It was probably around the end of 2017 when I really started deep-diving into what narcissism really is. A part of the reason why I did it was because I was counseling some people who seemed to reveal some telling signs of being one. Then, because I am definitely the exception and not the rule when it comes to not being on social media, I was finding more and more data to support that it is creating more narcissists than ever before. Jump ahead a couple of years and I actually had a close relative who said, “Of course, I'm a narcissist. My mother and father are narcissists.” Boy, did that start to connect some dots as it relates to narcissistic abuse within my family tree and when it came to some of the friends and even guys that I picked — because it really is true that until you know better, it’s hard to do better.
As I started becoming a semi-expert on how to discern a narcissist before you find yourself getting beat the hell up by them (check out “3 Warning Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist” and “What If It's Your Parents Who Happen To Be The Narcissists?”), that’s when I began to learn more and more about gaslighting (check out “Gaslighting, Love Bombing & 5 Other Triggers To Call Out In Your Relationships”) and y’all…Y’ALL. Hmph. Matter of fact, the more that I learn about what it is beyond how much folks just randomly throw the word out into the atmosphere, the more I get that if a lot of us nipped gaslighting right in the bud, our lives would be so much more peace-filled and we’d have a lot more clarity on what the quality of our relationships actually are; including our friendships.
Last year, I shared some intel on what it means to date a gaslighter (you can read more about that here). Today, let’s get into what it’s like to be gaslit by a friend (or “friend”). Because the sooner you know the signs, the sooner you can know if that person is worth keeping in your tribe or not — because why choose to be “burned” all of the time if you absolutely can avoid it?
If someone were to ask me to provide a really quick and concise definition of gaslighting, I would probably pull from the author of the lead quote up top. Tracy Morgan also once said, “Gaslighting is an attempt to change the truth.” Some other keepers from the same writer include: “Gaslighting is mind control to make victims doubt their reality,” “Gaslighting is implanted narratives cloaked in secrecy,” and “Gaslighting is when you don’t remember things the same as they do.” OK, but just so that we’re all on the same page, let’s go just a bit deeper than that.
At the end of the day, gaslighting is a form of emotional and/or psychological abuse where the gaslighter tries to make the “victim” question their own reality when it comes to their memories, experiences, and even feelings that are directly associated with the gaslighter. And why would someone be so diabolic? It’s all about manipulation and control. Egomaniacs like to gaslight. Abusers like to gaslight. Narcissists like to gaslight. Control freaks like to gaslight. People who suck at taking personal accountability for their actions like to gaslight. Some would say that ghosters are also pretty good gaslighters because if you’re leaving someone to question what happened, that is messing with their feelings…right? And because ghosting is pretty intentional, that means that 8 times out of 10, that is exactly what you wanted to do in order to have some sort of control (or get some control back)…right?
And here’s the thing — so long as someone is able to keep undermining you and, as a direct result, keep you “unstable” when it comes to how to deal with them, in their mind, they have the upper hand. They are able to keep pulling strings that can sway you into all kinds of directions, all the while acting innocent or even like you’re the problem. When I tell you that gaslighting is evil…it really is so evil, chile. And that’s why, again, it’s so important — crucial even — to know when someone you consider to be a friend is actually doing it to you.
And because, unfortunately, gaslighting is super common, I wanted to share a few signs of when you’re being gaslit in a friendship (or you’re possibly doing it to someone else), so that you are very clear, moving forward.
6 Ways a Friend Can Gaslight You (Sometimes, Without You Noticing It)
1. They Can Have a Selective Memory
When I tell you that I have a relative who is an Olympian gaslighter in this very realm? When it comes to what I had on in grade school or what I said 10 years ago, they can remember that. Oh, but call them to the carpet on some blatant physical, verbal or emotional abuse and, all of a sudden, they can’t remember. Chile, bye.
The reason why gaslighters like to get off of having a selective memory is 1) they want to try and mess with your own. For instance, while another relative of mine was still alive, this master gaslighter used to try and appear virtuous by saying that they didn’t want to speak ill of them and their narratives. Oh, but when that person died, all of a sudden, the gaslighter said they were a liar and too inebriated to recall what the relative had said about how the gaslighter got down. Of course, to the gaslighter, now it’s cool to say all of that because the person can’t defend themselves or contradict their story. Now the gaslighter remembers things like it was yesterday.
Watch people who try and act like you don’t know what you’re talking about when you know damn well that you do. Not only is it condescending as all get out, but it’s also their way of trying to make you become the “character” in the story they’ve written — or rewritten. Depending on the day. Either way, it’s gonna have nightmarish results for you if you let it continue to go on for a long period of time.
2. They Are Dismissive of Your Thoughts, Feelings and/or Needs
Someone I know had a relative who was very ill. When a mutual friend of ours kept telling me that I needed to go and visit that person (the sick one), out of courtesy only (because I really didn’t have to do it), I asked the “friend” if they were OK with that. Their response was, “I need to pray about it” (if that ain’t passive-aggressive). What? Meanwhile, all kinds of other people were given “their blessing” to visit and it wasn’t until the individual was literally unconscious that I was contacted with a green light.
People who know me know that I am not passive-aggressive; if anything, I’m overly aggressive in communicating my thoughts and so, when that person reached out after their relative passed (no doubt to get sympathy), I shared how I felt about what they did. This was all email correspondence. Did they respond? Nope. And when I ran into them months later, did they say anything? Nope. Not about that. How in the world do you get petty on that kind of level and then how do we come back from a death?
Is this gaslighting? A billion times over because when you state how you feel about something or what a need is and your friend acts like you didn’t say anything at all, not only are they trying to invalidate you but they oftentimes want you to get so upset that you end up popping all of the way off, so that, that way, they can tell everyone how you victimized them.
Luckily, I learned about gaslighting before all of this went down. Still, that showed me, live and in living color, how that individual gets down. You ain’t gotta burn me at that level again, chile. I won’t fight you in the street about it but…we’re good.
3. They Are Big-Time Flatterers (with a Jacked-Up Motive)
I say it often because it’s true — not even the Bible has good things to say about flattery (Job 17:5), so I don’t know why so many folks fall for it (well, other than receiving an ego boost, I guess). Anyway, watch out for the friends who ooze flattering words. For one thing, it oftentimes comes off as being super disingenuous. Also, it’s typically a set-up. They are trying to make you feel good so that they can get something out of you (which is basically the same thing as being disingenuous, right?). Or, it could be how they get out of apologizing for doing you dirty. In other words, when you confront them about something that either hurt your feelings or was flat-out wrong, rather than them owning it (more on that in a bit), they will deflect with some sort of compliment or praise — including praising that you didn’t react in the manner that they probably deserved.
Do good friends affirm one another? Yep. The key here is to pay close attention to the motive. Affirming is just about celebrating someone. Flattery is about buttering someone up for your own agenda. Or stratagem. It all depends on what you’re after in the long run. Motives are a trip, chile. Always pay a good amount of attention to them.
4. They Don’t Take Ownership for Their Actions
Gaslighters don’t like to apologize. Gaslighters try and avoid confrontation at all costs. Gaslighters will even lie to get out of taking accountability for their actions. The reason why is because if they deal with things, head-on, in their mind that means they aren’t in control anymore and they always want to be in control.
A few years ago, I wrote about a former friend who ghosted the mess outta me (check out “I Was 'Ghosted' By My Best Friend”). When I wrote them a couple of years later to be like, “I really can’t believe you did that,” did they apologize? Nope. They went on and on about how they decided on their own that I didn’t want to be involved with them anymore.
Nope. The issue was they were going through a crazy marital situation. I had come in to help defuse it and told them that I would give them some time to work it out. I also gave them a firm date when we should revisit it all. Instead, they got a divorce and I’m pretty sure that’s why they got ghost; they didn’t want me to know that. And so, rather than just being honest, they tried to make it be like ghosting me is what I wanted. Whew, gaslighting is crazy.
Personally, I don’t trust people who can’t own their ish — straight up and flat-out. I think a part of the reason is due to how direct I tend to be. Another reason is because I’ve spent far too many precious years of my life surrounded by folks who like to play those kinds of games. If you’ve got a friend who wants to hold you accountable and yet you can never do the same thing for/to them…that’s a gaslighter. Be careful.
5. They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries in Your Other Relationships
Last year, one of the articles that I wrote for the platform was entitled, “Why I Prefer My Friends To NOT Be Friends With Each Other.” I remember reading a comment on one of our social media pages that said I was childish and problematic. Honey, I guess. First, I doubt she read the piece, and second, experience has brought me to that place and my life has been so much better for it. See, if two people are already close before I come onto the scene or we all meet at the same time, it’s whatever. But getting all close with my people’s people just because they are? For what? That’s their friends and everyone deserves to have their own space and boundaries.
It's kind of a 2.0 way of thinking yet hear me out. None of us is perfect and even friends need a place to vent — even about us. I would much rather my friends go to some random (in my world) who I don’t even know than someone who is close to me. Doing the latter just makes stuff awkward, if not super messy, and who has time for that kind of stress when it can be avoided?
Gaslighters? Oh, they would hate my article because they like everyone to be close-knit. That way, they can sow seeds of division among everyone, so that all relationships feel a little off-kilter. And when everyone is feeling kind of insecure, they can do their best manipulative work. Gaslighters loathe relational boundaries. They don’t have as much power when those exist.
6. They Constantly Play the Victim
Out of all of what I just said, probably the worst thing about a gaslighter is that they don’t know how to do anything other than play the victim. And because what they did to you is oftentimes right under the bar of catching a beatdown, they are pretty good at making it look like you’re just exaggerating what your issues with them are. UGH.
So, just what are some telltale signs that someone enjoys playing the victim role?
- They refuse to accept responsibility for the things that they’ve done.
- They will withhold their friendship until you apologize (even if they are wrong).
- They live to throw pity parties.
- If you do confront them about something, they will turn the issue onto you.
- They act like they are above correction or criticism and so if you do it, you are just jealous (to them).
- They are emotionally draining as all get out.
- They like you to be on eggshells when it comes to dealing with them.
- They will try and make you feel bad for what they did.
- They place blame on anyone and everything else.
It’s basically like, if someone shares the pearls of wisdom, “Don’t play victim to the circumstances you created,” they will find some way to act like they have no idea what anyone is talking about. All they know is they are right for gaslighting and you are wrong for calling them out on it. And that reminds me of what another author by the name of Maranda Pleasant, once said — “People who harm you will blame you for it. Remember, an abuser will generally always play the victim, spin a story, tell everyone and then generally call you ‘crazy.'”
I know it was a lot, y’all. Gaslighting is a lot. I still think it was well worth discussing because if your gut has been telling you that someone doesn’t sit quite right in your spirit and you haven’t been quite able to put your finger on anything, perhaps now you can.
Gaslighting is the worst. The good news is when you don’t provide the “kindle,” there’s very little they can do to affect — or infect — you. So…don’t (any longer).
Featured image by Giphy
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You can't have it all?” Do you think there’s any truth to it? The more I resonate with the thought, I realize it just depends on what one considers “all.” In this “How We Met” story, I chatted with two individuals who have reached an unusual level of success but, for years, celebrated it alone. Now, they have a beautiful marriage centered around faith, family, and legacy.
But the journey to getting there required them to be uniquely intentional, submit fully to God, and practice an amount of vulnerability that I think most people would find uncomfortable – especially on the first date.
Santia Barnes, known more commonly as @Trackbaby001 on Instagram, earned the highest-paid contract ever for a woman in American football. Also, she is the first female athlete to have her own shoe company. With a combined social audience of 3 million followers, she’s established herself as a mega-influencer in the health/fitness and lifestyle space. But surprisingly, in our 48-minute phone call, we only discussed this for roughly 60 seconds. Instead, I had a beautiful conversation with Santia and her husband Isaac, a successful tech entrepreneur, about their dream-like partnership.
His company was one of the fastest growing in his county for two years, and he is the only Black entrepreneur to win a federal aviation award for being a government contractor. Plus, he previously won a $13.4 billion contract with the Air Force and Space Force (cues, "he got money" in my best Quinta Brunson voice). But seriously, both of them have such an amazing story alone – yet they made it even better by finding each other. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Well, Santia felt the same way. In fact, on their first date, they actually tried to disqualify each other. Here’s how it went.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did you two meet?
Isaac: Well, firstly, we connected through the divine grace of God. But we met on Bumble and talked there, and she gave me such a hard time (laughs). But we built a connection online and then took it offline to the phone and eventually in person. Since that meeting, we’ve been stuck like glue.
Santia: Yes, we met on Bumble. But I’ve gotta add to that. I was pretty much done with love, relationships, and especially online dating. But it was right around Valentine's Day, and I felt like God was telling me to try just one more time. So, I created my profile and made it very blunt; I was super clear about what I wanted. I started swiping for a few days and eventually came across his profile, and I noticed our profiles were very similar.
I felt like it was rare for a man to be that intentional. Also, I like that he was attractive and an entrepreneur. I felt like he could understand my life. It took him a couple of days to swipe back, though, and I was little in my feelings. I was literally going to delete the app when he DM’d me. So, it was really the grace of God.
Tell me about your first date. What was the chemistry like?
Isaac: She was late (laughs). But we went to Seasons 52, which made sense because I’m vegan, and she likes to eat healthy. So I made reservations, but again, she was late. Eventually, she got there, and when she did, I saw the entire room shift. It was the weirdest thing. I’ve never seen that in real life. It was like the whole restaurant was looking at us. So we got a table, and immediately, it felt like our energy flowed together so smoothly.
You know how first dates can be awkward? This was exactly the opposite. She grilled me, and I grilled her. We asked some of the deepest questions ever. It was like we were trying to disqualify each other. After dinner, I walked her back to her car because she was recently injured. And in that moment, God talked to me. I knew that this is what it is.
Santia: We talked for like three hours on that date. I remember in the conversation, I said, “Not to be weird, but your energy makes me feel very calm.” That was a big green flag for me. I also remember him walking me back to my car and not trying anything but genuinely just caring for my leg. I was like, this is different. It was an A+ date.
"We asked some of the deepest questions ever. It was like we were trying to disqualify each other. After dinner, I walked her back to her car because she was recently injured. And in that moment, God talked to me. I knew that this is what it is."
Photo courtesy of Santia and Issac Barnes
So, what are some of these intense disqualifying questions y’all asked?
Isaac: We asked everything. We talked about our thoughts on kids, marriage, church, gender roles, family, past relationships, and trauma.
Santia: Yeah, we asked everything they tell you not to. But that’s how I knew he was the one; he didn’t get uncomfortable.
Okay, so if you were still dating, walk me through that next step. What was that conversation like when you two decided to take it to the next level?
Isaac: I had a business trip I had to go to in Orlando, and because of my connection with the Creator I knew she needed to go on this trip with me. She was overcoming tearing her ACL and just needed a break. So we took a road trip together. We drove from Atlanta to Orlando in the car for 8 hours, and we just did the work. We got into childhood trauma and aspirations. It got deep –
Santia: Like, I cried. I discovered stuff about myself I haven’t talked about with anyone else.
Isaac: In that moment, I developed a deeper sense of trust in her because of her vulnerability. And after that trip, I just knew. She still had some concerns, but I was good (laughs).
Santia: Yeah, because I felt like something had to be wrong. Like, I remember calling my mom and she tried to help me just embrace it. Eventually, I actually asked him, “What are we?” And he literally said, “You’re going to be my wife.” And I still was like, are you going to ask me to be your girlfriend though, and he did – and I said yeah. (laughs). But that was only like a month in. It was very quick.
It seems like communication has been a core part of your relationship. What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourselves individually through loving each other?
Isaac: That’s hard to answer just for this week. A lot of our stuff is self-discovery. But I’ll say, I learned how skeptical I was that this is possible. Also, I learned that all of what I went through is crafting me to be who I am today. Through this relationship, I’ve learned to embrace my 100% authentic self. Her love matters more to me than anything else, and that’s my #1 priority.
So if she accepts me how I am, who is the world to tell me I can’t be this way? She has allowed me to see myself more than any other human, and because of that, I have to shower her with as much love as possible.
Santia: I don’t even know where to start. He’s taught me a lot since day one. He made me more confident in who I am. As an influencer, you don’t always know who is there for the right reasons. But he’s made me feel 100% more confident in standing on who I am. He’s also taught me so much about business. He taught me how to open up more, not feel shame in who I am, and how to set boundaries and stick to them.
And Issac has melted every fear, doubt, and insecurity I’ve had about relationships. I could keep going, but overall, he has a really amazing way of teaching me in a loving way. Having someone that sees and understands me – and not just the social media me – but Santia Barnes, the individual, has been beautiful, and I’ve never experienced it until now.
"Issac has melted every fear, doubt, and insecurity I’ve had about relationships. Having someone that sees and understands me – and not just the social media me – but Santia Barnes, the individual, has been beautiful, and I’ve never experienced it until now."
Photo courtesy of Santia and Issac Barnes
How do you guys navigate past struggles, baggage to work toward your relationships?
Issac: On our honeymoon, I vowed that I would come into this relationship with a clear understanding of what’s holding me back so I can be my best self going through our marriage. For example, on our first day over there, we both wrote down all of the negative anchor thoughts we had around money and finances, and we literally went through every thought.
I found 50 financial aspirations, and every time I read something that I didn’t agree with, I wrote it down. And we talked about where these negative thoughts came from, going back to childhood.
Santia: We do that all the time. If anything comes up, we talk about it, try to get to the core of it, dissect it, and we solve it.
Okay, seriously do ya’ll argue at all (laughs)?
Santia: I mean, if we feel something, we say it.
Isaac: The way we got there is that we established early on that if we’re going to do this we have to be on the same team. We have a championship we’re trying to win, and that’s a family legacy. If something is going on, I’m gonna treat it like my teammate is going through it, and we’ll work through it. But it’s impossible not to have any challenges.
Santia: We don’t have to yell, scream, or be disrespectful though. We can talk in a calm voice and disagree. As long as we know that we’re on the same team, we’re good. I always know we’re not purposely trying to hurt each other, and I know that he's my partner. Looking at it from that lens changes things. We’ve only had two real arguments. It was early on, and when we dissected those too, we realized that back then, we didn’t know each other the way we do now. We weren’t sure we were on the same team (laughs).
Do you guys have any rituals or daily practices that help keep your relationship strong?
Isaac: To cement our process, we listen to our spiritual practice. We practice Sabbath every Friday evening until Saturday evening. So that means no work, no outside communication, we’re just in each other’s skin for 24 hours and experience the world together. Then we recap our week, things we’re grateful for from each other and from God, things that bother us, and then we process it right there. We do that every week.
Santia: We also go over a Bible verse and dissect it together. We have a lot of processes because when you have a plan, you can’t really fail.
Isaac: And the Bible verse always relates. It’s crazy. (laughs)
Photo courtesy of Santia and Issac Barnes
What are your love languages?
Santia: Mine is acts of service, gifts, and words of affirmation
Isaac: Mine is physical touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation.
Are there any challenges you guys had to work through?
Santia: This is my first time living with a man. So things that guys do – like not flushing the toilet, putting dishes in the sink when I’m washing the dishes, and stuff. Honestly. I was really scared about that because I love my space. But surprisingly, I adjusted very quickly. We both work from home and have our own offices, too. So it just kinda works out.
Isaac: For me, it was going from being a single man to adjusting to her needs. For example, she likes flowers. To me, that meant I occasionally bought her flowers. But to her, that means, nah, I want them multiple times a month. Date nights meant occasionally to me; she wants them weekly. It’s just about making sure our needs and expectations are articulated correctly. We come from different worlds, so it’s important to do that.
Finally, I’ll close with how did you know it was love?
Santia: We took a trip to NOLA – another road trip. I cried again and just remembered thinking there’s no one like him. I was like, God, if he’s not my person, this is a cruel joke. But more blatantly, like three months into us dating, I was so conflicted because I was like, I’m falling, and I don’t want to be hurt again.
I remember I had a dream where I was in this dark room and there was this figure there, and I knew it was God, and in that dream, I feel like he told me clear as day that Isaac was my person. Plus, my Mom hates everyone I’ve ever dated, but she was like he’s gonna be my son-in-law. I had so many confirmations that I eventually just let go.
Isaac: It was multiple moments. I really got confirmation on the first date, but I became sure in one moment. I was sitting in my office, and she came in, and we were talking about her making history. So I started showing her some of my awards, too, and at that point, she still didn’t know what I did. And she was like, why don’t people know about this, and I showed her my Facebook page – where I had made a small post with a few likes (laughs). And she was like, do you know how many young Black children don’t know this is possible? It was different.
I felt like a hypocrite because I do everything for the next generation. So, she allowed me to see myself in that totality and still hold me accountable. The only person who had done that for me was my Dad and [he] passed away a few days before my 18th birthday. So after that, that did it for me. Then we went to the DR for my brother's anniversary, and she met my family and I saw how well she blended with my family, and I just knew.
Santia and Isaac are continuing to grow their individual businesses and love journey. Through that process, they have created an intentional dating platform on Instagram called @dateintentional1.
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Featured image courtesy of Santia and Issac Barnes