I’ll never forget a quote I heard one time from motivational speaker, Tony Gaskins. He said, “Communication in a relationship is like oxygen. You need it in order for the relationship to survive.” I’d even take it a step further and add that “effective communication” is needed for a relationship to survive and thrive. You see, it’s important that we communicate our needs, our values, and our boundaries in our relationships. However, if we are not conscious of how we communicate with our partners, we can unintentionally hurt them simply by not knowing any better.
Oftentimes a lack of effective healthy communication skills comes from what was modeled to us as children. Was the environment you grew up in very volatile and hostile? Were your caregivers able to communicate in healthy ways or was there constant yelling, screaming/name calling to get certain points across? How did your caregivers respond to your needs? Was communication very passive in your household or very aggressive? Did you watch your caregivers communicate with each other in ways that were effective or did they ignore each other?
These are all important questions to reflect on because whatever we see and feel in childhood is more than likely to be replicated into adulthood because our nervous system has been trained to connect in this way. Even if communication was dysfunctional, oftentimes it’s difficult to “do better” when it’s the only template we can operate from because it’s the only thing that we know.
As human beings, we all want to be seen and heard in our relationships but we may have difficulty communicating how we feel if we are using violent phrases to elicit a caring response from our partners. At the moment, we may think our partner will finally be able to understand us, but it actually does the opposite of what we want because it pushes our partner away, creating more tension and feelings of resentment in the relationship.
The following is a list of ten phrases you should avoid if you want a thriving relationship:
1.“You always…”/“You never…”
When we speak to our partners in absolutes we are usually extremely frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed by what is happening in the relationship. When we are overwhelmed in this way, we tend to put emphasis on what our partner is/isn't doing, which focuses more on the behavior rather than the collaboration to find the solution. When we use absolutes such as “you always” or “you never,” we are speaking in extremes. In these moments, it is important that we ground ourselves with the facts. Is it true that your partner is always ignoring you or do you often feel unheard in the relationship? Is it true that your partner never listens to you? Does feeling heard by your partner help you feel more connected and considered in the relationship?
These are all requests for connection, we just have to refrain from using absolutes to get our point across. Using absolutes may point towards parts of you that may be resentful. It does not plant the seeds for resolution and effective communication in the relationship, it just plants seeds of hurt, pain, and defensiveness.
Moving forward, try to focus on what is working for you in the relationship, and what you do like/love about your partner. Start showing gratitude for the little things that you may sometimes overlook and outwardly praise your partner to show appreciation and reaffirm the behavior.
2. “Get over it.”Get Over It Hamptons GIF by discovery+Giphy
When your partner expresses a concern and you respond with, “Oh well, get over it,” it’s extremely dismissive and very harmful to the health of the relationship. Think about it: Have you ever been hurt by someone you confided in and they told you that you shouldn’t be feeling the way you feel? I’m sure this has happened to so many of us and it is one of the most hurtful and invalidating responses to our emotional experiences.
When your partner is expressing something that is hurting them, it’s important that you do not dismiss their feelings even if you disagree with them. We must learn to put our ego to the side when this happens. If we do not put our ego to the side and create a safe space for our partner to share with us, we push ourselves further and further away from creating emotional intimacy with our partners.
3. “You’re just like my _____.”
No one likes to be compared to someone else especially someone you’re most likely not too fond of. When you say things such as “You’re just like my last boyfriend” or “You’re just like my dad,” you are passing a moralistic judgment on your partner based on your past experiences rather than seeing them for who they are. Yes, our partners may have certain characteristics that remind us of a familiar relationship dynamic but that does not mean that they are “just like” that person. Your partner is a human being with their own authentic expression. When you compare them to someone you have a conflicted relationship with, you are rejecting your partner by shaming them. This in turn will create more resentment in the relationship, creating more of a wedge between the both of you.
4. “Oh no, here we go again.”/”What did I do this time?”GIF by VH1Giphy
This was actually one that I had to work on in my relationship and my therapist actually called me out on it in a couples therapy session. (The therapist calling out the therapist, I love it LOL.) Saying things like, “Oh no, here we go again" or “What did I do wrong this time around?" to your partner when they are expressing a concern to you is highly dismissive and invalidating. What you are doing is showing that your frustration with your partner's concerns triumphs over their feelings. This may not be your intention but this type of response may cause your partner to shut down and avoid the conversation altogether, which does nothing to solve the issue at hand, it just adds more fuel to the fire.
5. “You’re so stupid.”
John Gottman, couples therapist and CEO and founder of the Gottman Institute, researched and studied what he called The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in relationships. Each horseman describes the four communication styles that destroy relationships, also known as relationship killers. In his studies, Gottman noticed that couples who handled their conflict conversation with contempt ended up divorcing. He concluded that contempt was the biggest destroyer and predictor of divorce and separation out of the Four Horsemen.
Contempt is when we talk down to our partners by being mean to them, insulting them, calling them names, etc. Attacking someone's sense of who they are is unloving, yet so many of us do it not because we do not love our partners, but because we were spoken to in those same ways. It becomes a cycle where we belittle our partners in the same way because we have not learned the tools to regulate our emotions.
Phrases like “You’re so stupid,” or ”You're an idiot” are harmful to the connection; if it happens for long enough, it also erodes safety in the relationship.
6. “I’m sorry, but…”sorry not sorry GIFGiphy
I don't know who needs to hear this but, “I’m sorry, but...” negates the “I’m sorry.” When you apologize, the word 'but' then counters the apology. Especially when it is usually followed by criticism or an excuse because you are most likely in a state of defense. In couples counseling, I always tell my couples to hold themselves accountable with compassion and understanding. Accountability does not mean punishment, it is simply a way to take into account what was done and acknowledge the harm that was caused by it.
When you can show compassion for the times that you may unintentionally hurt someone because you were hurting, it comes naturally to show kindness to others.
7. “I don’t care.”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. When we say things like "I don’t care," we are dismissing our partner's feelings. When we communicate this way, we are giving off the impression that our partner's feelings do not matter, which can trigger feelings of abandonment/rejection. This can create a barrier to connection because not only does your partner get the message that their feelings don’t matter but they also receive the message that they don’t matter.
Just like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are social beings. We need to be heard, seen, and deeply felt in order to survive. If we think we do not matter in our relationships, it destroys our sense of belonging.
8. “Well, at least I’ve never…”season 4 netflix GIF by Gilmore Girls Giphy
When we say, “Well, at least I’ve never...,” we are deflecting in order to avoid having to take accountability. According to MindBodyGreen, “Deflection is a defense mechanism that involves redirecting focus, blame, or criticism from oneself onto another person, in an attempt to preserve one's self-image.”
I would also like to add that often this is done to relieve our own anxiety around how we are perceived. However, it is not healthy to deflect because if we are constantly looking for something or someone outside of ourselves to “blame,” we are not taking accountability for our choices and how they impact our relationships. This behavior can drive our partner away because at its core it’s manipulation.
9. “You need to relax.”
“You need to relax” is another way of telling your partner they shouldn't feel what they are feeling. Granted, how we respond to certain situations may not always match the situation. For example, if your partner tells you 'no' and you burst into anger and rage, being told to relax might be warranted in a way that isn't in most other cases. (Keep in mind that we tend to view situations through the lens of our unhealed wounds. Depending on what is triggering us at the moment will determine the lens we see it through which will then influence our reaction to the trigger.)
Nevertheless, telling your partner “you need to relax” is not going to automatically make them relax. It actually does the opposite by making them even more upset because they feel invalidated, dismissed, and unheard. Remember, it's important to respect how your partner feels even if you don’t agree.
10. "I told you so."Im Right Told You So GIF by CBCGiphy
When you say, “I told you so” to your partner, you are adding insult to injury. It’s like having an open wound and picking at it to make it worse. Your partner probably already knows they made a mistake. It is unloving to make them feel even worse by reiterating you were “right.” Instead of focusing on how you were “right,” show compassion for how your partner feels and use the situation as a learning lesson to move forward in a way that feels empowering to the relationship.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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