Why You Might Need To End This Year With A Breakup
I’m willing to bet that it comes as absolutely no surprise to most of you that the most popular day to get engaged is Christmas and the most popular time of the year to do it is between November and December. And just why am I bringing all of that lovey-dovey stuff up when this title clearly indicates that we’re going to be discussing the total opposite of a man getting down on one knee? Well, interestingly enough, guess when the most popular time of the year is when it comes to people (70 percent of which are women, by the way) filing for divorce? That, my dear, would be January.
The stress of the holiday season, compounded with so much focus on making resolutions for a new year, oftentimes is what sends husbands and wives over the edge. To them, ending their marriage at the top of the year means a fresh start. It means no longer having to tolerate what they’ve had to for weeks, months, or even years on end.
Now here’s the thing. While I personally think that marriage is several steps up on the commitment tip from dating (I also think a lot of us could be spared unnecessary heartache if we processed it this way. Check out “Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife”), at the same time, most people don’t get to the point of proposals, marriage, and possibly divorce without it, right? That’s why, in the effort that all of us can get to who and what is best for us (and also so we won’t end up wasting precious time), I thought it would be a good idea to run down a few reasons why ending the year with a breakup, may actually be what’s ultimately…best.
You’re Constantly Wondering If You’re Missing Out on Something
It’s not uncommon to use the end of the year as a time for some serious reflection. Well, when it comes to your relationship, ask yourself this — what do I like the most and what do I like the least about it? Although no relationship is perfect (because no human is), a telling sign that you’re in something that’s healthy and beneficial is you don’t feel like things are missing and/or that you keep having to compensate for certain voids or needs that you have. That’s actually one of the reasons why I am absolutely NOT team act-like-you’re-married-when-you’re-not; it’s because it will have you believing that you have to endure some of the things that people with paperwork, changed names and different tax statuses have to — and that’s simply not true.
Everyone deserves to feel like they can “exhale” in their relationship. If you feel more like you are ignoring the quiet voice in the back of your head that is telling you that there is more out there, I wouldn’t ignore it. There is a huge chance that it’s probably right.
Remember: Time Waits for No One
Semi-recently, I did an interview about if there is anything I regret about my 20s and 30s. Chile. CHILE. If you are in your 20s and reading this, let me share three things. One, you can spare yourself a lot of drama by not spending so much time trying to “prove how grown you are” instead of being open to hearing the wisdom of folks who have already been your age before (discernment tops experience, more often than not). Two, this ridiculous notion that you should be wild and reckless for an entire decade and then get around to getting more serious about life in your 30s is costing people more than they think. And three, I’m saying all of this because I know from personal experience. Because I was dealing with some childhood and adolescent-related trauma and I was stubborn and I was too smart for my own good, my 20s were really something. Because of that, I spent most of my 30s in recovery, and honestly, just now, in my 40s, is everything leveling out. Lawd. Time. Time I will never get back.
A wise person once said that when you start to value yourself, you start to value your time more. That said, another sign that it may be time to break up is if you keep wondering if you’re wasting your time or people who care about you keep telling you that you are doing exactly that. Because if there are two things that I believe, now more than ever, it’s when there’s reciprocity in a relationship, there is no need to keep tabs and if two people are fulfilled in their dynamic, they don’t wonder if they are wasting time; they are too busy enjoying their time together for it to even cross their minds.
I would hate for you to look up, two years from now, and realize that you should’ve made some shifts a long time ago because two years from now is…two years from now. Each day is just as precious as you are. Make sure that your relationship honors the time that you have. It’s supposed to.
You’ve Hit a Fork in the Road
A part of the reason why I’m such a fan of people getting relationship insights from the opposite sex is because you need people who naturally think differently than you do. For instance, while your girlfriends may be encouraging you to hang in for another year (after it’s already been several years) to see if your man is going to become who you want him to be, your male homies may be like, “If he wanted to marry you, he would’ve done it by now." And you know what? Your male friends are probably right because if there is one thing that I know about men is, what they want, they will go all the way out of their way to get it — if need be.
Sometimes, relationships need to end, not because two people don’t love each other anymore; it’s just that they want different things out of life. And sometimes, the relationship is what helps to bring them to that conclusion. You know, one of the best things about dating as opposed to being married is you can always put yourself above all else, you can always do what is best for you. If you want marriage and kids in the next few years and your man is like “I mean…maybe” — don’t over-romanticize things. Please believe that when he heard what you wanted and replied with some “meh” energy that he already sized up that he could end up losing you because you’re on two different pages. Staying longer isn’t going to change his mind either. He has to get there on his own.
Forks in the road can be challenging because you spent so much time walking through life together and suddenly you’ve got to decide if you should continue to do so or not. What I will say to that is the world is mighty big and you stand a far greater chance of freeing yourself up to see what other possibilities there are than to “hang right” with him and just…hope for the best. Besides, doing that, more times than not, isn’t really about love. Far too often, it’s actually about…fear. This brings me to the next point.
Fear, More than Love, Is Keeping You
You’d be amazed, how many clients have told me that on the day before their wedding, they knew that they were making a mistake to get married (check out “What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Married The Wrong Person?”). Shoot, my own mother said that about my father and my brother’s dad. And I wrote an entire book that touched on how that led to layers of pure bullshishery for all parties involved. That’s why I totally believe that the opposite of love is not hate (one definition of hate is “unwillingness”) but fear. Nothing about love moves in fear. Love is courageous. Love is bold. Love is also holistically beneficial. Fear, on the other hand, typically overthinks. Fear creates anxiety, worry, and doubt. Fear creates clinginess and neediness. Yeah, love and fear are polar opposites, pretty much in every way.
I’m pretty sure that, at some point, you’ve heard that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Sometimes, when I reflect on that, I think of fear from the angle of being a mirage. It can play with your mind so much — yes, even in a relationship — that you’ll talk yourself into staying stuck in something because you think that leaving will totally wreck your life when that’s simply not true. Oftentimes, when we get the nudge to move on, the universe is letting us know that all that we needed to get from a person, place, thing or idea, we’ve received and to remain would be to do it/them and us a huge disservice.
Love? Love is calming and reassuring. Fear? Fear gets us to freak out in our decision-making process. When it comes to your relationship, which side of the fence are you on? Trust me, on this, there is no middle ground; riding the fence is simply impossible (if you’re honest with yourself, that is).
You Keep Looking to Him to Do More than YOU Are Doing for You
There are needs and then there is being needy. The first is healthy. The second, not so much (check out “Are You In Love Or Are You In Need?”). The reason why a lot of people are so needy in their relationship, though, is because there is some part of them who thinks that it is their partner’s job to make up for where they lack within themselves. What I mean by that is, say that you don’t think very highly of yourself. Rather than take some time to be alone to get a grasp on why that is the case, you decide, “I’ll just get a boyfriend and then constantly nag him to affirm me, give to me and make me feel good about me.” What about that sounds like a healthy relationship or something that a healthy person wants to get involved in?
I’ve had relationships in the past where, because I didn’t love myself very much, I expected the men in my life to make up for it. That’s not only unfair, it’s pretty unrealistic too. When you’re in something that’s good, your partner is going to reflect back to you how you feel. Yes, they will be loving, respectful and giving. However, not tp the point where they are being these things more than you are. You know, I know a man who, when his now ex-wife wanted to call their wedding off, he told her that he had enough love for the both of them. If you just said “aww” to that, I’m shaking my head because that is some seriously dysfunctional and codependent ish.
No one has enough love to make up for the love someone else lacks. Besides, that’s not their job. The job of a partner is to support, encourage and reaffirm what you already know about yourself as you do the same thing for him. If all of this is completely foreign to you, that’s another sign that breaking up, at least for a season, so that you can get clear on how you feel about yourself, may just be the best thing.
Feelings Are Superseding Facts
Following your heart is following your feelings and feelings tend to be quite fickle. So no, I am not a fan. Lord, the amount of drama (and even divorces) that could be spared if people focused on facts. Facts are rooted in what actually exists. Facts are based on reality. Facts are about acknowledging the truth. When it comes to your guy, feel how you feel yet don’t make major decisions without considering the facts — what exists between the two of you, the reality about the two of you, the truth about the two of you. And if those things are totally contrary to your feelings…you already know what I’m about to say. Even if you don’t break up, get some space to really ponder and process THE REAL because a relationship that is approached based on only feelings and no facts is problematic, at best.
Honey, I know. This definitely ain’t no Hallmark holiday rom-com kind of piece. Yet if you want to live the kind of life that is full of what you truly desire, it’s important to get out of scripted movies and into the real world. Ending the year with a breakup can be hard; still, it’s much harder to be right here, this time next year, with no progress. It’s your heart. Your time. YOUR LIFE. Please, sis, choose wisely.
And while you’re single (not married), that always means choosing you — most of all.
Featured image by Giphy
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Over the years, Keke Palmer has solidified herself as a prominent voice of her generation who doesn’t shy away from speaking her truth. Now, the 29-year-old actress is peeling back the layers and opening up about her sexuality and gender identity.
According to Variety, the Nopestar was presented the Vanguard Award at the LGBT Center’s The Gala in Los Angeles, where she took time to reflect on her own identity journey.
“Sexuality and identity for me has always been confusing,” Keke shared during her acceptance speech. “I never felt straight enough. I never felt gay enough. And I never felt woman enough. I never felt man enough. You know, I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.”
KeKe recalls that she’d often “lead with masculinity” and how that complicated her perspective on the power within herself. “And as a woman, I’ve always been met with so much disdain, you know what I mean? I think so much of that came from who I thought I had to be to get respect, admiration, and love,” she says. “And I’ve always really wanted to be like my father…to want to be taken seriously and not diminish because I was a woman. You know, that’s always been a source of — I guess you would say — pain and resentment.”
Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center
The moment of reflection brought on an emotional response from the Nickelodeon alum. “Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality?” she asked.
“You know, since I was younger, I always questioned the boxes I was forced to be in and it starts with who you’re supposed to be as a child. You’re supposed to be as a Black person or whatever the background you are from… Then those walls just try to cave you in from every damn angle, who you are as a creative, who you are as a friend.”
She concluded the thoughtful speech by noting her gratitude for being accepted by the LGBTQ+ community as an ally for which she was honored for. “I’m truly so grateful to be seen in this room because I know I’m surrounded by people who know without a doubt what it’s like to decide to be who you are in a world that tells you to be everything but yourself.”
Keke’s Vanguard Award is the perfect illustration of why allyship and activism go hand-in-hand. With voices like Keke’s sharing her truth about self-discovery in sexuality and gender identity, it, in turn, inspires others to do the same.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center