5 Signs You're In Love (All By Yourself)
For almost 10 years now, I've been running a blog for single women who desire to be married (I'm currently on a six-month posting hiatus until the New Year). Through the years, I've received a lot of comments, questions, and concerns from numerous women. But if there's one post that continues to get almost weekly replies, it's "Will God Flat-Out Tell You Who Your Husband Is?"
If you grew up in the church, you already know this continues to be a hot topic, and while I'm not gonna spend a ton of time on the theology side of things, I will say that Genesis 2 says NOTHING about a man choosing his wife. In the Garden of Eden, GOD DECIDED when Adam should have a woman, along with who she should be. So no, it doesn't seem "crazy" to me that a woman would know she's meant to be with a man before the man does (wives tell me they knew before their husbands did all of the time!).
But keeping along with that point, one thing that Adam did do is acknowledge Eve. He praised her and claimed her, which means that no matter what may have been going on "behind the scenes," Adam ended up being on board with the relationship. He didn't need to be "pulled in."
I think you can feel where I'm going with this. It's one thing to have feelings for someone before they do or even to feel more intensely for them before they catch on. BUT it's something else entirely to be out here all "in love" with some guy when there is no mutuality or reciprocity going on. Unfortunately, though, it happens ALL OF THE TIME.
I've done it with a guy before. Right now, I can name about 20 other women I know who've done it too. So, before you write it off as being "crazy", or something you've never done (or will do), humor me and check out some of the signs of when a woman is basically in love by herself that you might've overlooked or are in denial about:
You’re (Semi-Constantly) Trying to Convince Him to Get on the Same Page as You.
Remember, I didn't say this article is about if you like a guy who may not like you back. I said this is about when you feel as if you're IN LOVE with someone and you're pretty much on your own with that.
Some of us make the grave mistake of thinking (or is it assuming?) that as long as a guy is dating us or even sexing us that they feel the same way that we do. Or, that so long as we continue to date them and/or sex them that they'll get there.
While there is something to be said for what only time can—and should—do, how can you know if you're not on the same page and/or quite possibly won't ever get there? When you're asking the dude questions like "So, what are we doing?" or "Where is this going?" and you keep getting blank stares in response, he's always changing the subject, or he acts like you're getting on his nerves or pressuring him, that's your cue.
When two people are in love, while some think the operative word is "love," I think it's "in." They are IN it together. If you're constantly trying to get him to catch up, this is red flag #1.
You’re Also (Semi-Constantly) Making Excuses for Where He Falls Short.
Between running a get-ready-for-marriage blog and being a marriage life coach, chile, I've seen more than my fair share of marriage proposals. And if there's one thing they've all taught me it's that when a man wants a woman (I mean, really and truly wants a woman), there is no such thing as "not being emotional" or "incapable of expressing himself."
I've seen everything from flying a woman's entire family and close friends to an engagement location, to planning out her wedding for her based on her Pinterest posts. Moral to the story—if a man wants you, HE WILL SHOW YOU. Boldly so, too.
If you're always making excuses (especially to yourself) about why the man in your life can't plan a date, let alone give you a thoughtful Christmas or birthday present, spend some time on sites like How He Asked. It's a reality check like a mug.
Everyone and Their Grandma Is Telling You So.
Fun fact. My former pastor is one of the experts on Married at First Sight (yep, Pastor Cal), so sometimes I watch the show just because I'm still trippin' that he's on there. Well, there's a couple from this past season (Bobby and Danielle) who constantly get memos that Bobby is doing all of the work and Danielle is merely soaking it up. (All you have to do is put #MAFS in your Twitter search field and you'll see what I'm talking about.)
While the couple is telling everyone that their relationship is a "10" and they never fight, the experts, Bobby's family, and 99 percent of Twitter world is like, "Bobby, WAKE UP!"
Here's what they can teach us all. The mentality of it's you and me against the world may be romantic 'n all, but remember, you're emotionally involved and that can skew your discernment. The people on the outside looking in have the ability to catch some things you probably can't. And so, if ALL OF THEM are bringing up THE SAME CONCERN about you and your dude, it's not wise to flippantly shrug it off.
Stop thinking that everyone is being a hater, because the one thing they have in common is they all love you.
The Relationship—or Situationship—Is Not Making You Feel Loved.
(Most) women are natural nurturers. That's a good thing. But sometimes we confuse nurturing a relationship with how we raise our children. What I mean by that is, we expect to love a child and it not be a mutual situation. Children are not as mature as us. We know that we'll be doing most of the work.
A grown man is not a child. Or at least, he's not your child. If you're spending all of your time trying to meet his needs and make him feel loved, when do you have time to figure out what you need and what will make you feel loved?
It took me years and years…and years and years and years to get this one deep down in my spirit. And listen, I don't care how long you've been with someone, how good the sex is, or even how much you love him, if a random person on the street asked you how your man makes you feel loved and you can't immediately rattle off some answers—and by some, I mean more than two—this is one of the most overlooked indications that you're probably in love…by yourself.
THERE. IS. NO. PROGRESS.
If you put some water in a cup and let it sit in your sink for about a week and then you take a whiff, it's gonna have an odor to it. The lesson here is, even when it comes to water, stagnation stinks.
Meanwhile, "progress" is a dope word. It means "a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage." While progress means different things to different people, when something as profound and life-altering as LOVE is shared between two people, you can best believe that goals and "going higher" are going to happen; that both individuals will want nothing less.
If your relationship is more like a cup of water in the sink for a week, I know it's hard to hear, but that's another warning sign that you're probably in love by yourself. Because if he was "in it" with you, he'd want to move forward and you'd have concrete evidence of that very fact. I can promise you that.
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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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