OK, so before I even get into all of this, I want to put a disclaimer up first. I am absolutely not speaking to married couples. Here's why it's critical that I put that on record. Not too long ago, I was talking to a single person about an article we both read about a celebrity who appears to be on the outs with their spouse. The single person said, "I mean, if you're no longer happy, you need to move on." My immediate response was, "Boy, y'all sure do be out here acting like husbands are boyfriends."
What I meant by that is one of the reasons why a lot of people have such a hard time staying married is because they don't get the magnitude of their commitment. One of the reasons why that's the case is because they act like wives when they are girlfriends which means they don't see much of a difference in their relationship once they actually do get a husband (some of y'all will catch that later).
When you sign up for "til death do us part", those are some pretty serious words. They need to be treated as such. Besides, when Scripture speaks of "two becoming one" (Genesis 2:18-25), this means that, when it comes to marriage, one of the things that you are signing up for is learning how to master the art of growing together with another individual. Yes, until death parts you is the goal. Not only until you don't feel like it anymore.
But when you're dating someone—because no vows have been made which means that you remain your top priority at all times—it's very different. What Dolly Parton said in that quote up top actually rings oh so very true. You shouldn't remain in something simply because you feel obligated to do so; especially when you take out the time to reflect on what "obligate" actually means—"to bind or oblige morally or legally". When you're dating a guy, what morally or legally binding is involved? For real, for real. If you're having sex with them, those oxytocin surges can make you feel like you've just got to stay, but a part of the beauty of being in relationships when you're not married is you don't have to do…really anything you don't want to do.
I'm not saying that this fact gives you license to be mean, insensitive or irresponsible. I'm simply saying that, until your tax status changes from "single" to "married", single is exactly what you are (a lot of people tend to miss that point too). And, if the relationship that you're in is no longer serving you, it's OK—recommended even—to move on. One clear sign that it is time to do exactly that is when you've outgrown your relationship—or the guy that you're with. Trust me, I've been there.
How to Know You’ve Truly Outgrown “Him”
One thing that I am a firm believer of is this—oftentimes relationships are a mirror; they show us things about ourselves that we wouldn't look at any other way. When I think back on all of the relationships that I had that were truly significant and consequential, one thing they all had in common is I was with guys who were brilliant, funny—and also pretty unsure of themselves. Because I was the type of person who was so eager to love, they were latch onto me because, well, they were so needy to be loved. In fact, one of my exes told me that, before we started dating, one day he looked over at me and said, "If someone would just love that girl, she would be amazing."
At the time that he told me that, I thought what he said was so insightful and romantic. In hindsight, I think what he really meant was, "That girl is so desirous for love that I can get her to fill in all of the blanks when it comes to what I need as I try and become a better man." Hmph. 90 percent of the time, I paid for dates. Although he was good for writing a poem or song, I can count on one hand how many birthday presents or Christmas gifts that I received. When it came to sleepovers, he was almost always at my house. In short, he wasn't "loving me" so much as I was taking care of him. Looking back, what's really sad is he wasn't exceptional in this way.
This was pretty much my pattern. Not just taking care of a man while accepting his bare minimum, but doing it so long that it started to make me super resentful. And bitter. And eventually, mad as hell.
That too was a pattern because that's what I saw in the second marriage that my mother was in. Hmph again. It really is something, the things that you repeat from your parents, no matter how much you tell yourself that you won't. Until you do some serious self-work to change what has been modeled to us, oftentimes, we simply do what we know. No matter how much we may dislike, disrespect or even loathe it.
Back to the relationship. So, why would I stay so long (well over five years) in something that had me so…tired? No…weary? Good question. While in hindsight, I am fully aware that I wasn't in love with him (even though I wanted to be, basically because I didn't want to be alone; see "Like, Love & In Love: How To Really Know The Differences"), I did love him. Before being boyfriend and girlfriend, we were genuinely friends and there was a lot about him that I did like. Plus, he had already made it clear that befriending exes wasn't really his thing. So, I think that, more than anything, I was afraid to leave. Look at all of the time that I invested. Look at all of the little quirks and challenges that we managed to work through. Although he wasn't my perfect guy, not even close, we got along pretty well, the sex was cool and he did love me (at least, as best as he knew how at the time). What if I don't even get that much from the next dude?
Sis, let me tell you something, right here and right now. If you are currently seeing someone and that's the kind of dialogue that you're having with yourself, not only is that a clear indication that, if you stay, you are straight-up settling, if you pay even a little bit of attention to your words, it's also a sign that you're outgrowing him.
To outgrow anyone or anything is to leave what would impede your own personal behind you. "Develop" is a dope word because it speaks to progress. "Progress" is a dope word because it speaks to "a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage".
Why It’s OK to Outgrow Someone You Love
A part of the reason why all of us need to be extremely prayerful, discerning and, to a large extent, even logical-over-emotional about who we select as a spouse is because, what we're essentially saying is, "This is the man who is qualified to get me closer to my goals. This is the man who is best capable at helping me to move to higher stages in my life, throughout my life, more than anyone else." (If you can't say that about a guy, don't marry him.)
Yet in the meantime, while we're dating—which is basically all about figuring out who that guy actually is—no matter how long you've been with someone, it is perfectly OK to be like, "Yes, I love you. And yes, I also need to end this relationship because if I remain, you are going to be a stumbling block when it comes to my goals. Not only that, but being so enraptured in you is going to distract me from getting to higher stages in my life."
When I think about the relationship I just shared with you (and even a few others), I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that if I had stayed, there's a pretty good chance that you wouldn't even be reading this narrative right now. I say that because, one of the best affirmations that I've ever received is from a close male friend. Whenever he shares with me something that he's trying to accomplish, I do my best to help him out. It's not because he asks; it's simply because that's who I am. In response, something that he calls me is a "king maker". He doesn't mean that I am literally making him a king (that's the Lord and his job); he means it more in the context of Proverbs 12:4(NKJV)—"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones." Indeed, all of us should be in the kind of relationships—platonic or romantic—that make us feel like royalty, that help us to become better versions of ourselves….that help us to grow.
Anyway, because my boyfriend had so many needs—emotionally, financially, professionally, etc., etc.—if I had stayed with him, I know me. Or rather, who I was at the time. I would've devoted so much of myself into helping him grow that it would've stunted my own progress. There ain't nothin' good, healthy or heroic about that.
Dating someone who hinders your growth? It is the absolute worst. Ultimately, for the both of you.
So yeah, as much as it hurt (mostly because I allowed the relationship to drag on far longer than it ever should have), one day I called him and I ended it. Because he had become such a part of my life and lifestyle, for several weeks, it was like I had knocked the wind out of my own doggone self. But once the healing process began, I was able to put the time, effort, energy and oftentimes even resources that I once put into him, back into myself. Growth started occurring in places where I didn't even recognize I was dormant. Outgrowing him allowed me the space to grow within myself. No regrets, y'all. I don't have a signal one.
Someone reading this can relate to almost every word that I said. Well, as someone once said, "If you're looking for a sign, this would be it." Never feel that loving someone means you should feel obligated to remain, even after you've outgrown them. Love them—and more importantly, yourself—to see the progress that can be made if you're both out of each other's way.
Never feel so obligated that you aren't able to become a bigger and better version of yourself. If you do think that, friend, that's not love. Not. Even. Close.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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. ;)
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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