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Idris Elba Just Gave Us One Of The Best Relationship Words—EVER

Love & Relationships

Like at least half of the free world, I've always had a bit of a thing for Idris Elba. Only, my reason is probably a little different. In many ways, he really does remind me of my first love (I'd post a pic but my exes endure me using them as content enough without my giving up visuals too). It took me FOR-E-VER to really get past the man I fell for back when I was a freshman in college. But, back in 2015, when I went on my customized get-your-heart-pieces-back tour, he and I made peace. We expressed that we would always love each other; we just…will never work, in that way—again.

Here's the thing, though. When there is peace between two people, you truly want what's best for him. My ex? I want him to find his, what I call, "now one". And, although a sistah has had her fair share of fantasies about Sir Elba, I am thrilled that he has as well.

I have a pretty good memory and I remember when Idris insisted that he was never getting married ever again. Remarkably, it wasn't all that long ago (two summers ago, to be exact). Yet here he is, a married man, with him and his beloved Sabrina Dhowre gracing the July issue of British Vogue's bridal edition, showing everyone that Black love is still alive and doing very well (thank you very much).

When I watched some video footage of them at the last Met Gala (on People's site), it was dope how, although he is the celebrity, she is clearly his star. I liked that they both spoke freely and equally in interviews and also how comfortable they were in one another's space. Their energy conveyed that they were in love yes, yet they really are in like too. Dope.

I think something that Idris said in his British Vogue interview about his relationship with his wife is probably why everything seems so…healthy:

"Sabrina has deepened friendships with people I've known longer than [her], nurturing the best side of me to make me connect to my friends more."

Nurture. Sabrina nurtures him. I personally find that word to be a relationship superpower and something everyone should look for in their own "now one". If you give me a sec, I'll break down why I say that.

To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Fed”

A few weeks ago, I was schooling one of my 29-year-old friends on A Different World. That show will forever be in my top five of favorites. There's one episode that features Whitley realizing that her boyfriend Julian was not going to support her in her desire to become an art buyer. When she vented all of that to Dwayne, he said (among other things), "You need someone who is going to feed you, Whitley."

Five-star dinners would be nice, but I'm pretty sure that Dwayne was coming from the "supply with nourishment" (which is basically what nurture means). One of the best synonyms for nourish is "cultivate". To be cultivated is to receive the special kind of attention that helps you to thrive, both personally as well as professionally.

The late-yet-still-great Dr. Myles Munroe used to talk about the power of a man cultivating a woman. He defines cultivate as "to bring out the best in everything around you". There's absolutely no way you can't thrive if your partner is committed to the cultivating process. Cultivate is such a beautiful word.

To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Supported and Encouraged”

I have a married male friend who is very accomplished. Something that he used to say often was, "It's very hard to go home to a woman who complains all of the time. I'd rather stay out in the world where I am respected and celebrated." What's interesting about that statement is, I was just talking to another married male friend who is currently going through a divorce. Something he said he told his soon-to-be ex is, "You are supposed to be my source of strength, not the very thing that weakens me."

Whenever I hear stuff like this, I visualize a game with cheerleaders on the sideline. The gender of the players and cheerleaders are completely interchangeable. The point is that we all need folks who are going to cheer for us, honor us, have our backs, get us through the tough times—make us feel like if no one else can be relied upon for encouragement and support, they can be. Consistently so too.

Many relationships have crashed and burned because one or both individuals refused to endure the challenging times (which is what support means) and/or inspire their partner to soar to new heights (which is what encouragement does). Don't sleep on how much your partner needs both of these things. It's critical to your relationship's health and longevity.

To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Strengthened”

A clear indication that you're in the kind of relationship you should get out of (or at least get counseling for) is if your connection with someone is making you weaker instead of stronger. When a relationship is truly strengthening you, it will, by the mere definition of strong, help to make you "mentally powerful or vigorous" and "especially able, competent, or powerful". It will even be a source "of great moral power, firmness, or courage".

If what you're currently in has you on a non-stop emotional roller coaster ride, it causes you to question your worth or value or (catch this one) it puts your own morals and value system into influx just so you can make it "work", your relationship is doing the very opposite of what it should be doing—both to and for you.

To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Cherished”

If you've been to more than three weddings before, you've probably heard the word "cherish" come up in the marriage vows. It's also in the Bible; in the New King James Version, only twice. It's in reference to Christ (peep it) nourishing and cherishing his church (Ephesians 5:29) and a nursing mother cherishing her children (I Thessalonians 2:7).

Cherish is clearly a very special and sacred word. It means that, not only are you being cared for, but you're receiving the TLC kind of treatment. It means that the object of your affection has a deep love for you. It means that they see and treat you like a real treasure. It also means that they embrace you and are attached to you (in the non-stalker or codependent type of way, of course).

This brings me back to something else that Idris said about his relationship that I really liked. He said that he and Sabrina have been "literally inseparable since we met." Nothing about them appears to be that way because they need to be; I'm pretty sure it's like that because they want to be.

Does your partner cherish you? Do you cherish your partner?

To Be Nurtured Is to Be “Supplied with What Is Necessary for Life, Health and Growth”

Wholeness. Something that I strive to be and encourage the singles that I talk to be as well is whole before ever getting with someone else.

I'd much rather choose someone who helps my already-full-cup to overflow than someone who will fill deep bottomless voids.

So yeah, when Idris said, "You know, I'm 47 this year, been married and lived a full life before I even met Sabrina. It wasn't something that I wanted to do, get married again. But …", as someone who's never been married before and will be turning 45 in a couple of weeks, I felt that all up in my soul and spirit.

Idris has lived a full life. FULL LIFE. He loved being single. Now he loves being married. Sabrina is not "giving him a life" so much as she's going to be a source of what takes him to another level in it. Y'all this—all of this—is what nurturing does. So yes, Sir Idris Elba. I don't know if when you said that Sabrina nurtured you that you realized that you preached the sermon for the week, but I'll pass the offering plate around for you one time because you certainly blessed me.

Until I can define my relationship with a man as being "nurturing", I'll keep living a full life as a single woman. Thanks for leading by example on that tip. I appreciate you and yours.

Featured image by Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com

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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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