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Courtesy of Tiffany Goodwin

He Proposed To Her Through A Gaming App & Won Her Heart Forever

"If God meant to place someone in my life to be on this journey with me, He placed the most perfect person when he brought me Rhamel."

How We Met

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

Two can play in the game called love and this couple won the jackpot. 10 years ago, Tiffany and Rhamel met each other their freshman year in college. They instantly became best friends and have been inseparable ever since. It wasn't until one Sunday afternoon of frozen drinks and games with friends, that Tiffany would go from girlfriend status to a fiance. Rhamel states "Tiffany is a really hard person to surprise. So I wanted her to be in her most natural element when I proposed to her." That day, Rhamel planned to trick Tiffany with a game of Heads Up to pop the big question. As Tiffany was going through each topic, her friends helped her get to the "winning answers" stating, "Will You Marry Me?". As you can imagine, Tiffany was completely confused to see that none of her answers were listed at the end of the game to win her points. But it wasn't until the moment she saw Rhamel on one knee behind that she realized she did win the game after all.

While being engaged is a huge next step for Tiffany and Rhamel, this couple truly values the foundation of their friendship. They both understand that dating your best friend is a blessing. You are able to be vulnerable with one another and support each other through hard times. You are able to see each other's imperfections and still see them perfect in your eyes with zero judgement or expectations. For my people out there, if you do have a person that you consider your best friend, it's important to keep them around for the long haul. There are many possibilities of what that friendship could blossom into.

Tiffany and Rhamel believe in taking that leap of faith from friendship to dating because at the end of the day, you have someone to venture through life with and there is no better feeling. Rhamel mentions, "You really have to decide if this person is someone you just can't live without. You can't let fear get in the way of something potentially happening for the better."

Courtesy of Tiffany Goodwin

In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the marketing manager and professional basketball player shares how their love grew from friendship and the lessons they have learned along the way.

How We Met

Rhamel: We actually met in college on the first day of school. I remember seeing her walking towards the elevator. I was excited because she was a girl that wasn't on the basketball team, so I thought it was cool to see more black people on campus that weren't in sports that I could possibly get to know. Growing up, I was very shy, but I wanted to walk up to her and introduce myself. Once we started talking, we became really cool from there and the rest is history.

Tiffany: Yeah, it was the first day of school and I was walking towards the elevator when Rhamel stopped me. I thought to myself, this guy is probably one of the tallest people I have ever met (laughs). When we met, I noticed that Rhamel was a little shyer than his other friends, but still really nice. It wasn't until the first Monday of classes when I walked into Sociology class, I saw Rhamel sitting right there. I was surprised to see him (laughs). So I sat right behind him and joked that he was going to be my new best friend (smiles).

Courtship

Rhamel: We never really established when our first date was. I just remember it was our senior year and I started to notice things were changing between us. I was kind of hesitant at first because we were best friends and I didn't want to mess that up. But I remember that year on December 23, I made my move and I kissed her.

Tiffany: We were really best friends to the point where I was attached to his hip (laughs). So our senior year, I think God and the Universe just sent the sign to us to take things to the next level. So that day in December, we were out having drinks and Rhamel looked me in my eyes and said, "I have something to tell you." I was a little nervous about what he was going to say. But then he said, "I can show you better than I can tell you," and he just kissed me. I was shocked. Everything started to transition after that, but we really wanted to make sure what that looked like without ruining the foundation of our friendship.

"I think God and the Universe just sent the sign to us to take things to the next level. That day in December, we were out having drinks and Rhamel looked me in my eyes and said, 'I have something to tell you.' I was a little nervous about what he was going to say. But then he said, 'I can show you better than I can tell you,' and he just kissed me."

Courtesy of Tiffany Goodwin

The Proposal

Rhamel: Tiffany is a really hard person to surprise. So I wanted her to be in her most natural element when I proposed to her. I thought about what we always do at home. We aren't usually up under each other all day. We like to hang out with our friends and stuff. I figured the best way to do it was to act like it was just another day with our friends. We could play a game and then sneak a few things in. I chose the game Heads Up because it's a good way where our friends could tell her anything and she would have no clue. Tiffany is super competitive too, so she would just be focusing on winning (laughs).

Tiffany: That day was such a beautiful day. For some background, we are from New York originally, but moved to New Jersey for my job, so we would visit my family in New York to spend time with my mom, sister, and best friend. So I just thought that that day was just another Sunday. To throw me off a little bit, they kept making drinks (laughs) because I am usually really good at sensing little things here and there. Another thing that threw me off was I thought my mom wasn't in town.

Rhamel knows that if I would want anyone in the world to be present at a moment like this, it would be my mom. So my mom was in the Hamptons that weekend, but little did I know, she drove back for the proposal one or two hours before it happened and hid at my best friend's house. When he proposed I was so thrown off, but it was absolutely perfect. He told me, "I told you I was gonna get you." And he really did get me (laughs).

Favorite Things

Rhamel: My favorite thing about Tiffany is her heart. She is one of the few people that you meet in your lifetime that is sweet and truly genuine. Some people who don't know Tiffany misunderstand her because she comes off strong. But honestly, I love that about her because I never have to second-guess the type of person she is or what her intentions are. You don't find a person like that all the time. I'm down for her 100 percent.

Tiffany: From day one, I have admired Rhamel's strength. With the things he has been through, other people wouldn't have been able to handle those situations with the grace and style like he did. He has a way of overcoming adversity and that is so powerful. He really encourages me to keep fighting and to keep going. Rhamel has really shaped what strong really means for me.

"My favorite thing about Tiffany is her heart. She is one of the few people that you meet in your lifetime that is sweet and truly genuine. I never have to second-guess the type of person she is or what her intentions are. You don't find a person like that all the time. I'm down for her 100 percent."

Early Challenges

Rhamel: The biggest challenge was the timing when we were transitioning from friendship to partners. We were about to graduate college and see what was going to happen next for us. With me being a basketball player, I didn't know what "next" meant at that point. Career-wise, being a basketball player, especially overseas, is very unstable. So with that, Tiffany and I weren't able to connect the way we wanted to when school was over because of the distance and everything.

Tiffany: I'll admit it was difficult. At the time, we probably didn't realize it, but the circumstances were exactly what we needed for us to recognize that we had the tools and resources already to really make this work. We didn't see each other for eight months after college since he was overseas and I was still trying to figure my life out. But we overcame that by being very adamant on consistent communication and being intentional about scheduling that time with each other.

Courtesy of Tiffany Goodwin

Lessons Learned

Tiffany: In 2013, I was clinically diagnosed with depression. To say that I have a rock is an understatement when it comes to being with Rhamel. Earlier on, it was very rough trying to recognize my triggers and figure out positive coping mechanisms. Just trying to find what could help me live with my diagnosis was a lot. But Rhamel has helped me to not view my diagnosis as a curse, but a gift to help others who also deal with depression. Other people may view me as flawed or broken, but Rhamel makes sure that I am seen and heard. If God meant to place someone in my life to be on this journey with me, He placed the most perfect person when he brought me Rhamel. So the biggest lesson I've learned from him is that who I am authentically is very beautiful.

Rhamel: Similar to Tiffany, I've learned to be authentically myself because of her. Growing up, it was hard to truly be myself and to feel accepted. I didn't know how much that affected me when I got older and Tiffany helped me with that. Tiffany and I wouldn't have been able to grow and love each other the way we do now, if we weren't able to fully be ourselves with one another. Nobody is perfect and there is no reason to pretend to be perfect with someone you love. Be who you are and be the best version of it.

"Rhamel has helped me to not view my diagnosis as a curse, but a gift to help others who also deal with depression. Other people may view me as flawed or broken, but Rhamel makes sure that I am seen and heard. If God meant to place someone in my life to be on this journey with me, He placed the most perfect person when he brought me Rhamel."

Shared Values

Rhamel: Our shared values are honesty, openness, and supporting each other. As long as we are there for each other, we can figure anything out. It's all about having the right person by your side through the good and bad times. Life is an impossible battle to get through on your own and I think I have the best possible partner to get through life with.

Tiffany: Another value we have is to keep each other laughing. When you are dating your best friend, it's really just a competition on who's funnier (laughs). I'm getting there, but Rhamel is the true comedian.

For more about Tiffany and Rhamel, you can follow them on Instagram here.

Read more black love stories in xoNecole's "How We Met" series here.

Featured image courtesy of Tiffany Goodwin

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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