I'm gonna be really real with y'all. Back when I wrote the piece for the site entitled, "Women Cheat More Than We Think. What To Do If That's You.", I did a whole lot of "SMDH" as I read the comments on our socials. If there is one area where there seems to be a HUGE double standard, it's when it comes to cheating. Guys do it and, to oh so many women, instantly they are dogs who are totally undeserving of forgiveness. Oh, but let us do the same thing and suddenly it's all jokey jokes or worse—all sorts of justifications. If you truly believe that unfaithfulness is dead ass wrong, as folks say all of the time, "keep that same energy", regardless of which gender is doing it. For real, for real.
But that's not exactly what I want to get into today. As I was doing some of my usual perusing on Twitter, I saw a video that made me chuckle at first (lionesses ain't no joke) and then really pause and reflect. I'll let you check it out too:
Whew. Nature is something, ain't it? And yes, based on the caption, side chick/side guy relationships are complicated, intense and, if you're not super careful, they can even turn violent. And still, it's been reported that 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women have fessed up to having sex with someone other than their spouse over the course of their marriage; sometimes that "someone" is an individual that they've been with for years. Hmph. Some people even end up leaving their partner for their side chick/side guy. We've got more than enough celebrity examples of that (and I'll leave that right there).
And just why do so many people risk their relationship for their side person? Although I've never been the side chick of someone's husband, I have been involved with men while they had girlfriends. It's a dishonest act and that's not cool; not at all. But having the insight that I do from those past experiences, if you've ever wondered why you or someone in your world can't seem to let their side chick/side guy go, I want to share a few angles to look at. Again, not to justify but simply to explain. My ultimate objective being what? Well, once people know why they do the things that they do, sometimes that can make it so much easier to reroute and choose a much healthier and beneficial path. Well, that is, if they want to (hmm…).
Let's go with the obvious reason first. Yes, there are some people who got with, and continue to hold onto, their side person, purely out of greed—or, as a girlfriend of mine who once was in an affair with a married man said, "Because they can." The reality is, some people don't really get into relationships in order to do things like emotionally mature and spiritually grow. It's more about lust—oh, and ego. They like the idea of someone—or even multiple someones—only being with them…while they are with others. If this is you, please take heed of a quote, then a Scripture. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed." Proverbs 1:19(NKJV) says, "So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners."
If you combine both of these things together, what they are basically telling you is that greed is the kind of desire that can never be fully satisfied. It's kind of like chasing the dragon (doing heroin). They say that the first high is so totally off-the-chain that you find yourself spending the rest of your life chasing that same high; you typically don't get it back until you overdose. King Solomon warns that greed can take you out too. Be careful about having people on the side, simply because you can. Be even more cautious about having multiple ones, just because your desire tells you that you should. There are too many warnings out here that greed doesn't have a happy ending. Never say you weren't warned.
OK, selfishness. While this might seem identical to greed, it's actually not. To be selfish is to be self-consumed. Now, bookmark that as we go back to one of the few Tyler Perry films that I—how do I put this?—can comfortably vouch for. Which film is that? Why Did I Get Married? Remember how Mike (Richard T. Jones) was cheating on Sheila (Jill Scott) and his boys introduced the 80/20 rule to him? This rule states that, in most relationships, you're probably only going to get 80 percent of what you want (if that much). Meanwhile, during the testing times of the relationship, the 20 percent that you're not getting that someone else may be offering, looks really good. Selfish people? They want it all and yes, that is greedy. But the core issue is actually much bigger than that. You see, selfish people are horrible at relationships because mutuality and reciprocity mean very little to them. While greed is out here allowing desire to stack up their side folks, selfishness says, "I don't really care about doing what's required to make a relationship work or last. I simply care about having my needs met. If it takes more than one person to make that happen, so be it."
An author by the name of Stephen Kendrick once said, "Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves." Another author by the name of Maria Louise Ramé once said, "Intensely selfish people are always very decided as to what they wish. They do not waste their energies in considering the good of others." Author George Eliot once said, "Selfish—a judgment readily passed by those who have never tested their own power of sacrifice."
Whenever people talk to me about guys who have a side chick or girls who have a side guy and they say, "Why cheat? Why not just end your main relationship?", my usual answer is something along the lines of, "Because they're selfish. They don't want to let go of their '80 percent'; they simply want to find someone to get them as close to 100 percent as possible so that they are happy." If it's at the cost of hurting other people, their mentality is, "Well, ish happens." Unfortunately, they are too self-consumed to care about things like sin, the good of others and making sacrifices. That's why selfish folks really shouldn't be in relationships to begin with.
To me, this is an interesting one. The reason why I say that is because, even when I'm in marriage counseling sessions that have some of the most toxic dynamics, 8 times out of 10, the root is laziness. To be lazy is to be idle and sluggish. Yeah, that's pretty bad. But peep some synonyms for lazy—apathetic, careless, inattentive, indifferent and passive. Some people? They have a person—or people—on the side because they are simply too lazy to put in the time and effort that it takes to make a relationship last with one individual. The way they see it, if someone else is willing to come along and tend to their needs (perhaps the needs that aren't being met by their "main thang"), that ultimately results in them exerting less energy than actually doing things that all healthy relationships need—communication, investing and daily commitment. Not only that, but a lazy individual who's involved with side chick or guy is the perfect storm in the most counterproductive kind of way. Typically, side folks are mad eager to please. Lazy people know that and so they have no problem with their side person going above and beyond because, the more that side chick or guy strives to keep things going, the less the lazy person has to contribute.
Yeah, side folks are so ideal for lazy individuals. Problem is, at least for the side chick or guy, eventually laziness turns into atrophy. In other words, one day, side folks find themselves realizing that no longer are they doing most of the work; they are doing all of it. Meanwhile, ironically, the lazy person's main squeeze is probably in the same boat, sinking into nothingness too. SMDH.
I'll say this—seems to me that people with side folks aren't all that efficient. I mean, just think about it. Even if your main person is low-maintenance and your side chick or guy is too, some sort of "maintaining" of both relationships is still required. Whew. That seems like a lot of work. You know how there are articles out in cyberspace that explore topics like how much time each day we spend—or is it waste?—watching television, streaming channels or YouTube (six hours) or hanging out on social media (2 ½ hours)? Someone should do a study on how much time people waste being in side chick or guy relationships.
But that's not really what I wanted to tackle in this particular section; what I wanted to talk about is the fact that some folks can't seem to let their side person go because they are totally delusional. Believe you me, the tweet that hangs right over this copy happens more than a little bit. While the one who has a "main person" knows that they are cheating, they somehow find themselves utterly baffled when their side person isn't "faithful" either. Crazy, right?
Yet that's the thing about these types of relationships or situationships—they tend to be rooted in fantasy. You only see what you want to see. Since you're already living a lie, it's easier to keep stacking more untruths and false realities on top of it. Before long, if you do it long enough, you start to forget what the truth actually is. Then you start throwing parties for your side person, not even realizing that you were their side person too. #oops
If any of y'all are Sex & the City fans and you checked out the first movie installment, you might remember how Miranda played a direct role in Steve cheating on her. Before I get push back on this, shoot, even the Bible says that you give dark forces an "in" when you're married and you aren't intimate with your spouse (see I Corinthians 7:5 and also check out "What You Should Do If You Find Yourself In A Sexless Marriage"). Try and "rationalize" it all you want, but sex is a very important part of marriage and when it's lacking, one way or another, there are gonna be problems. Miranda admitted to herself that she put her work before her marriage. An affair was one of the consequences of that.
My point in bringing that up is this. It took Miranda a while to face up to the fact that, while Steve was a grown man who made a conscious decision to cheat, he had been begging for her attention and she had totally neglected his needs; not for a couple of weeks but for months on end. And while, in many ways, Miranda was my favorite character on the show, she was also extremely prideful. Pride doesn't fit well in a healthy relationship. And so, while a lot of people may love their prideful and/or arrogant and/or can't-be-told-anything-about-themselves partner, the reason why they get a side chick or guy is because they are scared to confront their main person about how they are feeling. When Steve did it to Miranda, all she did was bark at him. So, he "self-soothed" another way.
Only a person with their own pride issues will struggle with seeing that some people get and keep side people because they are in a main relationship with someone who won't humble themselves enough to see where they could stand to improve so that their relationship can be better. This is one of the reasons why a lot of relationship experts claim that affairs are more of a reflection of what is (or what isn't) happening in the relationship than whatever is happening…on the side. Look deep enough and, more times than not, there is some real truth to that.
A habit is about us doing something so much, for so long, that it becomes a common practice. And yes, I'll end the list of reasons why some people can't seem to let their side chick or guy go here. It's a hard reality to accept that some people end up getting cheated on because they decided to settle down (or at least attempt to do so) with someone who they once cheated with. And while some might see that as being karma for being willing to be the side chick or guy at one point, the bigger—and oftentimes overlooked—issue is that the person they are involved with has a habit of cheating. They have done it for so long and it is ingrained so much in their being that it would take some soul searching along with (probably) a season of abstinence and perhaps some therapy before they would be able stop. And, quite frankly, in order for any of that to happen, they would have to want to stop.
The reason why actual side chicks and side guys need to hear this is because, if you've never considered this before, you could be out here thinking that you are an exception when the actual reality is you are merely feeding an addiction. You are not "special"; you are a fix. The "junkie" is not staying with you out of loyalty; they are simply hooked on the high. The danger for you in that is, if/when they do sober up and see things for what they are, they will probably let you go and all you'll have to show for it is bitter feelings, perhaps exhausted resources and, definitely a lot of wasted time.
I won't lie to y'all—I know some side situationships that ended up turning into full-blown relationships. But the ones who have been open and honest with me about their story will share that it hasn't come without some harsh consequences, some real reality checks and some big challenges. Anyway, my main reason for writing this is because most of us are aware that we're in a high time side chick/side guy culture. While it is not black and white; it's got some gray areas. Still, the more we're able to uncover what those are, the more we can deal with them accordingly.
I will say this, though. If you are a side chick, the mere word "side" should make you feel some type of way. Side means you are pushed aside; that you are not a or the top priority. Don't romanticize that; see it for what it is. And, if you happen to have a side guy who you can't seem to let go of, spend some real time looking at the points made here. None of the reasons that I provided are healthy and things that have a bad foundation tend to have a rocky outcome. Side folks wouldn't exist if there wasn't some sort of allure or attraction, but bait is used to catch fish, not help them. Feel me? From the very bottom of my heart, please choose wisely.
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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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Decisiveness is arguably a trait of nature vs. nurture. When you’ve been brought up in an environment that penalizes children for taking pride in themselves, it can manifest in your adult life in ways that fly under the radar. You may find yourself avoiding the spotlight, having the fear of being the center of attention, or shrinking yourself to make others feel more comfortable.
If you’ve found yourself adopting an agreeable, self-sacrificing personality, there may be a psychological reason behind it, and it’s called “echoism.”
What Is Echoism?
Echoism refers to a concept in psychology related to the patterns of behavior and traits exhibited by individuals who may be on the opposite end of the spectrum from narcissism. While narcissism is characterized by an excessive focus on oneself and a desire for admiration, echoism is considered the opposite, where individuals tend to be excessively focused on others, often at the expense of their own needs and desires.
The term was introduced by clinical psychologist, Craig Malkin, in his book Rethinking Narcissism and delved into the topic through additional articles for Psychology Today. As the author explains, “Where narcissists are addicted to feeling special, echoists are afraid of it. In the myth of Narcissus, Echo, the nymph who eventually falls madly in love with Narcissus, has been cursed to repeat back the last few words she hears. Like their namesake, echoists definitely struggle to have a voice of their own.”
People who exhibit echoist traits often prioritize the needs and feelings of others over their own to an extreme degree and can struggle with asserting themselves, setting boundaries, and may be overly accommodating to others.
Traits of an Echoist
The fear of coming off as “too needy” or expecting too much are driving forces in an echoist’s life. Echoists may go to great lengths to avoid conflict, even if it means suppressing their opinions. This can result in the individual having low self-esteem and regularly downplaying their own worth since they may not feel deserving of attention or recognition.
According to Healthline, individuals with elevated levels of echoism may:
How To Heal and Work Through Echoism
Identifying the cause of one’s echoism is an important step to healing the behavior. Experts say that this trait can develop in childhood when dealing with parents who struggle with emotional regulation or pass down their self-effacing values to their children.
In your early years, you may have coped with stress by soothing your parents at the expense of expressing your own needs. The constant focus on meeting others' needs could then leave little room to voice their own desires, leading to a loss of connection with one’s own aspirations.
Fearful that asking for things might upset the parents, young echoists may have found that avoiding burdening their parents was the best course of action, even at their own expense.
Taking the necessary action to heal echoism means developing a more balanced and assertive approach to relationships, where you prioritize your own needs without completely sacrificing your consideration for others. While it may take time to adjust to the change in behavior, there are steps to take in the process:
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
There’s nothing fun about setting boundaries, but they’re necessary to determine what is and is not okay in our relationship. When you set boundaries, we’re nothing just teaching others how to treat us, we’re teaching ourselves what we deserve. Practice saying "no" as a complete sentence and learn to establish and communicate healthy boundaries with those around you.
2. Practice Being Assertive
Take small moments throughout your daily interaction to practice speaking up for yourself and expressing your opinions and needs in an assertive, yet respectful way. Put your communication skills to the test and work to effectively convey your thoughts and feelings with close friends, family, or even co-workers when the situation presents itself.
3. Embody A “Star” Mentality
Going years denying yourself the joy of prioritizing your own needs and desires can take time to correct. Through your process to heal your echoism, remember that you are worthy of being seen and having your needs and desires heard. Gradually expose yourself to positive and affirming attention. When someone pays you compliments, hold it and say thank you without feeling the need to diminish it.
4. Learn To Love What You Like
An aspect of echoism is adopting people-pleasing tendencies, but it’s okay to be disagreed with if your preferences don’t match those around you. Our differences are what makes us who we are, and altering that to appease others only makes us feel smaller in the long run. Take time to identify and pursue your own personal goals, and have fun exploring your own interests and passions.
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