Sometimes, when I choose to peek into the world of social media to see what's happening, I'll put in keywords. Whenever I put in "Black women" or "Black men" into Twitter, I always find at least five talking points that are super interesting. Today was no exception. I'm assuming that, at least at the moment, Big Sean and Jhené Aiko are quarantining apart (or at least "social distancing" in separate rooms) and so, they are connecting with each other via going live.
Now let me sidebar this by saying that, aside from being a sex and relationships writer, a part of what made me click on the volume to see what was up is because, more and more, I appreciate Big Sean. Yeah, he's a pretty dope artist but, as I've intentionally checked out some of his latest interviews (for instance, the Hot Ones that he did not too long ago), I dig the current space that he's in as a person. He seems to be quite gracious, ever-evolving and willing to learn. So yeah, I wanted to see what he and Jhené had to share. They didn't disappoint.
Because I pulled the clip from someone's Twitter feed, I didn't catch all of the discussion. Apparently, what Big Sean asked Jhené was would she be willing to compete for his love. Uh-huh. Again, because I've been checking out his head space more and more, I knew he couldn't possibly be serious (at least I hope not). He did laugh after asking. Anyway, it was her "Whaaat?" followed by "Hell no" that piqued my interest further. Anyway, her ultimate resolve is what inspired me to hit up Sheriden (our managing editor) and be like, "Can I please write something on this today?" Verbatim, this was Jhené's response.
"I ain't competing for nothing, OK?...I don't 'compete', I complete."
What It Means to Compete for Someone
I ain't gonna lie. I used to be the kind of woman who would compete for a man. Now, before you get all uppity and profess that you would never do such a thing, let me provide a quick rundown of what competing actually looks like. If you're a side chick, on some level, you are competing. If you know exactly what you want out of a relationship, but you will stay with someone who desires something totally different, hoping they will change their mind, on some level, you are competing. If "he's" seeing lots of other women when you want an exclusive relationship, on some level, you are competing. If he lives in the valley of indecision (which IS a decision), on some level, you are competing. If you are convincing yourself to stay in a relationship that you aren't fully satisfied in, on some level, you are competing.
Competing with what? Sometimes, it's other women. Sometimes, it's time. Sometimes, it's a man's ego. Sometimes, it's with your own conscience and higher sense of self. The reason why I say this is because to compete is to strive to outdo, to put yourself in a contest, or to vie (which is to rival with someone or something else). And strive? Strive is a hard word, y'all. It means "to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance". And resistance? To resist is to oppose.
Now, let's put all of this together, shall we? Say that you're really feeling a dude. He's not on the same page as you are, but he gives you enough attention or affirmations to let you know that he is interested. It could be in the form of communication. You might even go on dates together and have sex. But you're still not getting all that you want and, more importantly, need. Yet…you stay. For weeks…months, maybe even years. The "feeling him" turns into love, but he's still not really doing much more than he ever did.
Meanwhile, you tell yourself that if you just do more, he'll change his mind; that's called striving. Yet it seems like the more that you do, give, love, the less results you're getting; that's because he's resisting. So yeah, ultimately, whether it's because of other women, time, his ego or you're struggling with your own conscience and higher sense of self, you are competing for him. This is what Jhené has declared that she absolutely will not do. Good for her. None of us should.
So, why do we do it? Chile, there's not nearly enough time or space to get into all of that right now. What I will say is some of it is because we live in a competitive world. Because of that, sometimes competition is a good thing. For instance, the article "Why Competition Is Good" (on Entrepreneur's site) shares that professional competition can validate us, sharpen our skills and, can even teach us how to effectively collaborate with others. I get that. Cool. But when it comes to matters of the heart, none of these lessons are really necessary. You shouldn't feel like since you "won a man over" that he was worth having. A romantic relationship's main focus shouldn't be about "sharpening any skills". Also, when you are seeing someone, the only one you should be "collaborating with" is them. Not some other chick. Not their other list of priorities. Nothing but them.
It took me years and years and years to realize this. For example, I didn't realize just how over my first love I finally was until we met for dinner this past December and he told me in one breath that he has always pondered us making up for the child that we lost (my first abortion was his child) and, in the same conversation, turned around and said that he was going to try and make it work with who he has always considered to be the second love of his life (and the mother of his living children). What was he doing? Emotionally, he was setting me up to do what he had done over the years between me and this woman—make us want to compete.
I stayed for dinner; he was paying. But I was good on talking further. There was always gonna be love for him (first loves tend to roll like that) but compete, my ninja? Absolutely not. I will strive for a professional gig. I will strive to pay my bills on time.
I ain't striving for no man's love. Love is a gift; it should be offered voluntarily, not be some "prize" after a competition.
So yes, Ms. Jhené, now more than ever, I feel you on the "ain't competing" tip. But remember, that's not all that she said.
What It Means to Complete Someone
I don't compete; I complete. Some people hate the whole "you complete me" thing. I'll admit that if we're referring to the Jerry Maguire movie line—that gives me cause for pause and a side-eye too. To me, that implies that we're not whole without someone else and, to me, that kind of mentality is a recipe for complete disillusionment and utter relational disaster. At the same time, I do adore the Hebrew language (mostly because Christ was a Jew and spoke fluent Hebrew). And so yes, I am totally down with the word "bashert" which loosely translates into being someone's "meant to be" or "destiny". Yet, even then, I try to look well beyond the Disney or chick flick interpretation of those words.
Let's take the word "destiny", for example. One of my favorite definitions for it is "the power or agency that determines the course of events". A part of the reason why we must choose very wisely who we join our lives with is because their influence has the power to create a course of events—good or bad. That's a part of the reason why I wrote the article, "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life".
If you are looking at someone being your destiny from a mature and well-balanced perspective, they are someone who will inspire and motivate you to live your absolute best life. And in that way, they help to complete you because completion is all about "having all the required or customary characteristics, skills, or the like" to bring about the kind of results that you want.
To me, this is why seasons of singleness are so important. How can you truly know who can support you in accomplishing what you want if you have no clue what you desire in the first place—or worse, if all that you desire is to be with someone? Hmph. I can't tell you how many wives I have counseled who are utterly miserable because their main goal in life was to get a man. Now that they have one, they don't know what else to do with their life—or with their husband. SMDH.
That's why I found all of what Jhené said to be on point. What she basically articulated is, she doesn't strive for a man to want her. She knows that, relationally, she's here to complement someone—and when you truly do "fit" another person's world in that way, competing isn't necessary. There is an ease, a peace, a "gelling" that just…happens. And works. Mutually so.
Oh, there are two other things that I liked in the part of the live that I saw. I dug the acronyms for "love" and "life" that Big Sean and Jhené seem to live by. Love is Living On Valued Energy. Life is Love In Full Effect. Amen and indeed.
I don't know where you currently are, when it comes to your own journey towards your bashert, but please let the soundbite from that live stay with you. You, sis, are too beautiful, valuable and special to compete for anyone. Sit back and let life reveal who you complete—and who completes you.
Thanks for the reminder, Jhené. That was some really good ish right there, girl. For real, for real.
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Featured image by Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com
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.
It is Eartha Kitt who once said, “Aging has a wonderful beauty, and we should have respect for that.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why, it really does get under my skin, that we live in a culture that is almost obsessed with staying young. Why? Don’t you want to grow, evolve…mature? That’s why I’m also not big on people who are damn near obsessed with looking 20 years younger than they are. Nah, personally, I think the goal of looking great for and at your age is where it’s at because, as my mother (who ages remarkably well) used to say, “I’ve earned every year. I don’t want to be looking like a child when I’m not.” (It’ll preach.)
This kind of wisdom is the type of hindsight that cannot be matched. Because again, while getting older shouldn’t be anything that any of us are afraid of or ashamed to do, wouldn’t it be great if we were more proactive than reactive when it comes to how we take care of ourselves — so that as we do age (and it is inevitable), we will age…gracefully…seamlessly…beautifully?
That’s why I took the time to ask 15 women in their 40s to share some things that they wish they had done in their 20s as far as physical beauty is concerned. Look at it as me doing a solid for any of you younger readers who really think that “I woke up like this” will last…forever. It won’t. And if you settle into that very real reality by taking good care of yourself now, the 40s will be where you actually end up looking better than ever.
*Middle names are used in all of my interview pieces, so that people can speak freely, no matter what the topic may be.*
“Some women aren’t gonna like this but, Black can crack. I see it often; especially when I look at a lot of these women’s necks — even celebrities. You can look like you’re 29 in the face but because you didn’t take care of your neck when you were in your 20s, it’s out here looking like it should be in a nursing home. That part of your skin ages and sags like everything else. I wish I had cared about that back in the day. I do now and yes young women, moisturize your neck every night and every morning. I personally use a combination of rosehip oil and lavender because they help to stimulate collagen production. Don’t wait until you have tree rings. Do it…now.”
“I wish I had taken better care of my breasts. Not [just] as far as my health; as far as their appearance. When you’re in your 20s, everything is perky and unicorns. Hit 35 and you start to notice that your girls like your feet more than your neck. Doing some exercises to make your pecs more prominent and applying some cocoa or shea butter every night are little things that can keep them youthful. Don’t wait. A breast lift is an option but those aren’t cheap. And if you can avoid paying what a used car costs to keep your breasts sittin’ high, why not do that now?”
“It might sound weird but I wish I had laid off of my protective styles more. It’s like we’ve forgotten that the point of them is to grow our hair out but that can’t happen if we’re never giving our hair a break from all of the tension that comes from tight-ass braids and twists. Now my edges are suffering and that can make you look older than you are. Those ‘Brandy braids’ are cute, girl, but so is having a full hairline. Don’t live in a protective style — your future self is screaming this at you.”
“I wish I drank less. I had a good time, trust me. But drinking on the weekends and then having drinks a couple of nights a week after work took its toll. My skin feels drier and it takes more work to keep it moisturized. These days, [I] eat edibles instead. It’s healthier and it has compounds in it that can slow down the aging process. Oh, to be young again.”
“I wish I had incorporated some sort of hand care. If anything takes wear and tear on a constant basis, it’s our hands and we’ll be out here having a beauty regimen for everything but those. Now my hands are starting to look older than I would like and so I’m having to work overtime to get rid of some fine lines and fragile-looking skin. What I do is get hand facials every couple of months. Look to see what spas or salons offer them. It makes a really big difference on your hands. Your arms too.”
“I’m the most comfortable sleeping on my side but it’s not the best for my face — anyone’s face, really. I used to hear that it would cause wrinkles but when those aren’t something that you have to worry about, you don’t care. I’m starting to see a few around my lips and so now I’m on my back more often. I’m thinking that if I had cared about this in college, avoiding wrinkles would not be on my list of concerns at this age.”
“Stay off of acidic drinks. Your teeth will age just like everything else and sodas and orange juice doesn’t help. Think about the people you know who look one way…until they smile. Then they look 10-15 years older. Go to the dentist regularly and schedule a professional whitening appointment. White teeth make you look younger. Just take good care of them. You’ll be glad that you did, if you do.”
Jaye. 44.“Gray hair is a blessing but my grandmother always told me that it can come in prematurely — and a part of what causes that to happen is stress and a poor diet. When you’re young, you don’t care about stuff like that. But let those first ones creep in around your hairline and suddenly, you’re looking for all kinds of hacks. My advice? That man, that job, and that relative that is already making you want to pull your hair out? Let them go. Your hair can’t take it. And all of that junk food you’re consuming? I still hit a drive-thru but these days, it’s more like a couple of times a month instead of during every lunch break.”
“Get your legs waxed. All of that razor shaving can cause discoloration or leave razor marks that can make your skin look older over time. Plus, it creates ingrown hairs and something about those can make you look older too.”
“Stop not taking sleep seriously. When you’re 25, you can go on four hours of sleep for days on end but it catches up to you. Sleep is what rejuvenates you and if you don’t get it, eventually you will look like it. I have dark circles that I’ve been trying to get rid of and a part of it is due to years of no sleep catching up to me. Whatever it is, it can wait until you’ve had at least seven hours. Don’t listen if you don’t want to. One day you will look in the mirror and wish that you did.”
“I wish I had spent more time outdoors. It’s no secret that Black people have more of a vitamin D deficiency than anyone else but trying to pile up on supplements when you’re older is a lot. When you’re at restaurants, eat on the patio. Sit on your back deck to read a book. Go for a walk in the mornings. I’m dealing with some hair loss stuff right now and it’s partly because I need more vitamin D. And thinning hair makes you look older than you should.”
“Waist trainers are bad for you. I wish those damn things would go away. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get that a snatched waist can take a few years off. Hell, I know that I took mine for granted back in my 20s. Snack on bananas and berries. Do some cardio even if that’s power walking through the mall. Stop drinking cold stuff so much. It might sound like a mama’s tale, but drinking things at room temperature reduces bloating. There are other things that you can do to get the curves that you want without smashing your organs. Lord.”
“I wish I cared more about my damn arms. Nothing makes you look older quicker than your upper arms not being in good shape. Get some five-pound free weights and set aside 15 minutes. Dry brush those bad boys; it’ll keep dimples from showing up. Keep them extra moisturized, so that those annoying little bumps won’t show up. And use sunscreen. The sun doesn’t know if you’re Black or not. It comes for us too.”
“Have a professional care for your skin. There are a billion things that you can do at home but an aesthetician is trained to figure out what works best and what doesn’t. Facials, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels from time to time have all played a role in me starting to look younger. If I had taken preventative measures, it would’ve kept some money in my pocket because I wouldn’t be going quite as much as I do now.”
“I wish I had been more choosy about my sex partners so that I could’ve had wilder sex. Listen to Auntie here. There is some stuff that good sex will do for you and aging that no cosmetic can. Sweat out those toxins. Work out that core. Take in some of that sperm. Just do it with a man you can trust and you can be totally free with instead of these knuckleheads. Yeah, better mate selection is the beauty tip that I recommend — and stop acting like it’s a rite of passage to start this at 35. Get a good man now and sit down somewhere. So that you can lay down in peace. That’s what I’ve got for you.”
Pass the plate around for Payce, y’all. As far as beauty and maturity go, she just preached — to women of ALL ages! Amen? Amen.
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