7 Things People Don't Take Seriously Enough When They First Start Dating Someone
Really, it can’t be said enough that before you decide to jump the broom with someone, you really should get into some sort of premarital counseling. I’m not talking about watching a few popular relationship coaching videos online or seeing your pastor twice before your big day. Engaged couples who work with me know that they’re going to be in for about six months of some intense digging in — that’s how serious I think that marriage is and how prepared I believe that people should be going into it. But hey, don’t take my word for it. There are also stats to prove that you actually have a 30 percent greater success rate if you get into some sessions prior to saying “I do.”
And what does this even remotely have to do with today’s topic? Well, it’s super fascinating that a lot of people I know who are divorced say that they basically knew the day before their wedding that they should’ve called it off. Whenever I investigate even further, many of them go on to say that they saw some, at the very least, yellow or even pink flags waving during the early stages of dating that, for whatever reason, they chose to ignore.
Y’all, it’s Benjamin Franklin who once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, for the sake of sparing you becoming the statistic of a failed marriage — or even just some heartbreak or realizing that you totally wasted your time — here are seven things that I definitely think should be taken more seriously when people are first getting to know someone during the initial dating process.
1. How Someone Values TimeGiphy
You know how they say that the only people who have a problem with you setting boundaries are the ones who plan on violating them once you do? I think something similar when it comes to time. What I mean by that is, the people who think that I’m being “over the top” about expecting my time to be valued are typically the ones who like to show up late, break engagements at the last minute, or not do what they said they were gonna do (which is also wasting people’s time).
And here’s the thing — a lot of these folks are good people…in other ways. They’re smart. They’re fun to be around. They offer some compelling insights. However, the older that I get, the more I cosign on the Chinese proverb, “It’s later than you think” because time literally is of the essence to me. And so, if I state that my time is important to me and you Elmo shrug it off, it translates as a form of disrespect — not just because you were dismissive of my feelings but because time is literally something that none of us can ever get back.
Someone showing up late on a date with a really good reason (and still, they should call or text to give you a heads up) is one thing. Someone who is constantly not on time or makes commitments and breaks them is already showing you that they don’t value time — your time or time, in general, really — as much as they should.
And like I once heard a married pastor say in some premarital classes for singles that I once took, “If they don’t show up on time while you’re dating, what makes you think they will come home on time after marriage?”
Who’s gonna pass the plate for him first?
2. How Someone ListensGiphy
Whew y’all, these podcasters that be on YouTube. I’m not speaking of one gender either because there are some in both who totally wear me out. One reason why is that, whenever it’s a panel of people (especially if men and women are sharing the mic or stage), very rarely do I see folks give each other the common courtesy of allowing others to complete their thought or finish their sentences.
Growing up, I knew a family who used to sit around the dinner table and yell and overtalk each other the entire time. It was kind of remarkable to observe because, somehow, they were able to catch at least 75 percent of what other people were saying even if they were in their own conversation with someone else. Yet, peep what I just said — they were able to hear most of what else was going on…not all. And ironically, one of the things that some of them complain about to this day is not feeling truly heard by their family members (shocking, right?).
That said, it never fails that any time a list of why divorces happen comes out, poor communication is on the top of it. And there’s no way that you and someone else can communicate effectively if one or both of you don’t know how to listen.
So, what are some signs of being a good listener?
- You don’t speak when others are;
- You pause to process what was said before responding/reacting;
- You are conscious that your body language conveys being attentive and not ignoring someone else;
- If they asked you to repeat what they just said, you could do it, almost verbatim;
- You try to understand more than be heard;
- You ask questions rather than make statements if you’re trying to seek clarity;
- You’re patient.
And here’s the thing — listening is a two-way street, so just like you should expect others to be this way with you, you should also extend the same courtesy and intention.
To be fair, this one might take a bit of doing in the sense of, so many of us absolutely suck at actively listening that you, the person you’re dating, or both of you may need to do some “practice runs” in order to get this right. All I’m saying is, if listening gets worse instead of better over time, don’t expect a long-term commitment to improve it.
Author Paul Tillich once said that the first duty of love is to listen. I venture to say that a building block for respect in a relationship is learning how to listen as well. I’m telling you, if you don’t hear anything else in this piece…please literally listen to this point. It’s a relational qualifier like no other.
3. If They Are on the Same Page with the Other Person About Dating and RomanceGiphy
There are a billion-and-one things that I don’t care for when it comes to social media (which is why I’m still not on it). When it comes to relationships, one of them is the fact that many people forget that, just like many pics have filters on them, many relationships do as well.
What I mean by that is, more times than not, folks only show you what they want you to see — their “highlight reel” so to speak. Unfortunately, far too many individuals forget (or is it ignore?) that. And so, many of them turn around and expect every single day of their own dating life to be like the peak pics on someone’s Instagram Story. Yeah, not only is that unrealistic, but it’s also setting yourself up to be disillusioned and disappointed. I mean, just think about it — how ridiculous would it be to expect every date to be like a scene out of (would they please pull these from the air now?) The Bachelor/The Bachelorette franchise?
So, before even getting into discussing with the person you’re seeing what you expect dating and romance to look like, the first thing you should do is ponder if your own desires are based in reality. Because it really can’t be said enough that “living for the fairy tale” literally means you are living for stories that are told to children that are usually improbable and untrue (by the definition of a fairy tale).
At the same time, if you like spontaneity — say that. If holidays are a big deal to you — say that. If your love language being expressed means a lot — say that. If “Good Morning” and “Goodnight” texts mean a lot to you — say that. If nice tokens for no “reason” is important — say that.
For the record, “saying it” doesn’t mean that someone has to automatically agree or even comply. However, what it does is keep you from expecting someone to read your mind or make them feel bad because their idea of dating and romance is very different from yours.
Trust me, I counsel several married couples who struggle quite a bit because they didn’t take this seriously when they were dating. While one couldn’t care less about birthdays and anniversaries, the other was on-10 — and both thought the other was wrong for feeling the way that they did.
So many things in relationships aren’t about what’s right or who’s wrong; some things are just different. The earlier you make peace with that and then decide if the incompatibilities are deal-breakers or not, the easier it will be on everyone — whether you choose to stay together or…not.
4. Do They Do Daily Life Well with the Other Person?Giphy
Dating with intention. Dating to marry. I personally don’t have a problem with either of these things. Well…come to think of it, I kind of take issue with the second one because if your goal is ONLY to hurry up and get down somebody’s aisle, you could find yourself rushing relationships, overlooking red flags, and not really considering if someone is actually right for youeven if they are a good person (some of y’all will catch that later). Sadly, because a lot of people profess that they “date to marry,” all that does is put pressure on the dynamic — and a relationship that is under a pressure cooker is never a good thing.
That’s why I think it’s best to focus on short-term relational goals: Are the two of you compatible? Do they complement your lifestyle (check out “If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life”)? Do they feel more like a blessing than a burden? Can they say the same thing about you (you have to ask them in order to know…)?
My point is this: If you were to look at your wedding day as reaching the top of a mountain, the day-to-day short-term things are the stones/rocks that the mountain is built out of. Because so many people don’t look at it this way, they find themselves only focusing on engagement rings, bridal dresses, and rom-com love when a successful relationship is actually far more about if you and someone can do life — simple, ordinary, everyday life — together.
So yes, when you first start dating someone, pay attention to how you gel in the basic things. Those are what will help you to know if you’ll truly be able to live in harmony should things continue to progress.
5. If They’re Talking Themselves into (or Out of) Something They Shouldn’tGiphy
There is someone I know right now who has semi-recently reunited with her first love after basically two decades. Sweet right? Eh. It depends on what day you ask because, although she and her current boo thang are definitely caught up in the nostalgia of being back together again, there are already some huge red flags that both of them are choosing to ignore.
One of them is the fact that although she has children and has already undergone a procedure to not have any more, he has never had any and still wants some. She’s so caught up in him that she’s thinking about overlooking the fact that she was very clear and sober-minded when she said she didn’t want more children (never mind the fact that she’s much later in years and it would require thousands of dollars to even try to conceive) while he’s so into her that he’s been trying to convince her that being a stepfather to the children that she already has would be enough.
Listen, I know a married couple who divorced after over 20 years of marriage, and a huge part of it was because the wife never wanted children, the husband did, and yet he told himself that he wanted her more. Sadly, he then ended up seriously resenting her because he missed out on his opportunity to become a father.
Unfortunately, our culture is so self-absorbed that all people think love is, is someone sacrificing for them when the reality is, if you truly love someone, you will make the sacrifice to let them go to get what they want that you may not be able to (or want to) provide.
Some of y’all may read about the dating couple and think that their love is beautiful while I see a trainwreck waiting to happen. If she even wanted more kids a little bit, she could’ve put an IUD in and called it a day (we talked about it beforehand; she absolutely was not interested). She said she was done. She shouldn’t have to push past her better mind for him. She should love him enough to release him so that he can find someone who wants kids as badly as he does. That’s love.
Bottom line, definitely something that a lot of folks don’t take seriously enough when they first start dating someone is what is negotiable and what absolutely isn’t. And if you don’t make that decision for yourself, preferably before you start a new journey with someone, the feelings that develop for the other individual can cause you to violate your own boundaries, wants, and needs — and that could lead to some extreme bitterness and resentment up the road.
Now, am I saying that there is no room for compromise? Of course not. What I AM saying, though, is if you’re compromising past common sense, logic, and what’s ultimately best for you, you are risking more than you should. I will forever die on that hill too.
6. If They Are Already SettlingGiphy
Speaking of dying hills (LOL), another one that I have actually shared in a couple of articles for this platform before is what can be considered compromising in marriage can actually be settling when you’re dating someone. Why? Because a boyfriend is not a husband and a girlfriend is not a wife (no matter how much people want to pretend otherwise). Once you make a covenant with someone, that needs to be taken VERY SERIOUSLY and yes, all stops should be implemented in order to try and make things work and last.
Dating, though? Dating is about seeing if someone is worthy of receiving that kind of loyalty and devotion from you — and it really is okay if you decide that someone isn’t.
So, what are some clear indications that you’re already settling more than you should?
- You’re not attracted to them but you’re convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter;
- You’re ignoring your values because you like them otherwise;
- You already see signs that it will require more work than maintenance to keep things going (and yes, there is a HUGE difference between the two);
- You’re already telling yourself that things will change in time;
- Your communication styles trigger each other instead of producing peace, clarity, and harmony;
- You are negotiating far too many deal-breakers;
- You are starting to lose your own voice (or self).
These seven points are honestly just the tip of the iceberg yet still valid enough that, if even just one or two resonate with you, you are already setting yourself on a path of getting less than you should. So, if you just saw yourself in any of this and you’re looking for a sign that you need to step back if not totally tap out…DING, DING, DING.
7. If There Is Reciprocity in ActionGiphy
An author by the name of R.P. Heaven once said, “Your soulmate never makes you chase them; they might challenge your idleness and lack of initiative, but they never play games with you. You never really count who contributes more in a soulmate relationship. The giving process happens naturally and intuitively, balanced on both sides. This creates abundance and there is never any scarcity in the relationship. True love means reciprocity.”
True love is about reciprocity.Reciprocity is about doing things that will mutually benefit the individuals involved in a way where they both are satisfied. It’s not about you doing all of the giving. It’s also not about you being the only one on the receiving end.
A good example of where reciprocity lacks (take a deep breath for this one) is holidays. I can’t tell you how many men have told me that they are SO OVER being expected to max out credit cards for birthdays and yet what they end up getting, time and time again, is sex when theirs rolls around. I get their frustration too because there is both an arrogance and laziness in giving someone something that both of you already benefit from. I mean, if he’s the only one receiving pleasure from sex and that’s why you treat it like a present on special occasions, that’s something that the two of you should talk about because sexual fulfillment should NEVER be a one-way street.
My point? If you wouldn’t want him to wrap a bow around his penis and call it a day on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or your anniversary, why should you think that putting on a lace robe and laying across the bed should suffice for him? The flip to this is if you find that you are so excited about the possibilities of what could happen with someone new that you’re doing most of the work to keep the relationship going (whether that comes to initiating communication, planning events, or expressing feelings) — well, you’ve heard the saying that how things begin is often how they end, right? Humans are creatures of habit, so if either person allows a lack of reciprocity to transpire, it’s going to be hard to get some balance into the dynamic up the pike.
Shellie, is it really that deep when it’s only the second or third date? Again, if you value your time and yourself, it absolutely is. The sooner that you’re able to see these things for what they are and be real with yourself about them, the easier it will be to either move forward in confidence — or cut your losses before you end up risking too much.
Hey, don’t say that I never warned you. It’s wild out here. So please proceed, not with barbed wire walls (that benefits absolutely no one) yet definitely with self-love and caution.
Feel me? Amen.
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Featured image by Cavan Images/Getty Images
- The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have ›
- 6 Things To Consider Before "Seriously Casually Dating" Someone ›
- 7 Things That Make Marriage Different From Seriously Dating ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Signs You Might Be A Little Bi-Curious & What To Do About It
I like big butts, and I can not lie! When Sir Mix-A lot made that song, he made it just for me. As a self-identifying heterosexual woman over the years, I have often wondered if my love for phat asses was normal. Maybe my infatuation with phat asses stems from the fact that I was not blessed to be able to become a card-carrying member of the big-ass brigade. My ass is flat. It doesn’t jiggle or bounce. It’s just there. So because of my lack thereof, I've learned to appreciate others. It’s something about the way a phat ass moves in a dress or how the cheeks dance around in a circle when twerking that makes me want to caress it. I often joke with my friends that I turn “gay” every time a phat ass walks past.
Surely I am not the only person who has wondered whether they were no longer "straight" because of their attraction to someone of the same gender. Sexuality is not black-and-white. It’s very fluid. While some of us are lucky enough to have it all figured out. Most of us, however, have had questions and had to do some introspection to understand romantic and sexual feelings towards more than one sex. Does my love for big juicy booties make me bi-curious, or am I just appreciative of the Lord’s work? To answer this question, we first need to understand what bi-curiosity is.
An individual who is bi-curious is someone who is curious about different genders but does not categorize themselves as bisexual. You may find this if you've only known you were sexually attracted to one gender in the past. You may then discover that your sexual orientation is questioned when you find yourself sexually attracted to someone of the same gender. People are highly complex creatures, which is why it’s not uncommon for people to have moments of doubt about their sexuality.
So is being bi-curious and bisexual one and the same? No. Being bi-curious has nothing to do with sexual or gender identity. It’s defined more as a period of exploring – a sort of experimental stage, if you will, whereas bisexual people are those who no longer doubt their attraction to more than one gender.
If you’re wondering if you’re bi-curious, there are several signs to look out for that could indicate this is the case. Here are some clues on if your attraction to that person means you are really bi-curious!
You kissed someone of the same gender and liked it.
In the words of the singer, Katy Perry, “I kissed a girl, and I liked it!” Kissing someone of the same gender and enjoying it could be a sign that you are bi-curious, especially if you didn’t want the kiss to stop and the kiss kinda turned you on.
You wonder what sex would be like with someone of the same gender.
People are often curious about various types of sexual activities, including sex with people of the same gender. But if you find yourself fantasizing or even watching porn that features same-gendered sex acts or same-sex relationships, you might be a little bi-curious.
You like seeing the same gender naked.
Appreciating the beauty of a naked body is one thing, but if you find your eyes lingering at body parts with thoughts of performing a sexual act or two, then that could be a telltale sign you might be bi-curious.
You’re physically attracted to the same gender.
Are you drawn to people of the same gender? Are you wanting to be around them all the time? Do you find yourself getting butterflies around them? Do you daydream about them? These can also be signs of attraction and could mean you are bi-curious.
Now that we’ve discussed some potential signs of bi-curiosity, let’s talk about what steps can be taken once those feelings have been acknowledged and explored further. First off, it’s important to remember that whatever path feels right for you is the right one—so don’t feel pressured into any particular decision or lifestyle just because it seems like the “right thing to do.”
That being said, there are still plenty of resources available online (and offline) for those looking to explore their sexuality further—including support groups specifically designed for LGBTQ+ individuals looking for guidance and advice from others who understand their situation firsthand.
Additionally, many cities offer bisexual meetups where people can connect in person—which can be invaluable when navigating any changes in sexual orientation or identity. Finally, talking about these issues with trusted friends or family members can also help provide needed perspective and clarity—and make sure there is someone who has your back through any changes that come up along the way.
Exploring one's sexuality is an incredibly personal journey—but it doesn't have to be done alone! If you think that you might be bi-curious or bisexual, take some time to reflect on your feelings and consider reaching out for additional support from friends or other resources like support groups or meetups in order to gain more insight into what path makes sense for your particular situation.
Remember, no matter what decisions you make regarding your sexuality moving forward, know that it's okay—you're allowed to explore without judgment or pressure.
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