Whew-wheeeeeee. If there is a topic that I can tell you I’m sharing from a very up close and extremely personal experience, it’s recycling relationships. And yet, that’s what a lot of us do when it comes to relationships — personal and professional, romantic and platonic — we may grow, change and evolve and yet, even when a relationship is no longer serving us, what we will do is recycle it.
And while I guess one could see it as a way of trying to not “throw anything away,” I want to share some of the reasons why recycling and upcycling relationships could actually be counterproductive while ultimately doing you more harm than good, if you’re not careful. Are you ready to dive in? This one might be slightly a bit of a doozy.
What It Means to Recycle Relationshipsex girlfriend princess GIF by VH1Giphy
When it comes to the environment, I’m pretty sure we all know that recycling is good for it. When you are “treating or processing (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse” and what you are doing this to is things like plastic and glass, that is beneficial. However, peep another definition of recycle — “to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration.” When it came to a lot of the men in my world, this is where I used to trip up — badly and often. I mean, if the relationship came to an end, it was for a justifiable and significant reason, right?
Why does the passing of time or even missing someone (even if it’s just the sex) suddenly make those reasons invalid? And while I do think that there are times when getting back with an ex isn’t totally toxic and unhealthy (there are exceptions to every rule), this can’t be the case when you’re literally going back to what and who has remained in their original form…because isn’t there something (or some things) about the “original form” that caused you to call things “quits” in the first place?
That’s why, whenever people come to me talking about intentionally remaining in hamster wheel situations with an ex, something that I will share (again, from personal experience) is in order for returning to your past to actually work, BOTH PEOPLE will have needed to do some personal growing and evolving. Otherwise, all you’re doing is repeating a pattern — oftentimes one that will get you absolutely nowhere than where you’ve already been.
So yeah, before recycling a relationship, think about what the word literally means, because all of us have limited time (much less than we think that we do). And you know what? Why waste it on something that you’ve already experienced? Meaning, if there’s nothing new to see, why even go there? Rinse and repeat: Why even go there?
What It Means to Upcycle Relationships
Okay, so upcycling is a bit different. Back in the day, I lived across the street from a girl who taught me how to upcycle jeans that no longer fit. What we would do was cut down the seam of the pants and then sew the fronts and backs together in order to turn them into a skirt. This is a great example of what it means to upcycle because the definition is “to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original.” I’ll be the first to say that upcycling is way better than recycling.
Still, when it comes to relationships (friendships included), be careful with this. Case in point — there is a woman from my past who was toxic — I mean, TOXIC toxic. Every couple of years, she would reach out to want to “fresh start” our friendship and every time, I turned her down (check out “6 Signs You're About To Let A Toxic Person (Back) Into Your Life”). The main reason was that, although we had similar senses of humor and she was very smart, her intellect was also very cunning and calculated at times — so much to the point where, after getting some distance from her, I didn’t really see where she was holistically benefitting me on any level.
I actually could name more reasons why she was not good for my world than why she was constructive in it. And so, even though, according to her, she had changed and things would be better, the “original bar” was so damn low that I didn’t really see the point. Y’all, if you’re going to upcycle a relationship or friendship, take the literal definition to heart — think about how the original form of the dynamic was and then really ponder if there was enough goodness there to build on the original and make it better. Not a little bit better. LOTS BETTER.
3 Things to Consider Before Recycling or Upcycling RelationshipsBreak Up Couple GIF by Insecure on HBOGiphy
Okay, so now (hopefully) you’ve got a clearer understanding of what it means to recycle and upcycle a relationship with someone else. If it’s something that you’re considering doing, it’s important (imperative even) that you ask yourself the following three questions, first.
1. In this season of your life, what do you actually need them for?
Something that wisdom teaches us is, it’s not just okay to have your needs met in relationships, it’s absolutely essential. That said, during the time when the two of you were apart, how did your needs shift? Once you are clear on that, how can bringing them back into your life help you to get some of those needs met? Not only that but are they down to meet them and are you, based on where you are in this season of life, willing to meet theirs as well? If the answer is “no” to any of this, again…what’s the point in returning to what you have already left?
2. Are they “good” or just “familiar” to you?
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for xoNecole entitled, “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?.” If you’re thinking about recycling an ex, I highly recommend that you check it out. Beyond that, something else that you should think long and hard about is if the person is actually good to and for you, long-term, or just someone you are familiar with. You know, it took me a LONG time to fully get over my first love and a part of the reason was the familiarity was nostalgic — and to me, that was comforting.
Once I got past that, though, and then I accepted a lot of his “foot-dragging” and “stagnation patterns” (which had always been there) for what it was — I got that he’s not a bad guy (he really isn’t). Good for me, though? Meh. He’s more familiar than anything else. And sticking with — or returning to — something (or one), just because it’s something (or one) that I’m used to? That simply isn’t good enough. That’s the kind of revelation you come to when you know what you are truly worthy of. TRUST Me.
3. Do you have a pattern of recycling or upcycling relationships?
A poet and author by the name of Naphtali "Tuli" Kupferberg once said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” And lawd, ain’t that the truth? You know, it’s gonna be difficult to know if you are recycling or upcycling a relationship if you’re not willing to admit to yourself that this is a pattern for you. I’ve got a client, right now, who is in a counterproductive situation with a friend. Interestingly enough, what they call “having faith” in them, I call “being used” by them because all that ever really happens is they fight, make-up, and then my client does most of the work to keep things going until they…fight, make-up and do the same thing all over again.
You know what they say — in order to have something new, you must do something new. That said, no one is saying that you can’t maintain peace in your ended relationships or even be “cool with them” to a point. Yet again — and it really can’t be said enough — if you’re just going through the motions of going through the same stuff or you’re not taking the original version of your dynamic and making it better (not you alone; BOTH OF YOU), at the end of the day, it really is a waste of your time — and you should love yourself enough to not waste your time.
I know this is the time of year when people tend to “pop back up.” If/when they do, ask yourself if it’s worth it to recycle or upcycle because, from personal experience, I can tell you that more times than not…it’s not. Doing a new thing is (typically) best.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Goodboy Picture Company/Getty Images
- What My 45-Year-Old Self Would Tell My 25-Year-Old Self ›
- 6 Signs You're About To Let A Toxic Person (Back) Into Your Life ›
- Relationship Problems Pandemic Tips - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- Getting Back With An Ex? 6 Things To Consider - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, & Wellness ›
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 face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images