What does it take to find the love you want? To attract the love you want, to make the love you truly want to experience in this lifetime? Well, former Bachelorette star Mike Johnson says it starts with doing the inner work FIRST. And by inner work, he means rewriting and reflecting on the internal stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and using them as a springboard to attract the life and love that we deserve. And if you need help tapping into that side of yourself, look no further than his debut book, aptly entitled Making the Love You Want.
In it, the Texas native provides a toolbox for all those looking to genuinely level up their lives from the inside out through the practice of self-love. "I just want it to be a vessel that can help people with the issues that they're going through and the things that they're facing in life," he tells xoNecole in our midday chat. "By reading it, you'll be able to obliterate, and I mean, completely destroy those self-limiting beliefs. You will be able to have the courage and the strength to propel yourself to the next level of your life."
We recently sat down the 32-year-old self-love sage to talk about personal growth, romantic love, and why it's important for Black men to be vulnerable.
*Some answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
xoNecole: In your book, you really harp on doing the inner work, particularly in the areas of self-love and self-worth. Personally, I tend to think self-worth is an inside job.
Mike Johnson: It absolutely is, it's in the name.
For Black men in particular, how can they continue to cultivate that sense of self-awareness?
[I think it's in] the strength that we have, the strength that we are blessed with and the strength that society makes us have. I think that we can take some of that strength and be vulnerable as well, because it does absolutely take strength to be vulnerable. And I feel that once we can see the strength, meaning vulnerability, there's nothing that we can't do. It's more of a mindset--it's funny because when I think of this topic, I think of Eminem and 8 Mile. If you remember when he did the rap battle, he said everything negative against himself, he put it all out there. And once you put everything out there, no one could combat you. It's already out there. So, I think that's something that we have to utilize to our advantage.
"I think that we can take some of that strength and be vulnerable as well, because it does absolutely take strength to be vulnerable. And I feel that once we can see the strength, meaning vulnerability, there's nothing that we can't do."
Why do you think it’s so hard for Black men to have conversations around self-love and personal growth?
I wouldn't say that it's hard. It's just maybe something that isn't as seen in mainstream media. And I can speak to why I think that is. I feel that in our community, we put on a tough face at times but I do want to say that the color of our skin doesn't dictate our emotional levels. I feel that our environments do. And we adapt to the environment to make sure that we survive out of it. I think people like Charlamagne are doing a wonderful job of spearheading how to get out of those environments, Derrick Jaxn on Instagram, someone like myself--since I'm trying to be in that realm as well. And if something is popular, more people want to be able to do it as well.
When men start to realize that, you know, it's OK for us to be vulnerable, it's OK to talk about real issues and you're not considered a victim--I think that people relate to that more. I mean, the reason some of our biggest musical artists are so big is because they have a creative way of getting out their emotions and they speak on what they're going through, through songs.
You seem to be a very optimistic guy. Every time I come across you on Instagram, you always seem to have a smile on your face. So I wanna know, is a positive outlook a deal-breaker for you when it comes to relationships?
Not having a positive outlook, yeah. If she doesn't have a positive outlook--I don't care how fine she is. I don't care how much money. I don't really care, if you [are] a Negative Nancy, I'm not with you. I am extremely strong with that. If you're just a negative-thinking individual, I'm not going to let your negativity interrupt my energy. It's too precious.
"If you're just a negative-thinking individual, I'm not going to let your negativity interrupt my energy. It's too precious."
Courtesy of Mike Johnson
How has your time on ‘The Bachelorette’ or ‘Bachelor In Paradise’ influenced what traits you now look for in a potential partner?
No, it hasn't changed whatsoever. I still know the type of woman that I love and adore, and quite honestly with me on TV-- it doesn't change my outlook because I was able to attract the woman that I like already. The TV doesn't do anything when it comes to dating, except for if you want to be superficial and get a certain type of chick, then you can do that. But my homies still know back in the day, when I was a teenager, we would call Walmart, Club Walmart. And if I go to Walmart to this day and I see somebody that I'm into, she could be the cashier. I don't care.
So, no TV doesn't do anything. All the TV does when it comes to dating is people feel as if they know exactly what you like. I know you didn't ask the question, but when I talked to my homies about when Black women say that I don't like Black women--I'm like, 'Why is it that way?' That's hard for me to hear because that's a damn lie. My ex was Black. And if the Bachelorette was a Black woman, no Black woman would say that. Right? So that's the only thing that actually hurts me, if I can honestly be transparent about that. That hurts my heart because I'm like, 'Hey, I love y'all period.'
Who is Mike Johnson as a romantic partner?
Mike Johnson is a loving partner. I'm the guy that your girlfriends hate because you are going to be saying all of these positive things and they don't have a good man like that (laughs). I would say that I'm pretty damn good at relationships. I definitely have no problem with someone putting me in the check but if they do something crazy too, I'm going to let them know. I don't like that either. I'm definitely someone that will motivate you just by you just watching how I act and how I move in life. I have goals all the time and so that will rub off on my partner. And I am definitely a sexual being.
Speaking of, kind of. Do you know your love languages and if so, what are they?
Yeah. So at first, before I read the book by Gary Chapman--amazing book-- I thought my love language was physical touch. But after reading the book, doing the quizzes, I ended up going deeper and it turns out my love language is actually quality time. But my dialect is quality communication. So when you speak to me, tell me what your heart is telling you, tell me your thoughts, be transparent with me, be loyal to me, that brings that trust like nothing else.
Are you single? How would you like for a woman to approach you now?
Oh wow. Well, I will say I am dating someone right now. I'm making a love that I want.
Shameless plug. Lastly, what's one thing you know now to be true about love?
One thing I know to be true about love. If you're loyal to a person, that person is loyal to you, if you do everything to make that individual happy, and if you have an open communication, open dialogue--there's nothing that you guys can't get through.
Making the Love You Want is available now, wherever books are sold. And to keep up with Mike, be sure to connect with him on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Mike Johnson
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.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash