For about a week now, I've been been bumpin' Stephanie Mills's "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel" pretty heavily. First of all, sis can sang and definitely could still school a few folks in the industry about why sometimes "sing" gets an "a" instead of an "i". Second, I remember that video being pretty dope, in a timeless kind of way. (And her body is killin' it in that black dress and white top and pants.) Third, if you're not even remotely familiar with the tune and you're at a place where you can't click on the hyperlink right now—here's the first verse:
I've been up and I've been down/Until you helped me put my feet on solid ground/I've been rich and I've been poor/Then you showed me that there's so much more/Than the rat race and the fast pace/Could ever offer me/When I look back, baby/You've always been there for me
From there, the hook says, "Something in the way you make me feel," a few times, and she ends the chorus with a word that is poignant for today's article. She doesn't say that her man makes her feel loved. No, what she declares is that her man makes her feel good---real good, in fact. The difference between the two is what makes some relationships healthy (ie. "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You" and "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life") or not-so-healthy---even needy, to tell you the truth. You ready?
The Subtle Unhealthiness of Wanting Someone to 'Make' You Feel Loved
Just the other day, I not-so-randomly ran into a young woman with some of her family members. We had never met before but ended up striking up a convo while I was sitting at a friend's mall kiosk. Anyway, as we got deeper and deeper into our convo, the young lady mentioned that she was in her early 20s and had been married for a couple of years. She and her husband had dated for several years before marrying, but they were still going through some major adjusting as a married couple. One thing that got on her nerves was that she is much clearer about her life's purpose than her husband. She also admitted that she is a control freak (but that's another article for another time.)
As she aired out some of her frustration and asked my opinion (I mentioned that I was a marriage life coach), I said, "That's why I'm not big on people getting married until a man knows what he was put on this planet to do." A college-aged male? While there are certainly exceptions, that is typically the time when they should be figuring all of that out with as little distractions as possible. (This is why I don't think women should put pressure on themselves to "find a husband" during that season of their lives either.) For me, the foundation of a lot of how I see things in life is the Bible. Genesis 2:18 defines women as being helpers--- warriors and lifesavers if you want to get real specific. How can we fully support a man, in the intimate and lasting way that a wife does, when he has no clue what he's doing—or wants to do—with his life?
I just recently saw one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's calledHoney Boy. In it, actor Shia LaBeouf is playing his own real-life abusive father. (Shia is definitely an acting force to be reckoned with; his freestyle flow is pretty sick too).
A line from it that stayed with me is, "A seed must totally destroy itself in order to become a flower." A lot of us women try to "make a man a flower", rather than giving him the time and space to be a seed, totally alter himself, become a flower and then help him, as a "flower"—as the man he was designed to me—to thrive.
Believe you me, y'all, I have been the woman who has tried to nurture far too many "man seeds" that were both emotionally unavailable and immature. While those guys were "destroying themselves" in order to become better, oftentimes their own mental and even spiritual upheavals ended up harming me in the process. Yeah, I know that was a little on the poetic side of things, but I hope you still got where I was coming from. If you want to be in a healthy, stable and consistent relationship, date less "seeds" and be open to more "flowers". Not doing this is a huge mistake that I think a lot of us make in the pursuit of love.
Know what another one is? Thinking that it's a man's job to "make us" feel loved. Whew. I can't tell you how many times a woman has told me that a relationship has come to an end—usually a pretty bitter end, at that—and it's all because a man didn't make her feel loved. It's no secret that I strive to be pretty word-specific, so whenever I hear that, my immediate reaction is, "Is that a man's job? Should anyone MAKE you feel loved?" Whenever I ask someone that out loud, they tend to look at me like I'm crazy, mixed with a bit of patronization. The way they see it, of course, he should. Me? Not so much.
Personally, there are only two people who I think should make us feel loved and that's because they are our first introduction to a human form of love; that would be our parents. When they jack that up, that speaks volumes into why a lot of us spend the result of our lives looking for other people to do it. But by the time we start to entertain romantic relationships, there really should be such a self-love within us that we're not looking for them to make us feel like we're loved.
Because, when we already love ourselves, other people tend to reflect back to us what we already feel. While it's nice to be loved by them, we don't really need it; we appreciate it, we enjoy it, it feels awesome…but if they left, we know we'd be alright. Love was there before they arrived, so we know that love will still exist should they ever go.
A good example of someone who I think has this concept down pretty well is YouTuber StarPuppy. She's wacky. She's quirky. She's hilarious. She also seems to have grown up with a family who taught her about love. (She actually says so in this video). Her ability to be unapologetically wacky, quirky, and hilarious is seamless, but just think what she would be like if she didn't love herself---if she looked for guys to make her feel loved. If the guy had enough influence over her, he could probably convince her that her personality wasn't appealing, that her humor was corny. and, quite possibly, that she should stop doing all of her fabulous natural hair and random-musing posts.
That's why I said in the article "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like" that people who love themselves move differently. When you, on your own, are all about things like self-care, enjoying alone time, embracing your strengths, not needing a relationship to fill any voids and celebrating yourself—you don't need any outside sources or forces to make you feel loved. Make means "to bring into existence". People who love themselves don't need anyone to bring into existence what already, well, exists. So yeah, if a relationship comes to an end, it should be because someone didn't "bring love into existence" for you. That is giving them way too much power. It should be because they didn't reflect what already exists and they didn't do enough of what Ms. Stephanie sang about.
A Man Making You Feel Good Is Much Different than a Man Making You Feel Loved
God is love (I John 4:8&16). If you believe in a higher power and that God created you, then you automatically come from love. Prayerfully, your parents echoed that sentiment and raised you in an environment of love but, even if they didn't, you still have the ability to learn how to love yourself—to self-nurture in such a way where you're not out here looking for someone to teach you about how to love yourself. Real talk, I think that's why a lot of us are single much longer than we'd like to be. It's because God, the source of love, knows that we need some time to learn how to love ourselves so that the "wrong teachers" won't come along and totally alter the way He wants us to see ourselves. He knows that if we allow Him to teach us about self-love, we'll recognize, rather quickly, when someone is coming into our lives to manipulate our own definition of love or when they're coming along to intensify the feelings of love that we already have for ourselves.
That's why I dig Stephanie Mills's song so much. If all of us were back in high school English class, we'd probably be taught that an interjection definition of the word "good" is "an exclamation of approval, agreement, pleasure, etc."
Stephanie wasn't exclaiming that her man makes her feel like she is loved—which usually actually translates into being worthy of love. Nope. She said her man exclaims that he approves of how she loves herself, that he's in agreement with how she loves herself, that he brings pleasure to the love that she has for herself. He makes her feel good not loved. See how powerful that is?
Back in the day, Bonnie Raitt's song "I Can't Make You Love Me" used to almost crush me. Don't get me wrong. It's still one of my favorite songs ever, but on this side of self-love and self-awareness, I hear it very differently. When she—or Tank because he did a cool cover of it, too—earnestly sings, "I can't make you love me if you don't. You can't make the heart feel something it won't," I used to hear that a man was choosing to deem me unlovable even though I so desperately wanted his love. I now hear, "I can't make you see in me what I see. And ninja, that's OK." And I mean that. There is so much love already here that I don't need him to hold me one more night. Actually, I'd rather have him out of the way so that the man who is excited about my self-love can come along.
Y'all, please get how profound that is—to want a man who is drawn to how you love yourself and then desires to celebrate that right along with you? That beats looking for a man to make you feel like you are worthy of love by a long shot. Use this very precious time to get to that point and place so that you can see a true "love cheerleader" rather than "love manipulator" a mile away.
So no, I don't think that a man should make a woman feel loved. That is God's and that woman's responsibility. If a man wants to come into said woman's life to embrace, esteem, and encourage the self-love along the way—by all means, brotha…do that.
I'm gonna hop off of here, play Stephanie's song once more and go on about my day. It feels good to know that I don't need a man to make me feel loved. Now that you see why I say that…how about you, sis?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
My Eureka Moment For Why I'm Not Into 'Nice Guys'
Why We Love Men Who Are Absolutely No Good For Us
6 Reasons Why You STILL Can't Over Your Ex
Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood. We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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