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.
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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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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