For Maya and Max, the cameras are always on. The YouTube duo famously chronicle their lives as partners in both love and work in front of an audience of more than one million across various social media pages, candidly detailing everything from the ins and outs of their relationship and traveling to more intimate moments including the home birth of their first child in the countryside of Sweden. The pair have carved out a digital path, each step symbolic of who they are individually and their union that refuses to shrink itself into traditional roles.
Side by side, the two shared with xoNecole, their lives prior to the creation of Max & Maya Living, their popular YouTube channel. Tracing back to when Maya, known as “Shameless Maya,” was a solo highly sought-after influencer with international campaigns and a million followers, and Max was a budding actor, student, and photographer exploring the world.
Now, three years later, as joint influencers, married, with a child, and living in a new country, the two take a walk down memory lane before an audience accessed their home, their dreams, and their family life with the click of a button.
With sincere smiles of adoration and affection and earnest candidacy, the two shared how one late night tucked away in a cafe in Colombia turned into a proposal nine months later. A friendship quickly transcends to become a story of love strengthened by cultural differences, long distance, and an age gap to build a foundation of both self-discovery and a forever partnership.
Take us to the beginning, how did you two meet?
Max: I was backpacking through Colombia, and I made a stop at a hostel where Maya was staying. I was living in London, and I was transiting to Berlin, and this was my trip just before relocating. We were staying in a surf hostel, but there were no waves, and at night it turned into a spring break vibe where people were shooting vodka through water guns, and I was not there for that. So I walked to this outskirts hotel, and there at a barista cafe, Maya was sitting there.
Maya: We began bonding over our history in the arts. We both went to drama school, so that was our first talking point and from there, we [talked] for hours and embarked on a beautiful friendship. Max and I hit it off and [spent] three days… laughing our butts off and just being able to relate to one another.
After leaving Colombia, where did the friendship stand?
Maya: When I went back to L.A. I thought this would be over; I was like, wow! I really feel like I met such an amazing soul, but I couldn't see him as anything more than a friend. I'm 12 years older, and I'm this huge YouTuber in L.A., and he's a student transitioning to Berlin. So in my brain, I automatically put him in the friend category. But, he just kept reaching out, and he was so honest with everything, and a lot of guys put up a front… they see my nice home, my nice car, they won't say it, but they just look and start asking questions. Whereas Max he was like, "Omg! You live in this house? Are you rich, Maya?" Just very candid.
Max: I had a feeling that there was a slight mutual love potential, but I was afraid. I thought the stakes were very high, and I did not want to lose her as a friend. If I allowed myself [to think about how a relationship would work], it was just too complicated. But since our foundation was such a beautiful friendship, the obstacles of age and location, living on different continents, in different stages of our lives and careers, I [just] allowed myself to be grateful for our friendship.
Are you able to pinpoint when your feelings for each other transitioned from just friendship?
Maya: [Back in L.A.] I was reading my journal because I had written out what I was looking for in my ideal partner, and I remembered crying. What I had written was what and who Max is and what we did. I had written out an ideal date for us, and we had done that in Colombia, which was hiking, and that wasn't even a date. It was more like, "I'm going to this national park. Do you want to go with me?" So we were doing this long distance [friendship], and Max had no idea I was even entertaining this idea of us being together.
Max: For me, Maya was checking all the boxes, but I hadn't done anything but be myself. It was a strong feeling that I didn't even think of myself saying, I want it to be exclusive. It just came from the heart. I knew that I wanted to be exclusive regardless if it was going to be long distance. I think there's a tendency for men to put up a facade - you want to check all the boxes that person is looking for because otherwise, you might lose this person forever.
Just a few months after their initial spark in Colombia, Maya booked a job in Germany. Not exactly Sweden where Max was spending time with his family before his move to Berlin but still much closer to him than when she was in the City of Angels. Immediately after her job concluded, she decided to visit Sweden and visit Max.
Essentially, making the first move, for Maya, this was her chance to explore the feelings that constantly linked her back to Max. For Max, it was the time to show the dazzling YouTuber more than just another country to mark off on her passport but his home.
So Maya, tell us about your trip to visit Max in Sweden.
Maya: Love requires you to risk winning and risk losing, and you have to be okay with that. You can't be afraid. You have to keep taking steps forward, and I'm so glad I did. I made the first major flight to Sweden to see Max. Most women wouldn't do that; they'd think, "He needs to come to me." You just need to be honest with who you are and what you [want]. If that's very important to you, then that's your choice. For me, love required me to take a risk.
Since he was working in Sweden for a very short time period, it didn't make sense for me to request him to come to L.A. So, I was willing to take that first step, and you have to be open when it's a healthy risk.
"Love requires you to risk winning and risk losing, and you have to be okay with that,. You can’t be afraid. For me, love required me to take a risk."
Max: The day after Maya left Sweden, I could have asked her to marry me. I'm very traditional in that sense, where I believe in finding the one. Some people choose to commit to a relationship because of other values or interests. But I knew I needed that feeling, and I got that feeling with Maya.
At this point Maya you’re in L.A. and Max is in Sweden. What kept the spark alive despite being thousands of miles apart?
Max: The hardest thing was to say goodbye when you don't know when you're going to see each other again. So we came up with this idea where every time we say goodbye, we should have the next trip booked. By the time I left L.A., Maya already had her flight booked to visit me. So there was always something to look forward to, and you knew when you'd see each other again.
Maya: I think what was refreshing about Max is that he wasn't what I expected. In my mind, from society and social media. I feel like especially Black women are trained to idealize a certain kind of relationship, tall, dark, handsome, and six figures. You know, he has to have all these things. But with Max, he was in transition. [I had to ask myself] where were you at his age? We all start from somewhere? We're all on a journey. But the fact that he was disciplined and had a strong work ethic. So it's really looking at the qualities because I'm looking for a life partner, not someone to date for just a couple of years.
How did you two navigate cultural differences and being in two very different phases of your career?
Maya: It's important to acknowledge social norms and the differences of what each person likes and dislikes and then having a conversation about what each person wants. So if you are dating outside of your culture, you have to understand differences and not to take things as an insult.
I remember Max didn't open a door for me. I knew he wasn't doing this to disrespect me. So I literally went on Google and looked into Swedish culture. And I found information explaining that Sweden is big on equality. In their culture, opening the door for a capable woman is an insult. So it's important to acknowledge your culture and their norms. As well as seeing your dynamics and having candid conversations about what you each want. And try to see through the person that you love. Look at the core values. Look at the fun you have together.
Engaged and making the decision to explore a life together was just the beginning for the pair that, on paper, was as far apart as the distance between the continents in the middle of them. Fervently wanting to close the miles between them, Max and Maya explored all of the options; Max even considered a student visa to attend UCLA to be with Maya. However, before a full plan could be realized, the pandemic hit, and the two had to immediately shift gears.
Ready for a change of pace from the fast-paced influencer lifestyle of Hollywood, Maya moved back home to Canada. From there, the two purchased a home in the place where love first blossomed, Sweden. Finally reunited, the two married, and the very next day following the ceremony, Maya had to leave the country because of visa requirements. But, she didn’t leave alone. Max was right beside his partner as they traveled from Canada and Mexico together until they could return to Sweden together.
Finally settled and in their home, the two merged their lives together with the birth of their child and the start of their relationship as partners.
How did you two create “Max and Maya Living” together? Especially with Maya’s already influential social media career?
Maya:[When we met] I was working on my YouTube channel, and because Max was getting into videography and filmmaking, it just seemed like the most convenient option is to work with your partner. So while we were living in Mexico together, I hired Max to shoot for me. But I just didn't like the dynamic of being his boss when we already have the layer of me being 12 years older.
In "Max and Maya," that was born out of the desire to create mutually. I wanted to see him grow, and my energy was kind of like waning at this point because I had been doing my YouTube channel, Shameless Maya, for ten years, and it was just more or less the same thing over and over again. I wanted to start something new and fresh that we could both be part of.
What was that transition like for you going from behind the camera to a partner on camera with Maya?
Max: I was never intimidated by Maya’s success, I was curious, and I went through insecurities, but I was never intimidated. At the time, I was an aspiring actor and videographer. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I got so much for free just because it was Maya. But I had to accept I was still learning. Maya was a very great teacher, and I became a sponge. Eventually, we progressed into two different levels of expertise, and now we work as a team.
How do you balance the marriage of Max and Maya versus the coworker space of “Max and Maya” you occupy when creating together?
Max: The one thing that I find the hardest is to switch off work when you are working very close with your partner. Don't bring in the emotions from your private life into the workspace, meaning, if you're working on something, try to work towards some sort of neutral space where you can step in together and be like, okay, we'll deal with this private stuff at another time.
And really nourish the family identity together, like your privacy as a family. So when we're out, and we're actually vlogging. That's not family time per se. So make time for family without the cameras.
Why do you think your story as a couple, as coworkers, as social media influencers resonates with so many and continues to engage thousands?
Maya: I think it's because we are carving our own path and being honest with ourselves, and however that translates online is just a by-product. A lot of women especially subscribe to the ideals of someone else versus what they enjoy. I know what I want. I'm older. I take on what society calls masculine attributes. I don't find it that. I just know who I am and when I'm in a relationship. It's nice to not feel like I have to dumb down or ask for help.
Max: I'm a very emotional person, and this relationship allows me to fully embrace that and just be myself. I don't have to act as if I'm something else. I don't have to prove that I'm some sort of alpha male that has to provide according to traditional social norms.
Maya: Society tells you that when you're married and have a child, you're supposed to have stability. But for us, we've always been travelers. We've always been adventurers, so we've just adopted our daughter into our lifestyle. It's easy to lose yourself to your partner or your family. And I think it's important to hold on to your self-identity as well as sharing this new dynamic with children and partnership. In our channel, we just share who we are and try to inspire others to create the life that you want.
Featured image courtesy of Max and Maya Living
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports