Many years ago, I was a spokesperson for a particular pageant organization. While in the position, I got asked a lot of questions. If someone had asked me the traditional, "What would you like everyone to have?" I actually would've said something along the lines of, "I'd like everyone to stop settling for being in one-sided relationships." Although world peace is dope, relationships are my lane of interest. Shoot, if more of us stopped settling, world peace would be more attainable anyway because there would be inner peace. Amen? Amen.
Anyway, I thought about my personal wish for mankind when I checked out two skits by an actor named Ms. Sade. One skit showed what happens when a woman finds herself in a one-sided relationship. An example was her and her man being at the gas station, him offering to pump the gas in her car with her credit card, then asking if he can also use it to get something else out of the store. An example of her taking her man for granted is her asking him to use his car, him asking her to put gas in it, her saying "no" (then following that up with announcing that she's going 20 miles away), him asking to borrow her credit card and her looking at him like he's crazy. The skits are funny, but you know what they say—humor makes it easier to digest the truth. Not only that, but if you're like me and you're a survivor of the chronic pattern of being in the kind of relationships where you find yourself doing most of the work, the skits might actually be triggering, too.
It took me many (many) years before I realized that one-sided relationships are totally unhealthy and extremely less than what I deserve. If you agree with that point in theory, but you're still on the fence about whether you're actually in one, there's no time like the present for a red-pill dosage so that the truth can set you free. Ready?
ONE-SIDED SIGN #1: His Expectations Are Met. Yours? Not So Much.
One of the reasons I am such a fan of two people having what I call a "pre-commitment interview" before they get involved with each other is so they both can be on the same page when it comes to their expectations. I didn't come to this conclusion as a result of being a marriage life coach. I figured this out via very personal experience. For example, although I don't observe holidays, something that is a big deal to me is my birthday. It always has been and probably always will be. My crew typically holds me down, but sadly, I can't think of one ex who impressed me on my birthday. Not. One. Meanwhile, ask all of those jokers—I'm sorry, fellas; I just got a little triggered—how I handled their special day of birth. Hmph…hmph and another hmph.
Yeah, I'll be the first to say it. Part of the reason I found myself in one-sided relationships more often than I care to count or recall is because I assumed that what I gave is what I would receive in return; perhaps not exactly but damn—at least somewhere in the general vicinity. And that came out of my making sure that I met their expectations (because I cared enough to ask what made them happy) without requiring that mine be met as well. It really is true that when both people are not interested in what is expected to keep a relationship in a good place, there's a good chance that someone is going to end up doing more of the work; that the relationship is gonna end up being totally one-sided.
ONE-SIDED SIGN #2: The Word 'Selfish' Comes Up a Lot
Personally, I think that one of the most overlooked red flags that someone isn't relationship material is that they are selfish. It is also my belief that a lot of folks overlook this particularly unhealthy trait because they don't really know what to be on the lookout for during the first couple of months of dating. And just what are some indications that someone is truly self-consumed? They have a sense of entitlement. They rarely put themselves in the shoes of others (in order to gain another or different perspective). They don't really do anything for someone unless they can find at least three ways it will benefit them directly. They don't take other people's needs or feelings very seriously. They don't compromise. They always feel the need to be right. Me…me…me; that's what they are about. Ugh.
Aside from the fact that selfish people are hella annoying, another challenge that comes from dealing with them is they don't really find your needs to be all that important. They might say that they do but their actions convey a totally different message. Listen, it doesn't matter if someone is fun to be around or if the sex is totally off the charts, if someone were to come up to you and ask you to define your relationship, and the world "selfish" comes up fairly often, even if/when you try to hide it under the guise of joking—that is no laughing matter. A selfish person can bring pleasure and good times into your life; that is, until it no longer serves them to do so. Then, they're out. If you're hurt in the process, so be it. How can someone be like that? Because anything that they do is all about them and no one else. Does that sound like a healthy relationship to you? Me neither.
ONE-SIDED #3: There’s Hypocrisy When It Comes to Traditional Gender Roles
Some of y'all are gonna get mad---perhaps even big mad---about this point. That doesn't mean it doesn't need to be made, though. I can't tell you how many times I will hear about, read or have a conversation with a woman who is super offended when a guy asks if she can cook but then turns around and is equally as offended about him not opening doors for her or picking up the tab on every single date that they go on. The way these ladies see it, a guy should provide because "it's a man's job", but a woman needing to cook is ridiculous and chauvinistic. Is it? Or is it that you want gender roles to fit when it works for you and not necessarily for your partner?
Y'all, there's no time to get into the battle of the sexes today. All I'm saying is, if you've got certain expectations from men and it's solely based on "that's what a man is supposed to do", how is that any less sexist than him also having expectations under the definition of traditional female roles in a relationship? Another way to look at this is, if there is a lot of resentment because you want him to "be the man" but you find every feminist book in the world to debate why he's wrong to expect you to fulfill certain roles as a woman, I'm not saying it's right or wrong; only the two of you can determine that. All I'm simply pointing out is picking and choosing when gender roles should apply is another example of two people oftentimes being in a one-sided relationship. Why can't you both pay sometimes and you both sometimes cook? If you looked at the monitor like I was crazy…you just proved my point. (Actually, Aba & Preach recently posted a couple of videos that touch on some of this. One's entitled "Successful Women Are Unhappy That They Have to 'Date Down'"; the other is "Women Should Approach Men. Make the First Move".)
While we're on this point, if your man wants you to cook and clean, but he doesn't even know how to fix a flat—oh, I've been there, girl—that is another example of things being one-sided.
True partnership figures out who excels at what and works together to make sure things run smoothly. Anything else is going to exhaust one or the other. One-sided relationships always do.
ONE-SIDED #4: There Is a Clear Initiator—of Just About Everything
You make most of the check-in calls. You plan most of the dates. You bring up the "So, where is this going?" and "So, what are we doing?" conversations. In fact, when you really stop to think about it, the only time when your man actually does initiate anything, it's when he's tryin' to get some. I think the reason why this particular sign slides by so much is because a lot of us don't think it's that bad that we're the initiator; that's typically because, once things get to going, it's all good. After we call, it's a great conversation. Once we meet up with ole' boy, we have tons of fun with him. When we bring up the state of the relationship, for the most part, he's pretty engaging. Because of this, we tend to rationalize that maybe our man simply needs us to take the lead in this way. Maybe. Or maybe he's just relationally lazy. Or maybe, just maybe, we're so freakin' eager that we don't know how to chill out and let him take the first step sometimes.
Whatever the case may be, what I do know, for an absolute fact, is people make a priority what is a priority. Remember when Ms. Toni Braxton sang back in the day about seven whole days going by and not hearing from her man? I'm willing to bet that if she called, he'd pick up. But since she didn't, well, he found other things to do. That's kind-of the problem. When someone is in a relationship with another person, they should want to take initiative to participate in keeping the connections strong. If they're fine with not doing so, that's having a detached mentality. They're allowing someone to pull the weight on both sides. And any guy—any human being, period—who is cool with that, they are someone who is all good with being in a one-sided relationship. And that's never good.
ONE-SIDED #5: Mutuality and Reciprocity Are Foreign Concepts
On the relationship tip, there's no doubt about it. Two of my favorite words are mutuality and reciprocity. Mutuality is awesome because of a key word that's found in its definition—"possessed, experienced, performed, etc., by each of two or more with respect to the other; reciprocal".
Did you catch it? When something is mutual, things are experienced and performed because the two people involved respect one another. You know what that boils down to—if you are in a relationship where you are doing most of the work, I don't care how much he claims to care about you, there is a lack of respect for you and the relationship going on.
As far as reciprocity goes, a wise person once said, "How they treat you is how they feel about you." If the person you are with isn't proactively making sure that you are satisfied and fulfilled, I don't care what they've got to say; what they are showing you is that your happiness doesn't matter all that much. Meanwhile, by you going out of your way to make sure they're good, you're showing them that they matter…a lot. How can a relationship that lacks respect and mutual giving be beneficial or anything but one-sided?
ONE-SIDED #6: Being Unhappy in the Relationship Somehow Seems Better than Being Happy Alone
Boy, just when I thought I'd heard it all, an episode of Divorce Court that showed up in my YouTube feed reminded me I hadn't. This particular couple included a guy who would bring women he'd slept with to the house he shared with his girlfriend. How was he able to pull that off? He told her they were his cousins. (This guy.) In response, his girlfriend was out there following him around, breaking her own car window and crying all of the time. When Judge Lynn Toler asked her why she'd put up with him and his foolishness for five years, the young lady said, "Because that's all I know. I don't know nobody else…I love him, and I don't want to start over." (Chile.) The judge's response was priceless: "I can have a disease for five years, but I still want to get rid of it. I'm used to the disease. I know what it's like. I know the pain that it brings me. But I still want to get cured. You need to get cured of this particular disease." Yes.
Some of us settle for one-sided relationships because we're afraid to be alone. And we're afraid to be alone because—please catch this—we're not in a relationship with our own damn self. If you're settling because you don't want to start over, or you're afraid to be by yourself, or you're worried that you won't find better—do yourself a big favor and start putting as much effort into your own self-care as you do into that relationship of yours. I can pretty much guarantee you that the more you become your own friend, the less you'll want to be around anyone who doesn't see your value and honor it; the more you'd rather enjoy the pleasure of your own company as a single woman than to be drained by some dude who only wants something one-sided.
I say it all of the time. At the root of relationship, there's the word "relate". If a man is not relating to your needs and feelings, you're in something one-sided and you need something more and better. The sooner you let the weight of one-sidedness go, the closer you'll be to getting with something more. There's no time like the present, sis. Give to yourself what you've been giving to him all of this time. Then watch how the Universe reacts. Just. You. Watch.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
This Is How To Feel Emotionally Safe In Your Relationship
Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner
Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife
I Broke Up With My Boyfriend After Four Years And A Year Later He Became The Love Of My Life
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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