Even though I'm personally someone who isn't interested in dating unless the mutual intention is that it will lead to courtship (that's a word that means a whole lot more than hanging out with a gentleman; being with a chivalrous man should be happening regardless), I totally get that not everyone has that same desire. Case in point—one of my favorite people on the entire planet has told me, pretty much since her adolescence (she's 39 now), that marriage is something she's absolutely not interested in or a fan of. Still, she consistently has a dating life that rivals mine and at least 80 percent of the people that I know.
For years now, she has told me about her dating dynamics and how they very rarely lead to an exclusive relationship. Interestingly enough, at the same time, she continues to see 1-3 of the same people, for months—if not years—at a time. When I ask what we should call those types of dating situations, it's crickets on her end. Clearly, she's not going the traditional route. But still, if you're setting aside time, 2-5 times a month, to hang out (and possibly more) with someone else, for months on end, that's not nothing. It is indeed…something.
Until my girl hits me up with a cute phrase to help define it, I've decided to call that type of relationship "seriously casually dating". "Serious" because spending time that you can't get back with someone on a regular basis does hold some type of merit; "casual" because, beyond being in the moment and having a good time while you're in it, there's not much of a long-term goal behind it all.
If you just read those last couple of paragraphs and that sounds exactly like what you want to do, before you make "serious casual dating" an official thing between you and someone else (or several different people), make sure that you know what you are potentially, both emotionally as well as physically, getting yourself into.
Do You Both Want to Take Things Up a Notch?
Perspective is everything. This is definitely the case when it comes to dating. I've shared before that I once had a birthday dinner with a guy. During the dinner, he proceeded to tell me that he was "dating me", along with a whole lot of other women. Yes, he was narcissistic (LOL not LOL), but that's not why I'm bringing this up. I'm saying it to say that this is a great example of the fact that while one person may think a date is just good company over pasta and wine, another could be thinking it's three dates away from forever (or whatever ole' boy was arrogantly talking about).
That said, if you and a guy have been on more than three dates, there is something there. But your "something" may not be "his". So, if you want to go from just hanging out to hanging-out-with-the-intention-of-it-maybe-becoming-more-someday, that's a conversation that needs to be had; not just in your mind or with your girlfriends, but with him too.
The good news is if he's even entertaining the discussion of, "How do you feel about being a little more than hang out buddies?", he's interested beyond just being around you to have something to do. If he shuts it all down, well, he's not only not open to seriously casually dating, you may have some ghosting ahead in your future as well. Just sayin'.
Are You Cool with You Both Still Seeing Other People?
Here's the thing about dating. Just because you are doing it with someone, that doesn't automatically mean that exclusivity is—or even should—be on the table. I often say that a lot of folks have a tendency to think that chivalry and courting are synonymous although they absolutely are not. I don't care what kind of dating status you are currently filed under, you deserve for a man to treat you with respect and care; however, if a man is courting you, by definition, he is intending to marry you (not because you assumed it; he actually told you so). On the other hand, if he's just dating you, that could mean that he likes your company, along with the company of five other women. Or, that he's trying to see if you are someone he wants to be with, long-term.
Category B is a lot more serious than Category A. So yeah, if the two of you are considering entering into serious casual dating territory, something else you both should get clarity on is if you're both OK with the other seeing other people. Honestly, if it's only on the seriously casually dating tip, this shouldn't be that big of a deal.
Is Sex on the Table?
If the two of you like spending time with one another to the point where you're going on at least a couple of dates a month, an emotional connection is going to be established; that's just how life is. And, by the second month or so (at the very latest), you're going to become more physically drawn to one another as well. This means that another thing you need to think long and hard about is if you want to get sexually involved or not.
Out of all the things that we've touched on thus far, this is super important because, if the two of you aren't going to be exclusive but you are open to having sex (oral or otherwise), you could be putting yourself at risk to contract, whatever his other partners may have (whether they know it or not; remember, most people with an STD have absolutely no clue that they do!).
This is why, even if you are down for seriously casually dating, you might want to rethink how "casual" sex ever really is (spoiler alert: it ain't).
Do You Have Realistic Expectations?
I don't know about you, but it's been my personal experience that—both on a romantic and platonic level—men are pretty literal. As it relates to what we're unpacking here, this means if both of you agree that you're both going to see each other and other people, they are not gonna try and see if you have some sort of other agenda in mind. Agenda like what? Something like, "I'll tell him that I'm fine with him dating other folks, but I know that if we spend enough time together, eventually he's gonna leave the others alone and want to be exclusive with me." Could that happen? Lots of things could happen, but don't bet on it going this way just because you want it to.
This point reminds me of a situationship that I once had with a guy many moons ago. Because my self-esteem was not where it should have been at the time when we met, I put a wall up and said that I was cool with being friends with benefits, nothing more. After months of sex, phone calls and even a pregnancy, I figured that since we had been through so much together, surely, we had a future. What he said in response to my mindset has always stayed with me. "Shellie, you never gave me a chance to see you as more. When you said you wanted to stay friends, I took that to mean just that. So, I've always only seen you that way." Ouch. He was right to process us that way, though.
It reminds me of a man by the name of Mark Gungor who once taught the difference between men's minds and women's minds. He said that men think in boxes (everything is compartmentalized) while women think with string (everything is connected). If you do decide to enter into a seriously casually dating situation, watch that video and then decide if you can realistically handle doing that.
Because many a man can like you, sex you and that be it while you're somewhere thinking that everything is tied in together to mean something more. Maybe. MAYBE NOT.
How Much Should (and Shouldn’t) Be Discussed?
This is a super valid point too. Just because you both have decided to be open about seeing each other and other people, that doesn't give either one of you the "right" to know about the other individuals. You know what else? If neither of you want to discuss the other relationships, that also doesn't make either of you sneaky, shady or someone who lacks integrity or respect for what the two of you share.
You probably know all of this from an intellectual standpoint, but once emotions and possibly sex come into play, it can still do a real number on how you process things. So yeah, if you do decide to seriously casually date, it's a good idea to set a few ground rules about what is cool to talk about and, what both of you would prefer to keep off limits. At least for now.
Besides, if the two of you are keeping it relatively casual, why should either one of you be digging into the other aspects of your dating life anyway? (Hmm…)
Is There an “End Game” in Mind?
I remember once watching a television show and one of the characters on it saying, "With time, everything exhausts itself." If you don't tend to and nurture it—whatever "it" may be—I totally agree. Whenever I ask my 39-year-old friend about how her seriously casually dating situations end up, typically, they don't end well. Someone catches stronger feelings or has a different set of expectations. Or, one or both come to the conclusion that what they were doing was a total waste of time.
This doesn't have to be the case for you, but it is a good idea to always keep in the forefront of your mind that casual means "without emotional intimacy or commitment". If you want to spend months of your life without a commitment, have a ball. But if even a little part of you wants something different, be real with yourself about that.
Seriously casually dating only works if both people honestly want it to. Otherwise, it brings unwanted drama into one's life. And really—who wants that?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Feature image by Getty Images
- 5 Subtle Signs He's Dating Other Women - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- If You're Considering Long Distance Relationship - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 9 Rules Of Casual Dating - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Things To Take Seriously In Dating - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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. ;)
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Friendship groups, often referred to as tribes, gained immense popularity during the pandemic, celebrated for the mutual support and joy they bring. However, the discourse surrounding these groups often neglected a nuanced topic— the silent competition that can subtly emerge within a tribe. While some level of healthy competition can inspire personal growth, there exists an unhealthy side marked by emotions and pride.
Navigating such environments becomes challenging, especially when friendships are at stake. Navigating competition is not an easy task and for many folks, identifying unhealthy competition can be difficult to spot. I am going to provide you with the signs to look out for when dealing with unhealthy competition, how to effectively address it, and tangible ways to maintain supportive friendships.
There's nothing quite as fulfilling as being part of a vibrant community where individuals align in values, support one another, and uplift with words of encouragement. Yet, this ideal scenario isn't always the reality within friend circles or tribes. Frequently, unchecked jealousy, envy, and resentment can simmer beneath the surface, leading to unhealthy dynamics. Sadly, this can breed a toxic atmosphere of covert competition, often without the affected party even realizing it.
Here are some indicators that unhealthy competition may be present within your circle of friends:
Backhanded Compliments: When Insults Hide in "Praise"
Insults, whether veiled as compliments or not, are never truly flattering. Even when accompanied by laughter, unsolicited comments about your appearance, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, and more are never acceptable. In essence, anyone exhibiting "nice nasty" behavior toward you is revealing underlying animosity and competition. Moreover, they might consistently downplay or criticize your achievements or goals.
Take note of those who stand by you during challenging times and ponder this question: "Do they offer the same level of support and enthusiasm during my triumphs?" If the answer is no, it might be worth delving deeper into the topic.
Another indication of silent competition arises when someone constantly shifts the focus of your accomplishments and good news onto themselves. For example, if you share news of a promotion at work, the silent competitor may divert attention by recounting their own promotion or downplaying your achievements. These individuals struggle to genuinely celebrate your wins and may even feel threatened by your success.
Their body language often reveals their discomfort, such as avoiding eye contact, forced smiles, frowns, or creating physical distance. Paying attention to these cues can unveil the presence of silent rivalry within the relationship.
Now that you're aware of the signs to watch for, let's explore how to navigate this newfound insight:
Before taking any action, it's crucial to decide whether you want to salvage the friendship. Ask yourself if this relationship is truly worth the effort and if it brings positive value to your life. If your answer leans towards the negative, it might be time to reevaluate the necessity of maintaining this friendship.
Once you've made a decision about the future of your friendship, it's important to prepare for a potentially challenging conversation.
- If you've chosen to maintain the friendship, it's helpful to articulate the patterns you've noticed and express your feelings about them. Remember, no one can invalidate your experiences or emotions on the matter. After stating your observations, it's crucial to clearly communicate your expectations regarding respect and boundaries. You have the authority to define how you wish to be treated, but it's essential to assert these boundaries clearly.
- If you've decided to end the friendship, you have a couple of options. You can be straightforward about your feelings regarding the dynamic and communicate that you're no longer interested in maintaining the relationship. Alternatively, you can express your true feelings and gradually distance yourself from the friendship. This distancing might involve refraining from sharing personal news and accomplishments or reducing the frequency of spending time together.
While unhealthy competition within social circles may not always be avoidable, it can certainly be managed effectively. If you're still uncertain whether you're dealing with unhealthy competition, consider this golden rule: If you find yourself questioning a friend's motives due to their negative behavior towards you, chances are there's unhealthy competition at play.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Drazen_/Getty Images