I've been in the relationship game for a long time now. If I'm not going through my own stuff, I'm coaching someone else or I'm writing about matters of the heart.
Through my years of experience and observation, there's one thing I'm certain about—in spite of all of the information that's offered on relationships and even self-love, if there's one thing that we don't see nearly enough intel on, it's what to do if you love someone who doesn't happen to love themselves (very much).
What made me do research on this topic is, I used to be that girl. When it comes to loving a man who doesn't love himself, although I am not a woman who refers to men as "dogs," the best way to illustrate where I'm coming from is dealing with a stray canine.
Have you ever seen one walking along the side of the road looking beaten, hungry and worn? You feel so sorry for it that you want to help in some way, but when you reach out to feed or even pet it, it goes on the attack?
It's not that it's a "bad dog." It's that it's so damaged and has been used to suffering on its own for so long, it doesn't know how to react to well-intentioned treatment. Sadly, neglect and mistreatment are what it's used to. This is what loving someone who doesn't love themselves is like. And, I used to do it…a lot.
What broke my pattern?
First, it was revisiting one of my favorite definitions of love; the Love Chapter that's in the Bible (I Corinthians 13). When someone loves anything or anyone, including themselves, they are patient and kind. They are not rude, jealous, or easily provoked. They love truth, they are optimistic and as far as failure goes, it's simply not an option.
Keeping that in mind, when two people are in a healthy and loving relationship, they will mutually express love in this same fashion. They are patient and kind with each other because they are first patient and kind with themselves. They aren't easily provoked and they don't fail each other because first they are even-tempered and committed to doing what's best for themselves.
It took me years (almost times infinity) to get to the point and place of really understanding and embracing this. Now that I've learned how to love myself, it's easier to detect how—and why—I fell for some men who didn't love themselves very much, even as they were in the midst of claiming to love me. What are some of the telling signs a man doesn't love himself?
6 Signs Your Man Doesn't Love Himself
1.He Wants You to Be a Fan More Than a True Friend.
Recently, I was sharing with someone that the more you love yourself, the more you want to become the best you that you can be. This includes being open to receiving advice and even constructive criticism that will help you grow. It also includes being aware of your weaknesses and doing what's required to strengthen them. Self-love knows that self-awareness leads to self-improvement; it's willing to do whatever it takes to evolve, even if it's challenging, at times.
People who don't love themselves? They are so insecure that their definition of love is receiving constant affirmations and compliments. In fact, the moment you bring up something about them that they don't want to hear, they take it as you displaying a lack of love rather than you doing what you can to help them to win.
Bottom line, a man who doesn't love himself isn't looking for a lover who's a true friend. They'd much rather you be their fan (or is it groupie?); they want you to be someone who is constantly enamored with them—even if that means overlooking things they are doing that are unhealthy, immature, counterproductive, or all of the above.
2.He Has Absolutely No Problem Wasting Time.
One of my favorite quotes by author M. Scott Peck is, "Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."
A man who doesn't love himself tends to make decisions "in the moment". Meaning, he doesn't really think—or even care really—about how what he says and does will impact his future. So long as he's having fun or it's scratching some sort of immediate itch, it's all good.
And since he doesn't care very much about his own future, he's not too pressed about yours. He will pull you into his randomness and recklessness because time is not a factor. Consequences rarely are either.
3.He’s Down for Sex but Hates Intimacy.
One of the most intimate relationships I've ever had, we never even kissed. What's interesting is that he propositioned me many times over the years and I know many women he's been with. To him, his "hit list" wasn't that big of a deal. Oh, but get that guy to talk about some innermost fears or desires and suddenly he was all kinds of uncomfortable. He can get physically naked, but emotionally? Not so much. To me, that revealed a lot.
When a man truly loves himself, he doesn't just want to share his anatomy. He wants to give all of himself and he expects the same in return.
When a man doesn't, he settles for sex-only situations because he's too afraid to let someone into his heart so that he can have a multi-dimensional and lasting relationship.
4.You Can Never Do Too Much—And He Can Never Do Too Little.
One of the reasons why a healthy relationship consists of a whole man and a whole woman is because they are giving to one another out of their abundance, not what they lack.
Unfortunately, a lot of us miss this important fact. Instead, we end up being severely malnourished (especially emotionally) because rather than looking for someone to complement us, we are in a desperate search for someone who will fill our voids.
Not loving yourself? That's one of the greatest voids there is. If you decide to love a man who is already empty in this area, the more you give in in order to satisfy him, the more he will take…and take…and take. What's worse is because he doesn't have much love for himself, he won't have much—if any of it all—to give to you either.
He'll take a lot—and give little. Constantly.
5.He Doesn’t Deal with His Past.
People don't come out of the womb not knowing how to love themselves. A low self-image was either modeled to them or there was damage in their past that broke them somehow. A close-to-home example is a man I once deeply loved who was severely-wounded due to quite a bit of childhood abuse that he experienced.
Whenever I tried to get him to talk about it, he'd dismissively say, "I don't live in the past." Oh, but based on his commitment-phobia, erratic temper, and the extreme co-dependency that he displayed when it came to his grown family members who always wanted him to take care of them – I think the past was exactly where he dwelled.
Since he wouldn't go to therapy (although several of us recommended it), he remained constantly in his toxic patterns. He also seemed pretty emotionally stunted. Watching him suffer in that way taught me that when a man loves himself, he is proactive about his healing. When he's not, as Iyanla Vanzant would put it, he'll fight you – and anyone else who tries to help him out – for it. So much that if he has to remain stuck in the past to the point where he can't build a future with someone else, so be it.
6.He Wants to Look Good More Than BE GOOD.
This one is HUGE. I recently watched a pretty insightful video from a self-love coach on make-up. She wasn't against wearing it, but her perspective was: It isn't something we should be so dependent on that we can't show our true selves. We shouldn't hide behind the mask of cosmetics.
Guys may not wear Maybelline, but some "hide" behind their looks, their physique, their charm—even their platform. So long as their IG gives off the appearance that they are living their best life, they are OK with being emotionally erratic, having toxic patterns, and breaking hearts left and right offline. As long as their appearance is on point, their character is not that big of a deal.
A man who loves himself is too busy being a good person to be posting selfies every day. He's focused on treating one woman right instead of being out here running through randoms. He wants to treat people right rather than charm the pants off of them.
A man who doesn't…does the opposite.
Am I saying that you shouldn't love a man who doesn't love himself? It's more like, if you decide to take something like that on, you shouldn't expect to be in a healthy relationship with that kind of individual. I'll take it further and recommend just being friends until they do some serious self-work.
Why? You wouldn't expect grape juice from an orange, would you? Along those lines, you're only playin' yourself if you expect someone to give you what they don't have. In order for a man to give you healthy love, he needs to love himself in a healthy way first.
Love yourself enough that if you recognize any of the signs that I just shared that you don't ignore them.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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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.
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 masterdating? 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 masterdating 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 Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. 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 masterdating 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 masterdating 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 masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
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 masterdating 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” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating 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 masterdating 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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