relationship advice
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When it comes to our careers, many people can agree that success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. One part of that you can control, and one part you cannot. You can take all the classes and get your portfolio in fighting shape and do all of the interview prep. That’s what you can control. You cannot control when you will meet just that perfect person to move your career ahead at an acquaintance’s New Year’s Eve party. You cannot control when the person who currently has the job you want walks out on her job, or whether or not anyone will tell you in time for you to swoop in. That’s all where opportunity comes into play. Missed opportunities sting, but you always have to remember that what’s yours will be yours. All of this is true for romantic relationships, too. A successful one will combine preparation (i.e. personal work) and opportunity (i.e. timing).

The problem is that so many people think that they can bypass the timing element of this – that somehow they will be the ones who make it work, when the timing is just trash. A very lucky handful of couples do make it work against all odds when the timing would have dictated otherwise. But, it’s not usually the best idea to make one’s plans in the hopes that they are the rare case. So, with the understanding that this isn’t always true, but it’s usually true, here are times it’s best not to get involved with somebody.

When they’re separated

Dating someone who is separated is complicated. The type of separation will heavily dictate how messy things will be, and whether or not this is even headed for divorce (we cover more on that here). But ultimately, the “easiest” separation you can hope to get mixed up in is one where all the love is gone. There are no feelings left. That person is “technically” emotionally available. The problem is that…just because someone is no longer in love with their spouse doesn’t mean that they have emotionally disconnected from the life they built with that spouse, or the broken dreams they’d had for that union. Marriage is about so much more than feeling in love. It’s a partnership. It’s the foundation for one’s life. Mourning that is a long process, and getting involved with someone who is currently doing that will likely lead to heartbreak for you as you’ll never feel like top priority.

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When they just barely came out

Nearly anyone in the LGBTQ+ community today can tell you they’ve had this experience. It’s so common. If you identify as someone in that community, and you have for a long time aka you’re very comfortable with who you are and you’re completely out, you deserve to be with someone who is also in that space. So meeting someone who is just now realizing they are not straight, or perhaps someone who has known for a while but either A) just came out or B) still hasn’t come out to others, will usually lead to heartbreak. As many of my non-straight friends have put it, being with someone who isn’t fully out and proud about it can feel like getting “Pushed back into the closet”, as they ask their romantic partner to be secretive about the relationship. You didn’t put in the hard work of doing the personal work and fighting to be respected and honored for who you are, just to have someone ask you to…shut that down.

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When they’re in a 12-step program

Twelve-step programs can be incredibly effective. Research has even found they help alcoholics achieve sobriety better than therapy does. So if you are in one, consider following the leader’s or your sponsor’s advice closely. And if you meet someone who is in one, encourage them to do the same. Here’s the thing though: most 12-step programs will strongly recommend that members do not engage in a romantic relationship until the program is completed, and sometimes even for up to a year after that. Doing a 12-step program is part of a major healing journey, meaning someone likely still has wounds they need patched up. And as the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people,” so…dating someone in such a program might hurt. Their recovery needs to be their first, second, and third priority, which puts their romantic partners fourth. That’s one of the reasons 12-step sponsors strongly discourage romantic relationships while someone is in the program.

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When they’re launching a business

If you start a new relationship with someone who is launching a business – say they’re opening a restaurant or going live with their startup tech company – you will often wonder if they’re cheating on you. They’ll go MIA for days on end. They’ll take days to respond to texts. They’ll have to bail on plans at the last minute. They’ll sneak out of bed at 5am for a call. But they (probably) aren’t cheating: they’re making their life’s dream come to fruition and it takes all of their attention and energy. If you’re with someone for years and are able to establish a good foundation before they start a business, the relationship can make it through that. You’ll understand that, for a while, you won’t be top priority. But starting a new relationship when someone is in that place can lead to a lot of disappointment. One great rule for starting a new relationship is this: make sure the person is at a place in their life where they can give this relationship a lot of attention.

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When they’re recovering from grief

Not that you were wondering, but in case you were: a funeral might not be the best place to pick up a date. At least not if that date was close to the deceased. If you meet and hit it off with someone who just lost somebody to whom they were close, they may not be in a good place to launch a relationship. They may think they are. They may insist that they are. But, grief has a way of making one not quite sure what they need. Grief makes someone grasp at any sort of comfort or distraction. And you could accidentally become just that – a comfort or distraction. But once someone is over their grief, the comfort or distraction may no longer be…required. It’s also just difficult to start a relationship when one person will need so much more attention/affection than the other. New relationships should be fairly balanced two-way streets. Again, if you’re with someone for a long time and then they suffer a loss, of course the relationship will be about them for a while. But that’s a tough way to establish a new relationship.

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When they just broke up with someone

Someone who is fresh off a breakup is technically single – technically. But their mind is still somewhere else. Sure, there are those cases where the love was gone long before the breakup became official. But even still, it’s typically healthy for someone coming off a long-term relationship to take some time to themselves before diving into something new. If they try to skip that step and get involved with someone new right away, they’ll probably just realize later – during that relationship – that they weren’t quite ready for that yet. And then everybody gets their hearts re-broken. If you meet someone who just got out of a multi-year, possibly cohabitating relationship who wants to dive into it with you, beware: they may be a serial monogamist who needs to work out some stuff.

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When they or you are about to move

Why put yourself through it? You hit it off with somebody, have a magical weekend together, and then they tell you, “I’m actually moving across the country for work next month.” Could this be the love of your life with whom you should pursue an expensive and emotionally difficult long-distance relationship that won’t actually give you a real glimpse of what being with them would look like because long-distance relationships are sort of fairytale ones? Could it be? Um…sure. Maybe. There’s a teeny, tiny possibility. But it is important to be aware of the pitfalls of long-distance love. It is, in fact, quite difficult to assess how you operate as a couple, in real life, when your only time together is essentially spent on vacation. Many individuals put years and thousands of dollars into these relationships only to eventually realize, “Oh, we’re not happy when we live and work in the same city. We’re just happy meeting up at Marriotts on three-day weekends.”

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You’re in different stages of life

Age-gap love can work. It’s not so much the age difference as it is the stage of life difference that can be problematic. Perhaps you meet someone who is 55 when you’re 32. The maturity levels could match up. However, you may still very much be in a place where you want to go out and have an active social life, and they may be ready for a quieter nightlife. This can leave you having to choose between seeing friends, or being with your partner, which means less time together, and eventually, a feeling of leading separate lives. That’s just one example of an age-gap romance that can face issues, but there are many others. So you just have to ask yourself if, right now, your life goals match up.

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Did you know that nearly half of female entrepreneurs wish they had more money to dedicate to advertising? Or that women-led businesses are 63 percent less likely to receive venture capital funding than male-led ones? The drive is there and the female-run businesses are certainly there, but sometimes that little external boost to get things up and running is missing. It can be incredibly frustrating for female entrepreneurs to have well-planned, strategic, and informed roadmaps for their business, and all the skills and ambition to get it done, but not enough money to make it happen. The funding is one thing entrepreneurs just doesn’t have as much control over as they do, say, how many hours they dedicate to their business or how well they educate themselves in their industry.

Not having the capital to get going should not deter someone, though. Hewlett-Packard was started with less than $600. Subway was started with just $1,000. So don’t let a lack of funding dash your dreams. You just need to know how to work the system. To learn about this, we spoke with Laquita Brooks, “The Motivational Maven.” Brooks runs a multi-million-dollar real estate agency, a national logistics company, and a coaching program – just to name a few of her endeavors. She shared some gems on how to start a business when you don’t have cash capital.

Laquita Brooks
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Gaining investors

“Gaining investors is not as hard as people think, however you would need to know the audience,” says Brooks. Finding the right people who might be interested in your product is important, she added, as well as approaching individuals who already know your character. “For example, I was approached by a woman who needed additional money for her film project…because I believed in her and also her project, it was so easy for me to be an angel investor for her.” Brooks adds, “Some common ways to find investors are to ask people that you know (family and friends), seek out venture capitalists, and crowdfunding platforms. Also attend several networking events.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Old-fashioned word of mouth

When you don’t have a marketing budget or don’t know where to begin when it comes to advertising your business, Brooks reminds us not to forget about good old-fashioned word of mouth. “The best way to advertise without a marketing budget is to become your own walking billboard. Consumers believe in what they see, and you are the product. [It’s] word of mouth – people buy from people who their friends have had great experiences with.” On that note, if you already have customers and clients who are happy with you, it’s not much to ask them to write a review, share a little post on social media, or simply tell their friends about you.

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Rely on social media

MADAMENOIRE asked Brooks what she thought about using social media to advertise for their business, and she has passionate answers about this. “What a world we are currently living in. The era where social media has affected our lives so greatly that businesses can now benefit immensely from different features available on multiple platforms. Social media marketing has elevated so many businesses in awareness, lead generation, conversion, and ambassadors.” Creating content can be completely free. If you’re already an expert in your field, then you already have the bulk of what you need. Just add a camera. “Through the regular churning out of content, people have a wider reach and vaster network that patronizes their products and services.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Become an authority

Potential clients want to know that you are highly educated and experienced in what you do. Social media gives you a chance to show that. Brooks says, “Interestingly, businesses can take their brand global through the help of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even Tik Tok, which seems to be the rave of the moment these days. You would be surprised at the number of people that monetize their content on various social media platforms. People get paid to promote and even post pictures, videos, and create written content online. This is because they have become authorities, influencers, and celebrities.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Where should you seek sponsorship?

If you’re fortunate enough to gain so many followers that established companies approach you about sponsorship deals, remember that that company doesn’t have a monopoly over each of your platforms. “Anyone can make it as an influencer with engaging content on social media, but the question is, where is the best place to get sponsorships for your business? Now that you have successfully created a niche for yourself, your online presence is getting stronger. Who says you cannot use different social media channels to get sponsorships? There is no rule stopping you from using Twitter or Facebook. You can diversify by using YouTube for video content. This will make sense if your brand can create catchy videos that will attract audiences worldwide.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Other ways to make money on social media

Even without a sponsorship deal, or beyond one, there are ways to make money directly from followers, says Brooks. “To the much joy of many Twitter users globally, a feature has now been added to Twitter. With this, you can send a tip to a particular influencer or celebrity via their profile…With the following you have, you can get your products to sell faster. As a result of millions of people following your page, you become an authority in that niche. This means people will listen to the advice you give them. Let us imagine for a bit, what if 500,000 people subscribe to YouTube channel for daily financial advice. If you have a book you want to sell for $10 and put that up for sale, let’s say 5,000 people get to buy that book; you would have made $50,000 throughout the sale.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Curate your voice

Ultimately, Brooks states social media is an excellent tool for marketing. It’s one way to get the word out there with zero dollars. All you really need is your smartphone, and maybe some editing software for higher-quality content. “There are endless possibilities to getting sponsorships on social media platforms. It only takes the way you package yourself and, more importantly, the value you are offering others. If the products are worth people’s time, you will get a barrage of requests…Hence, you need to brand yourself and the message you are trying to convey. It takes the presentation, the wittiness, charm, and elegance through which you let people know about your business.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Getting a loan from family and friends

Next, we asked Brooks about small business loans she likes. Of course, not everyone will qualify with a financial institution, which is why Brooks brought up getting a loan from family or friends. She knows many entrepreneurs who did this. “To them, that was the safest bet; they would rather be indebted to their family and close friend than be at the mercy of the banks and other financial institutions…One of the reasons people opt for this type of loan is the low-risk and low-interest rate. Although, some families and friends prefer to have the loan in writing. Some others will have a fixed date in mind with probably the same amount or a little bit above what was borrowed in the first place. All in all, it is a safe place to get loans. But, it is based on the trust the family and friends have in you, the business owner. The fact that it doesn’t have as many risks and interest as other types of loans does not mean you should not redeem the date.”

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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Get ready to offer collateral

If you don’t have family or friends willing to lend you money, or you prefer to keep your finances and personal life separate, you can turn to government-backed loans, says Brooks. “Small business loans are one the most popular loans which new business owners usually opt for when starting their business. They are government loans that small businesses can get from the private sector. The loan system indicates that the business would have to pledge its personal assets as collateral for the loan to be granted.” Make note of that last part: you can’t hide behind an LLC with one of these and claim your business has nothing to hand over if you fail to pay the loan. Your personal assets could be at stake.

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becoming a female entrepreneur
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The different loans available

If you choose to get a loan from the Small Business Association (SBA), there are different ones to choose from, depending on your needs. Brooks notes,”The 7(a) loan program has a range of $350,000 to $5 million. Another type of SBA loan is the Microloan program, the smallest loan amount available. It ranges from $10,000 to $50,000. This requires limited collateral and is great for small businesses. The final list of SBA loans is the 504 loan program. [These have] a longer time frame and are usually capped at large amounts. The SBA loans are flexible as you can use them to buy land, equipment, and even acquire another business.” Brooks does advise, “Go beyond getting the loan…think about how best you can repay the loan. It is best to even think about it before getting the loan. You don’t want a situation where your business is stuck because you did not pay back your loan.”

American-African family at table during thanksgiving dinner
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Is middle-child syndrome a thing? It’s certainly something psychologists have spent decades researching. Studies have come up with some interesting data. Science Direct reports that middle children are less likely than youngest and oldest children to turn to their parents for comfort during times of stress. The research also showed that middle children are the least likely to identify with their parents – as in, when asked if they see their parents’ character traits in themselves, they tend to say they do not. Research out of the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that middle children are the least comfortable talking to their parents about uncomfortable topics like sex education, and might be the most likely to develop issues with depression.

With all of this in mind, one can see how parents should probably pay close attention to the development of their middle child. Being the middle child isn’t easy. You’re not given the respect and freedom of the oldest child, nor are you babied and coddled like the youngest. What’s left as far as perks go for the middle child? They’re often stuck being bossed around by their older sibling, and being given babysitting duties over the younger one. It’s not always the fairest of trades. If you do have an odd number of children, here are some mistakes to be aware of that parents make with middle children.

middle child syndrome
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Uneven disciplining

Middle children can feel like they get the worst of all worlds when it comes to being disciplined. Parents might have learned some things and had some experiences with the eldest child that made them develop stricter guidelines for the second. The middle child watches the older one have more autonomy, while they face harsher rules. Meanwhile, the youngest child gets away with everything, always under the excuse of, “They’re a baby. They didn’t know any better. You should have known better.” Whichever way they look, the middle child sees their siblings enjoying looser discipline than they do. It’s important that parents discipline their children fairly, and evenly, to prevent rebellious behavior from the middle kid.

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middle child syndrome
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Never having a room of their own

Middle children can get the bad end of the accommodations deal. They might first have to share a room with the eldest child, who probably resents sharing a room they at one time had to themselves. So there’s tension there, and the eldest might act like the boss of the room. Just when the eldest gets their own room and the middle child might get their own, the baby comes along. And then the middle child has to share a room with the youngest. It can feel like they totally miss their chance to have a place to call their own.

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