Lord have mercy. I remember when I used to be pretty codependent. Because of that, I would find myself giving a ton to people who barely offered crumbs in return. This kept my starving which kept me thinking that crumbs were all I would ever get to somewhat fill me. That's why I'm so thankful for the time that I took to really figure out what it means to value myself. "Value" is a dope word because it speaks of worth, it speaks of importance, it speaks of acceptance, respect and esteem. And the truth is, until we truly value ourselves, we can't expect someone else to do it. We really can't.
While this form of self-love requires quite a bit of time, energy and effort to learn, I do have some life hacks that can help to put you onto the right path, if you're interested. 15 things that will hopefully remind you that validating yourself isn't about ego. It's about self-preservation, so that you can truly live your best life.
1. Turn Your Phone Off for an Hour a Day
Let's start with the phone. When I read that Americans tend to spend about five and a half hours on the phone every day, I've gotta admit that I thought it was much higher than that. Still, when you factor in that you should be getting no less than 6-8 hours of sleep every night, that you're probably working (at least) eight hours a day and also that there are only 24 hours in a day, that is still quite a bit of talking time. While sometimes being on the phone can be fun (like when you're catching up with a friend or reading something on Black Twitter), it's still a data source, and constantly taking in information can be taxing—both mentally and physically. So, give yourself a break by putting your phone on silent or airplane mode for at least an hour, whether it's on your commute to and from work, during your lunch break or right when you get home. It's the kind of "woosah" that you probably didn't know you needed…until you actually do it.
2. Toast Yourself at the End of Each Workday
I've mentioned the importance of toasting before. It's a practice that acknowledges accomplishments or what you appreciate about someone.
Well, who said that you shouldn't toast your damn self from time to time—let me tell it, every single day? Why? Because it helps you to remember that each day is different and there is certainly, at least one thing, that you've done in every one, that you can feel proud about.
Now, I'm not trying to turn anybody into a lush; therefore, I'm not encouraging you to down liquor every time (sparkling cider is cool too). Just make sure that you have a special drink set aside (along with a toasting glass that is only used for this purpose) and that you deliver a toast to yourself, at the end of each day. You deserve it.
3. Pamper Your Hands and Feet Every Week
I try and get mani/pedi twice a month. Yet even on my "off" weeks, I still put forth the effort to do something that would pamper both my hands as well as my feet. I might give myself a foot soak, a hand massage or change the color of my nails. Aside from the fact that tending to your hands and feet is a great form of pampering and self-care, this is also a simple act that reminds you to get off of the roller coaster of life, slow down and do something that will make you feel a little better. So, definitely set aside 30-60 minutes each week to watch a favorite show and tend to your hands and feet while you're doing it. It's an easy way to immediately look and feel so much better.
4. Take Yourself on a Date Once a Month
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language". As you can tell from the title, it was all about customizing dates in a way that will make your partner feel like their personal love language is being spoken to them (you might also want to check out "This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships"). Well, along these same lines, when's the last time you took your own self on a date that speaks your own primary two love languages? A massage can be physical touch. Treating yourself to a movie can be quality time. Going out and purchasing something that you've always wanted, simply because you've always wanted it, can fall into the category of gifts. Volunteering for a day at a cause that is near and dear to your heart and then taking yourself to dinner can be acts of service. Blowing up a favorite quote, 10 things that you like about yourself or your mission statement and then shopping for a frame so that you can hang it in your bedroom or home office, can be words of affirmation. Of course, these are just some ideas. Still, making sure that you actually set aside some time to enjoy things that you truly adore is another profound way to remind yourself of your value. When's the last time you've done it?
5. Create a List of What Makes You a Great Woman
It really is a damn shame, how many of us are so quick to list the things that we don't like in ourselves while going radio silent on the things that we do. I know, off the rip, it might come off as being arrogant to brag on yourself; in this case, though, it's a conversation that is totally being you and yourself. Sometimes, in the midst of all of the lessons, mistakes and even drama, we can lose sight of how awesome we really and truly are. That's why I'm all about folks comprising a list of what makes them great. Not good. GREAT. I'm actually an advocate of them doing it a few times a year too because, as we evolve, we change. So does how we see ourselves. So sis, when you get a sec, bullet point a list of no less than 10 things that you think makes you pretty damn awesome. Then put it somewhere that is easily accessible on the difficult days when you need a reminder. We've all got things that make us stand head above the rest in our circle. It's OK to document what those things are and feel good about them. It's a private list. It's up to you who else you want to know.
6. Invest in a (New) Gemstone
Over here at xoNecole, we're pretty big on gemstones and crystals (check out "I Use Jewelry To Tap Into My Spirituality & Sexuality", "8 Healing Crystals You Need To Feel More At Peace" and "The Best Healing Crystals For Your Zodiac Sign"). Matter of fact, it's usually around my birthday when I'll think about the head and heart space that I'm currently in and will cop myself a ring or pair of earrings in a gemstone that reflects it. For instance, right now, I've got two white opal rings on my hands. Before I knew what the stone represented, I was drawn to them. They represent goodness, love, nurturing, positive energy and protection from the heavenlies. Anyway, gemstones are dope because they're oftentimes affordable (like on Etsy), plus, there's an abundance of different ones to choose from. Who said you need a special occasion to adorn yourself? If this sounds like something you'd like to do, click here and here to learn more about gemstones and what they mean/symbolize.
7. Get More of Your Favorite Color
One of my godchildren will be 10 this coming June and I must say, that's she's quite amazing—especially when it comes to arts and crafts. Anyway, one day, out of the blue, she sent me an email asking what my favorite color and scent was. Honestly, shades of brown are what I like the most in this season; however, I'm into blues and greens as well and that's what I told her. Then I thought about the fact that it's been a minute since I've been intentional about getting things that are in my favorite colors and that inspired me to put doing just that on my to-do list.
Color psychology is fascinating because the colors that we're drawn to can reveal a lot about where our psyche is overall. For instance, if you are a blue-kind-of-person, it could mean that either you're naturally calm or you desire more peace in your life. Red? Red is all about love, passion and desire. Purple represents royalty, wisdom and extravagance. Yellow is about energy, joy and friendship. If grey is your thing, you tend to like (or want) balance in your life.
Psychology literally means "the science of the mind". So, if you're in a season where you want to emphasize or even shift some of where you are mentally, bring more of your favorite color into your world. You might be amazed by how much it can influence you. For the better.
8. Design a De-Stress Space in Your Home
Tell me something. What area in your house, when it comes to mind, immediately makes you think "de-stress"? If you can't really think of one, there's no time like the present to cultivate an area like that. In the article, "12 (Affordable) Ways To Make Your Bedroom More Tranquil & Beautiful", one of the things that I shared is how beneficial it can be to make your own reading nook. That's one idea. Another thing you could do is purchase several big throw pillows, blankets and a long ottoman that you can lay—and daydream—on. Or, how about surrounding an area on your back deck with plants so that you can have your own lil' oasis to enjoy an afterwork glass of wine? The point is, pretty much every space in our home has a function. It would be a shame if you didn't carve out someplace, somewhere, for you to do absolutely nothing other than chill out.
9. DIY a Skincare Product
Right now, as I'm writing this, I am making my own herbal infused oil for my hair. I get excited when I do it because I am able to control exactly what I put onto my head. Also, I always like the results that I get. The same thing applies when I make my own bubble bath, lotion or even lip balm. And here's the thing—it doesn't require as much cost or effort that you might think that it does. Plus, making your own skin (or hair) care products is another way to love on yourself because, rather than running to the drug or grocery store and getting something that has a ton of chemicals in it, you're making a move that says, "I want to take extra special care of my body. I want to be in control of my health by making my own stuff."
Anyway, if this is something that you'd like to try, Hello Glow has some homemade bubble bath recipes here; Measuring Flower can walk you through how to make your own lotion here; the YouTube channel Whole Elise will show you how to make all-natural tinted lip gloss here; the YouTube channel Real Creative Real Organized will explain how easy it is to make your own deodorant here; Tip Junkie has nine different kinds of nail polishes that you can create here and, if you want to learn how to DIY some herb infused oil for your hair or skin, it's pretty easy if you follow these directions on Garden Therapy's site right here.
10. Throw Some Stuff Out
Something that I've slowly become more and more of over the years is a minimalist. When it comes to defining what that means, I once heard someone say that being a minimalist is about having the right things instead of just having a lot of stuff. Since living this way, there's less clutter in my space, I've decreased my financial stress, my utility bills are lower (because being a minimalist and becoming more eco-friendly basically go hand in hand) and life is way more simplified, all the way around. And you know what? A simple life tends to be an easier and even fuller one.
That's why I'm a huge advocate of taking out, at least a couple of times a year, to throw some ish out. Come on—you know that if you haven't worn that skirt in two years, read that magazine in five or used that foundation in 10 months that you're probably not going to (and don't get me started on all of your hair products and make-up!). Letting stuff go is freeing. It also makes room for better things. We value ourselves when we make space for upgrades.
11. Use Your Personal Days
It's a damn shame, how many people I know who don't take their lunch breaks, let alone their personal days. This fact was further confirmed to me when I read an article on The Muse's site. It said that a lot of companies are trying to be slick and merge personal (days to go to the doctor, attend a funeral, etc.) and vacation days together (what in the world?!). That's why, if you're someone who is interviewing for a job, you should definitely check out the company's PTO policy and be open to negotiating your time off.
That said, you're not going to win a prize for not using your personal days and it's certainly no one's business why you need to. So, if you've got some days stored up and you can't remember the last time you've used one, this is your sign to do just that. Some stuff, you can't get done if you don't. Some stuff, you need to take care of, so make sure that you do. (Pretty sure I don't have to say this about vacation days as well…right?)
12. Conduct a Negativity Test
One of the reasons why I don't regret not being on social media is because, even when I tiptoe onto certain platforms to see what's going on, I find myself saying, "Damn. Do you wake up angry or gaslightingevery single day?" It really is kinda crazy, just how many people live in a constant space of negativity, sometimes without even really noticing. That's not good either because being negative all of the time can lead to low energy levels, a weakened immune system, depleted brain chemicals, unhealthy relationships and/or a defeated mentality. Knowing all of this is actually why I removed myself, even from certain family members, because they are so toxic that they thrive off of negativity which makes them very difficult—and exhausting—to be around.
Unfortunately, some of us have dwelled in toxic energy for so long that we don't even realize it anymore. So, how can you know if you're leaning long and hard towards being a negative person?
- You get triggered easily.
- You complain. A LOT.
- You expect the worst out of people.
- You pick fights—online and off.
- You stay stuck in the past.
- You don't know how to celebrate anything.
- You state things in the extreme (you know, "always" and "never").
- You make excuses for any and everything that's your fault.
- You self-sabotage.
- People tell you that you're hard to deal with. Personally and/or professionally.
If you see yourself in at least three of these 10 points, something needs to change—sooner than later too. As much as a lot of people dwell in negativity, it's kinda ridiculous to do because there really aren't a lot of benefits that come with doing so. Life is too short and you are two precious to dwell in bad/dark energy most of the time. Whether it's going to a therapist/counselor/life coach, talking it over with a dear friend or removing yourself from the people, places, things and/or ideas that have got you in that kind of space, shift towards positivity. Life can only get better if/when you do.
11. Have a “Hard” Conversation
There are so many of us who find ourselves more stressed, worried or depleted than we ever need to be and it's all because we remain in situations with people (whether personal or professional) that really aren't serving us. Why do we do that? A part of the reason is because we do everything in our power to avoid having some really hard conversations—ones that may be uncomfortable yet can actually make our lives easier in the long run.
Listen, I don't care if the conversation is with a controlling or narcissistic parent, an emotionally abusive boss, your spouse, a friend—shoot, it might even be a noisy neighbor that is getting on your very last nerve…when you learn to speak up for yourself, set some limits and express your needs and expectations, it helps you to become more confident. It also reminds you of the fact that, far too often, we tend to settle more than we ever should.
So long as you're clear and respectful in your approach, what's the worst thing that can happen by addressing what needs to be said? If what immediately comes to your mind is it could ruin the relationship—well, if your needing to get your needs met or something that is truly bothering you off of your chest comes with such dire consequences, you were in something far more toxic than you probably realized. Coming to that conclusion will be for your greater good, sis. Wins all the way around.
14. Forgive Yourself
I know a lot of people who live in the space of unforgivingness. Know what else? Interestingly enough, I don't know too many where it's beneficial for them to do so. As much as a lot of folks think that it's punishing the person who hurt them to not forgive them, more times than not, all it does is keep the one who was offended stuck. And that can lead to bitterness, a fear of moving on in a healthy way with other people and/or constantly seeing life through that same situation—all because they chose to not let ish go.
When it comes to past abuses and disappointments, trust me, if life was handing out trophies, I'd at least get one of those short elementary school field day ones. Yet accepting that the past cannot change, accepting that I've also done some pretty f'ed up stuff in my day too and also realizing that sometimes the pain is the lesson that helps us to evolve and do things differently—all of this has brought a quality to my life that I didn't have when I was just…pissed all of the time. Forgiveness might seem like you're telling someone that what they did was OK. It's not. It's telling yourself that it's OK to release the situation, set better boundaries and get on with your life. Why would you deprive yourself of that?
15. Learn How to Wait
If you check out the article "Bless Up: 8 Scriptures To Remind You That God Sees You", one of the references that I make is one of my all-time favorite Message Version Scriptures: Romans 8. I'm a doula, so a part of the reason why I like it so much is it compares waiting to being pregnant. In it, it mentions that sometimes waiting can be really uncomfortable. Still, the longer we wait, the larger we become as individuals and the more joyful we end up being once what we are waiting for actually prepares itself to arrive.
As I close this out, words cannot express how much so many of us miss out on the best that is in store for us, all because we're impatient. That's why, what I want to encourage you to do is to value yourself, love yourself, honor yourself enough to do what one of my favorite definitions of wait says—"hold oneself in readiness". Personally, it was very humbling for me to come to the conclusion that if I'm waiting on something, chances are, God is allowing me the grace and mercy to realize that I'm not as "ready" for it/them as I might think that I am. Indeed, the waiting season can be extremely humbling and yet, another Scripture says that with humility comes promotion (Luke 18:14). Not only that but "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4—NKJV)
You're worth waiting for, right? Because you are something of extreme value. Treat your blessings with the same mindset. Waiting isn't a bad thing. Waiting is about two things getting ready for what's in store. When it comes to knowing what you're deserving of, there's not too much of a better life hack than that.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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Charge it to the fact that I am such a fan of music, but whenever I’m out shopping, I tend to pay attention to what stores are playing. And if there’s one song that seems to show up just about everywhere, it’s a light rock classic by Don Henley and Patty Smyth entitled “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” I promise, even if you don’t know it by the title, you’ve heard it yourself, at least a dozen times in your lifetime — and whether that kind of music is your “scene” or not, the reality is that the words are true.
Even now, in real time, I’m dealing with two clients who love each other very much, and still…they are gearing up to file for divorce. Why? One reason is that, although the love is very strong, the type of love that the husband has for the wife is very different from the kind of love the wife has for her husband (hers is more of a friendship/agape love). Another reason is because, over time, their values have become very different (get someone who complements your life; it makes all of the difference in the world). And still, another is the wife feels that, if she were to stay, she’d be choosing to remain stagnant as an individual because the kind of life he wants isn’t the kind that she desires…anymore.
Because I am super Team Covenant, for me, in many ways and on many levels, it's all tragic. Divorce is indeed like a death. I am a survivor of it from my own parents. I am watching two children who I love very much currently go through it. And as a marriage life coach for over 18 years now, although I’ve been able to help more couples stay together or even reconcile after divorce, my “record” is not spotless. Yet you do live long enough, and you see that, sometimes, no matter how much love is present, if you want to go the very far and beautiful distance of “’til death parts us” on a literal level — you need more than just love to make that happen…no matter how romantic or even idealistic the notion might be.
Let me explain, in a bit more detail, just where I am coming from.
What It Means to Actually Love Someone
Have you ever thought about what it actually means to love another individual? I promise that if you rely on social media to define it for you, you’re about to be set up for a mighty fall because easily 60-70 percent of the content on there is self-centered, unrealistic, and very feelings-and-nothing-else driven. What I mean by that last point is folks seem to think that love is ONLY a feeling when it is actually so much more than that.
For starters, love is a daily choice. Yep, ask any married couple who has more than a decade under their belt, and they will be quick to tell you that no matter how much they love their partner, sometimes they don’t “feel” like they do, and so they have to push past their feelings and remember that they chose that individual, they made sacred promises in the form of vows to that person, and so they must choose to honor them. THAT IS A FORM OF LOVE.
Know what else love is?
Love is being someone’s strongest support system, greatest advocate, and biggest hype man or woman. That requires a lot of patience, a ton of prayer, and quite a bit of believing in someone because, if they were perfect, why would they need any of that? Yeah, another thing that’s sad about what many people think about love is they expect the person who they say “I love you” to, to be whatever version of love that they conjured up in their mind — and usually that is very idealistic, which is extremely unfair.
Yeah, it’s mighty interesting that if you look to the Good Book for love definitions, things like “love is patient” (I Corinthians 13:4) and “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) are what immediately come to mind and yet humans? They don’t wanna wait for nothin’, and they definitely don’t think that they should sacrifice anything. Wild.
Another thing about love is it transforms. Not "changes someone" (some folks think they are supposed to use love to manipulate, and that isn’t love at all) — it transforms them. And that takes time. Contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith once said, “Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.” Transformation plays a role in the healing process. Here’s the thing about that, though: if people didn’t have anything wrong with them, what would they need to heal from? Transformation invests in others; in order to invest, you must give — not just take.
Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” Transformation is about understanding someone without trying to change them. Unfortunately, far too many people fail miserably at this. And yet, how arrogant is it to be out here thinking that it’s your job to change someone? Who are you to appoint yourself to that? Do you even understand the person who you’re trying to change? Or are you only coming from the angle of who and what you want them to be? That’s not understanding; again, that is manipulation.
To be honest with y’all, I could go on and on about what love is, yet this is an article and not a book. For now, I’ll just say that I think it was important to amplify those three talking points because they are the “angles of love” that oftentimes go overlooked. That’s why I wanted to lay some foundation on what genuine and mature love looks like before getting into why sometimes love is enough because it’s its own pandemic: the amount of people who call what they are in with or towards someone “love” when it's actually…anything (and sometimes everything) but.
Five Things That Should Come with Being in Love
Okay, so with all of what I just said, you might wonder how you could actually hit the three love points that I shared, and it still not be enough to keep a relationship going — at least, a healthy and purpose-filled one. That’s a really great question. So, because love is so vast…let’s keep building with five things that should be happening, MUTUALLY SO, when two people are actually in love with each other.
1. You’re becoming a better person. There is a Leo Buscalgia quote that I’ve shared before (more than once, actually) that I absolutely adore. It says, “As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” And honestly, the quote says it all. If you think you’re in love with someone, yet you AND they are not becoming better as a direct result of the love experience, something is definitely awry. At the end of the day, if you believe that “God is love” (I John 4:8&16), love should definitely be improving you and him in a myriad of different ways and on a thousand different levels because a spiritual relationship with the Divine does just that. No wiggle room.
2. Your life is moving forward, not back. On the heels of what I just said, love shouldn’t have you out here living in a state of stagnation. Love is to liberate you and make you feel like you can release what is holding you back so that you can run toward what will improve your quality of life. That said, if since you’ve been with “him,” you can’t name three things that have shifted, drastically so, when it comes to how your life is progressing, that is a bit of a red flag as well. Love is to fuel you into newer dimensions, not keep you in hamster wheels of cyclic (and typically counterproductive) patterns.
3. You are receiving peace and being a conduit of peace too. I can’t believe how many people on social media get triggered whenever they hear that someone wants to be with a peaceful and peace-filled individual. What in the world? Peace, in a relationship, is about harmony. Peace is about tranquility. Peace is about being on one accord, having a strong and solid friendship, and feeling calm in another person’s presence. Peace is not turmoil. Peace is not stress. PEACE IS NOT DRAMA. A lot of people out here? They think that because their relationship is passionate or intense that love is present. More times than not, the answer is “no.” As a woman by the name of Mary Helen Doyle once said, “Choose love and peace will follow. Choose peace and love will follow.” If that is not your personal reality with your significant other…you’ve got some serious thinking to do.
4. Your views on love and relationships are maturing. Have you ever known a relationship that is childish? There’s no other way to put it. The two people involved are always trying to one-up each other. When they’re mad, they’ll go days without speaking. You find yourself watching a soap opera online that you didn’t ask for because one or both of them are constantly being passive-aggressive about each other’s mess on their social media pages. Ugh. Remember how I said that peace isn’t drama? Yeah, true love isn’t either. In fact, one of the main things that love does is provide you with a safe space to be held accountable so that you’re able to grow in areas where you wouldn’t have otherwise. If your “love relationship” isn’t maturing you…that’s another flag on the play.
5. Sex is the “icing” not the “cake.” A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “What If The Sex Is Great? But The Relationship Sucks.” And yeah, this point? Listen, oxytocin — the natural hormone that bonds you to the people you are physically intimate with — can have you out here thinking that just because a man makes your body feel good that he’s good for your mind and spirit too (check out “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?”). In other words, sex can be deceptive, which is why I don’t like the term “make love” (check out “I Absolutely Hate The Phrase 'Make Love.' Here's Why.”). Truly, it can’t be said enough: sex does not MAKE love; sex CELEBRATES a love that is already in place. People who are truly in love know this.
Okay, so this is already quite a bit to think about, right? It’s also essential and relevant because, before you can come to the conclusion that love is not enough to keep your relationship going, you need to make sure that love is what you’re actually experiencing. IS IT?
Now, let’s get into the main reasons why this article has the title that it does.
It’s Damn Near Impossible to Love Someone You Don’t Respect
I’m pretty sure that, at one point or another, we’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Y’all, that is absolutely how I feel about providing this kind of content for singles — and to me, “single” is individuals whose tax records say that they are. Because no matter how much you may care about someone, again, ask anyone who’s gone through a divorce, and I’m pretty sure they will tell you that breaking up (no matter how difficult it may be) will spare you a lot more heartbreak than ending a marriage will. And so, with that being said, one reason why love may not be enough to try and stay with someone you are seeing (in a dating or even engaged dynamic) is if you don’t respect them — or they don’t respect you.
Scripturally, when it comes to how wives are to treat their husbands, I always think it’s amazing that women are told, not to prioritize loving their husband but respecting him (Ephesians 5:33). If you go to I Peter 3:2 (AMPC), it defines respect in this fashion: “…to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].” (Did y’all see “prize” in there? I DID.)
Ask any man worth his salt, and he’s gonna tell you, I believe without hesitation, that the way he feels love is by feeling respected. So, when you take all of those words in I Peter into account, do you respect your man? And if you don’t, why don’t you? I promise you, with every ounce of my being, that if you don’t respect him, it’s only a matter of time before your relationship either ends or becomes highly dysfunctional because respect is paramount in a healthy, loving dynamic.
And yes, you deserve to be respected as well.
- When a man respects you, he is honest with you.
- When a man respects you, he values opinions.
- When a man respects you, he honors your boundaries.
- When a man respects you, he doesn’t “hit below the belt” in disagreements.
- When a man respects you, he is careful in how he treats you.
- When a man respects you, he prioritizes you.
- When a man respects you, no kind of abuse transpires (including neglect).
Hmph. When you marinate on all of this, one might say that you can’t be loved without being respected. While on some levels, that’s true — believe you me, I have dialogued with many couples over the years who love each other yet they don’t respect each other’s boundaries or they don’t fight fair. And that’s because one or both of them weren’t taught to prioritize respect.
I will say this, though: even if you do love your partner, if you don’t respect them and/or they don’t respect you, love is not going to be enough. Not to go the distance in a mutually beneficial kind of way, it’s not.
LOVING Someone Doesn’t Mean That the Two of You Are COMPATIBLE
Yep, I’m gonna bring some Scripture back into this. Back in the Garden of Eden, when God decided to bless Adam with a helpmate, the Classic Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 described her to be this: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.’” Suitable means “appropriate” and “fitting.” Adapted means being able “to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.” Complementary means “the quantity or amount that completes anything.” Complete, in this context, speaks to “having all parts or elements; lacking nothing.”
Y’all, there are a couple of men who I loved, but it didn’t work out. I was mad at first — and yet, in hindsight, it was never meant to be. Why? Because I was not the right kind of helper for them, and they were not the right kind of protector and provider for me. There were things about us that didn’t “fit.” There were areas where we weren’t willing to be flexible in order to make the relationship work. When it came to our values, perspectives, and goals, significant things were lacking.
And that’s why I tell couples who come to me prior to marriage that they need to take COMPATIBILITY into serious account before saying “I do.” Compatible literally means “capable of existing or living together in harmony” — and I can’t tell you how many married folks have either been at their entire wit’s end or have ultimately called it quits due to this being such an issue.
It can be what seems like something “minor” at first too. For instance, don’t underestimate if you’re the kind of person who likes a spotless home and your partner’s house isn’t the cleanest. Don’t think it’s not a big deal if you’re an extrovert who likes to go out a lot and your partner seems like he barely even likes people (I know a married couple who have suffered, greatly, over the years because of this). Don’t go into denial if you’re a spontaneous person and your partner is very much “married” to routine.
Some of my male friends? We are very close, and I adore them; they adore me, too. We ain’t ugly either. Yet we are close enough to know and accept that the way we do life as individuals, there is no way we would be harmonious as a couple. Yep, sometimes love isn’t enough because the two of you simply aren’t compatible (or compatible enough) to go the distance.
Being with Someone You Love Isn’t the Ultimate Goal. Being in a Healthy Relationship Is.
As I wrap this up, one more point. A hill that I will forever and a day die on is far too many people put being happy over being healthy. Hmph, I’ll even take that a step further and say that far too many folks think that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make them happy when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, if you don’t even know how to keep yourself happy all of the time, how the hell is someone else supposed to pull it off? Ridiculous. And you know what? When two people are able to see things from this perspective, when they are able to fully grasp that 1) happiness is about inner work, 2) happiness comes and goes, and 3) being healthy is what should matter more — then they can find another person who feels the same way. And that is a solid foundation to build on.
Definitely, two healthy people get that when it comes to being in a long-term relationship that is thriving and flourishing, having someone to love who loves you back is pretty awesome. However, what keeps the relationship together is ensuring that the dynamic is HEALTHY.
So, am I saying that you can love someone in a very pure and genuine way and the relationship be unhealthy? 1000 percent. I’m not speaking of extreme things like abuse, either. I mean…a word that oftentimes comes up whenever healthy is mentioned is “vigor.” Vigor speaks to strength, power, and ability. And if, by being involved with the person who you love, you are not getting stronger, becoming more powerful, and feeling more capable of becoming your best self as you are doing the same thing for him — there are elements about the relationship that is the opposite of healthy: unhealthy, and that means that love isn’t enough. In fact, you should love each other enough to let each other…go. So, that you both can be joined by those who will support and encourage you to become a more…vigorous individual.
Whew, this was a lot. I know. It was also necessary. Because it’s time (past time, really) that we stop romanticizing love to the point that we lose sight of what its purpose is: the fuel needed to keep a healthy relationship going. And hopefully now, all of these words later (LOL), you are able to see that certain things have to be in place, outside of love, for things to not only work…but work well.
“Sometimes love just ain’t enough” is both a mouthful and the truth.
Choose wisely, sis. Love yourself enough to do that…please.
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