6 Questions To Ask If You Want To Get To The "Next Level" With Him
Levels. When you really stop and think about it, pretty much everything—everything that is of real and lasting significance, anyway—has levels to it. We have levels of promotion on our jobs. When we set out to reach certain goals, our achievements typically come in levels. I wrote an entire article on how friendships have levels (check out "Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them"). And, most definitely, when it comes to going from meeting someone to becoming exclusive and perhaps getting married someday, there are levels that must be reached there too.
That's what this article is all about in a nutshell. If you've recently met (or gotten involved with) someone, you dig him and things seem to be going so well that you want to see if there's a real future in it, I've got some questions that you can ask; ones that will bring clarity on whether or not "he" wants to get to another level—or series of levels—with you.
So, are you ready to read what can get you the answers that you seek? Let's hit it.
1. “How would a relationship benefit you at this stage of your life?”
Wanna know how a lot of us find ourselves in full-on relationships with commitment-phobes? It's pretty simple, actually. If we meet a guy who checks all of our boxes, we have a really great time with and the chemistry is totally off the charts, we can oftentimes assume that this special combo is the foundation for something long-term. But here's the thing—if he's not looking for anything serious, he can feel the same way and still never intended on building a future with you.
As a marriage life coach, I can't express enough, just how much assumptions can damage, if not flat-out ruin, a relationship. So, if you've been seeing a guy for a hot minute and you can tell that you are on the road towards getting pretty attached, it's a good idea to ask him something along the lines of, "So, a relationship. Is that something that would fit well into your world right now?" If it is, he will absolutely have no problem expressing that. If he looks at you like you're out of your mind, well, that's an answer too. Bottom line, people who are open to a relationship are not afraid of the word or a discussion about the word. So, if it's been three dates or more at this point, don't feel like you are being pushy or "needy" by broaching this topic. To a mature man, you're not. Not at all.
2. “Do you feel comfortable enough to share your vulnerabilities with me?”
I've shared in articles for married folks that I'm not big on using the word "vulnerable" in that kind of relationship; I prefer the word "dependent" instead. The reason why is because, if someone has stood before God, their mama and their partner's mama to profess that they will hold them down like no one else can (or should) for the rest of their life, they shouldn't feel like they are being vulnerable (capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon; open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.; open to assault) with that individual. Nah, being dependent (relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc.) is much safer. Healthier too.
If there's one thing that a lot of men—especially Black men—tell me is, they have a really difficult time feeling like it's OK to be dependent in their romantic relationships because their partner is very much into morally attacking and criticizing them. Or worse, their partner will say, "You can tell me anything" and then when they let their guard down and do it, they get denounced for it.
I don't care how beautiful a woman is or how good her "stuff" may be, if her man can't feel completely comfortable being his full and total self with her, she's in a surface-layered relationship; one that oftentimes has an expiration date. So yeah, if you want to get to the next level with someone, asking them if they feel like they can talk to you about, pretty much anything, is a very valid question. Make sure you listen very closely for the answer that they give you. It will reveal a lot.
3. “What are three things you wish you could do over from your past relationships?”
It's pretty much human nature that, if you ask a person why their last relationship ended, that they will go on and on about all of the things that their ex did wrong. That's why I give major points to those who are humble and self-aware enough to own their own ish because, 8.5 times out of 10, everyone plays a significant role into why a break-up transpired. Besides, when you're dating someone new and they are willing to take responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof), you can get some real insight into, not just their areas of weakness and how self-perceptive they are, but what you could possibly be in for should you choose to continue seeing them too.
While it might initially seem awkward to ask someone to share all of their relational faux pas, so long as you are willing to do the same, it honestly shouldn't be that big of a deal. Just make sure to not try and "lead their narrative". What I mean by that is, if he says something along the lines of, "She had a hard time trusting me", it's not a good idea for you to immediately follow that up with, "Oh, so you cheated" like you are accusing rather than inquiring. Being a poor listener is another reason why so many relationships end up going off the rails. Let him tell his own story. Then decide if his missteps are ones that you can handle or not. This question is not about you serving as the judge and jury of his past. All you need to determine is, if once you discover what happened in former relationships, can you hang if similar things just happen to manifest in your relationship with him down the road.
4. “What do I bring to the table that no one else in your world can—or has?”
Something that time and experience have taught me is, I can't stand flippancy. When it comes to this particular topic, a flippant man is someone who would give forth the kind of energy that conveys, "You're really cool and all, but I wouldn't exactly say that you're exceptional." You know what I mean—men who take on the "there's a ton of fish in the sea" attitude. The reality is there are tons of attractive, smart and funny people in the world. Live long enough and you'll get that a great sex partner ain't that hard to find either. So, what keeps two people together for the long haul? It's when they both find something (or a series of things) that stand out in their partner to the point where they really can't imagine being without them. It's kind of like that bun and special sauce on the Popeye's chicken sandwich; while you can find a chicken sandwich a lot of places, those two things are unique in their own way.
That's why this question makes the list. If you can sense that a guy is really feelin' you, ask him why. Not in a I-need-a-ton-of-compliments-and-reassurance-all-of-the-time kind of way, but more coming in the direction of, "So, what do you think I can bring to your life?" or "So, what makes our connection different?" What he says will reveal a lot—a lot about how he sees you and what he desires for the relationship, moving forward.
5. “Do you think that we are capable of meeting each other’s needs?”
Another reason why many relationships don't go the distance? They are way too focused on getting what they want rather than what they need from their partner. Not that wants are a bad thing (not at all), but they should be seen as the icing, NOT the cake. The literal definition of a need is "a requirement" and "something deemed necessary". When something is necessary, it's essential. When something is essential, it's "incapable of being disregarded". While you might want a tall man (girl, I totally get it), you may need someone who is proactively attentive. This is why it is so important to know what your needs are, even before you start dating someone. If you're not sure, you could meet a man who's fine, charming and sexy AF and then "edit" what your needs are, just because you want him so bad that you will overlook legitimate needs just to keep him around.
Once you do know what you need and it seems like a new guy could possibly provide you with those things, make sure by opening up the door to discuss what both of your needs are. Make sure you express something similar to what I just said about needs—that they are pretty much relational deal-breakers if you don't get them. Allow him to share the same. I can't express enough that both of you need to be really frank and candid about if you can meet each other's needs or not. If you can, this is sho 'nuf a sign that you very well are headed towards hitting a new level in your relationship.
6. “What does ‘next level’ mean to you?”
You know the old saying—"There are levels to this." Indeed. Since poor communication—including making assumptions and only hearing what one wants to hear—runs rampant in so many relationships, it can also help to 1) understand that relationships rarely leap from one stage to another (baby steps are the usual norm), and 2) the "next level" to you might not necessarily be the same way he envisions the next level to be. For instance, while you might think that casually dating's next level should be becoming exclusive, he might say that the next level is introducing you to some of his peeps or seeing you more than a few times a month.
When it comes to moving forward with a man, if you want to spare yourself a perpetual feeling of "WTF?!" six months from now, when you're having a next level convo, just so that you can be clear about where things are, make sure he expresses what the next level would look like to him. This isn't a right or wrong debate; it's simply something to make sure that you both are, not just in the same book but hopefully in the same chapter and even on the same page. Because, after all, a healthy relationship consists of two people who are willing to walk together. That can only happen if they are going the same direction and at the same pace. Make sure that the two of you are before believing that you're heading towards another level with him, aight? Bet.
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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.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty Images
Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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