Life is a funny thing. As I came to the close of my first premarital session with a male friend of mine and his fiancée, my thoughts went back to the first day that I met her. Her side-eyes. Her flippant attitude. Her overall dismissive energy. I mean, to an extent I get it. It's no secret that her man is fine. Anyway, I guess it was an indirect shout-out to my genes that, once she found out my age (her man will be 30 this year; I'll be 46. She assumed I was younger than that), she toned down a bit. But, it still took about six months before she made real eye contact and even longer before I stopped getting "the church hug" (you know, that to-the-side stuff that pastors and deacons do) and her embrace was more heartfelt and genuine.
Now? Now she trusts me enough to, not only remain friends with her man, but provide counsel for their future union. That's how I know that it is indeed possible for a man, who is in a relationship, to be able to keep his female friends around; at least, the truly platonic ones (check out "The Word 'Platonic' Is Sacred. Literally."). At the same time, that doesn't mean it doesn't require some finessing and big-time maturity on everyone's part in order to make it work.
But what if you've tried to be nice—I mean, genuinely nice, not nice-nasty or, as Michel'le used to put it, "Nicety"—and it still doesn't seem to break the ice with ole' girl? Is that a precursor to you throwing your entire relationship with your male friend away? Nah. I wouldn't do that just yet. First, take a moment to process the following questions. If you do that—and perhaps run a few of them by your friend as well—you might discover that there is a way for all three of you to co-exist in harmony. At least, to some extent.
How Long Have They Been Together?
At this point and stage in my life, I try and avoid as much drama as possible. That said, while it might sound a little "well damn", one way I do that is I don't do a ton of emotional investing in my friends' relationships unless they think that it's going to become serious. And since a fair share of my male friends are casual daters, there's no point in trying to get close to women who may or may not be around in the next couple of months.
If you're already at the point of meeting a male friend's "new interest", then it's too late to apply this rule (and boundary). But what I will say is if they've only been seeing each other for three months or less and she's giving you the cold shoulder, I wouldn't put too much time or energy into it.
Chances are, it's not so much about you as the fact that she knows that you and the man she is seeing have something that they don't yet—the foundation of time and intimacy. She's probably more uncomfortable and insecure more than anything else.
On the other hand, if it's been a hot minute and she's not a fan, it's important to figure out what you want. Do you want to be besties with her? Do you simply want to be treated with respect? Do you want to kind of "agree to disagree" but her not push your male friend to the point of having to choose between you and her? Whatever it is that you desire, what I will say is this—don't let the tension linger. If it remains and he does decide to marry her, it could come to the point where he will have to make a choice. And if he's going to be a responsible husband, I bet you can guess who will get "cut". Not because he doesn't love you but because his wife takes top rank. As she should. (If you put yourself in her shoes, I think you would totally agree.)
What Do You Think the Issues Are?
Some women are just petty. They don't even know why they don't like someone; they simply choose not to and there's nothing that you can do about people like that other than pray for them. But if she's not feelin' you because you and her guy have a past; the first (or second or third) interaction was hella awkward; he's told her some things that you've said about her or their relationship; she knows that he once had feelings for you and/or she feels like the two of you are too close for her comfort—well, to a certain extent, that is understandable.
The only way to know for sure is to ask her. What? You thought I was gonna say ask him? He may or may not know. Besides, even if he does, I wouldn't be shocked in the least if, the way he relays it ends up making matters worse instead of better. So yeah, the only way to get to the root of the issue is to go to the horse's mouth, so to speak. Not to "confront" her (that will put her on the defensive) but to address her feelings as well as yours. Just make sure that you do it in a productive way. This brings us to the next point.
Have You and Her Spent Any Time Together?
It's amazing, the kind of potential issues that can be put to rest when two people spend time alone. I can personally attest to this because, pretty much every time that I've spent time with a male friend's significant other, without him present, she's been more relaxed, we've gotten to know each other better, and it's been all good.
Pretty much all of us are designed to respond to energy; therefore, I totally get it if your friend's girlfriend's bad vibes cause you to put up a bit of a wall. But a sign of being a self-assured woman is when you don't let someone else's issues determine if you have the same ones.
What I mean by that is, you are making boss moves if, your male friend's lady is cuttin' up and you're still like, "Hey, let's meet for lunch or drinks after work. I'd like to get to know you better." Giving both of you time to feel each other out will bring some sort of clarity so that either you can 1) get along, moving forward; 2) figure out how both of you can peacefully co-exist in his life (even if you don't really want to be in each other's) or 3) come to the conclusion that a discussion does need to be had with him. Perhaps with all three of you.
How Does He Feel About It?
How your male friend feels is definitely valid. The reason why I say that is because, if he values having both of you in his life, he's not gonna leave you out here trying to figure out a solution alone. Matter of fact, most of the mature men that I know tend to find it to be a red flag when their girl can't get along with his friends because it can indicate some not-so-subtle signs of jealousy, control or some other toxic emotion or agenda.
Now, I will say that he may not be as sensitive to what's happening as you are. In other words, he might be like, "So long as the two of you are cordial and I don't have to hear either one of you insult the other, I'm fine." But if the vibes that she's sending you are making you feel some type of way to the point where it is putting stress on your relationship with your male friend, you are well within your rights to bring that to his attention. The venting about ole' girl? Save that for a friend who has absolutely no ties to your lil' "threesome". But the bottom line of you wanting to feel more at peace about the situation? Like I said, a mature man who wants to keep you in his life is going to find the best possible way to handle that.
Is the Issue “Dislike” or DISRESPECT?
I was once really close to a guy whose wife turned out to be pretty cray-cray. I'd like to say I was shocked, but when he told me that he was going to propose and I asked him what her flaws were, he said, "I mean, she's got a jealous streak but…" Fast forward to pretty much the first couple of months of them being husband and wife, and—surprise, surprise—she was driving him crazy with her jealousy and control issues. Who did he call about it, often? Me. Matter of fact, for a while there, our friendship turned into more of a coach/client kind of thing. That is, until one day, she hacked into his email account, saw some of my friend and I's correspondence and decided to confront me directly, even though we had never formally met and without her husband's knowledge. She did that, even though the emails were really all about trying to help him figure out how to make his marriage work.
My friend? He gets credit for addressing us both (in an email; he lived out of state) and actually correcting her in some areas where she came at me. But once I knew that his wife was an online hacker, I pretty much knew that he and I's relationships was a wrap. When you love someone, sometimes you've got to let them go. And me? I fully get that once a friend gets married, their spouse is their top priority. Besides, for several years following that, I only heard about more drama that she was bringing into his life; so much that there really wasn't much time or space for he and I to remain friends. Besides 2.0—what she did was about more than disliking me. We all don't have to like each other in this world. How she came at me was straight up disrespectful, she seemed like she had no plans on stopping and, to tolerate a lot of that was only going to piss me off and put strain on my friend and I's friendship…possibly to the point of us falling out too. (He and I don't really talk anymore but things faded out pretty peacefully.)
That's why, it is also important to ponder if you and your guy friend's girlfriend (or even wife) don't like each other (in the sense of you simply have no desire to be homies) or if she is disrespecting you or even you are disrespecting her. If the latter is the case, there is probably an expiration date on your friendship. You should probably brace yourself for that.
What Boundaries Are Your Friend Prepared to Put into Place?
If your male friend's significant other is mature in her own right, I'm thinking that she will be on the tip of, "Your homegirl ain't really my cup of tea but I trust you. So, as long as you both are on the up and up with your friendship and she treats me with courtesy and respect whenever we do run into each other, I'm fine." Basically, what I just displayed is a boundary and honestly, if you were going to try and keep your friendship going while he has a lady in his life, boundaries were going to be needed anyway; even if she absolutely adored you (because then you would have to be careful to not overshare or violate the sacredness of your relationship with your male friend).
Boundaries are limits and when our friends of the opposite sex are in relationship, those are needed, just so everyone can be at peace. Again, if your male friend's girlfriend ain't thrilled about you, she doesn't really have to be. Just so long as you respect what they've got goin' on and she does the same for your friendship, everyone can co-exist. Everyone doesn't have to be friends. Everyone just needs to honor the connections. Grown folks know this. Hopefully your male friend wouldn't settle for anything less than a grown ass woman. Real talk.
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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. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
Feature image courtesy
Nothing beats the “Sunday Scaries” quite like a Sunday reset tailored to your needs. While the weekend never quite feels long enough to recoup from all of life's demands and responsibilities, making the most of the 48 hours we have to gear up for the week ahead is a self-care practice that every woman can benefit from.
How To Do a Sunday Reset Routine
The beauty of a Sunday reset is that it’s something you can define for yourself. On a personal level, only we know the tasks, projects, workload, and duties that demanded our attention during the week prior, so how we choose to recharge may look different for everyone. Some may feel the need to tackle weekend chores or run a few errands, while others could find that an hours-long binging spree of their favorite TV show or simply doing nothing, can do the heart some good.
Resetting your time, space, and mind over the weekend is all about listening to your body and honoring your needs. When you pause and reflect on what will make you feel the most productive, you gradually discover what a successful Sunday reset looks and feels like for you. By taking some time to plan and reflect, you allow yourself to approach the new week from a place of ease.
How To Build the Best Sunday Reset Routine
But what kind of reset could be right for you? Let’s consider the following: are there things you could scratch off your to-do list to put your mind at ease? Did this week drain you and now you need to catch up on rest? Are you looking to get ahead of a demanding week? If you’ve found yourself agreeing with at least one of these scenarios, we’ve put together a couple of tips to inspire your next Sunday reset routine needs.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who thrives on productivity:
Hey goal-getter! For you, a typical Sunday reset looks like planning and execution. The weekend is a chance for you to catch up on all the chores and tasks that your hectic weekday schedule didn’t allow for. When planning your Sunday reset, to-do lists are your best friend. Lean on your list to stay organized and keep track of the stores you need to visit, meals to prep, and house chores to tidy up in order for you to feel like your most accomplished and productive self.
Be sure to give yourself some grace if you don’t hit everything on your list, and be sure to reward yourself for what you were able to carry out — because either way, you deserve it.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who needs some TLC:
David Espejo/Getty Images
Self-care queens, we see you. And we know that your Sundays are sacred. You are intentional about your Sunday resets because you know that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In your case, resets are all about taking time to reflect and set your intentions for the week ahead — which can show up in many forms. From journaling and reading a new book to taking a long walk and ordering in your favorite meal, you don’t play when it comes to the power of self-nourishment.
Take a few minutes to look back on the previous week and reflect on what went well and what didn't. Think about what you accomplished, what you could have done better, and what you learned so you can approach the week with a clear mind and heart.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who desires to do absolutely nothing:
I know you’re used to high-achieving and tackling your goals, but let me tell you something: rest is productive. You’ve spent the last five days hustling, killing your projects, and showing up for the people in your life, but now it’s time to take a moment to simply be. No to-do lists, no errands to run, no socializing — you deserve time to zone out and reconnect with yourself in solitude.
Sleep in. Watch scandalous reality TV. Get lost in your thoughts. You’re not lazy for spending time alone and letting the laundry pile up; we know you’ll get to that later. This Sunday reset is about taking time to center yourself in the present moment, you’ll be back on the grind on Monday, but Sunday is all about you.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
Originally published on March 4, 2023