I basically got my start as a writer in the entertainment industry. I remember that one of the first rules I was taught is, while celebrities rarely remember the good articles that were published about them, they almost always remember the bad ones—all the way down to the person who penned it (a classic example of this is back in 2016 when Joe Budden flippantly dismissed a Complex writer while on Hot Ones and then in 2017, well, this happened—" Here's What Will Happen If You Write a Bad Article on Joe Budden... "). Keeping this in mind doesn't prevent me from being fair or honest when writing a piece, but it does (for the most part) keep me from providing commentary in a tone like I actually know celebrities personally; even when I speak with them directly.
Where am I going with this? I'm human. I'm also in media. So, just like a lot of the free world, I have my own opinion about a lot of things that make up celebrity culture. All of that stuff that went down with Omarion, Apryl Jones and Lil' Fizz last year is no exception. And yes, while Omarion did seem to display an impeccable amount of self-discipline when it came to choosing to respond rather than react to all that went down , as a marriage life coach, I also figured that there was a whole lot more to the story; things that could've caused Apryl to react rather than respond . And then came an interview that I recently checked out that featured Omarion. I'll share some of what he said. You tell me if it provided you with another piece of their complex and layered puzzle.
Ever Wonder What Omarion’s Take on Commitment Is? Here Ya Go.
While Omarion was on SWAY'S UNIVERSE discussing all things his life, I peeped something interesting that he said (at the 8:35 mark) when he was asked about how he feels about marriage.
"I'm unconventional and I don't really subscribe to the marriage business concept. It's not really beneficial for a person like me; to work hard and then split half with someone else…you can have yours, I can have mines and we can create something together. I'm definitely for that. Marriage is just, I don't know. The institution of it all, you know, going down to the court, it's the whole process. I've had to be in court before, and just to see the system not really support, you know umm, men, you know…in an equal type of sequence…down at the courthouse, it's literally two men who work there and then the rest of the staff is women."
OK, so let's pause here for a sec. Before you chalk up what he's saying to it being emotional or relational deflection, you might want to read where marriage licenses came from; it ain't a pretty picture (check out " The Ugly History of the Marriage License in America " and " Unlocking the Past: Marriage License History "). Plus, women do file for divorce most of the time . I once heard a guy (Preach from the podcast Aba & Preach ) say that, "Marriage for men is, 'Aye girl, I bet you half my s—t that we're gonna stay together forever." But it wasn't what Omarion said there that, to me, was like a shot heard around the world when it comes to relationships (I'm merely providing that for context). It's this next part.
At the 11:45 mark, when someone on the show asked, "But monogamy? You rock with monogamy." (Monogamy means being married to one person; what she was referring to is exclusivity.) This is what he said.
"Well, elaborate. What do you mean by 'monogamy'?" (Sway clarified by stating, "Being committed to one woman sexually.") "Umm, I don't know. I don't know if I've been motivated or inspired to feel like I can be with one woman. I don't know if one woman has rocked my world like that…I am definitely a faithful person. I stand by my words and what I say I'm gonna do. But umm, that's a tricky question…I believe in it though, but I don't know if…"
Alright, y'all. What stood out to you about what he said there? For me, it was that no woman has rocked his world enough for him to try exclusivity or monogamy.
And hearing that caused me to literally say, "Wow" with an immediate follow-up of, "So, you can put two whole babies in someone but not be 'motivated' or 'inspired' enough to marry her?" Deep. Super deep. And if me, as a woman who has absolutely nothing to do with Omarion and Apryl's situation whatsoever, could feel a twist in my stomach while hearing that, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Apryl to actually live out that reality. Yeah…sometimes we don't know what causes someone to react; we just see them do it.
But this lil' write up isn't so much about Omarion and Apryl (because again, I don't know all of their story). It's just that, what came out of Omarion's own mouth, it actually served as a solid intro to this particular topic. I wonder how many hearts could be spared, time could be saved and delusions could be put to rest if more people didn't get into relationships assuming someone was on the same page as them (check out " The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have ")—or thinking that, just because a person cared about them or even "created something beautiful with them", marriage was inevitable.
Hmph. It also caused me to wonder how many men are out here appearing to be commitment-phobes when the reality is that, like Omarion, they haven't been "inspired" or "motivated" enough by a woman to actually settle down. Could a part of that be because we are doing so much of the work in the relationship and, while they love us for it, they see no reason to make a lifelong commitment? I mean, some of y'all might be triggered or even pissed by what Omarion said, but only he knows what would make him want to say, "I do" to someone. Clearly, the mother of his children—two children—wasn't it (which is something else that he mildly addressed in the interview as well). Now bookmark that as we go a little bit deeper.
Men Know When They Are Being Pressured into Marriage. And They Hate It.
A podcast that I've referenced on this platform before is Aba & Preach . In a semi-recent episode entitled, " These women want to PRESSURE men into marriage ", they featured some clips from Steve Harvey's talk show where three female relationship experts where interacting with a couple. It was a Black couple that featured a woman who really wanted to be married and a man who was basically put on blast on national television for not putting a ring on it…yet. Peep Aba's hot take on it all (at the 5:05 mark).
"Look at how they are coercing this man into making a decision that he is not ready. If you're not happy with how long it is taking him, you can leave. That is your right. You don't have to wait. The same way when I'm trying to get it on with a girl and she says, 'I'd rather wait for sex', you know what I don't do? 'Come on, give it up. Throw that poon-poon at me. Yo, I'm owed that poon-poon; I've been here. It's been two dates.' No, if she wants to wait and I don't want to wait, you know what I do? I leave …It's unbelievable, the entitlement of some people. This is a lifelong commitment."
He's got a point. There's more.
"You didn't even take the time to listen to his reasoning because he talked about not having any positive role models…maybe the reason why he doesn't want to engage in marriage and building a family is because he is being patient, 'cause he's seen what happens when men rush into things, start families and walk out."
"It kills me, because marriage is a disadvantage to men. In case of a divorce, it's men who get shafted. Child custody, it's men who get shafted. Family court, it's men who get shafted. And when you think of all of this stuff, men have to propose 100 percent of the marriages, women propose 80 percent of the divorces, we lose most of the money and yet, you still feel like you're entitled to pressure us into a situation that puts us at risk. Think about that. Slow it down."
Whether we want to accept this or not, I know a lot of men who see marriage from this perspective. It's not that they are incapable of love or even commitment; it's that 1) they don't want to be pressured into marriage (would you want to be?) and 2) they are fully aware of the risks and they haven't experienced a good enough reason to take them. Like most things in life, when a man doesn't want to get married, it's not (usually) a black and white reason; there are layers to this thing.
Yet the reason why I'm sharing all of this with y'all is two-fold. One, it's to offer up some words, not from a woman's perspective or even a female self-help author's book—but straight from the mouths of men. Omarion said that he is not really into marriage and some of his points, while I don't personally subscribe, are not frivolous; they have some validity. And Aba & Preach ?
Ladies, if you feel like humiliating or emasculating a man into marrying you is the only way to get him to do it, you are in the wrong relationship. You also don't "love him" as much as you might think you do. Force (or control or manipulation), in any direction, is the epitome of anti-love. Whether it's coming from a man or a woman.
Again, I counsel people quite a bit and, when it comes to single women who desire to be married , a lot of their energy is spent in trying to convince a guy that marriage is for him rather than actually asking about his thoughts, accepting his perspective and then deciding if that works for them or not. The latter is the way to go because, if the two examples that I provided did not reveal anything else, it's that a man can feel deeply for you and still not want to marry you. So, if that is indeed what is currently happening in your life, what should you do?
Three Things to Consider If Your Man Loves You but DOES NOT Want to Marry You
1. Don’t Automatically Assume That Love Equates to Marriage
Not too long ago, I wrote a piece about how friendships have levels . You know what else does? Love. There is a difference between dating and courting . There is also a difference between loving someone and being in love . And, there is a difference between a man who enjoys a woman's company and a man who is ready to make someone his wife (check out " One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material ").
There is actually a guy I know who has been dating the same woman for about six or seven years now. He's only seeing her, he cares for her deeply and says that he is only sleeping with her. Know what else? He has absolutely no intentions of ever marrying her. Not because of "her" but because he never wants to get married. Do I think that he's a jerk or wasting her time? No. Whenever she comes up, I simply have one question—"So, she knows that you are never going to marry her…right?" According to him, the answer is "yes" so…there you have it.
Would I do what she's doing? No. But that's because 1) I desire marriage someday and 2) I have been the girl who has given my all to a man, all the while thinking that I was investing in a marital future, only to realize that I absolutely was not because that is not what he had in mind (also check out " Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife ").
Still, I think there is a dysfunctional conditioning that comes with believing—or is it assuming?—that if a man loves you, marriage is inevitable. Or if a man loves you and doesn't want to get married, he never loved you at all. Yeah, that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage" saying has a lot of us jacked in the head. Believing that romantic love can't—or even shouldn't—exist without marriage is about as dysfunctional as believing that there is something wrong if you get married and choose not to have children.
So, if your man reveals that he doesn't want to marry you, please don't automatically throw him into the "horrible guy who led you on" category or chalk what the two of you share up to being a farce. The love may be very real. It's just that you two are not on the same page about how it should manifest. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Honor Your Own Time
There are two men from my past who, I really should've ended things with them, way earlier than I did. One guy, I was "scared" to break things off because, although I wasn't in love with him, I was "scared" to start over. The other guy, he was a vacillator—one day, I was the one and he needed more time, the next day, he wasn't sure. So yeah, let me interject another point here. A guy who is ready for marriage…HE IS READY FOR MARRIAGE. There is no flip-flopping. There is no wishy-washy. There is no riding the fence. If he can't marry you immediately, it's only because he's got a viable plan and he is taking steps to get into position.
With that said, if you desire to be married and the man who loves you does not, you've got a decision to make—who do you love more? Him? Or yourself? And a part of what comes with self-love is honoring your time. Staying involved with those two guys took up a lot of my 20s and 30s—my prime baby-making years. I won't blame them for that because I chose to remain. But, if I could do things over again , I would've definitely honored my time more and better. I would've been more intentional about understanding that love isn't enough; not when you want love to manifest in a way that it's currently not.
If a man is vague, dragging his feet, doesn't know or, does know and you're just not accepting that his answer is "no", he doesn't want what you do. And to take on the mentality of "maybe he will one day" is dishonoring the precious moments that you won't get back. It really is best to release the relationship and continue preparing.
If he catches up to you someday, awesome. But if he doesn't, at least your heart will be free and open to someone who may be way ahead of him. Someone who, along with the Universe, has been waiting on you to let him…go.
3. Be a Wife…ONLY TO YOUR ACTUAL HUSBAND
Something that I tell my single male friends who claim to be unsure about marriage is, "I bet if we quit acting like we're already your wife without requiring that you marry us, you'd figure it out real quick." We're out here cooking meals, giving up the good-good, supporting men like they've already told God that they would have our back until death—then we wonder why they aren't considering marriage? For what? They've already got a wife in us without them having to do nearly as much in return. In our minds, we think that "overdoing it" is how we can "win them over" but, more times than not, that backfires. We really do need to pull back a bit—if not a ton.
The root word of relationship is "relate". Relating is about establishing a true connection. Pardon the pun but, for better or for worse, we as women have an uncanny knack for running waaaaaay ahead of men in relationships. That's a part of the reason why we're so devastated once we realize that who we love—and claims to love us—doesn't desire marriage or…doesn't desire to marry us. And that's why it's so important to practice reciprocity. Discuss with your partner what the two of you want, where the two of you are and what you're both willing to do or not do. Don't give your all—on any level—if he is not doing the same. In short, pace yourself. The only man who deserves your very best is the man who is willing to reciprocate that. And if, to you, your best is wifedom, don't be a wife to anyone who isn't your actual husband.
Do I believe a man can truly love a woman and never want to marry her? 100 percent. At the same time, do I think that a woman loves herself if she desires marriage and stays with a man who doesn't want what she does? Not as much or as well as she should. You deserve what you desire. Don't allow any kind of relationship or even a man's "level of love" to convince you of otherwise.
Otherwise, you could be out here married to someone who will never marry you. And that is no way to spend your time. All that will do is cause you to react than respond. Time's a tickin'. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 xoNecole exclusive, 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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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood