Thomas "Nephew Tommy" Miles is an actor, comedian, and media personality who has become a comforting face in our community. That's why I was super excited when I learned he had become the host of OWN's Ready to Love, a dating show for mature singles looking for authentic and long-term relationships. Since its start in 2018, Ready to Lovehas given viewers a personal and authentic look into the lives of everyday people on their journey to find a genuine connection.
This season, Ready to Love is leaving its home in Atlanta to travel to Nephew Tommy's hometown of Houston. And he is excited for viewers to become more familiar with the city he loves, "Houston, it's the fourth largest city [in America]. Though to people here, it's more like a big town. Everybody kind of knows everybody. But regardless of where you are, dating is a challenge. If you've been preoccupied, it's the same thing. You still haven't taken time to focus, and say I'm gonna find what I want."
Courtesy of Nephew Tommy
In our conversation, we chatted about what that looks like this season, love and relationships, and marriage. And just as expected, the chat was full of laughs, truth, and a bit of tea. Check it out below.
xoNecole: For those who aren't familiar with the show, tell me more about Ready to Love?
Nephew Tommy:Ready to Love is a dating show, but it's not a typical dating show. These people are in their 30's, 40's, and even 50's, and they're looking for love. These are people that have been in marriages, gotten divorced, and are career-driven, and haven't taken time to find a relationship. We start with 20 singles, 10 women, and 10 men, and it's a process of elimination. Each week, the power shifts back and forth: women eliminate men and men eliminate women until we get down to six people, three couples that hopefully find love. There's no $1,000 reward and there's no trip around the world. The prize is love and you can't put a price on that.
You know, one of the things I like about the show is that the singles are 30 and older; it adds a unique element. How do you think that differs from other television shows?
I think it's different because people are in a different space in their lives. We know what the twenties are like, we all had a lot of fun. But once a person has gotten grown and has responsibilities, and that's the one element they're looking for that they don't have, they want it. And I think the difference in 30-plus in comparison to someone younger, is that the nonsense is out the window and people that want it are chasing it. There are some women on this show that are no-nonsense, and they let the guys know.
Interesting, and how do you think this season varies from other ones. What new and exciting things can we expect?
This one is a bit different to me because it's some boss ladies on there. I mean when I say boss ladies, these ladies are making money. They are lawyers, entrepreneurs and they own their businesses. This takes the stakes up a lot higher, and it makes it where these men have to step up to the plate. And you know, they can't come in insecure because the woman is making more money. It's like, bring your A-game and she might just help you step your game up so you can be a boss man.
Are there any special or funny behind-the-scenes moments from past seasons that you can share with us?
It's been some crazy stuff behind-the-scenes and in front of the scenes. I think the one that's the most bananas is from last season [at] the resort. It was about a week or two before the reunion, and I found out one of my contestants was pregnant the whole time the show was going on. I'm like, 'Are you serious?' And then when I got to the reunion, I found out two of the guys also had babies on the way. The woman could have had the baby during the reunion, she was expecting right then! So yeah, there's a lot behind-the-scenes that sometimes I don't even know.
Well, a lot of times in general people think they are ready to love but have not let go of past situations or are not ready for commitment. From your perspective, when do you think someone truly knows they're in love.
I think you just know, it's a feeling, it's a vibe. There are a few people on our show that I saw and knew exactly when it hit them, and when they connected. But you know when it's there. You don't have to go on one million dates (laughs). You know when you're ready. You get that feeling!
Speaking of feelings, when did you know your wife was the one?
College, I said, "OK, that's the one." But even then, I was in my twenties when we met so I had to go around the world and act a fool before I straightened out and got it together.
Now you know we love a good "How We Met" story at xoNecole, so you gotta take me back, how did you two connect?
It was at Texas A&M in 1986 (smiles). Probably the first couple weeks of school in the common areas. It's where people are shooting pool and there are TVs and lounges, and that's where we talked, connected, and it all happened.
Nephew Tommy pictured with his wife Jacqueline Mills.Moses Robinson/Getty Images
I noticed your wife was in the casting episode of Ready to Love and it was obvious that you guys have a fun relationship. What would you say are the most important traits that fuel your marriage?
Just chemistry and longevity. Over a course of time, it just connects. There are some good and bad days but through it all, you just tough it out and ride it out. It's all about riding it out.
And how important is the idea of partnership to you, is it prevalent in your marriage?
I think it is really important, especially when it comes to what you're good at. I like being the go-getter, the breadwinner, and making it happen for everybody. And trust me, there's a lot of people under that umbrella. But as far as paying this and that bill, I don't want to do that, I'm not good at it. I wanna be this creative guy and go work, and it's nice when you have someone good at different things, and it just all comes together.
Well, I have to ask about the other side as well. What struggles have you guys encountered and how did you combat them?
There are always struggles. In the beginning, I didn't have any money. I mean, I didn't have two nickels to rub together (laughs). But for her to see that I had a dream and just try to follow me with it and stand behind me, was a lot for me. She rode it out and now the tables turned and I'm the breadwinner and everybody gets to chill out at home and doesn't have to work and do anything, everyone's happy.
You guys clearly have a rich history. Still, has hosting Ready to Love taught you anything new about love and relationships?
Communication is the key. I tell the people on the show all the time, there's a difference between hearing and listening. A lot of people hear you but there's very few listening. I can sit on the couch and hear all day long, but am I truly listening? That's the key in a lot of relationships. A lot of people want to be heard and spit back what they think but sometimes it doesn't work because they're not listening.
Finally, for old and new viewers, why should we tune in this season?
People should tune in because this is black love at its best. It's real, it is who we are. I think we wear and carry it well. You can watch it with your girlfriends, brothers can tune in, and a lot of couples watch it together too. You can sit back and put your bets together, and start guessing who is gonna connect and make it to the end. It just becomes a fun thing to do and it's the best thing on Friday nights, and I'm not just saying that because I'm on it. No, I am saying that because I'm on it (laughs).
Catch the new season of Ready to Love, Friday nights at 9/8c on the OWN Network.
Featured image courtesy of Nephew Tommy
Kirby Carroll grew up in VA but now calls Atlanta, GA home. She has a passion for creating content and helping brands grow through storytelling and public relations. When not immersed in work, you can find her sipping a mimosa at brunch or bingeing a new TV drama on Netflix. Keep up with her on social media at @askKirbyCarroll.
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images