What Self-Care Looks Like For BuzzFeed Writer Jamé Jackson
For xoNecole's Finding Balance series, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
No matter if life gives you lemons or straight up lemonade, the choice of what happens is up to you.
This was the case for Jamé Jackson, a style & beauty writer for BuzzFeed's As/Is columns and founder and EIC of TheBlondeMisfit. Our xoNecole fam might also recognize her byline from an article or two. The writer extraordinaire who decided that she wanted to go into journalism, found that there were more closed doors than open, especially for a Black girl from Washington, D.C. with no formalized journalism experience.
As a result, she forged her own path, creating content that specifically targeted Black women and the conversations surrounding Black culture in fashion and beauty. When she's not sharing her silly antidotes, beauty splurges, and thrift finds on social media, she's working on ensuring that Black girls are never an afterthought, especially when we define culture, honey.
In this installment of Finding Balance, we chatted with Jamé to find out how she balances working at one of the most prominent tech companies in the world, her health, and in love and relationships.
What is an average day or week like for you?
An average day for me can vary. Working in the beauty and fashion industry, I could be in the city at a media breakfast, meeting a client or a person of interest for a story, or even at showcases that discuss next season's goodies. Sometimes the only thing I'm doing all day is transcribing interviews or reaching out for exclusive quotes, and other days, I'm just writing, writing, writing. I could be preparing for a panel, a shoot, or just chillin', haha. The only thing consistent throughout my week is that I force myself not to overextend my work and responsibilities outside of my work hours. So, I will say, "I can only do something after work 3x a week," so that I have time to go home and actually rest. It's difficult when you're a busybody like me, but it's been so necessary to my emotional and spiritual health.
What do you find to be the most hectic part of your week? How do you push through?
Thankfully, I have really strived to find balance in my life in 2018, and work isn't hectic for me because I absolutely love what I do and the content I get to write for BuzzFeed/As/Is. The most hectic part probably is finding that moment where I turn myself 'off', and decompress after a long day, or finding a healthy schedule to get everything done. I have fabulous work moms (hey Essence and Patrice!) who make sure I take time to rest, and more importantly, that I'm not apologetic for needing time to myself. I'm someone who will literally write "Go grocery shopping," in my calendar so I won't forget. I push through by honoring myself when I see that I'm putting too much on myself, but also forgiving myself when I forget something or just don't have the energy to do it. Nothing is worth trippin' about in the bigger scheme [of things].
I also have amazing accountability partners who work on different teams in BuzzFeed, people who are always pushing me to take a moment and celebrate my wins. There are women like Julee Wilson at Essence, or Dana Oliver at Yahoo, who pour into me all the time. Badass babes like Gia Peppers or Sheriden Chanel who literally keep me filled up with prayer and purpose on a daily basis. There's women like Renae Bluitt from In Her Shoes, Africa Miranda who is a poppin' beauty entrepreneur, or even Necole Kane, who are all amazing examples of women who model what I hope to deposit in this world, but they always remind me that I can't take on the entire world all in a day (even though I try).
"I push through by
honoring myself when I see that I'm putting too much on myself, but also
forgiving myself when I forget something or just don't have the energy to do
it. Nothing is worth trippin' about in the bigger scheme [of things]."
How do you practice self-care? What is your self-care routine?
Self-care to me can be sleeping, watching movies, getting outside on a weekend for some fresh air, or even just binge-watching YouTube videos and podcasts. A huge part of self-care for me has been learning how to stop answering emails, or not feeling like I have to immediately respond. I don't check emails or social media before 10 AM or after 10 PM, unless it is an emergency, in which case, someone can text me. Giving myself that time in the morning to ease into my day before I start consuming everything happening in the world has REALLY allowed me to feel more at ease while at work.
Of course, as a beauty girl, I love things like getting my hair and nails done, doing an at-home spa day for myself, or just giving myself a few more minutes in the morning to do my makeup. I get weekly massages and practice yoga, both of which have helped me release tension in my body. I know it seems very superficial to some, but if it makes you feel better, I'd argue that's part of self-care.
How do you find balance with:
This is one of the things I have always struggled with, mostly because I can get so laser-focused that I'll forget to come up for air, sometimes. However, I have learned that as you continue to grow and pursue your passions and purpose, the ones who are meant to be with you will be there, and they won't make you feel bad when you have to do what you have to do. I have friends who I talk to almost every day, and I have others who I'll talk to every few weeks. I think social media has helped too, because I'll see them online and can interact with them there even if I can't see them during the actual week. I don't expect my friends to come to every panel or support every story, but I do expect for my friends to pour into me as I do for them.
I have had to become very "business"-like with my friendships, because the reality is, not everyone will root for your success. If it doesn't serve me or add to my bottom line for health and prosperity, I gotta cut them loose. When I stopped attaching my worth to friends' circles and instead started thanking God for sending me only the right ones, that's when my attitude around life and friends really changed.
"When I stopped attaching
my worth to friends' circles and instead started thanking God for sending me
only the right ones, that's when my attitude around life and friends really
Like friendships, I believe love and relationships that are meant to be will work. While I love the idea of marriage and kids one day, right now I am so selfish with my time and energy. If I end up sharing that with someone else, they won't subtract anything from me, they'll only add. And they won't make me feel bad for being a focused woman with her eye on the prize.
With relationships, it's all about balance but also about intention. When I began setting better intentions for myself, by asking the Universe and God for authentic people in my life, that's when He was able to honor them. The biggest relationship I have is the one with God, followed by my relationship with myself. When I improved my relationship with God, I saw my personal relationship with myself improve. Now, I have so many women in my life who pour into me and aspire me to be bigger, and better, versions of myself. And then I'm able to give it back.
Exercise? Does it happen?
I don't exercise as much as I'd like to, but I do yoga. I've become a huge yoga lover over the past few months, and have really seen how it benefits me emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. The days I don't go to the studio, I'll go the gym and workout, or go running in my neighborhood. While everyone's physical needs are different, I definitely think a balance of exercise will help creatives who may need a physical outlet to the stress that's natural with the job.
Many of the major life changes I've had to make were direct results of a deteriorating health. I remember one time being in the doctor's office, and after getting my blood results back, one of my blood levels were so low, the doctor said, "I don't even know how you are able to have enough energy to get yourself out of bed in the morning." This was the same doctor who said that I'd never be able to have children because my estrogen levels were non-existent. At that moment, I had to pick myself up, and begin making lifestyle changes that would not only allow me to have the life that I always wanted, but the life that I never knew I was missing out on. Especially as Black women, it's vital that we take our health seriously and I'm blessed that I've been a living testament of changing your life around, even if I still have a long way to go. I'm also a huge advocate for support groups and therapy.
Do you ever detox? What does that look like for you?
I don't do physical detoxes (although I'm never opposed to one!) but I do my own versions of detoxes, like a few times a year, going a month without meat or without coffee. I also do spiritual detoxes, where I'll pull myself back from social media. It's hard when you work in the influencer space and people literally depend on your photos and imagery, but I can't serve others if I don't serve myself.
"I can't serve others if I don't serve myself."
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I always have to remind myself that faith and fear are polar opposites, and if I am feeling fearful, then I'm not practicing faith. I always think of the scripture that says not to be anxious for anything, and that the latter half of that scripture says to make my requests known unto God through prayer. When I get 'stuck', or start questioning myself, I pray. At the end of the day, God is the single most important thing in my life, and I live to honor Him by the work that I do. I have a ton of screenshots in my phone of DM's, emails, and texts, from people who have thanked me for the work that I do or even just given me that "Yaaass, Black Queen!" stamp of approval. Funny enough, when I feel down, I do a shoutout on my Insta stories for people to tell me about good things that happened to them that day, and reading those responses lets me know God is still up and movin'! It's the moments of encouragement and positive words that help re-ground me into my purpose on this Earth, which is to uplift and empower Black women.
What does success mean to you?
When I first moved to New York, success meant being in every room with the big dogs. Now, success is experiencing the fullness of peace, and not feeling the need to push for things when I know I am already equipped with everything I need to succeed.
What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance?
Balance isn't really formulaic, which is why I think I have an issue with how people try to be very prescriptive on finding balance. Everyone will find balance with their different variances of percentages, so it's not always a 50/50 thing. Sometimes it will sway left, sometimes it will sway right. The most important part is that you always find yourself coming back to center, no matter what.
Follow Jamé on Instagram @theblondemisfit. Also be sure to check out some of the other amazing ladies we've featured in our Finding Balance series by clicking here.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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What Is A 'Monogamy Agreement' And Should You Have One?
As a writer, I've gotta admit that it can get more and more challenging to tackle certain topics. Why? It's because I'm a pretty word-literal person. Yet, like a lot of people who I witness on a daily basis, who constantly move the goalposts in order to suit whatever whim they're on at any given moment, even the dictionary has a way of doing something similar when it comes to various words' definitions.
Take monogamy, for example. When I was growing up, it meant "married to one person for a lifetime." This meant that you couldn't be remarried and technically consider yourself monogamous (because you're not with the first person you said vows to). And you definitely couldn't be living with someone or in a long-term relationship and use the word. No, for you, something like "exclusive" would be more accurate (and that's actually the word that I lean into in those instances even now).
These days, though, the goalpost says that monogamy is "marriage with only one person at a time." So, while people who've had more than one spouse can now use the word, when it comes to what we're about to dive into today (a monogamy agreement), folks who are interested in those would still be far better off going with something like "exclusive" to drive their point home. That's because this topic doesn't really have anything to do with marriage…although it does approach commitment in an interesting kind of way.
Yeah, in a world that is ever finding ways to change marriage, redefine marriage or figure out how close they can get to marriage without actually getting married, monogamy agreements have entered the chat. And because we try to cover as many bases as possible, basically on the "FYI tip," I wanted to take a moment to break down what exactly they are.
Let’s Tackle Traditional Marriage First. For Clarity’s Sake.
I won't lie — even as someone who's been working with married couples for many years now, whenever I happen upon a healthy (first) and happy (second) married couple of more than a decade, I'm halfway in shock. That's because, these days, people seem to treat the sacredness of marriage like they would a dating relationship — they have a big party in the form of a wedding, pledge to God and everyone present that they're not going anywhere (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and that their love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and then, somewhere down the line, when things get rough, they end it…only to rinse and repeat.
Now when it comes to things like infidelity and abuse, that's not what I'm speaking of here. I'm talking about there are so many people acting like they are married before they actually are (a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a husband or wife) that by the time they do say "I do," they are numbed out to the fact that a marriage is supposed to be several steps up in seriousness and sacredness than a dating dynamic is.
I definitely could go on and on about how there is supposed to be a boatload of integrity behind the vows that are exchanged between two people. However, this article isn't about marriage — it's about monogamy agreements. What I will say about marriage, for now, is it's not just about if you love someone a lot. Ask any pastor, marriage counselor, or even lawyer worth their merit, and they will confirm the fact that marriage is a legal contract — that you are not just vowing sentiments and emotional promises. No, under the law of marriage, there are also certain rights and responsibilities that you are agreeing to as well. That's why people should go into marriage with a very sober and level-headed mind because they're a lot easier to get into than they are to get out of. No doubt about it.
Speaking of legalities, let's touch on marriage licenses for a moment, shall we? Because there is something about them that you actually may not know (that I absolutely think that you should).
So, What’s the Deal with Marriage Licenses and Marriage Certificates?
Although this really could get its own article, let me just say that marriage licenses definitely deserve some level of side-eye in this country. Even though history says that it started out as being a business contract in England, in America, the long short of it is racist politicians used marriage licenses as a way to keep track of interracial couples (you can read more about it here, here, and here). Yep. So, that's part of the reason why even some traditionally married couples are not super fond of marriage licenses — because, basically, the government is "regulating" the relationship on some level.
With that cleared up, just what is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate? Good question. A marriage license is what allows you to get married in your state prior to saying "I do," while a marriage certificate is a document that proves you are married once your wedding ceremony is actually over.
Can you get a marriage certificate without a marriage license? The short answer would be "no," although couples who fall into the category of "common law marriage" sometimes are able to work around this based on what state they live in. For everyone else, getting married without a marriage license is basically a commitment ceremony. That's because, in order to get a marriage license or marriage certificate, your state's county clerk would have to issue you one.
Now, I ain't got no lies to tell you — go to YouTube, and you will see a good amount of videos (like this one here) stating that not only can you work around not getting a marriage license, you absolutely should. To that, I'll just say that one of the biggest problems with social media is everyone is a so-called expert now, even if they have no credentials to back it up. So with that in mind, if this section of the article has you tempted to go down a long rabbit hole (and I totally get it if it does), speak with some people who have actual and literal experience in the field in your state. Don't just go rogue with your own resolve (please don't let YouTube and TikTok hem you up).
Okay, So What Is This Whole Monogamy Agreement Thing About?
So, what does all of that have to do with a monogamy agreement? Well, in order to explain why some people are opting for it as an alternative to a marriage license (or marriage altogether), it was important to explain marriage licenses and certificates just so that you could clearly get what the differences are.
Now that you know, a monogamy agreement is pretty much just how it sounds: it's an agreement that is established between two people who want to have some form of a commitment to one another, yet they don't want all of the legalities that come with traditional marriage.
If you're trying to wrap your head around that, I'll explain it to you this way. You've probably heard someone say that they wish that the marriage contract could be renegotiated every few years. For instance, rather than being "locked into" until death parts us, every five years or so, they wish that they could revisit their marriage to see if they want to opt-out, change certain initial agreements, or restructure the marriage altogether. Well, for folks who are wired this way, a monogamy agreement is probably the best route for them to take because, again, although it's not a legally binding contract, it is a formal agreement between them and their partner about what each of their expectations is.
See it like an integrity agreement — no one is making assumptions about where things stand or where things are headed (hopefully); the monogamy agreement puts things in black and white so that it's all crystal clear.
And when I say "black and white," I literally mean just that. Again, although it's not a legal contract, it is a document that lays everything out so that there is no confusion. And what do I mean by "everything"? It's totally up to you and your partner, yet some of the things that people usually include are goals and values, sexual expectations, financial responsibilities, boundaries (both in and outside of the relationship), how infidelity is defined, ultimate goals for the relationship — and yes, when the agreement is up for renegotiation whether that's in a year, five years or 10.
Who Should Consider a Monogamy Agreement?
Now that you know more about what a monogamy agreement is, let's begin to land this plane with the people a monogamy agreement may be best suited for. While at the end of the day, the short answer is anyone who wants one, there's a specific reason why I decided to even broach this topic.
It's because, while it's not (yet) earth-shattering in either direction, marriage is somewhat on the decline as cohabitation is on the rise in this country. And while research continues to reveal that married couples are more satisfied with their relationship than folks who live together and many who do cohabitate, they see it as a stepping stone towards becoming spouses at some point, let's not act like millennials (and under) aren't a bit gun shy when it comes to saying "I do."
Reportedly, 56 percent of them are not married. For many women, it's because they are prioritizing their education and careers over marriage and a family. Also, some suffer from what is known as gamophobia (the technical term for having a fear of getting married), in part due to a pattern of failed relationships, being the child of divorce (divorce affects children more than a lot of people want to accept) and what getting divorced themselves could possibly cost them. Then there are those who just never wanted to get married…yet that doesn't mean that they don't believe in some form of commitment on some level.
For individuals who don't want to casually date or even just sit at the "boyfriend/girlfriend level" for years on end, monogamy agreements may be a solid fit. You can have your own version of a commitment ceremony (or not), knowing that you're not on one page regarding what your relationship is about while your partner is somewhere totally different. There's no confusion because you literally have documentation about where the two of you are.
Now, I will say this: no agreement works if two people's words are trash (LOL). Yet honestly, that can apply to traditional marriage or a monogamy agreement. I'm just putting you on to what a monogamy agreement is all about if you've been trying to figure out how to have a serious commitment without a legal contract.
No doubt about it, monogamy agreements are gaining some real traction out in these streets.
Something for the committed-yet-not-marriage-minded.
Interesting, right? Relationships always are, chile.
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