I don't know about you but, a lot of times, whenever I read books or articles on relationships, when it comes to signs that you're in the wrong one, oftentimes it has to do with things like abuse (neglect is a form of abuse, by the way), being taken for granted, always giving your all to someone who does very little giving in return (check out "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife")…you know, stuff like that. But what happens when you're with a guy who, for all intents and purposes, is pretty close to greatness? You like each other. The chemistry is cool. If someone were to ask you for a list of 10 things that you appreciate about the connection, you could state them with a fair amount of ease. Problem is, for the past few weeks (or even months), you've been feeling like something, somehow, isn't quite right. It's like, while you feel like you're currently on a path to soaring, for some reason, your relationship feels like it's in the way—although you can't put your finger on why you feel that way.
If what I just said somehow scratched an itch somewhere in your psyche, take out about seven minutes or so to check this piece all the way out. When it comes to being in the kind of relationship that is truly best for us, it's not enough that the relationship is cool; it also needs to be one that is helping us to progress, clearly, in life. If you can't say that about your own, real talk, it's probably doing the opposite (holding you back) which isn't a good thing. So, how can you know for sure if your man is holding you back in this season of your life?
Let’s Start with “If You Have to Ask” (and You’re Reading This Article)
So, usually when I'm writing something where I feel like this particular point needs to be mentioned, I will save it for the end. But, in this case, I'm going to switch up a bit. Have you ever heard the saying that oftentimes, we're looking for someone to tell us what, in the back of our mind, we already know? While I'm sure that some women clicked onto this article, just for curiosity's sake, I've been writing (and relationship coaching) long enough to know that some of y'all clicked on here because you are seeking confirmation that your man is indeed a "stumbling block" of sorts. It's not that you don't love him. It's not that the two of you don't share some good times together. It's not even that he doesn't have some awesome qualities. It's just that—it feels like you're not at a place in your life that you thought that you would, once you finally met "the one". Because of that, you've been looking for a sign to let you know that the eerie feeling that you have in the pit of your stomach is spot-on.
While this first point may not be the huge blinking neon sign that you've been looking for, if you keep reading, something tells me that you'll have the clarity you seek in just a few more moments. Let's keep going.
Reflect on the Concessions You Made in the Relationship Since Day One
There is no way that a relationship is healthy (or is even going to last long), if both parties aren't willing to compromise along the way. Since none of us are perfect, there are even certain concessions that are usually made in order for a relationship to flow smoothly. But when it comes to this particular point, what I do encourage you to ponder is what it literally means to concede. When it comes to "acknowledging what is true" (like maybe your man doesn't look exactly how you thought your dream guy would or he doesn't check off on every single thing that's on your "what I want in a man list"), it's realistic to accept that it's rare that any of us get all of what we want and that's OK. But when it comes to another definition of concede which is "yield to pressure or circumstances", you really should think about if you are currently conceding a hell of a lot more than you should; perhaps because you've been doing more than you ever have, ever since the relationship began.
- Did you always overlook some of his traits that you can never seem to really mesh with?
- Have you always ignored the fact that he's not really the best complement for your life?
- Did you let your family members or friends talk you into starting what has felt more like a hindrance the entire time (just because it hasn't been the right time)?
- Have you always wanted a relationship that has more passion, more drive—more something that is lacking in the one that you're in?
- Did you do what I've done in a few of my relationships—go into it convincing yourself that you would eventually like the guy as much as he liked you? Only, that still hasn't happened…yet?
Maybe you're staying in the relationship simply because you've been in it so long that you fear the thought of starting over. Maybe you're remaining because you don't want to hurt your man's feelings. Maybe the relationship is good but something in you knows that there's a man out in the universe who you can actually be great with.
If this is hitting close to home, just remember that a concession in the form of compromise is one thing. But if you are sacrificing your own core needs in the process of remaining where you are, that is unhealthy. It's also not very fair to either one of you in the long run.
Ask Yourself What About the Relationship Reminds You of Past Slip-Ups
There are some movies that, you're not really sure why you are intrigued to check it out, but something just draws you in. That's how I feel about the filmThe Worst Year of My Life. It's about a guy who thinks he's found the one but then he finds out his live-in girlfriend has been sleeping with someone else. When he goes to therapy, he starts to connect some dots that he never saw coming. In case you want to check it out, I'll leave it there when it comes to offering up details, but what I will say is 1) the movie is a great commercial for why therapy following a devastating break-up can be a really beneficial thing, and 2) it is also a vivid visual reminder of why paying attention to your patterns can help you break them.
Last year, when I wrote the article, "Are You Dating The Same Guy Over And Over Again? Maybe.", a huge part of what inspired it is, I used to be that kind of person. It wasn't until I got really honest with myself about, not only what my "type" was but why, how my toxic family background played a direct role, and what I needed to do in order to master how to love myself before loving any guy that I was able to actually stop choosing guys who were preventing me from growing and maturing.
Another good sign that your man is holding you back is there are certain things about him that remind you of your ex (or exes). Not only that, but when you reflect on what caused you to end your relationship with "said ex", you see some of those same issues in your current situation. They might not be as big. They might not be as bad. But they are indeed there. And trust me when I say that when a current has similarities to your ex that aren't positive characteristics, eventually they are going to rear their ugly head. Oftentimes, it's once you realize that you're not so much with the right man as someone who is merely familiar to you. Good and familiar are not synonymous. Please always remember that.
Do You Feel Like You’re Going Forwards, Going Backwards or Staying in the Same Place?
Not too long ago, I was talking to a male friend of mine, who is going through a season of shedding some of the dead weight from his own friendships. The reason why I use the phrase "dead weight" is because, something that life teaches those of us who are paying attention is to how to value our time and ourselves; that if a relationship, of any sort, either keeps us stuck in the past or it makes us feel so stagnant that we can't fully and easily move forward into what the future has in store for us, it's really not the healthiest kind.
A good example of how a relationship can keep you going backwards is you find yourself reliving the same mistakes and/or lessons over and over again. Or, you realize that, whenever you're around certain people, you resort back to how you were 2, 5 or even 10 years ago. An example of being stagnant? I'll pull from my own life. One of my longest relationships was also one where I wanted it to transition into marriage. Meanwhile, my boyfriend kept promising that if I just gave him one more year (after several years), that would come into fruition. It never did. He wasn't a "bad guy" for not being able to give me what I wanted. At the same time, I wasn't exactly being very good to myself because, all of the energy that I was putting into waiting on him and even trying to convince him to speed up the clock, was energy that I could've invested into other ways that would help me to get further down my own life's pike.
Make no mistake about the fact that, if you want to know if a relationship—whether it's professional or personal, platonic or romantic—is a good one, one way to know for sure is you're going to be able to document clear indications of where it helped you to become, not just a better version of yourself but a bigger and more progressive version too. Anyone who isn't doing that is either using their influence in your life to push you backwards or to keep you stagnant. Life is too short and precious to settle for either of these scenarios to be the case.
Where Do You Want to Be This Time Next Year?
When it comes to this last point, if you're someone who is contemplating getting into a new relationship, I promise you that if you read (and apply) the article "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have", it can actually spare you a lot of "Is my man holding me back?" internal conflict and drama. The reason why that is, is because a lot of us find ourselves in relationships that are going absolutely nowhere, mostly because we assumed that our partner was on the same page as us when it came to where we ultimately wanted things to go. Never get caught assuming because, believe you me when I say that, there are a lot of people who are perfectly content being in a relationship (or situationship) with someone—day after day, month after month and year after year—without it ever becoming anything more than what it already is. The only way you can avoid being caught up in this kind of holding pattern is by getting clear on what you want for your life in time increments (like six months from now, a year from now, etc.), sharing those thoughts with your significant other and then deciding if you're both on the same page (or are even in the same book) or not.
So, if you are already in a relationship, this is my final piece of advice. First, make a plan for what you want for your life. Then think about how much closer you can get to manifesting those plans over the course of the next 12 months. Next, get serious about if your current significant other is able to support those plans or if they will somehow hold you back. If you're not sure, bring all of this up to your man, so that you can both speak freely. If he conveys that he wants to help you with where you want to go and that he also wants to be in a different/forward movement space, with you, by this time next year—and his character in times past has proven that his word can be trusted—stay. If he's not sure, give him some time (just not all the time in the world) to figure it out. If he doesn't believe that he wants what you do, to tell yourself that he didn't mean what he said or that he will change his mind? Not only is that a sign of you being held back but—get this—that it's not him who is doing it. It's you.
Bottom line, the best relationships are always progressive. They move forward. They get better. New things happen. Set goals are met. Growth transpires. If you're not able to confidently say, without a shadow of any doubt, that your relationship is in this kind of space, it is worth pausing things and asking yourself, "Is my man holding me back?" and then making some major changes if the ultimate conclusion that you come to, sis, is…yes.
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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.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole