People often ask me questions about dating, love and relationships and I had an epiphany about my own single life when I was still single and dating. In my latest book, Don't Be A Wife To A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single, I share some of my experiences as a single woman and reflect on some of the decisions I made and the growth that took place, with the hope that I will inspire others going through similar situations.
Now, after recently celebrating seven years of marriage, I felt led to share something passionate, real and from my heart for my single sisters but in a shorter format. I don't claim to have an answer for every question, and even as a happily married woman, I'm still learning. However, I'm older now and have learned a great deal through my personal experiences and even through the experiences of others.
Of course I could go on for days, but for now I decided I'd share with you my personal top 10 list.
1. Practice self-love before you accept love from someone else.
It's difficult to love someone else if you can't first love yourself. Usually, the way we allow others to treat us is a reflection of how much, or how little, we love and value ourselves. I realized a long time ago that my unhealthy search for love was because of my own lack of self-love and self-esteem. I relied on others to do what I couldn't do for myself. Learn how to be single and satisfied, so you don't end up totally dependent on someone else.
2. Let it flow.
“Every potential date is not a potential mate." We don't have to be so serious so soon especially if it's only been a few months, let alone a few weeks. I used to think, "Oh, since the date went well then maybe he's my husband," or I would obsess about the status of our relationship only after a short time.
Sometimes we psych ourselves out of a good thing by trying to force something to happen, and sometimes it's a turn-off to guys. Just let the conversations and natural progression of the relationship flow. That's not to say that you should wait on someone forever; but if it feels right and it's flowing right, then play it cool and let it happen.
3. Don't think of him as a piece of clay that you can mold into what you want him to be.
"How can I get him to go to church?" "How can I get him to settle down?"
I'm a living witness that people can, in fact, transform their lives over time. Understand, however, we can only change those things we have the power to change. While we have the power to influence change, we can never force change.
When I first started dating my husband, he wasn't going to church or as spiritually connected to God as he is now, but I didn't harass him or force him to do anything because we all have different journeys. I just prayed for him, talked to him about certain things, and ultimately he made the decision to make some changes.
If someone keeps saying they're going to do things differently but you're not seeing the modifications, that could mean it's time for you to change your role in the situation instead of wasting your energy trying to change them. At the end of the day, if he's really into you and wants to keep you, then he will prove it to you – not just through his words but through his actions.
4. Don't expect different results using the same habits.
In the past, I found myself repeating this pattern over and over - dating the same type of guy and/or doing the same type of things. Sometimes when you're used to being treated a certain way, you start to think that's how it's supposed to be or believe that's what you deserve. But when I started dating my husband, I decided to do things differently and refused to accept anything less than what I deserved. Basically, I made him work for my love. Like they say, “the woman you want is usually the one you have to work for."
5. Make yourself a priority while you can.
6. Don't make excuses for people who need to be excused out of your life.
There are two types of people you should apply this to: 1) Dead weight – the ones who seem to stay around but constantly hurt or mistreat you or bring you down (they make more deposits than withdrawals), and 2) Pop-ups –the ones who stay running in and out of your life when it's convenient for them but they're never consistent. Unless you're content with these situations or aren't really looking to settle down, then you will find yourself hopelessly waiting or chasing. You will be waiting on them to get it together and come back, or you will be chasing after people who aren't chasing after you.
Trust me, I've had to use the "block" and "delete" functions on my phone to ensure I didn't keep falling back into the trap and answer their calls or respond to their text messages. Sometimes you have to take extreme measures when you know you can't trust yourself to resist and to show yourself, and others, just how committed you are to moving on.
7. Don't be a wife to a boyfriend.
"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"
It's an old saying but it still holds true today. For some of us, it's natural to want to take care of our boyfriends and show them how good of a wife we could be if they chose us, but be careful giving away too much too soon. I used to give of myself so freely, both physically and mentally, and to people who usually didn't deserve it. Relationships should be 100/100 - each person giving a 100%. However, if you give up too much too soon without any reciprocation, then he stands to benefit the most and you risk losing everything; only to end up with heartache and disappointment.
8. Don't confuse love with lust.
Many of us have ruined countless relationships or ended up with broken hearts because somewhere along the way we concluded the presence of sex automatically meant the presence of love. Trust me, physical appeal, sex, and intimacy - they all matter, but don't allow physical attraction to become a major distraction.
I know without a shadow of a doubt, much of my past hurt and pain was due in part because I either gave it up too soon or I assumed that he would love me because I had sex with him. Sometimes, you have to discern between what feels good to you versus what is good for you. Thankfully, you get the best of both worlds when you experience real love, but that's not always the case if you're with someone who isn't meant for you. Don't overlook future necessities just to satisfy your present desires and don't confuse love with lust.
9. Nothing happens overnight. Things take time.
For some people it can take a few tries, a few months, a few years or even what may seem like a lifetime. I've learned that you can't rush love and I didn't go from being single to married overnight. I had pain before pleasure and heartache before happiness but in the end real love came along. It may sound cliche, but what God has for you is for you and if it's in His will for your life (whether married, single, etc.), it will come to pass. Through my own experience and the experiences of others, I have learned that the moment we stop worrying and looking, is usually the very moment when it happens.
10. Don't be that girl - "over thirty and worried."
There's something about turning thirty. It's like a switch goes off and tells us that we have to become obsessed and evaluate our lives and analyze the progress we've made, or lack thereof, as it relates to relationships, careers and family. I will admit that oftentimes it's brought on by the pressure of society, but sometimes we place the pressure on ourselves.
Realize, however, that you can be any age (20, 30, 40, 50 and so on) - and still have the “over thirty and worried" mindset. It's the woman who is OVERLY obsessed with trying to find a man or CONSTANTLY sad about not having one. So she finds herself desperate, settling and/or overwhelmed with sadness because she's so consumed thinking about what isn't instead of what is. We either know her, we are her or like me at one time or another we were that girl.
My mom, who is obviously over 30 because I'm in my mid-thirties and who has never been married, is the epitome of how NOT to be that girl - “over 30 and worried." What I love about her is the fact that even though she's single and she's been through a lot, she hasn't given up on love and she doesn't allow her single status to keep her stagnant. She's learned how to be single and satisfied. She's not sitting around desperately waiting or chasing after men. Instead, she stays on the go and chooses to live her life to the fullest, while still managing to give so much of herself, time and resources to help others.
Life is short. So, take a lesson from her and learn how to live, love and appreciate your life. I understand it's easier said than done when you're single and have been for a long time. I used to have my days when I would feel lonely and cry myself to sleep wondering if I would ever happen for me. I know you will have your days too and you will have your moments, but you can't stay there. Take your moment, dust yourself off and keep it moving and focus on what you do have. Besides, if you can't be happy by yourself, then you'll likely have a hard time being happy with someone else.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."May you be encouraged through my experiences and through God's word and realize that IT IS all goodand IT IS working for your good no matter what your relationship status may be.
Featured image by Getty Images
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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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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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