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If It's Easy For Them To Let You Go...LET THEM

Relax. Relate. RELEASE.

Love & Relationships

Let me just say that, before I go moderately all-the-way-in on this particular topic, that while I'm sure most of you saw this title and thought about it from a romantic angle, it actually can apply across the board. Because something that I've personally realized is when you are the kind of person who goes hard for folks and then you ease your foot off of the brake a bit, what ends up being a true light bulb moment is noticing how oftentimes, much the relationship probably wouldn't exist if it wasn't for all of the effort that you put into it/them in the first place. And that's why I think it's quite healthy and personally progressive to apply the relational mantra of "Be careful about tightly holding on to what isn't holding on that tightly to you."


Not from an angle of jadedness or bitterness. It's just that far too often, we do one of two things — we either ignore the wise words of Warren Buffett when he said that we shouldn't invest in something that we don't understand or we're so busy trying to keep what acts like it doesn't want to be kept that we don't end up having enough time, effort and energy for who and what truly does relish being in our space.

So, since this is the time of year when a lot of us tend to pause and reflect on what the hell we've been doing in our relationships all year long, I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone who clicked on this that…if it's easy for someone to let you go, it's a true act of self-love to let them — personally or professionally, romantically or platonically. And if you need me to go a bit deeper, I will.

What It Means to Be a Person of Great and Precious Value

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A couple of weeks ago, while I was in the airport waiting to catch a flight, a man who left his wallet on the plane was being all kinds of panicky and rude as he was jumping our line to flag down a flight attendant so that he could get back on the plane to see if he could retrieve it. As I watched him damn near lose his mind, I thought about when I've been around other people who've lost their wallet, phone or car keys (or at least thought that they did). There was nothing that they weren't going to do in order to find those items. Why? Because they valued them.

People are no different and all of us are worth more than an inanimate object that, if push comes to shove, while it might be inconvenient, it can still be replaced. Us? Eh. Not so much. While the concept of being in a relationship with us is replaceable, we are each an original — there has been no other us before we arrived and there will never be another one of us again. Ever. This means that whoever has the honor and distinct privilege of being in our space or getting to intimately know us in this day and time is blessed and highly favored. That's not arrogance. That is simply the truth. Problem is, a lot of us need to remind our own selves of this fact — a lot of us need to treat our own selves as someone of great value. To recognize your own value means that you are of great worth, that you are indeed important. Some synonyms for valuable include respected, relevant, treasured, cherished, esteemed, precious, and worthwhile.

That said, do diamonds go around begging to be seen and valued? Hell nah. They know their value. And the more that you settle into personally acknowledging just how valuable you are as well, the easier it will be to embrace those who see you (who get that you can't be replaced like a pair of lost keys can) and release those who…don't (who act like you come a dime a dozen).

If You’re Seen As “Costume Jewelry”…Why Hold on to That?

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Years ago, I wrote an article for another platform about how not everyone can tell a true diamond when they see it. How do I know? Because I can't tell you how many times I've had a woman show me her engagement ring, brag on how big the diamond is, while I can tell that it's a fake — a cubic zirconia. Listen, I'm not even the diamond kind of gal (read up on how diamond rings became the "engagement ring of choice"; it's all about capitalism, nothing about love) and yet I know enough about them to know when a knock-off is in my presence. I had to be taught how to see that, though.

Do you see where I am going with this?

If you were to see yourself as said-diamond and yet you kept wondering why others kept not honoring your worth, while you might be pressured to blame yourself, I'm here to tell you that a lot of folks have no clue how to properly discern character, commitment, integrity, loyalty, and all-around goodness. They suck at seeing a good person like many mistake costume jewelry for the real thing. The objective is not to lower yourself and your standards so that they will accept you. The key is to get "oh…you don't get it" and let them go on about their merry way.

Because although writer Maureen Dowd irks me, on a few levels, I'm always gonna give her props for one of her quotes — "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for." When you know that you have a diamond in your midst, you treat it as such. When you can't tell the difference and don't really care one way or another, that's exactly how you're going to act. This brings me to my next point.

People Value…What They Value

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A part of the reason why this article has the title that it does is because listen, you can't force someone to value anyone or anything. You can't make your boss respect you (check out "Ever Wonder If You've Got An Emotionally Abusive Boss?"). You can't make your boyfriend cherish you (check out "7 Signs A Great Boyfriend Could Be A Bad Husband" and "7 Not-Discussed-Enough Signs That He's Absolutely NOT 'The One'"). You can't make a particular friend treasure what you bring to the table with them (check out "Always Remember That Friendships Have "Levels" To Them", "Ever Wonder If A Friend Is Just...Not That Into You?", "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend" and "6 Signs You're About To Let A Toxic Person (Back) Into Your Life"). Folks have free will and they have every right to value who and what they want to value. Simple as that.

Here's the thing, though. When people do value something or someone, their words and actions are going to show it. Example. There is someone I know who is big on words. They are constantly talking about how much they appreciate my being in their life and that they do indeed cherish me. Thing is, they live in one state, I live in another and whenever we set up times to talk, literally 9.5 times outta 10, they "forget" and reschedule. Over and over again. Hmph. When someone values you, do you know what else they will do to show it? They will value your freakin' time. That said, earlier this year, I told them that they would need to call me moving forward because I've got a lot on my plate and them constantly dropping the ball was actually messing with my own agenda. They had the nerve to be offended. Chile, please. And you know what? I haven't heard from them since. Know what else? I am totally OK with that.

When folks value you, they are going to put in the time, effort, and energy. They are going to hear the needs and boundaries that you have and take heed. They are going to be intentional about making sure that you know that they want to keep you around and they will do what is necessary in order to make that happen…as you do the same thing for them. If that's not happening, they are showing you, live and in living color, what they really think about you and the relationship, regardless of what might be coming out of their mouth. And it really is healthy to accept what is real rather than trying to force the facts to be something else. Because while you're trying to get someone who doesn't truly value you to do so, you are taking precious time away from those who do. More on that in a bit. Next point.

Letting Someone Go, Peacefully and Fully Means That You Value Yourself

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I wanna say that I've stated in an article on this platform before that now, more than ever, I live by the motto — "Chase nothing. You were born with your purpose and your dreams actually come to you first, so chase nothing." Shoot, while we're on the topic of chasing, that's why I actually find it semi-revolting when folks accept the mindset that men are hunters and should chase us. Because I am a word person, I'm always like, "Do y'all get what 'chase' literally means?" To chase is "to pursue in order to seize, overtake, etc." and "to pursue with intent to capture or kill, as game; hunt." That doesn't sound very loving; it actually sounds pretty violent to me. Besides, in the first love story in the Bible (Genesis 2), Adam didn't CHASE his bride; she was BROUGHT to him.

And when a man recognizes that a woman has been brought, by God, he tends to treat her with humility as a gift more than with arrogance as an acquisition. OK, but let me stay on full topic. Once you get that you are valuable, you also get that there is no need to chase anyone or anything. Maintain? Yes. Appreciate? Most definitely. Preserve and protect? When you see value in it, most definitely. But chase? For what?

Just recently, I ran into someone who said to me, "Why haven't you called me?" To which I replied, "Because the last time I saw you, you said that you would call me." To which they replied, "Girl, that was like, what, two years ago now?" They said it as if to imply that since they hadn't reached out, I should've done so. Entitlement is a trip, ain't it? The more time I spend on this earth, the more I realize that in order to be a good writer, a great friend, a consistent god mom and so many other things that I've got going on, I have to focus on what actually requires my attention, not simply who or what I wish wanted me to (some of y'all will catch that later).

In order to do that, I have to value myself and what I bring to the table. And the more I do that, the more I am able to be on the tip of, "People who don't want to put in the time, effort, and energy to keep me in their life, I need to let them go so that they can focus on what they want to put those things into as I do the same." And chile, when you're in that kind of head and heart space, it is oh so easy to release them…peacefully (check out "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead") because you really do get to a point and place where you only want people in your world who want to be there — and who act like they do. Everyone else, you want to move them out of your way, so that they can get to what they value. Because that is everyone's right.

Letting Go Is Giving Space for What You’re Worthy Of. And That’s a Really Good Thing.

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Author Eckhart Tolle once said, "Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than hanging on." Indeed. That's why it gets on my last nerve, whenever I hear folks say, "If God closes a door, he will open a window." What kind of God do y'all serve out here? If God closes a door, a BIGGER door is on its way! And when you value yourself, the same thing applies to letting people go who act like they want to leave whether they realize that is what they are doing or not— you are clearing up space for who truly wants to be a part of your life…folks who want to be there so much that their acts and words are going to line up with that sentiment.

Sometimes it can hurt when people act like it's easy to let you go because it can tempt you to wonder if you are as valuable as you think. YES. YOU. ARE. The only time your actions dictate that you don't believe this is when you try to hold on, for dear life, to people who don't care if you remain in their life or not. It really can't be said enough — there is a world, FULL, of people who are just waiting to be what you need them to be because that's how much they see you.

So, the ones who treat you like Claire's instead of Tiffany's? Release them in light and love, chile. They are doing you a favor by showing you that they don't get it. LET THEM.

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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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