Fall is officially here to restore the balance between night and day as well as our relationships with much of the energy focused on Libra.
Power struggles within our connections, and even within ourselves, will be eased as Pluto goes direct, assisting us in harmonizing our lives. As we move along into the month, the focus shifts to matters of intimacy, healing, and psychological rebirth as more of the inner planets transit through Scorpio.
Check out your horoscope below to see what October has in store for you.
The Sun spends most of the month in your opposite sign, Libra, encouraging you to balance out your relationships and revise any contractual agreements. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct, helping you get more clear about how to wield your authority, particularly within the workplace. This is a good time to put the lessons you've been learning about authentic power into practice. Mercury moves into Scorpio the same day and you're yearning for more deep interactions during this transit. Topics ranging from psychology, healing, and even the occult will pique your interest during this transit. Your ruling planet, Mars, moves into Libra on the 4th, inviting you to take a win-win approach when it comes to your key connections.
On the 8th, Venus moves into sultry Scorpio and love matters get even more intimate for you with a little sexual healing on the top of your to-do list. Your Full Moon takes place on the 13th, illuminating parts of your identity that you no longer resonate with. Just like the leaves fall from the trees during Autumn, you're shedding old layers of yourself to make space for the new. On the 23rd, the Sun moves into Scorpio with a New Moon following shortly behind, initiating you into a deeply transformative time that will give birth to a more healed, whole, and integrated version of yourself. The month winds down with Mercury going retrograde on Halloween, giving you a chance to revisit an important conversation you had earlier this month or to delve even deeper into your psychological metamorphosis.
Most of October has you focused on getting more organized in your daily routine and enhancing your health while the Sun transits through Libra. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn, giving you the opportunity to share your personal experiences to benefit the growth of others; keep in mind that with great power comes great responsibility. On the same day, Mercury moves into your opposite sign and your conversations with others take on more depth than usual. Mars moves into Libra on the 4th, giving you even more energy to get back into your fitness regimen.
Venus, your ruling planet, moves into sexy Scorpio on the 8th, setting you up for an erotic exchange with your lover. Be careful of mixing business with pleasure during this transit. On the 13th, the Full Moon in Aries gives you the push to clean out karmic residue lingering in your life. On the 23rd, the Sun moves into Scorpio followed by a New Moon, which has the potential to bring a new connection, romantic or professional, in your life that has more lasting potential. This is also a good time to take your existing relationship even deeper. October winds down with Mercury going retrograde on the 31st giving you a chance to work out any kinks in the contracts or agreements you've made earlier this month.
The Sun spends most of the month in Libra amping up the charm factor for you. If you're open to romance, make sure you get yourself out there. Prince Charming isn't just going to show up at your doorstep. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct after dragging you through a season of transforming your relationship with power. In what ways have you misused, abused, or abandoned your sense of power? Moving forward, it's time to harness this energy from a more healed and integrated space. Mars moves into Libra on the same day and you're feeling motivated to create, play, and date! It's time to let your hair down and have some fun, Gemmie.
Venus, planet of love and money, moves into Scorpio on the 8th; be mindful of workplace romances. If you're open to meeting someone, try the gym or a wellness seminar. This is also a great time for you and bae to get fit together. The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th makes you the center of attention amongst your social group making this a great night to celebrate any accomplishments or just life itself. The Sun moves into Scorpio on the 23rd, with the New Moon trailing behind on the 27th, inviting you to create some new routines and habits for yourself that will lend to a greater sense of overall wellbeing. The month wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, encouraging you to get into the details of your new health regimen and solidify those new habits you're creating.
Home and family matters have most of your attention while the Sun transits through Libra. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct and you're taking on a more empowered approach to your relationships moving forward. No more playing the doormat or mommy for other people (especially adults). You've got needs as well, so make sure you're voicing them. Mercury moves into Scorpio on the same day making you even more alluring than usual. You'll be feeling very romantic and creative around this time. Who knows? Maybe your current love affair will be the inspiration for your next masterpiece (or a baby).
Mars moves into Libra on the 4th and you're focused on getting your house in order or closing a deal on that property you're investing in. This is also a good time to smooth out any family drama. On the 8th, Venus moves into Scorpio and you could be bringing in some extra cash from your latest creative projects. When it comes to romance, you'll be attracting people that have more depth, and even an air of mystery, to them. The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th places the spotlight on you in matters of career and achievements. It's time to level up to bigger and better opportunities. On the 23rd, the Sun moves into Scorpio with the New Moon following shortly behind, inviting you to express your deepest sentiments through some form of artistic expression. If you're ready to add a new addition to your family, this could be a potent time to seal the deal. The month ends with Mercury going retrograde on the 31st giving you the chance to get into the details of that project you're working on or for fertility planning as well.
The month begins with your focus on learning new skills and expanding your social reach with the Sun transiting through Libra. Pluto, planet of transformation, goes direct on the 3rd granting you the wherewithal to overcome any bad habits and even addictions that have had their way with you. It's time to get back in the driver's seat and take control of your life. Mercury moves into Scorpio on the same day setting you and your family up for some Iyanla Vanzant-style breakthroughs, and breakdowns, over the month to come. Keep in mind that healing is on the other side of the chaos.
On the 4th, Mars enters Libra, and you're in overdrive when it comes to your studies and social networking. This is a good time to take a short, weekend vacay to help you avoid burnout (try to make your plans before Mercury goes retrograde at the end of the month). On the 8th, Venus moves into Scorpio and you and bae will likely want to cuddle up at home during this transit. There could be talks of moving in together or planning the expansion of your family. The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th could put you in the spotlight as a teacher or mentor figure. Publishing any written work is favorable around this time. The Sun moves into Scorpio on the 23rd with the New Moon taking place just a few days after. Relocating or planning a trip home for the holidays may be on your brain. Once Mercury goes retrograde on the 31st, you'll have some time to work out the details before executing your plans.
October begins with the Sun transiting through Libra bringing your attention to finances, assets, and the things you value most. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct, giving you some much-needed oomph when it comes to your creativity and approach to dating. It's time to take back control from the powers that be that inhibit the flow of your authentic expression. Mercury moves into Scorpio on the 3rd and you're feeling more raw when it comes to communicating your truth. This could also be a time in which you're interested in delving into topics like psychology, healing, and the occult.
On the 4th, Mars enters Libra helping you to balance out your budget. It's time to reel it in on the spending. How much have you been saving and investing? Venus moves into Scorpio on the 8th and convos may run deep with someone you meet online. Just make sure they're not a catfish before you become too emotionally attached.
The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th helps you break through some heavy psychological muck that's been holding back a more fearless expression of your individuality. On the 23rd, the Sun moves into Scorpio coupled with a New Moon on the 27th. It's time to set those intentions for a new project you want to start—whether it's writing that book, starting that blog, or launching that YouTube channel. October winds down with Mercury going retrograde, giving you a chance to tweak the details before making your big debut.
Happy birthday, babe! The spotlight is on you for most of the month as the Sun transits through your sign. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct, helping you reclaim your power within family dynamics and also giving you a renewed perspective regarding generational trauma within your lineage. Mercury moves into Scorpio on the same day and money is the topic of discussion for you. Shortly after, Mars begins its transit through your sign, amping up your energy. Be mindful of overexerting yourself or being too aggressive. Try burning off some of the excess adrenaline in the gym. On the 8th, Venus moves into Scorpio inviting you to reevaluate whether you're getting paid what you're worth.
The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th can bring up some tension between your needs and those of a significant other or business partner. As thoughtful of others as you usually are, make sure your needs are being considered as well. On the 23rd, the Sun enters seductive Scorpio with a New Moon taking place shortly after on the 27th. Set some intentions for cultivating new money-making opportunities and make sure to re-evaluate any beliefs that trigger low self-esteem or feelings of unworthiness. The month comes to a close with Mercury going retrograde, giving you the nudge to revise any existing contracts and to raise your prices to match the value of your skills and expertise.
The first part of the month is a bit more introspective for you as you clear your life of things that you can't drag into the new year. On the 3rd, your ruling planet, Pluto, goes direct and you're feeling like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. It's time to move forward in a more bold, authentic expression of your personal power through your communication. On the same day, Mercury enters your sign and you're craving more intimate, meaningful interactions with the people you encounter. Mars, the warrior, enters Libra helping you to take on a different aspect of this volatile energy by embracing the peaceful warrior archetype instead. It's time to be a little more flexible and open-minded in your relationships.
Venus moves into your sign on the 8th, amping up your sex appeal to mega-hottie status. Blessings abound for you in love, and money, during this transit. On the 13th, the Full Moon in Aries helps you conquer a bad habit, addiction, or even a secret obsession. Health matters could also come to the surface to remind you to take better care of your body. Your season officially takes off on the 23rd with a New Moon following shortly behind on the 27th. It's time to make a wish or even get a makeover that matches the new and improved version of yourself. The month winds down with a delectably spooky Mercury retrograde starting on Halloween, invoking the ghosts of the past to ultimately help you tie up loose ends before your next chapter begins.
Social networking and pushing towards those big-picture goals are top priorities during the first part of the month. On the 3rd, Pluto finally goes direct and you're feeling more confident about charging what you're truly worth after releasing some distorted beliefs based around your sense of worthiness and value; it's time to ditch the impostor syndrome once and for all. Mercury enters Scorpio on the same day and your connection to the Spirit world becomes all the more visceral. Keep a dream journal around this time to unravel the messages that your subconscious is communicating to you. On the 4th, Mars moves into Libra and you're hyper-focused on restoring balance within friendships and any organizations you're a part of.
Venus moves into Scorpio on the 8th and your sex appeal takes on a more subtle, yet undeniably powerful, tone. On the 13th, the Full Moon in Aries encourages you to create, play, and indulge in some romance! This is a perfect night to get out with bae or go dancing with your friends. Later in the month, the Sun enters Scorpio on the 23rd and the New Moon follows right behind on the 27th. The next few weeks encourage you to prioritize more time for rest and reflection as you release the baggage that you can't drag into your new year with you. On the 31st, Mercury goes into retrograde, giving you even more of a reason to lay low and enjoy some solitude right before your busy birthday season.
The first part of October brings your attention to leveling up in your career and striving towards those professional achievements you want to make. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct in your sign, setting wind in your sails after a grueling summer with Saturn retrograde as well. You're feeling your power and on top of your game like never before. Mercury moves into Scorpio on the same day and you're more inclined to connect with the friends that you can be your weirdest, most vulnerable self with. On the 4th, Mars moves into Libra, encouraging you to keep a level head, especially with your higher-ups or even your worker bees. Diplomacy will take you far during this transit.
Venus moves into Scorpio on the 8th and you may be developing a crush on a long-term friend, or vice versa. If you're open to meeting someone, try joining an organization that interests you. The Full Moon in Aries on the 13th may bring a conclusion to you in the home sector. You could be moving or a roommate could be transitioning elsewhere. This is also a potent time to clear the air with a mother figure or address any family drama. Two words: KEEP. CALM. Later in the month, the Sun moves into Scorpio on the 23rd coupled with a New Moon on the 27th. It's time to dream big and maybe call in your troops as well. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work. The month winds down with Mercury going retrograde on the 31st, giving you the chance to review and revise your strategy for bringing your long-term vision to life.
Spiritual development, school, and teaching are your top priorities at the beginning of the month while the Sun transits Libra. On the 3rd, Pluto, the planet of transformation, goes direct helping you push past some self-limiting beliefs regarding your personal power. The inner work you've been doing over the past several months has cleared out stagnant energy from many lifetimes so give yourself a pat on the back. On the same day, Mercury moves into Scorpio and a workplace scandal may be brewing. It's best to just play the fly on the wall while you watch your own live-action version of some janky ass reality T.V. show. On the 4th, Mars enters Libra and you're motivated to soak up as much knowledge as possible. There may also be a sudden desire to travel to some distant land. Sometimes life and experience is our greatest teacher.
On the 8th, Venus moves into Scorpio cautioning you to be mindful of workplace romances. You may be attracting, or attracted to, someone in a position of great power and influence. Just make sure you move wisely; there could even be a secret benefactor offering to assist you financially. On the 13th, the Full Moon in Aries gives you the courage you need to express your individuality with greater ease, making this an opportune time to launch that blog or start your YouTube channel. On the 23rd, the Sun enters Scorpio followed by the New Moon on the 27th. Set some intentions for how you'd like to level up in the workplace. Mercury goes retrograde on the 31st helping you strategize your way to the top.
The beginning of the month gets pretty deep for you as the Sun transits through Libra. You're in your quiet space of inner-transformation during the first few weeks of October. On the 3rd, Pluto goes direct, helping to ease any power struggles you've been experiencing in your friendships or social groups. Mercury enters Scorpio and you're immersed in studying spirituality and esoteric concepts during this transit. You may even have a knack for sharing your wisdom with others in an intimate setting. On the 4th, Mars moves into Libra helping you to balance out the light and the dark within yourself. It's best you acknowledge some of your repressed emotions instead of allowing them to lash out at the wrong time. Venus moves into Scorpio on the 8th and you are falling in love with the Divine all over again. Your connection to your Higher Self is restored and you're feeling way more in tune with your destined path in life.
On the 13th, the Full Moon in Aries can bring in a sudden windfall of cash or a new opportunity to make some extra income that is bestowed upon you for being your quirky, weird, true self. This is also a time to release any old ways of earning money that just don't align with who you are anymore. Scorpio season officially begins on the 23rd with a New Moon following shortly behind on the 27th. It's time to plant the seeds for that new project, book, or course you're creating that will help others in their own spiritual expansion. October ends with a perfectly aligned Mercury retrograde, giving you the chance to get into the details of your newest creation.
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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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