I recently read an article that discussed all of the scientific signs that point to whether a person is falling in love or not. I'm not gonna share all 13 of 'em, but here are the ones that personally stood out to me—elevated levels of dopamine that cause you to focus your attention on someone; spending (wow) 85 percent of your time thinking about that individual; developing strong feelings of empathy for another person; desiring an emotional connection over a sexual one with them and, believing that your "love feelings" are something that you are not able to control. Maybe, but as Chris Rock once said, "You can't control who you love, but you can control how you love." That's good food for thought right there.
Why The Third Date Matters
Personally, I'd say that a sign that comes before all of these signs is being open to going on a third date with an individual. Think about it. The first date is an introduction to someone; it's about discovering if there is any kind of chemistry at all. The second date is learning more about one another's intentions, desires and values. By the time both of you have agreed to go on a third date, there is more than physical attraction and surface-level commonalities going on. You both are starting to really like each other, which is the foundation for all healthy relationships. First comes like. Then comes love. Then comes in love (when you get a chance, check out "Like, Love & in Love: How to Really Know the Differences").
But how can you know for sure that your third date is headed somewhere solid and lasting? Although the following five questions are not an exact—pardon the pun—science, I do believe that by presenting them to yourself, you will gain more clarity on whether there should be a fourth date (that could possibly lead to forever)—or not.
Why Did You Start Dating Him in the First Place?
I gotta tell ya that I totally rolled my eyes when I read that one-third of women only agree to go on dates, just so that they can eat for free. That might be "hee hee" on the surface, but how would you feel if you found out that a man was seeing you ONLY so that he could hopefully get some sex out of it at some point? It's never a good idea to use anyone, for any reason. For starters, it puts bad karma out into the universe.
Anyway, the reason why we write so many articles on first dates on this site ("7 Ways to Have an Incredible First Date", "5 Things That Are OK to Require on a First Date", "What to Wear on a First Date", "First Date Rules I'm Not Afraid to Break") is because first impressions are important. It's not just about how a guy sees you and how you see him, it's also about being clear about why you are going on the first date and, if all goes well, you agree to a second and then a third.
There are a lot of people who end up wasting their precious time because they actually desire a relationship while all they are doing is casually dating. And by that, I mean, they are dating with a literal definition of the word "casual" going on—"without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing". So yeah, in order to find out if there should be a fourth date, reflect on why there was a first one to begin with.
Why Do You Keep Wanting to See Him?
He's cute and funny. You have nothing else to do on a Friday night. Your girlfriends are busy this coming weekend. All of these may be the truth about why you are still hanging out with ole' boy, but time, effort and energy are mad precious. Are any of these truly enough of a reason to keep doing it? The answer depends. If all you want to do is fill up space and he feels the same way, carry on. But if you know that you want more than that, after three dates, it's OK to go beyond typical dating conversation. Does he want the same things that you do out of life? Is he looking for a commitment or just a good time? Does he complement the world that you have created for yourself? Do you see clear signs that he will actually improve your quality of life? Is he a wise investment of your time and emotions?
If you are able to answer all of these questions in the affirmative (and remember, some of these answers, you can only come to by asking him, not assuming), then it makes sense to keep moving forward. Just make sure that you're doing so with the two of you walking together rather than you pulling him along (some of y'all will catch that later).
Are There Already Red Flags That You’re Seeing (and Possibly Ignoring)?
It's sad (it really is) that some people are natural narcissists and sociopaths. Because of this, they put forth a lot of effort to remain as charming and "flawless" for as long as they possibly can. But if you're paying close attention and you notice that someone isn't willing to discuss some of their issues or vulnerabilities three dates in, that's already a red flag in my book. I'm not saying that they need to pull out their credit report or tell you about every fight they've had with their ex; I'm just saying that someone who seems too good to be true or someone who seems to be hiding something, usually is.
If you're new to looking for red flags early on in a relationship, I penned some of them here. Aside from those, feel fine putting your eyebrow up if a man isn't willing to discuss his family, friends or past; if you catch him in a lie; if he already shows signs of being controlling; if he's rude or flirty with other women in your presence or if he refuses to talk about his past relationships on any level.
A lot of people are in piss-poor marriages because they ignored flags in the beginning of a dating relationship. Please don't be one of them.
Is a True Connection Being Established?
It's one thing to like someone or to have some things in common (you can do that with a co-worker or your favorite produce person at a local grocery store). It's another thing entirely to feel like you have a true connection with another individual. To me, when there is a surefire connection, they seem super familiar to your spirit, almost from the first exchange of words.
There's more, though. You're both very comfortable sharing the realest parts of yourself. Communication flows with ease. You're both able to challenge one another without feeling intimidated or threatened. There is a profound mutual respect and care for one another. Reciprocity is effortless. You have similar senses of humor. Time together literally flies by. There's an extreme closeness without ever touching. You like the sides that both of you bring out of each other. After a couple of dates, it's crystal clear that you are already becoming fans of one another.
I know this might all sound like a cheesy chick flick, but here's the true reality check about whether or not you are truly connecting with someone after three dates: even if it ultimately doesn't work out on the romantic tip, because the connection—and mutual respect—is so strong, you can still see them being a part of your life regardless. For instance, there is a guy in my life who I used to tell all of the time, "If you're not the father of my child, I could see you being the godfather." That's how dope our connection was.
Not every connection leads to marriage, but some are strong enough to keep people around for a lifetime. Just…differently than you may have expected. That is an article all on its own, y'all.
Are You Both on the Same Page—of the Same Book?
Last fall, I penned an article for the site entitled, "5 Signs That You're in Love (All by Yourself)". If you'd rather listen to a song about this topic than read it, what do you know about the Mariah Carey old school jam "All Alone in Love"? Yep. It's a pretty common phenomenon to be deeply caught up in someone who doesn't feel the same way.
How does something that emotionally extreme happen? When it's happened to me, it's usually been because of one of two things. Either I didn't ask the guy, point blank, if he wanted the same things that I did or, I wasted time with someone who was unresolved when it came to how he saw our relationship; meaning, on Monday, he could see us being together and then, two Tuesdays later, he wasn't sure.
Is a third date too soon for a marriage proposal? In 98.5 percent of instances, yes. But what it's not too soon for us to say, "Where do you see this going?" If he's crystal clear, his answer will be too. But if he's he's dodging and deflecting, either he's showing signs of being a commitment-phobe or being unsure about you. Either way, a man who is looking for a relationship is going to have a pretty good idea if a woman is a good fit, three dates in (ask your male friends, they'll tell you). If the guy you're seeing isn't, I'm not so sure four more dates is going to change his mind.
Time is invaluable and so are you. It's OK to want to be with someone who is a bit more focused and intentional. It's OK to have initial chemistry and still decide to not move forward with someone who wants so much more than that.
Do I sound extreme? Look at it this way—it didn't take him three offers to know he wanted a job he was after, right? My point exactly, chile.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Y’all, I ain’t got no lies to tell you. Personally, I am counting down the days until the obsession with resembling Mr. Snuffleupagus (the real ones know) goes away. Not that I don’t think there is something uber-feminine and sometimes even super glamorous about a long, lusty pair of eyelashes — but as one of my favorite quotes goes, “The excess of a virtue can be a vice,” and lashes are no exception. Lawd.
How To Grow Eyelashes Naturally
Besides, I wonder how many people who go overly long and thick on the extensions tip get that over time, that can do significant damage to their natural eyelashes — sometimes irreparably so. That’s why I think it’s important that, if you’re going to add lashes, you take the “less is more” approach. Oh, and if it’s because you wish that your own lashes were longer or fuller, you learn how to make that happen by taking a more holistic approach (while also being patient; it takes between 4-11 months for lashes to reach their fullest potential).
Starting with the following 10 tips on how to grow eyelashes naturally, you will be batting your natural lashes in no time, chile.
1. Take a Biotin and Collagen Supplement
It probably comes as no surprise to you that a supplement that’s associated with hair growth and thickness is the water-soluble form of vitamin B known as biotin. Skin rashes, brittle nails, and hair loss are all signs of having a biotin deficiency. If your lashes seem to be sparse or thinner than you would like, taking a biotin supplement certainly couldn’t hurt.
Speaking of supplements, you might want to add some collagen to your health regimen, too. Since collagen contains amino acids that help to build hair and can help to strengthen weak hair follicles — those are already solid enough reasons to take them for your lashes.
For the record, foods that are high in biotin include mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and broccoli. As far as collagen goes, foods that are high in it include bone broth, chicken, liver, berries, and aloe vera (bookmark that aloe vera point).
2. Keep Your Lashes Clean
So, here’s the thing about this particular point: Although you probably wash your face at least once a day (hopefully twice — once in the morning and again at night), if you’re not being intentional about cleaning your lashes, there could be some leftover mascara and other gunk on them that could end up weighing them down and/or drying them out. So, definitely wash them all on their own. Your best bet would be to use a super mild cleanser like baby shampoo so that your eyes don’t end up getting irritated in the process.
3. Condition Them with Aloe Vera
Since aloe vera is high in vitamins A, B12, C, E, and folic acid, that’s already a good reason to want to use it on your hair — and your lashes qualify. Plus, pure aloe vera gel is made up of almost 100 percent water, which makes it the ultimate conditioner for your lashes if you’re looking for something all-natural that will both soften and strengthen your lashes at the same time. To get the best results, a lot of women like to apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to their lashes before turning in at night and then wash the solution off in the morning.
4. Brush Your Lashes (No, Seriously)
Have you ever thought about what brushing your hair does for it? It removes tangles. It gets out debris. It evenly distributes natural oils. It reduces stress. It increases blood circulation. And for all of these reasons, it’s important that you brush your eyelashes on a daily basis. All you need to do is designate a clean wand for nothing but brushing your lashes. Then, whether it’s right when you wake up in the morning or right after washing your face, use the wand to GENTLY brush your lashes. First, do the top of them and then use the wand to lift them up. After a few weeks, you should notice your lashes appearing fuller. (You can check out a brief tutorial video here.)
5. Pay Attention to Shedding
Just like hair sheds on your head (50-100 hairs a day is considered normal), losing 1-5 eyelashes is the average amount to not worry too much about. However, if it happens to be more than that, lash extensions, leaving makeup longer than you should, or even relying on eyelash curlers too much can play a direct role in lash shedding. So, if you notice that your eyelashes are appearing thinner or parse, do a process of elimination first. If nothing changes, make an appointment with your doctor in order to rule out the possibility of other underlying health issues.
6. Apply a Castor Oil and Vitamin E Oil Blend at Your Lash Lines
I’m gonna be real: even though I know that medical experts have a resume to back up their claims, sometimes I will read articles on certain topics and still think they’re being haters. For instance, after reading that a dermatologist (via a Byrdie article) said that applying castor oil to your lash lines can hydrate your lashes, yet it won’t help them to grow, I have to admit that I rolled my eyes. I mean, if castor oil contains protein, antioxidants, nutrients, and fatty acids along with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and hair can benefit from all of these things, how could your lashes not, too?
And while you’re at it, break open one or two vitamin E capsules and add it to the castor oil. Vitamin E helps to reduce hair loss, increases shine, and helps to lock in hydration — all good stuff to know if you happen to use mascaras that contain some type of alcohol in the ingredients (and many of them do).
7. Put Tea Bags on Your Eyes
The herbs and tannins that are in herbal tea can do wonders for your eyes when it comes to doing everything from lightening the appearance of dark circles and reducing puffiness to speeding up the healing process of styes and even pink eye. So, what about when it comes to your eyelashes? Well, I’ve actually read a few places (like here and here) that green tea especially can do wonders for lash growth, in part due the caffeine that’s in it. Listen, some warm bags on tired eyes are the ultimate kind of low-maintenance pampering hack. Try it a couple of times a week. You’ll feel more relaxed, and your lashes could end up growing longer, too.
8. Have “Off Days”
No matter what you put on your lashes, it’s going to add a bit of “weight” to them — and anything that has weight will start to get worn out over time. That’s why it’s also a good idea to give your lashes “off days” from any kind of mascara, serum, or keratin-infused products. Sometimes, simply brushing your lashes and adding a bit of coconut oil (which adds protein) or lemon peel oil (which could accelerate lash growth) is all you need in order to pamper your lashes without the added stress and pressure of makeup. 1-2 days a week of this should be all that you need.
9. Use a Bit of Shea Butter at Night
Something that I’ve been getting into the habit of doing more and more at night is applying a thin coat of shea butter on my lips as well as on my eyelids. The fatty acids alone that are in the butter do wonders for my skin (especially when I use it consistently). Since shea butter has properties in it like linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids, as well as anti-inflammatory properties, your lashes can only benefit from the moisture that shea butter offers as well as its ability to increase collagen production (which, again, is great for hair growth and elasticity) and promote stronger hair.
10. Keep Your Mascara Current
It’s kind of crazy that it was five years ago when I wrote, “When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?” for the platform. Anyway, as far as mascara goes, if you’ve got a tube that has been in one of your bathroom drawers for over six months, it really is time to toss it. Why? Because you really aren’t supposed to use mascara for longer than three months before getting a new tube. That’s how you keep bacteria and germs down to a minimum and the solution from getting so thick that it ends up being heavier on your eyelashes than it should be.
Oh, and if you’re looking for the kind of mascara that will help your eyelashes to grow longer, make sure that keratin is listed in the ingredients, along with peptides, vitamin B, and water (water should actually lead the pack). That way, you can be confident that while your lashes are appearing thick and full, they are receiving just what they need to gain some length over time too. Now wink one time if you feel me. LOL. #wink
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