Courtesy of Ragin

She Manifested The Man Of Her Dreams. For Ragin and Imran, It Was Divine Timing.

"It's like when people say when you know you know."

How We Met

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.

There is a quote by the beautiful Erykah Badu that states, "Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch sh*t get real." This my friends is manifestation at its best. The power in manifestation is speaking what you want like you already have it. You speak in present tense and the Universe will respond at the right time. In 2019, Ragin took her pencil and wrote in her journal what she wanted in her love life. Some of what she wrote in her journal was, "I am in love with an amazing man, who is everything I want and need. He is honest, transparent, and loving. It is easy for him to love me. I never have to convince him that I am special. He is my 'truth' song [by India Arie]."

Just months later, the Universe responded and presented Ragin to the man she needed in her life. And that man was/is Imran. But the thing is, Ragin and Imran actually crossed paths four years prior in the year 2015. I guess you can say it wasn't exactly their time back then.

Courtesy of Ragin and Imran

Ragin and Imran were both in college and were at a club one night. Ragin was leaving and Imran was just arriving. It was a quick moment, but they were able to exchange numbers after the night was over. They kept in touch over the years and it is safe to say that Ragin's journal entry confirmed that the, now couple, deserved a second chance at giving love a shot. Six years ago, Ragin and Imran met each other and went their separate ways. But when things are meant to be, they will find their way back to you one way or another.

In this installment of xoNecole's "How We Met" series, we learn about the power of divine timing, supporting your partner through the ups and downs, and how this couple keeps love as their foundation.

How We Met

Ragin: We both met in 2015 at FAMU. I was actually at this famous club at the time called Coliseum. I was walking out and he was just walking in with his friends. When we crossed paths, he tugged on my arm a little bit. I thought to myself, 'Oooh he's tall' (laughs). We exchanged numbers and went on a date a week later. There were a couple of other guys trying to talk to me at the time too. So I was like, 'Some of yall have to go' and Imran didn't make the cut (laughs). But four years later is when we started dating each other.

Imran: She was walking in the opposite direction of me. [It's] something I don't usually do, but I tugged on her arm to get her attention. I brought her to the side and introduced myself. After that, we caught up afterwards and the rest is history.

First Impressions

Imran: She just stood out in the crowd to me. She looked so beautiful and it was just a natural reaction when I reached out to grab her arm. I was immediately drawn to her.

Ragin: He has very kind eyes. I think that's what most people notice about him when they first meet him. I also liked how he introduced himself. He wasn't like, "Hey ma, wassup?" He introduced himself like a man. I didn't give my number out to everyone, so when he did that, I really appreciated it.

"He has very kind eyes. I think that's what most people notice about him when they first meet him. He introduced himself like a man. I didn't give my number out to everyone, so when he did that, I really appreciated it."

Courtesy of Ragin and Imran

Getting Serious

Imran: After the first date and time goes by, we kept in touch via social media. I would check in with her and make comments under her posts. She realized I wasn't following her at the time. So she called me out on it saying, "Are you going to be commenting on my stuff for the rest of my life? And you don't even follow me?" (Laughs) Of course, I was caught off-guard (laughs), but I owned up to it. From then on, we started talking more seriously.

Ragin: When I messaged him that, he was working a 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift at the time. He asked if he could call me when he got off work. During this time, it was difficult because my mom was in the process of passing away. I was taking care of her full-time. So I stayed up late, allowing my sister to take the night shift, in order for me to talk to him. That night, he told me straight up that he was not going anywhere. I didn't believe him at first (laughs).

The One

Ragin: I feel like I caught feelings first (laughs). I knew I loved him after a couple of months of us talking, after we reconnected. With taking care of my mom, throughout the day I would be wondering, 'Why isn't he hitting me up?' I tried to be understanding with his shift at work. But I was telling my sister at the time that I felt I wasn't getting enough attention. She would joke and say, "Oh, so you like this boy?' We are both great communicators, so I told him how I felt. He listened and things picked up from there.

Imran: I knew what I wanted from our first date. My friends and I laugh about it now, but I was so sick about it not working out from the first time we went out. So when I had my second chance, I knew I had to hold on to her. We had a connection spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It was nothing like I ever experienced before. It's like when people say, "when you know you know."

"I knew what I wanted from our first date. So when I had my second chance, I knew I had to hold on to her. We had a connection spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It was nothing like I ever experienced before."

Courtesy of Ragin and Imran

Love Lessons

Imran: I learned that while you are in a relationship, it is important to be secure in who you are. Knowing yourself, knowing what makes you happy, and communicating that with your partner with no pride or ego. I learned how to communicate better while being with her. Not having to shut down, but be open with her more.

Ragin: I learned I have to give myself the same patience that he gives me. I try to see myself through his eyes when I am feeling down about myself. Life has been a whirlwind and it's important to share with him what my needs are, so we can work on things together.

Early Challenges

Ragin: I had a really great example of what love looked like growing up. My parents were together since 1981 and I think my mom really prepared me for what it is like to be in a relationship. But I had to learn, after my mother passed, how to handle grief while in a relationship. There were days where I honestly didn't know who I was going to be when I woke up. I was just sad. I had to learn to be considerate towards another person when things felt like they were shutting down around me. I had to make sure I wasn't using him as a crutch to make me feel better. I will say though, I am blessed to have had him transition into my life while my mom transitioned into another form of being my guardian. It was divine timing.

Imran: Similar to what she said. Learning how to support someone who is grieving. Learning how to be there for her in the right way and not overthink things. I would internalize a lot with how I felt and not really voice them. But I was able to get better with that in communicating more.

"I had to learn, after my mother passed, how to handle grief while in a relationship. There were days where I honestly didn't know who I was going to be when I woke up. I was just sad. I am blessed to have had him transition into my life while my mom transitioned into another form of being my guardian. It was divine timing."

Courtesy of Ragin and Imran

Baggage Claim

Ragin: I have never lived with a man before Imran. So we had to find that happy medium between the different roles we wanted to play. When we first moved in together, I was working a full-time job. I decided to quit that job, so I could make more time to do things that were more fulfilling for me.

Imran: That was definitely a situation we had to approach with a lot of grace and patience. We didn't want the other person to feel like one was doing more than the other. At the time when we both had different shifts, we would pour into each other or take care of things around the house when the other person couldn't. When she decided to quit her job, I had let her know that she didn't have to work that job if she didn't want to.

Shared Values

Ragin: We are very family-oriented. I fangirl over his family. They embraced me ever since I met them. He is nice to my sister and very hospitable whenever she comes to visit us. We also have a mutual respect in each other's mindsets.

Imran: I want her to be close with her family just like I am close with mine. To strengthen those relationships and just allowing ourselves to be our own individual person.

Relationship Advice

Imran: The biggest thing for the fellas out there is to communicate. We sometimes let pride or ego get in the way. But with communication, it is so important to be open and it helps having a woman that provides that safe space for us to do that.

Ragin: Let it be known exactly who you are in the very beginning. A lot of times we try to be cute and hold things back. In the beginning, I was upfront about who I was. Doing that gives the other person a chance to know what they are getting themselves into and the choice to decide if they want to rock with it or not.

For more Ragin and Imran, follow them on Instagram @westindieray and @ron2_smoov. You can also check out Ragin's YouTube channel here.

Featured image courtesy of Ragin and Imran

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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