, be leery about someone who doesn't take personal ownership and responsibility in your relationship with them. It's very difficult to establish or maintain anything healthy or lasting with that type of individual.
Anyway, after giving her oh-so-arrogant "offer" some thought, I wrote her back and told her that I would pass. After all, the main thing that caused our breakdown in the first place was her refusing to address the error of her ways and just how much she disrespected me. Since she came at me with basically the same approach 12 months later, it didn't take a best-selling self-help book to know that it was going to be a matter of time before we hit the same wall…yet again.
I didn't share that lil' tale of mine as a way to say that you should never take a friend you once fell out with back. We all make mistakes and sometimes time really does heal all wounds (more on that in just a bit). What I am saying is, just like with an ex-boyfriend, if someone is an ex-friend of yours, they are that for a reason. So, before you decide to let them back into your head and heart space, do yourself a favor and ask yourself the following five questions. It could spare you more wasted weeks, months or even years with someone you should've left alone…the first time.
Why Did Things Fall Apart in the First Place?
One of my close friends is a relationships coach (shout out to Jay Hurt). Because we both work in the relationship realm, we're constantly having debates about how to handle different situations. A common discussion is what constitutes a mistake vs. what is an intentional bad choice.
I'll give you an example. One time, we were discussing how often should a spouse take someone back after they've had multiple emotional affairs. Whenever Jay comes at me with "I mean, people make mistakes", I'm usually looking at my phone like, "Are you serious right now?!"
Mistakes are birthed about of a lack of knowledge, carelessness or misunderstanding. If someone is harming another person over and over again, that is NOT a mistake; that is a conscious choice. OK so, when you're trying to decide whether or not to reconcile with an ex-friend, it's important to reflect on why/how the two of you fell out in the first place.
Was it because of a really big mistake? Or was it due to a series of poor choices? If it's Column B, be cautious about getting back involved with individuals who intentionally bring you drama, turmoil and harm. It takes a lot of self-work to break outta that kind of pattern. Unfortunately, there aren't a ton of people who choose to grow in that way.
Have They Owned Up to Their Ish? Have You?
Recently, I ran into an ex-friend who wanted us to reconnect. As I was listening to them go into their song-and-dance about me knowing how they are, about 15 minutes in, what I realized they weren't doing was apologizing for their actions.
I have learned the oh-so-very hard way that if someone doesn't clearly address what they've done wrong (or how they hurt or offended you because wrongdoing and hurt feelings are not automatically or necessarily one in the same) and then apologize for it, not only does it reveal a lack of humility and personal accountability, it also sets you up for being hurt by them all over again. Same goes for if you're the one who hurt them.
If someone is truly interested in reconciling, one of the first things they are going to do is take responsibility for their actions. So yeah, look for that while contemplating what you should do about restoring things with an ex-friend. If they are too prideful or "worse", too clueless to address core issues, you're setting yourself up for a series of reruns, which includes getting run over…again. And again.
Can You Keep the Past Out of the Present?
People who claim to be highly-spiritual but don't know how to forgive baffle me. Even Scripture tells us that there is no way we can be forgiven by God if we don't forgive other people (Matthew 6:14-15). A person has to be mighty full of themselves to think that God should overlook their missteps when they aren't willing to do the same for folks who are just as human as they are.
However, forgiving someone (which for me, sometimes comes in the form of releasing them) doesn't always mean that you should go back to the way things were. The former friend that I mentioned that the beginning of this piece? I've seen them since. I hug them whenever I do. But they were so disrespectful, on so many levels, that I already know it would be extremely close to impossible to totally leave the past out of our present.
Forgiving someone doesn't mean that you don't learn from the experience. Sometimes the lesson is to make peace and then…move on.
Were They Ever Really Your Friend to Begin With?
Something that creeps me out are people who make it their mission to be my friend. Meaning, things don't evolve organically. It's more like a goal of theirs to get my number and be all up in my business. Something is extremely disingenuous about those types of connections.
When I look back on how stable my friendships are now in comparison to how cray-crazy some of mine used to be in the past, I realize that a lot of my past situations weren't very authentic. There was a lot of codependency, opportunism and one-sidedness going on. And really, what kind of solid or lasting friendship can come outta that?
Not too long ago, I penned "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect from Your Friendships". A little while before that, I wrote "Why Friendships Should Come with Deal Breakers, Too". Believe you me when I say that you can spare a lifetime worth of time, effort and energy if, before you take an ex-friend back, you reflect on if the root of the fallout was accepting that neither of you were really friends to begin with. Ouch and amen.
What’s Different About Them—NOW?
We've all seen someone on Twitter share their perspective on something, only to have someone pull up receipts from five years before that reflect a totally different stance. Sigh. That's one of the most challenging things about social media—it doesn't really leave much room for maturity or evolution.
That's why I'm not comfortable making a blanket statement that anyone who has had a falling out with a friend, they should never consider reconciliation. If the "person in question" is showing signs of growth (especially in the areas where the two of you fell out in the first place), they offer up a heartfelt apology and you can honestly leave the past in the past—oh, and you have some solid reasons why becoming friends with them again would be a beneficial thing at this point in your life—at least be open to considering it.
Sometimes, what time does is not only heal wounds but transition us into better people. The kind of people who could turn out to be better friends than before.
If that is what appears to be happening with your ex-friend, take things slow but don't keep the door totally shut. Being willing to see where they are now could up being a blessing in disguise—for you both.
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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. ;)
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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