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Ask Ayana Iman: I'm Worried About My Long Distance Relationship

Dating

Dear Ayana Iman: I just started a long distance relationship with a guy I really like.


I honestly can say I do love him and I see him in my future. We keep God first in our relationship and we've made plans for the future. Our connection is really strong and different from both of our past relationships. I live in Virginia and he lives in Atlanta. Any advice on how I can keep faith in this relationship and how we can grow between now and the time we'll be able to see each other?

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Hey girl! Relationships aren't linear. There is no dating rule that states when your version of happy starts, you must court and commit all within the same location. The last thing you want to do is to associate fear with distance. I know that distance can be tough, but this could be the romantic breakthrough you were looking for. Taking the focus off of the physical allows you to build and strengthen your mental and spiritual connection without complicating it.

Intimacy is the key to ensuring a healthy relationship.

It will provide a deeper sense of meaning for you both, which it already seems to be doing. With that, communication is also very necessary. Create an atmosphere of transparency and authenticity by empowering each other through goal sharing, prayer, and acknowledging your own personal needs. This will help you establish rules of engagement and manage expectations. Do sweat the details; sharing surface details of your day isn't enough, go deep to further connection. Continue to live your best life and allow him to do the same to combat obsessive communication and neediness.

The goal here, ultimately, is to have two happy whole people come together in harmony. Cherish the present by enjoying this moment, you deserve it.

Dear Ayana Iman: My life is a mess right now and I hate it. I feel like I'm trying hard and I have goals and expectations but my partner doesn't seem driven. When I bring it up, I get lip service and tears. I just don't know how to proceed.

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This impasse in your relationship is in need of some serious work. You are well within your rights to have these concerns, also, to question the compatibility between you two.

My motto: with great resistance, try a new approach.

Before you make any drastic decisions, let's acknowledge that the unhappiness stems from your expectations of your partner to the overall health of this relationship. I know you love this person, if you didn't, there would be no attempt to find a resolution.

The reaction from your partner makes it clear they are uneasy with the situation and become defensive to avoid pushing the issue further. This shows some underlying issues they may be facing that have nothing to do with you. I know it can be hard, but approach them with empathy, e.g. understanding what a person is feeling and why their actions made sense to them. Having empathy can open up lines of communication where there was none. Express your concern by owning how you feel, like "When you do not listen, I feel ignored," which can help you avoid accusatory language against your partner. Try not to ask these questions when you're upset or there's tension. Find a time to speak when there's no distraction from outside parties. Some questions that may be helpful can include:

  • What are your expectations for our relationship?
  • What are your overall goals and do you feel supported in accomplishing them?
  • What does a healthy relationship look like to you?
  • Do you feel like our relationship can use a refresher?

Ultimately, the choice is yours to stay or go. If you continue to feel like this relationship is not serving you even after the attempts made to create peace, let go.

Everything has a purpose and a season.

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Queen Latifah is saying no to unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles especially when it comes to her career. Since the beginning, the rapper/actress has always been a body-positive role model thanks to the range of characters she has played over the years that shows that size doesn’t matter. In an interview with PEOPLE, The Equalizer star opened up about taking on roles that don't compromise her health.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

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Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

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