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We Talked To 9 Men About When They Know They’re Ready For Love

The fellas from OWN's second season of Ready to Love are here to fill us in on all things love and relationships.

#xoMan

Have you ever wanted to know if your man really loves you? I mean really, REALLY loves you. Have you ever found yourself asking: 'How will I know if he really loves me?' Well, I have some comforting news: you're in good company.

The truth of the matter is: so have I. So has my best friend, probably your best friend; so have many other women. And believe it or not, so has Whitney Houston. So much so, that she wrote a whole song about it. And it's in that vein that I'll let you in on a little hard truth: we won't ever know. Our feelings can be misleading, our blinding love can be deceitful. We can say a prayer with every heartbeat but the fact of the matter is until that man backs up with actions what he says with his lips, women will never (and I mean never) know if a man really loves them. Or if they're even ready to love in the first place.

Courtesy of OWN

But, fortunately, all hope is not lost. Our favorite love show where black people get to meet and potentially find love in a hopeless place (known as Atlanta) is back for another season! The series, produced by Will Packer and hosted by Thomas "Nephew Tommy" Miles, has a new roster of highly sought after singles and has once again solidified a spot in our Saturday nights.

I got the chance recently to talk with 9 bachelors from the second season of the OWN Network show Ready to Love (airing Saturdays at 10/9c), where they let me in on their thoughts about love, commitment, and everything else in between and they did not disappoint.

Here's what they had to say:

Chimuka "Chika", 42

Courtesy of OWN

On the concept of courtship...

"Courtship is primarily on the man, however, I feel as if some women nowadays demand courtship and aren't worthy of courtship. And by that, I mean this: just because you're a woman, it doesn't mean you possess the qualities that a man is looking for in the 'woman for him.'''

On finding a compatible partner at this stage...

"Finding a partner at this particular stage in my life is easier for me. I know what I want, what I'm willing to tolerate, I'm financially stable, very aware of the red flags. I still leave room for mistakes or for things taken out of context. But I also know who I am and what I bring to OUR table."

On the things to know from the first date...

"Some things I'd like to know on the first date: are you separated or divorced? Where do you see yourself in two years? How ambitious are you? Do you have kids or do you want kids? Do you have a job or a career? On a scale of 1-10, how supportive are you—1 being horrible and 10 being superb."

Terrell, 42

Courtesy of OWN

On catering to the needs of your partner...

"I had the pleasure of growing up with sisters older and younger, with me as a middle child. I am very emotionally aware when it comes to expressing my needs but it becomes an awesome challenge to wake up and think, 'What can be done to add to my partner's happiness?'''

On how to revive courtship...

"The microwave mentality of dating has to change. Courtship is a true art of showing your partner creative romantic ways of how special they are. Courtship ultimately is a preview of what is to come, which is marriage."

On evolving to meet the needs of your partner...

"When in a committed relationship, I no longer live for myself but [for] us. Living for us will create change of old habits and create new ones. Selflessness is evolving one's mindset."

Jimmy, 40

Courtesy of OWN

On how his outlook on love has changed...

"I make better choices on who I decide to spend my time with. I secretly place them in top picks and bottom picks. A woman who I get to know will move to bottom pick in the event we just aren't vibing. I also spend more time on the phone now with who I really vibe with because I feel like a woman really doesn't vibe with you unless she gives you phone time. That texting mess is all smoke and mirrors."

On making your partner feel loved in a new relationship...

"I think public displays of affection are necessary when it's someone you really like. Holding hands, dancing together, and occasional kissing is dope. It usually makes her feel special."

On what the last relationship taught him...

"I've learned to love myself more, love taking care of me first, and that peace of mind starts with self-care."

Darin, 35

Courtesy of OWN

On how to impress a woman on the first date...

"I would advise not trying to impress a potential mate. Be yourself and take them to a place you enjoy or ask them what they enjoy doing!"

On making your partner feel secure in a new relationship...

"No one can make anyone feel any way at all. True happiness and love come from within. I would advise being secure with and loving yourself before dating anyone!"

On his love languages...

"My love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch."

London, 42

Courtesy of OWN

On what he looks for on the first date...

"Good vibes, energy, and chemistry."

On being vulnerable with your partner...

"I'm ready to get outside my comfort zone."

On what his love languages are...

"My love language is quality time."

Kerry, 51

Courtesy of OWN

On being vulnerable with your partner...

"Vulnerability for me happens when I feel I can trust someone who I [feel] genuinely cares about me as a person and future mate."

On what’s missing in today’s conversation of courtship...

"Belief systems, sharing clear expectations and boundaries, timelines, and shared goals for the relationship."

On what will sustain a relationship...

"It is the compatibility piece that sustains the relationship. I realize how easy it is to have quick surface connections with people who also have connections with other people as well."

Mario, 41

Courtesy of OWN

On being emotionally aware with your partner...

"I am very in-tune when it comes to catering to my partner. Communication is key when it comes to being open to their needs as well expressing my own. Closed mouths don't get fed."

On his love languages...

"My love language is acts of service."

On changing for love’s sake…

"Changing traits about myself will most definitely depend on who I'm changing those traits for and if I care to change those traits."

Mike, 40

Courtesy of OWN

On positive indicators on the first date...

"What I look out for is for her to not be so serious. I don't want our date to feel like it's an interview. Let's laugh a little bit let's joke some, I'm sure we'll get to the serious conversation when we were talking on the phone."

On what he’s learned from his last relationship...

"I learned how to not be so closed-off. I need to open up more when it comes to talking instead of walking away all the time."

On where to take a woman on the first date...

"I want to do what's going to make her happy, so I would ask her what's her favorite restaurant and start there."

Brent, 40

Courtesy of OWN

On what he looks for before committing...

"I look for a woman who makes it easy to trust her. She's open and honest about her past and her shortcomings. I also like a woman that's thoughtful and doesn't mind showing you how important you are to her life."

On the indicators of a compatible partner...

"I can't be with anyone who doesn't have a spiritual foundation or who doesn't believe in the economic empowerment of Black people in America."

On what to do to get to know a woman on the first date...

"I like taking a woman to the gym and putting her through one of my workouts. I want to see her effort, her drive, or if she'll complain or persevere. I'm big on fitness and a woman that can keep up with me and pushes past her own limitations is definitely a turn-on."

Be sure to catch Ready to Love every Saturday at 10/9c. And if you haven't already, watch the first full episode here.

Featured image courtesy of Instagram/@sellyourhomejimmyjones.

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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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