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The Important Reason You Shouldn't Wait To Be Chosen

My cautionary tale on waiting for a man to make me his wife.

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Yes, yes. It's that time of year again. The time when folks get engaged (and divorced but that's another conversation for another time) at a record pace.


Charge it to it simply being the month of December when a lot of us think back to how the past year went and what we want to do differently in the next one. That, along with the fact that romantic Hallmark movies run on loop, diamonds are on sale, and our relatives are looking at us like, "So, when are you going to finally set a wedding date?" and it makes a lot of sense why so many men—and a few women—will be getting down on one knee underneath the mistletoe over the next few weeks.

That's why it wasn't a shock—not at all—when I saw that rap artist Juelz Santana got down on one of his own knees and proposed to his girlfriend (and mother of his two children) Love & Hip-Hop: New York co-star Kimbella Vanderhee after nearly a decade of an on-again-off-again relationship. Kimbella took to Instagram to share the moment with the caption:

"We've been together since 2009, next year will make it 10 years. Ladies, if that's the man you want & love you will wait however long if the love is REAL! Thank you for the love & support!"

If you've been following their journey at all, you know that its got layers on top of layers on top of layers to it. Even in the trailer for this season of LHHNY, Kimbella says out of her own mouth, "I had to take care of my kids by myself because you decided to use drugs," to which Santana replies, "The whole time you say that I was so-called on drugs, you said we wasn't together," to which Kimbella fires back, "What kind of excuse is that for a man? And if that's how you feel then…let's end it now."

I've spent enough time writing in the entertainment industry lane to know that gossip blogs, so-called reality television shows, and sound bites don't even begin to scratch the surface of any relationship; that there is always more than meets the eye. That's why when it comes to Juelz and Kimbella's relationship specifically, all I'll say is, "Congrats."

B-U-T. As I watched Derrick Jaxn's take on the engagement (Cliff notes: Basically he said it takes a man a couple of weeks to determine if a woman is marriage material, definitely 10 years to marry her if he loves her, and if she loves herself, she won't let it take 10 years regardless), I first thought about a quote and then about a somewhat-waste-of-time experience I had myself.

The quote?

"You'll never be good enough for a man who isn't ready."

And when someone is ready, that means they are "completely prepared", "duly equipped" and most of all—WILLING. A man who is ready for marriage is WILLING to get married. Not in 10 years. Not in five. But soon.

That brings me to my own experience. There's a guy I once had, shoot, something with. We had a one-of-a-kind connection. Folks even said we looked alike. For a couple of years, I handled a lot of his work affairs. I even got a couple of original songs about me out of the deal. We were close friends and a great team. Undeniably-and-mutually-decidedly so.

That's why, when he told me towards the beginning of our journey without my prompting him in any way, "I promise to get into position for this life and us," I believed him. Hook, line, and sinker.

Yet year after year, roller coaster ride after roller coaster ride, if there's one thing that we weren't getting closer to, it was a wedding altar. In fact, towards the end of everything, he defined how he emotionally felt as being in "marriage purgatory" as he tried to figure out 1) if he wanted to get married at all (to anyone) and 2) if I was truly the one.

Typically, people hear the word "purgatory" and think of it as being in the middle of the road or lukewarm so to speak, but it actually means someone feeling as if they are in a temporary state of punishment or suffering. Ouch. Whether that's literally what he meant or not, that's what he said.

Through the "I love you's," the strong attraction (although I never gave him any), and 10 years of history, he's right. He wasn't just in purgatory. So was I.

Not so much because of the 10 years itself, but because over the course of that time, I watched how much he professionally pursued and made things happen in that same time frame. What seemed impossible for many, he succeeded in, sometimes in record time. And that taught me, in live and living color, that what a man wants, he'll move heaven and earth to get. Meanwhile, if he's not sure that he wants it, he'll keep living life until he is certain…and since it's not a priority, that could be forever if need be.

So, while some may think my takeaway is if you wait 5, 10 or more years on a man, you're playin' yourself because he'll never marry you, Juelz just proved that point to be wrong (or at least highly-debatable).

No, my cautionary tale is if you're READY to marry, pick someone who is also READY. Otherwise, by the time they get ready, all of those days, weeks, months, and years that you lost in the process may make their proposal pale in comparison to the purgatory you were in. You may resent the engagement more than celebrate it at all because deep down inside you'll know that if he really wanted to make life with you happen…he would've…a long time before now. Just like all of the other things that he pursued up until this point. Because he was READY to.

Just something to think about—and consider before any more of your precious time—effort or energy—gets away from you.

Question of the day: Where do you ladies stand on the matter? Would you wait on a man in hopes of that fairy tale ending someday, or would you find a man who is equally yoked in the now? Let us know below!

Featured image by Getty Images

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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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