Should You Take A Break? Or Break Up For Good?
Taking a break. Yeah, I don't know, y'all. Don't "break babies" come out of taking breaks? OK, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. Whenever someone is dating someone else and their status update is that they are currently "taking a break", on the surface, I typically liken it to when married people separate. Although it's not nearly as serious or even consequential (a break-up is hard but ask any divorced person and they will tell you that a divorce is hard times a thousand!) oftentimes, the purpose of two spouses separating is to get some space in order to see if their marriage is still worth saving.
That's why, when I look at taking breaks in a dating relationship, I get it. Sometimes, even though you deeply care about someone, you need a little space in order to decide if you should be together or not. I think where breaks get the side-eye from me is if someone is in the kind of situation where breaks happen often or they are used as a way to do some mad shady stuff on the sly. You know the kind I'm talking about—"I mean, I slept with someone else because I was on a break." (Uh-huh. I bet.)
Feel free to chime in, but the way I see it, is if two people have been together a couple of years and one of them gets a job in another city or one of them wants to get married and the other isn't sure, a break might be necessary in order to get a fresh perspective on things. But if you are sick of hearing yourself say "We're on a break" whenever one of your friends ask you about your man, ask yourself the following six important questions. If you're totally honest in your answers, you might discover that what you actually need to be doing is breaking up. For good.
Are Your Problems a Set of Unresolved Patterns?
"Why" has got to be one of the most underrated and underappreciated (and yes, sometimes most annoying) words on the planet. I say that because asking it can help you to get down to the root of so many situations, challenges and issues. Take this break that you and ole' boy are thinking about taking, for example. Why is it necessary? Is it because your relationship has reached a plateau and you both would like some time apart to figure out what's next? That's fair. Or is it because, outside of the earth-shattering sex the two of you've been having, your communication totally sucks?
Remember what I said about married people sometimes deciding to separate for a season? How crazy would a married couple look if they did it every six months? After a while, you would be like, "If y'all can't figure out what's wrong, maybe it's time to do something else." Same thing applies to dating dynamics. If you and yours are always on a break because it's the only solution to y'all's problems that seems to work…yeah, something isn't working. This is your first indication that it just might be time to break up instead of taking a break for the umpteenth time.
Are You Upset More Than You’re Content?
Did you peep how I used the word "content" rather than "happy"? Sometimes I think that people miss out on some great things in life because they are obsessed with feeling happy all of the time. Happiness is cool, but it's also an emotion that has ebbs and flows just like anything else. So, if you call things off just because two days out of the week, you aren't happy, that would be super unfortunate.
Content, on the other hand, is important. When you are content with something or someone, it means that you are satisfied. It also means that you don't want any more than what or who you currently have—whether you're currently feeling super happy or not.
Check it. If you're in a relationship where a lot of times, you're ecstatic but sometimes you're simply chillin' in the state of contentment, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if, at least half of the time, you're upset? This means that you're not happy or content. Listen, even if you're dating someone, technically until your relational status on your tax returns changes, you are single. Why stay with someone who doesn't put a smile on your face or leave you satisfied? Break up so that you can get with someone who will (hopefully) do both.
Can You Honestly Say That Your Lives COMPLEMENT One Another?
If you happen to read my articles a lot, you know that it's not uncommon for me to "sneak" some Scripture into here sometimes. One that applies well to this particular point is Genesis 2:18 (AMPC): "Now the Lord God said, 'It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.'"
Just because someone is attractive and appealing, that doesn't mean that they are a good complement for you and your life. Your right complement will serve as your counterpart. They will make your world easier. They will enhance it, bring balance to it and add some finishing touches to it. They will truly be like the icing on your already bomb cake.
A lot of couples find themselves constantly taking breaks because, even though they truly care about one another, what they also can't deny is they don't seem to complement each other very well. How did your spirit feel when you just read that sentence? Did your gut say that it's a sign to stay and try and make things work or that it really is time to call things off?
Is There Love and Passion? Or Only One or the Other?
I'm a passionate person. I feel things pretty deeply. I go hard at everything I attempt. If you're a fellow Gemini and reading this, you know that we give our all and expect the same in return—in every room of our home (read between the lines right there, y'all). So yeah, when it comes to that complement thing that I just mentioned, it's a non-negotiable that my long-term mate would have to be a passionate person too.
But as I've gotten older—and prayerfully, wiser—there's a Benjamin Franklin quote that stays with me. He once said, "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." Amen. And what reason has taught me is passion is not enough to sustain or maintain a healthy relationship. Love must be present too. Not "emotional love" but grown love that says "I'm in this. Not just during the easy times."
At the same time, I'm also not gonna settle for love without passion. I deserve both. So do you.
If you're currently considering taking a break so that you can figure out if you're getting your fill of both love and passion, that's actually a pretty wise call. But if this is now your third, fourth or fifth break because you keep trying to turn one of those into the other, can you feel me looking at you through your computer screen? Guess what I'm about to say. Right. Exactly.
Are You Staying Mostly Because You’re Afraid to Be Alone?
Months back, I penned a piece on signs that you may be a love addict (for the record, an addict, in any form, isn't a good thing; even if the addiction is love). The last sign I mentioned is "you don't feel whole unless you're with someone". I've had a couple of boyfriends where we took several breaks. In hindsight, I must admit, I didn't really keep going back because of how "in love" I was. It was more because I was saying things to myself like, "I mean, we've already been together this long. I'd hate to have nothing to show for all of that time" or "I'm not getting all that I need out of this situation. But at least I'm getting something."
What do both statements boil down to? A woman who's afraid to be alone. The ultimate lesson in all of that? You shouldn't stay in or settle for anything when your core motivation is fear.
A wife once told me that my loneliest night alone in my bed tops being in a bad marriage any day. I've counseled enough married couples at this point to totally agree with her. So, if you're constantly taking breaks because you're afraid of what life would look like if you broke up with someone, look at it this way—the minute he's removed out of your life is the moment that you can prepare for who should actually be in his place. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be alone and hopeful than with someone and semi-miserable.
How Many “Breaks” Have You Already Taken?
Break up to make up, that's all we do/First you love me then you leave me/That's a game for fools. The lyrics are from an oldie but goodie by the Stylistics. And you know what? They're right. If all that you and yours are doing is breaking up and getting back together, only to break up again, while I won't call y'all "fools" for doing it, what I will encourage you to do is think about how many times that has happened and if you're being foolish (unwise, not factoring common sense, ignoring red flags) by staying.
You've probably heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting a different result. That said, a couple of breaks is one thing. But it being a part of your relationship routine probably means that one or both of you are ignoring that something—or a series of things—aren't working. Maybe you're meant to be only friends. Maybe the timing just isn't right. Maybe the two of you are more addicted to make-up sex than you would've ever thought. You won't really know until you stop the taking-a-break cycle, take the plunge and break things off—yes, for good. Or at least for a very long while.
The time apart to work on yourselves will reveal far more than if you stay in the pattern. Then, either you can get together or stay together or get to the one for which this article won't even apply.
It's a win, either way, if you ask me.
Featured image by Getty Images
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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.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images