The first time I told him I love him was three weeks after our first date, legs up, orgasm raking its way throughout my body, and I said it, repeated it like a mantra or a prayer.
I was embarrassed, but the guy I was dating never said anything. He made me feel like it was OK to express the pleasure from my orgasm in that way. He was the first person who I've ever been able to achieve a climax with and I think largely it's how in sync our energies seem to be, how much I allow myself to take down my guard, and the fact that it wasn't a goal for him – if it happened, it happened. I don't know if I loved him then or if I loved the feeling he gave me, but I do know that I love him now.
I think the more time has passed, the more I expected to hear him say, “I love you". I rested my value on those three words, our potential for a future, my willingness to wait on those three words. We had a conversation four months into things where I told him that I felt we were too different. I put my faith wholeheartedly into my emotions and allow them to lead me, meanwhile, he feels his emotions but will not allow them to take precedence over his mind or his logic. That alone makes us feel worlds apart at times. He feels as though his presence is enough to show me that he's here, that he wants us, that he's serious about me and committing while I value words just as much as I value action. He considers such things to be redundant because he feels like he knows, I should know. I used to say “I love you" and hear “I know" and it felt like a kick in my gut. My heart would sink because I felt like, if he didn't know how to say it by now, then it would never be love.
I used to look at us and feel like Damn, am I one of those dumb chicks that I speak against waiting for a man to change himself for me? But then I put our relationship into perspective, I remember how his honesty is one of the things that I love and respect most about him. He'd tell me the truth always before I'd ever hear a lie. I remember my father talking to me and posing a question of,
“Would you rather someone tell you they love you and mean it or say I love you just to get something they want from you?"
I've never waited on this man. All of the changes that I've seen him make to be a better man to me and for me have been alterations he's made on his own to be worthy of a place in my world. I didn't have to beg him to build or call me his woman or make time and create space in his life for me. He was a man. He led himself, even if I was the light that sparked his desire to be better.
I found strength somewhere in that perspective.
"I started to realize that love is something that should be without expectations."
I say “I love you" because I do, not because I expect something in return, a reward of some sort for revealing my truth. I reminded myself that I have nothing to do with how someone else feels. When I adjusted my worldview to come from a place of abundance versus a place of lacking, I could see the expectation wash away, I could feel the hurt and resentment and inadequacy leave me. When you're both in the same book but in different chapters, it is possible for things to work, especially when patience is there and the focus is not placed on negative emotions.
These days, my “I love yous" are met with “I love you too" and my favorite way to hear it said back to me is when he is in the middle of laughter or he's close to reaching his peak and can't help but tell me just how much because I feel that damn good to him. I don't think it's quite as high or euphoric as my kind of in love, but his love for me is deep. Isn't it interesting how in romantic love, we crave to feel the fleeting type of love versus that immovable, constant one that our friendships and family relationships are bound with?
Some days are easier than others, but I'm definitely no longer obsessing over it as I did in the past when I used to Google “how to make him fall in love" and try to take heed like a recipe.
"Love isn't that formulaic. Love just is."
And in the same way it found me open and I took a leap, he has too as well. It's nothing I can do. I asked him recently, “How can we be an item when I'm in love and you're not?" “I'll get there baby, just be patient with me." Patience, there's that word again so I'll be that for him. His honesty, his loyalty, his persistence, his dedication, and his own patience make me feel his love for me every day. He'll get there.
The key is not to wait while you're patient, but to continue to live. Everything will come in its own time as it always does.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in L.A.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
Dontaira with her nieces at Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood