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.
"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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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash