The idea of "conscious uncoupling" entered the culture zeitgeist in 2014 when actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced her divorce from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin after 13 years of marriage. Conscious uncoupling was pegged as a more evolved way to separate, because within these terms two exes make the decision to set aside personal grievances and bitterness to cultivate new friendship and love in the fallout of a breakup. We revisit this concept in the context of Black love, with media guru, comedian and artist Chis Bright taking purposeful breakups to task.
There is a mindset of scarcity plaguing this generation of daters--and for good reason. The instantaneous nature of communication through technology has made connection easier, but less intentional. Dating apps put millions of fellow singles at our fingertips, but real partnership is somehow still evasive. In the absence of perceived options, many folks settle into the best they can get versus the best, which creates an environment where too many relationships stay in tact to the detriment of two individuals. This staying power is glorified in Black communities as noble, but for Chris, remaining in her connection past its expiration date was actually the opposite of love for herself or love for the other person.
"You're betraying yourself every single day because there are things you want in a partner that you're not getting in this relationship, and you're OK with it," Chris told xoNecole.
"It was less about him and more about my relationship with myself--figuring out, what is it about myself, and where are the places that I feel I'm not worthy of checking off every box that I have?"
Chris met her now ex, Ryan** in high school. She had a boyfriend at the time but was secretly crushing on Ryan, who was one year her junior. The two became friends, but Chris clung to the idea that more may blossom between them in the future, since they both shared a foretelling ringtone--Erykah Badu's "Next Lifetime"-- when they were teens.
The pair reconnected in adulthood about three years ago when Chris had a photo shoot, and Ryan happened to pop up.
"Because we were already comfortable with each other, I knew his family; I had known him for over ten years, so it was very easy to just fall into that like--that deep like when you just want to be with that person and hang out with them all the time," she said.
But as their relationship grew, Chris started to notice that there were crucial parts of their connection missing, but shrugged off her concerns in the name of compromise."
Obviously we know that not every single part of someone is going to make you happy, but I will say that I feel like, in a lot of ways, it was a co-dependent relationship, but I wasn't self-aware at the time to see it, because I was still buying into that fairytale," Chris explained.
It took a dispute with her business partner for Chris to stop and take inventory of all of her relationships and examine how they reflected her own sense of self-worth.
"I believe in abundance, but it's one thing to say it and another thing to assess your surroundings, your relationships, your relationship with your family, your relationship with your partner and your relationship with money," Chris described. As she processed and grieved the business betrayal, Chris decided to dig deep to find other patterns, behaviors and connections she was participating in that did not serve her—starting with her relationship. It was tough for Chris to wade through these waters of doubt because on paper, Ryan was a good man, and they shared a great bond.
"He was really great with my son, definitely a family man. I really do love his family, and that's really hard to do too because now that we're broken up, I don't want to be all in their face because we need time a part. And he's a good person. And I think that's the most important thing. He's a really good person, who I love."
But their union required compromise on Chris' part that felt contrary to the spirit of true love.
"I was in an abusive relationship before where I almost lost my life ten years ago, and when I really stepped back and looked at the last ten years of my life, I was like 'Yo, I be letting people abuse me in different ways.' And Ryan wasn't abusive at all, but it was just still in alignment with Chris being the one to sacrifice and compromise her happiness for someone else. And I was like, 'Wait, that's not love.'"
Going forward, Chris knows that an individual sense of completeness is not something she can ignore when picking a forever mate.
"Our connection was one of being comfortable, he's in a transitory phase where he's trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, and I'm super supportive, but I just think that, the concept of wholeness is what's been highlighted through this whole relationship, because you can't date someone who's not whole. It's just not possible. It is possible, people do it, but it's not fair. And I started to really pay attention, instead of forcing things and willing certain things. I got to the point where I started to pay attention to what is."
With the relationship's flaws now blaringly visible, Chris made the decision to end their relationship. At first, she and Ryan were not on the same page—but she prioritized her needs and desires over his in an act of self-love. Ryan eventually packed his stuff and left, and Chris didn't hear from him until he took to Instagram to share their story.
"He finally let me know that he realized what I was talking about, how you have to just release—we don't own anybody."
Chris wrote her own post in response, called to share their separation as an example of what love can look like when a connection's season is up.
"As someone who uses my platform to really just inspire people through being authentic, it was my responsibility to show people that you can set your own terms for how you want to end something, and it doesn't have to look like a god*mn episode of Love &Hip Hop," the New Jersey native explained.
Chris wants to encourage her audience to see "letting go" as a crucial part of Black love since its importance is usually overshadowed by narratives focused on staying power--even if the relationship is not healthy.
"This preaching that 'you don't give up, you don't do this, you don't quit,' failure and all this stuff around relationships is very toxic. I always saw people holding on no matter what, compromising themselves no matter what, betraying themselves no matter what, so they can brag that they were married for forty f*cking years, but who gives a damn if you were dealing with bullsh*t for forty years? That's not an accomplishment."
In the space since the split, Chris is now on fire with her renewed sense of purpose, faith and firm understanding of what perfect partnership looks like for her.
"I want to be madly, enthralled and enamored by the person that I'm with. And if I don't have that, I don't want it," Chis said.
For more of Chris, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image via @chrismiss_
- Katherine Woodward Thomas: Conscious Uncoupling - YouTube ›
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- Pledge to Break Up Better - Conscious Uncoupling Creed ›
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you are looking to bring a little spice into your life, dating a fire sign is the way to do it. These bold lovers are confident enough to take the lead but may surprise you with how generous they are as well. Fire signs are the heat, the passion, the charisma, and the heart of the zodiac. They are often the initiators in love, and don’t mind making the first move. The three fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, love uniquely in their own way, but all have a lasting impact on those they meet.
You can feel a fire sign’s energy from a mile away, and getting close to them on a romantic level is a whole other type of heat.
Fire Signs in Love: What Is It Like To Date a Fire Sign?
Dating a fire sign is exciting, heartfelt, intense, and sexy. Fire signs are some of the most independent of the zodiac signs, yet they are also some of the most loyal. Their inner fire will warm your heart, but treat them badly, and it can just as easily burn. Due to fire signs' nature of feeling everything a little more heightened, they make empathic lovers, but they can also let their feelings overwhelm them and become easily irrational or agitated.
Fire signs can get heated quickly, and dating an unevolved one can get messy as they love to put on a show. They need a partner who is a good balance to their fierce nature, but someone who isn’t going to put out their inner fire in the process.
When it comes to who fire signs are looking to date, they look for partners who can love just as passionately as they can, and expect an unwavering type of loyalty. They are also looking for confident lovers, as they aren’t one to play games or beat around the bush. They are the type of partner to be your biggest cheerleader and will support you in all your endeavors, building up your self-esteem in the process.
These lovers are ready to risk it all when it comes to their relationships and love, and dating them is a fun adventure, to say the least. These are creative, confident, romantic, and heart-warming souls, and dating a fire sign is inspiring.
Dating an Aries
Aries are independent lovers. They are free spirits that are a little hard to settle down with, as most fire signs are, yet you will know how much they are willing to give and put into the relationship through their efforts. You have to be going at the same pace as them in life, and they need to see you as someone who can keep up with them to gain their respect and commitment. Aries have a vision when it comes to their life and love, and are looking for a partner that aligns with their plans or goals that they have for themselves.
Aries, at their best, are loyal and exciting; at their worst, they are competitive and brash.
When it comes to dating an Aries, they want to do things that keep their energy moving and stimulate them. They are fun lovers and are constantly doing things as a young soul does, fueling their spirit. Aries doesn’t want to feel restricted or limited in any way and seek relationships where there is a certain amount of freedom, which in turn sometimes leads them into emotionally unavailable relationships. An evolved Aries seeks their balance and finds themselves in long-lasting partnerships where they can still feel authentically themselves.
Dating an Aries is a compelling adventure.
Learn how an Aries pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Leo
Dating a Leo is like entering a rom-com movie. Leos are bold, outspoken, and dramatic lovers. They tend to prefer a spotlight on them, but when it comes to love, they are usually willing to share the stage. Leos want a grand love. They are all about outrageous romantic gestures, complete and utter loyalty, and a little spice. Leos want to be adored, and when you are dating one, they want all of your attention to be on them. Evolved Leos understand they cannot be the center of everyone's world, but Leo’s still going through their love journey may find themselves entertaining drama and controlling the scenario.
Leo’s, at their best, are playful and loving; at their worst, they are irrational and disruptive.
All in all, however, Leos can make some of the best partners to date as they rule the 5th house, the house of romance, dating, love, and flirtation. They are fun partners and are often the ones planning the dates or outings, and creating an atmosphere that is happy and inviting. They are the type to create an uplifting energy in their relationships, and you can expect a lot of laughs in this pairing. Leos don’t hold back when it comes to most things in life, including love. They will express their love and admiration for you often and will expect the same respect in turn.
Dating a Leo is a statement.
Learn how a Leo pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Sagittarius
Sagittariuses are hard to grasp, but if they decide to let you into their world, you’ll find a space of wonder, adventure, and magic. There are many different stages a Sagittarius moves through in love, and as much as they like to do things quickly in all other aspects of their lives, when it comes to dating, they tend to take it more slowly. They are not the type to be in a rush to define the relationship and take their time when opening their heart. You will feel their love, their personality, and their attention, but getting to know their deepest selves, their goals, and their dreams is going to take time for Sagittarius, and they prefer to have some fun with you while they get there.
Sagittarius, at their best, are warm and hopeful; at their worst, they are harsh and disingenuous.
Being ruled by abundant Jupiter, Sagittarius lives larger than life. They want a love that feels like it was destined by the stars, and it needs to make sense and fall into place for them with ease. They are looking for all types of synchronicities and signs when dating you, and once you make it past this stage, they truly have their eyes open to you. Sagittarius wants to go on adventures, learn, travel, and explore the world and you while dating. This is a spontaneous sign, and if you can match their energy of passion and wanderlust, then this is a good match for you when it comes to love.
Dating a Sagittarius is a journey.
Learn how a Sagittarius pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
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Featured image by Milena Magazin/Getty Images