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.
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
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images