I don't have any children, but I do have a seven-year-old goddaughter. When she becomes a preteen, something I plan on telling her, on repeat, is one of the best things she could ever do is have a set of male friends. Not boyfriends, mind you. I mean, platonic male friends. They're the next best thing to having a really great brother. They're protective. They're honest. And they'll help to drive home the point I'm about to make.
Besides being a writer, something else that I am is a marriage life coach. Both professions mean that I spend quite a bit of time delving out advice. If there's one thing I find myself asking quite a bit to brokenhearted women is, "Why didn't you take what he said at face value?"
Not to say that men, as a whole, are the greatest communicators in the world. At the same time, though, I'm on the fence about how many of us, as women, deserve an award for being the best listeners. Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of times we get into more uncomfortable situations than necessary simply because we would rather interpret what a man is saying rather than accept what has already been said?
Just in case you're tempted to give me some pushback on this, here are five examples of what I mean when I say take your guy's word at face value.
“I’m not ready for a relationship.”
He likes you. You like him. You spend time together. You might have even had sex. In your mind, this all may emotionally translate into you being in a relationship (or heading there). But if this is what you're doing with someone and he tells you that he's not ready for a relationship, clearly this is evidence that not everyone defines a relationship the same way.
If you don't listen to him and decide to give him even more of yourself—mind, body and spirit—all the while hoping to change his mind, how does that make him a bad person if he decides to see other people or end things completely?
"Ready" literally means "completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use". If a man is telling you he is not prepared to make a commitment or more importantly, that he's not FIT for one, he's basically giving you a forecast of how things will turn out if you keep pushing forward.
“The timing isn’t right.”
Chances are, if a man isn't ready for a relationship, one of the main reasons might be because it's not the right time for him. Please don't take that to mean that you can "love him into" the right time because (and please get this) him needing more time probably has very little to do with you.
In fact, there are probably life experiences that he needs to have outside of you in order for him to come to the conclusion that he's ready for a relationship.
What should be your response to this one? Either chill out and be his friend (just his friend) or let him go so that you can find your "right timing."
Who knows? Maybe in time, life will bring you both around to each other. Sometimes timing has a way of doing that.
“I love you but I’m not in love with you.”
If there's any sentence that is the cause of a lot of emotional upheaval and confusion, it would have to be this one. What does it really mean if a man says that he loves you but isn't in love?
Honestly, a lot of it depends on the guy, but I'll tell you what I immediately compare this to. I once heard a life coach say that one of the biggest mistakes we make in relationships is getting in too deep with someone who likes the qualities that we have but doesn't truly value us as a person. The first one means they admire us while the second one means they will do the work required to keep us in their lives.
If you've ever known a man who's truly in love with a woman, it's mind-blowing how far he'll go to keep her around. A man who simply "loves" may not even put a quarter of that effort in. Because he likes, not necessarily values what he sees in you. Make sense?
“I’m fine with how things are.”
Some people's values are more conservative than others. However, when grandma said, "Why buy the cow when you can half the milk for free?", at the very least, it's something to think long and hard about. Not just when it comes to the sexual decisions you make, but when it comes to all that you're doing with/for a man.
If you're basically being a "wife" to him—emotionally, sexually, relationally and otherwise—without requiring much in return and then you roll up asking what's up and he says "What? Things are just fine," while you may be disappointed, how surprised can you actually be?
You're doing most of the work while he sits back and benefits without having to take on any responsibilities. Why wouldn't he be fine?
“I want to be friends.”
What's sad about this one is it doesn't have to translate into you getting the brush off. I talk to a lot of guys and one thing they wish they had more of is friendships with women—non-dramatic, supportive, strictly-platonic ones.
The problem is a lot of us think that because a man thinks we're attractive and enjoys our company, somehow, he must be in denial when he makes this sort of declaration.
Listen, I think my brother is a cutie and he's one of my favorite people on the planet. I do not want a romantic connection with him though (eww). And that's just how a lot of men process women that they like us but still aren't into us.
If a man tells you he just wants to be friends with you, please don't take that to mean anything other than that. If you are tempted to, then translate what he said to mean, "I see you like a sister, sis," and hopefully that will keep things in perspective.
That way, you can move on to a man who doesn't want to emotionally "family zone" you.
That way, you can get with a man who says, "I dig you and I want to build a future."
That way, you can end up with a man who speaks in a way that you don't have to try and figure out what he really means. Everything will line up. 100 percent of the time.
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
It’s safe to say that we all have a “wellness girl” in our close circle. She’s the matcha-sipping, Pilates lover, who always makes time for her morning meditation and affirmations. Whether she’s a yoga enthusiast or self-care aficionado, she’s there to be your personal reminder to slow down and take some “me time,” and that alone deserves a token of our appreciation.
As the holiday season continues, we find ourselves immersed in the spirit of giving, and what better way to express your love and care than by gifting your body-, mind-, and soul-focused friends and family some wellness goodies?
Amid the hustle and bustle of daily life, these thoughtful wellness gifts can serve as a gentle reminder to pause, breathe, and prioritize their self-care. From habit-tracking journals to fitness essentials and mindfulness tools, our guide covers a wide range of options to cater to the homebody homegirl who are true to their wellness practice or need the extra nudge to get in touch with themselves.
To help you start “adding to cart,” we've curated a collection of gifts that go beyond the ordinary, designed to foster a sense of peace and balance in the lives of your loved ones.
These reusable eye masks are perfect for their "me-time" moments, again and again.
They’ll love slathering themselves with this nourishing body cream right after those “everything showers.”
For those “turn your brain off and unplug” kinds of days.
If she’s a cozy girl who enjoys lounging around the house, she’ll love this matching set.
What’s better than eating a cinnamon roll? Smelling like one.
The solution to keeping your gym-rat friend’s edges preserved is here.
Nothing sets the mood like a lit candle that smells as good as it looks.
9.Golde Pure Matcha
Matcha is the silly little beverage we can’t live without, so trust us when we say your matcha-loving sister will thank you for this stocking stuffer.
Help gua sha their stress away with this viral beauty tool.
They love staying in the house, so why not make it more comfortable with these puffy slippers?
Detox the air and your mind with this personal humidifier.
Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images