Not too long ago, while looking around in Twitter world to see what was going on, I noticed a tweet that had me be like, "Yeah, I need to save that for personal reference and an xoNecole piece." To me, it was so good that I'm going to share the tweet itself. Are you ready to exhale in a way like you probably haven't in a really long time?
Y'all. Y'all. If there's one thing that can keep us caught up in the kind of unhealthy, counterproductive and emotionally dangerous relationships that are totally beneath our self-worth and extremely threatening to our purpose, it's allowing manipulation, control or even fear to serve as the motivation for remaining someplace that is toxic—or going back to something that is toxic. That tweet right there is a clear-cut example of how that can happen.
Another example is believing that you have to experience everything the hard way in order to learn what you need to know. That couldn't be further from the truth. Me? I'm a firm believer that one of the most underrated superpowers is discernment. And yes, there are some things—many things, actually—that you can avoid, simply by discerning that they aren't good for you; hopefully beforehand.
That said, if you're someone who has a tendency to constantly get into toxic relationships, have toxic friends or you're always caught up in some sort of drama with toxic family members, here are some telling signs to help you to finally break that cycle for good—whether it's your first time dealing with a toxic individual…or (le sigh) your umpteenth one.
So, how can you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you're about to let a toxic person into—or back into—your life?
Their Personality Impresses You More than Their Character Does
I promise you that if you get this one down right here, it will spare you from experiencing so much unnecessary stress. I can't tell you how many times in my life that I've encountered someone who is charismatic, funny, smart or all of the above, so I let them in more than I should have, only to find out that they were also shady, arrogant and opportunistic as hell. How did that happen? I allowed their personality to be more important to me than their character. If those two things seem one and the same to you—yeah, that's a part of the problem.
Someone's personality is basically what they lead with. By definition, it's "the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others". I don't know about you, but the two words that stood out to me in that definition are "visible" and "impresses". Meanwhile, someone's character is their "moral or ethical quality". For years, I was literally embroiled with a user because while they were charming (personality), they were also extremely selfish (character).
Whether it's someone you've just met or someone you're considering letting back into your life, it will only benefit you to take a moment to make sure that the "gift" (their character) is indeed as beautiful as their "wrappings" (their personality).
They’ve Got a “Pop Off Spirit". Online and/or Offline.
Not too long ago, I was talking to someone who met another individual through me. As they were asking why we weren't close anymore, my response was two-fold. "I don't think that we were ever close so much as we were cool. But as I got to know that individual more, it just seemed like they could never take what they dish out. They also seem to have very little accountability in their life so, when someone brought something to their attention that could help them to become a better individual, they would go on the attack. I just don't really like being around someone who constantly has a 'pop off spirit'. It's draining." The older—and hopefully wiser—that I get, the more that fact rings true.
The Dalai Lama once said, "Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace." Sometimes, the best way to do that is to send love and light to someone from afar. That said, if there is someone in your world who is always combative, always needs to have the last word, and/or always has a "word of wisdom" but can never receive it—whether it's online or off—not only does this show signs of leaning towards being narcissistic, a know-it-all and/or totally self-unaware, it can also serve as a heads up that they aren't going to bring peace into your life. If anything, they are gonna straight-up disrupt it. Often.
They Rarely Take Responsibility or Accountability for...Anything
I've got a family member who—give me a sec because I wanna make sure I am not exaggerating when I say this—has never apologized. Ever. You can catch them in something that is dead wrong and either they will go tit for tat with you on it—you know that, "Well, you do that too" game—or they will go into hard defensive mode, even ghosting you, if need be. Or, they will take the super manipulative route and be on some, "I'm sorry you pushed me to do that." What in the world?
None of us are perfect. This means that there are going to be times in our lives when we're going to need to take responsibility for the things that we've done wrong or we'll need to hold ourselves accountable to the things that someone has said offended them or hurt them in some way. If there's a person you're dealing with who has never done either of these things, even when you have brought wounds that they have caused to their attention, you are, as the elders say, "crusin' for a brusin'" if you keep them in your inner circle. Because, how can someone stop hurting or harming you if they refuse to even acknowledge that they did so? Which reminds me, please check out "If They Are Truly Sorry, They'll Do These 5 Things" when you get a chance. It's a reminder that someone who apologizes for doing wrong is humble and healthy. People who refuse to do so are the exact opposite.
They’re Extremely Prideful
One of my favorite movies of all time is The Devil's Advocate (a great scene is here). If there is a revolving theme throughout the entire film, it's what pride (and vanity) can do to a person if they don't get a hold of it. What are some of the signs of a pride-filled individual? The article "15 Subtle Signs of Pride In Your Life" offers up some real doozies—being unteachable; constantly talking about yourself; being overly-critical; not heeding the advice of others; always needing attention and affirmation; not respecting authority, and name-dropping are just a few of 'em.
Since I grew up in somewhat of an entertainment industry home and I then became an entertainment writer, I spent a lot of years not realizing just how prideful a lot of the people in my space actually were. The fallout from that is, you can't constantly be around folks with the "pride flu" and not catch some of their symptoms after a while.
On this side of self-awareness and healing, if there is one thing that I loathe and try to avoid being around (and being), it's pride. Aside from all of the other traits that I just shared, a prideful individual takes more than they will ever give. Not only that, but between them and their ego, there's not much room for real friends. Only fans.
You Can’t Immediately Name Five Ways They Benefit Your Life
A couple of days ago, I was sharing with a friend and his co-worker Aristotle's theory about all of us needing to have utility (work), pleasure (kick it) and good (character) friends. As they were discussing what they thought they were to each other, things got a little uncomfortable when my friend said to his co-worker that he saw him as a pleasure friend, not a good one. When his co-worker asked why, my friend (being the tell-it-like-it-is Gemini that he is) simply said, "My friends are people who make me a better person. Sure, you and I have a good time, but you're actually someone who tries to get me to do things that I'm trying to stop doing…like drinking." When the co-worker asked why they weren't at least utility friends, my friend followed that up with, "Dude. Since I've known you, I've covered you more times than I can remember when you come to work late. I've lost track of how much money I've lent you. You're good for a good time, but that's about it."
It's another message for another time, how many of us remain in unhealthy relationships with folks, and it's all because there's a disillusion that things are one way when they are totally different. But the main thing that I want you to get from this particular point is my friend didn't really share anything truly beneficial that his co-worker brings to his life—well, other than fun and being a "vice trigger" (if you consider that to be a good thing). Their lil' convo is a good reminder that if you can't think of the ways someone will influence and inspire you to be a better person (other than perhaps them being a cautionary tale in your life), this is just one more sign that they could very potentially be a toxic individual to you instead.
If They’re from Your Past—Nothing Seems Much Different in Y’all’s Present
A word that's oftentimes used when it comes to recycling is repurposing. An example of doing this is back in the day when I used to turn my jeans that were too short at the ankles or too tight around the thighs into a jean skirt. Anyway, the older that I get, the more I like to apply repurposing to my relationships as well.
It takes a lot of introspection and patience to come to this conclusion, but the truth of the matter is some folks don't need to be "cut out of our lives"; sometimes, time needs to be allowed for maturity, growth and maybe a little bit of forgiveness so that you can explore repurposing—"adapt for use in a different purpose"—the connection. A good example of this is how some people can remain friends with their ex or they're able to even consider bringing a former friend back into their lives again.
Repurposing is cool. So long as the new purpose is mutually beneficial. On the other hand, if you reconnect with someone and you see the same red flags in their being that caused the two of you to go separate ways to begin with, why in the world would you want to get back on that hamster wheel of toxicity?
I'll be honest. Something that I hate about social media is how folks tend to not extend the kind of mercy that they'd like to receive. What I mean by that is I know that I was a different person 10 years ago. To not allow me the space to evolve out of how I thought or acted a decade ago is…really sad (pretty unrealistic too). So no, I'm not of the full belief that because someone was once making poor choices or wasn't a good friend or partner that they are doomed to remain that way forever. Oh, but hear me out when I say, at the same time, while I try to extend the mercy to see if things are different, if I notice that they aren't, then I am being boo-boo the fool for allowing the toxicity back into my life. The motto isn't "once a cheater always a cheater". It's more like, "Once a cheater shows that they are still a cheater then I'm cheating myself to remain."
Same goes for you. If a once-upon-a-time toxic individual tries to enter back into your world, you are not weak, crazy or stupid for considering taking them back. Just make sure that you function from a place of guarding your heart, setting boundaries and allowing time to reveal what it needs to. If you see that they are still up to the same ole' same ole' but you romanticize or flat-out ignore this fact, not only is it a sign that you're allowing toxicity back, there is a chance that they will do more damage than before. Use discernment. Proceed with caution. Choose wisely. To a certain extent, the quality of your life depends on it. Real talk.
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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 Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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