One of my favorite things about being a relationships writer is that I meet all types of people with all kinds of different perspectives; sometimes ones who totally challenge the status quo. Take the assumption about marriage, for instance (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?"). What I mean specifically is the fact that a lot of people seem to believe that most women want to be married.
Hmm. First, did you know that the divorce rate is currently on the decline because less people are strolling down the aisle — and a good amount of those people are indeed women? Second, contrary to what some of these male relationship coaches are saying out here, the reason why many ladies aren't exactly thrilled about marriage isn't as black and white as they like to presume and promote. There are indeed many reasons why some women have cold feet at the mere thought of taking a stroll towards forever.
They deserve to speak for themselves. So, I asked 15 of them (middle names were used) to do just that. One, so that we'll stop seeing views on marriage as one-dimensional and two, because if you're a woman who is basically terrified of marriage yourself…you won't feel so alone. Because you absolutely aren't.
Jocelyn. 37. Haven't Been in a Relationship in Three Years.
"I come from a long line of people who didn't know what the hell they were doing when it came to marriage. While oddly, there is very little divorce on either side of my family, a lot of folks are together and totally miserable. It's like they would rather have the bragging rights of staying together than being happy."
"I think that's what scares me the most — getting with someone and staying, even if I don't like it. Is it really something to be proud of to stay until death if you're miserable?"
Hadassah. 29. Been Exclusive for 10 Months.
"My boyfriend wants to get married. He wants to marry me, more specifically. He said he knew it about three months ago. I'm the one who's been dragging my feet because people change. It's not fair to expect him not to but I want to be with the person I know now. If he switches up on me, I can't guarantee that I'll stick it out. I like consistency and hate surprises too much to sign up for that. I haven't told him any of this. Should I?"
Alexe. 40. Divorced for Five Years.
"Shellie, I know. I can't tell you how many times you saying that 70 percent of divorces are initiated by women rings in my head; especially since I was one of them. No, it wasn't because my husband abused me or cheated on me. He's still a good guy. I just like love with space in it. I don't want to share my house. I don't want to sleep on only one side of my bed. I don't want to deal with someone else when I don't feel like it. I'm selfish and I own that. I think it's more selfish to get married when you know you don't want to be what marriage requires. I talked myself into doing it the first time. How stupid of me would I be to do that all over again? No ma'am."
Kiran. 33. Been Casually Dating for Three Years.
"I'll watch a movie if I want to be moved by marriage. I dunno. It's just so serious…and predictable…and needy. Whenever this topic comes up with people, they assume I come from a broken or single-parent home or something. My parents have been together for almost 40 years and they love each other to death. I've just always been a free bird. Like I respect their relationship. I even like watching them. But do I want it? No thanks. I like getting to know different guys, learning from different people and not having any pressure or expectations on me. Marriage nixes all of that and the thought of intentionally signing up for that kind of lifestyle is worse than any horror flick I've seen before."
Alyssa. 42. In a Sexually Exclusive Situation.
"It might sound strange, but I have no problem with sexual monogamy. It's emotional monogamy that I struggle with. I want the option to be able to reach back out to an ex, flirt with someone on Instagram or go out on a date with a man I just met."
"A lot of times, when people talk about being scared to get married, the focus is on never having sex with someone new. There's too much going on out here for me to want to care about that. I just want the option to have new experiences with new men. Marriage prevents that from happening and yeah, that's pretty scary."
Rachele. 48. Divorced for 10 Years.
"Taking care of a man. That's what I did for seven years when I was married. I'm not talking about money. He made that. I mean, cleaning the bathroom. Cooking meals. Running errands all of the time. It wasn't that he expected me to do those things. I was raised that being a wife comes with taking care of a man. Once I no longer had to do that anymore, I can't imagine going back to that. Submission isn't a bad thing. You've just gotta really want to do it. I don't. I doubt I ever will."
Maya. 25. Interested in a Relationship — Not Marriage.
"I'm not sure how much of the minority I am but I think marriage should be for couples who want to have kids so that their children are in a structured environment — the kind that comes with some serious consequences if you just decide to up and walk out one day. Since I am fine being the 'play auntie' to all of my friends' kids, I want to be with someone who feels the same way about being an uncle and we just take it one day at a time.
"Signing on a dotted line feels like a contract that comes with some loopholes that I'm not interested in. Let's just love each other and leave it at that."
Imani. 34. Recently Ended a Two-Year Relationship.
"I just got out of a relationship with a mama's boy. Don't ever do that s — t. He's a good man. He also needs to cut those apron strings because when it comes to his money and his time, he thinks that his mother should get first dibs. Who wants to get married and be the second priority to a woman who has her own husband? I'm afraid that I'll get married and realize that I married a man's family more than him. Been there, done that. Hated it."
Natalie. 44. Been Exclusive for Six Years.
"I'm about to lose the love of my life, if I'm gonna be real about it. [Name withheld] has asked me to marry him twice now. I didn't say 'no'. I said that I would accept his ring if we could stay engaged indefinitely. What I'm scared of is marriage automatically changing our relationship like it has for so many of my friends. It's like, when they were dating, it was all good. Traveling. Lots of sex. Fun. Then they got married and it's watching movies at home, sex on the weekends and fighting all of the time. Why would any sane person choose to be miserable? I'm not saying it's marriage's fault. I'm just saying that a lot of people don't make marriage appear all that attractive to me."
Helen. 31. Divorced for Almost a Year.
"I cheated on my husband…with an ex. He was willing to stick it out, but I was so conflicted that I ended it. To this day, I'm not sure if I made the right decision or not but I'm pretty sure that you shouldn't get married if you're in love with two people. The crazy thing is, I don't want to be with my ex either because how can you trust someone who will help you cheat? I might not be the right person for this question because my divorce is still pretty fresh. What I will say is if you're not totally loving with your whole heart, you shouldn't get married. I've never just loved one person at a time. There's always been some 'residue' from someone else. I've just now accepted that as my reality. So, the thought of getting married again… 'terrified' is the right word."
Kendele. 28. In a Very New Relationship (Less than Three Months).
"Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is spiritual. Marriage is awesome. I'm just not sure if it's for me. It's like there's this assumption that all women want to be married and if they don't, they've got some sort of 'issue'."
"I'm not so much 'terrified' about the idea of marriage as I am reflective on if it serves a real purpose in my life. Can't you respect the institution without wanting to participate in it? I think so."
Lanelle. 39. Been Exclusive for Two Years.
"I'm afraid that my man's sex drive is gonna be too low. It damn near already is. Since college, I can easily have sex every day and in my 30s, that hasn't changed. So, if I sign up to only have sex with him for the rest of my life, that's already freaking me the f — k out. But then he's gonna not be in the mood when I want it? It might sound shallow, but I'll leave a man for that and never look back. Why take the risk? Why not just stay single?"
Perri. 27. Never Been in a Serious Relationship Before.
"How do you say at 25 that you'll stay with someone until you die when you don't know who you'll be at 40? What kind of arrangement is that?"
"The married people in my life tell me that I only feel this way because I've never been in a long-term relationship. Maybe. But predicting the future when you don't know what the future holds sounds pretty crazy in my book."
Brecala. 40. Recently Engaged.
"Yep. I'm engaged and yes, I am terrified of getting married. I think it's because I watch too many Lifetime movies because although my fiancé is the best man I've ever met, a part of me wonders how long you should really know someone before pledging to spend the rest of your life with them. Pray for us, y'all!"
Danyele. 36. Been Exclusive for Five Years.
"Losing my man. Losing him is what terrifies me. I'm not talking about to another woman or even getting a divorce. I'm talking about death. I love my man so much that I think I've been holding off on the marriage thing because that means I'm all in and if he beat me to the punch [died first], I have no idea how I would take that. For me, staying dating is kind of like a wall to protect myself. I know some widows and losing their husbands close to destroyed them. Death is inevitable but I'm still not sure I want to take that risk."
Like I said, marriage — and the hesitations about marriage — are vast. Hopefully, this confirmed that, gave you some things to think about and maybe will even give you the "push" to share some of your own insights in the comments. Marriage is beautiful. It's also OK to have some real concerns or not want to do it. It really is.
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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. ;)
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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