Xem Says… “Empire” Isn’t Quite Ready For A Spin-Off Series Just Yet

EMPIRE Promo

After watching the first 2 episodes of FOX’S hit series, Empire & the 2nd experiencing a ratings dip of 3+ million viewers, is the show also losing your interest?

I AM AN EMPIRE FAN and have been a loyal viewer since January 2015. However, I am one of the series supporters who was only initially pulled in by the Jamal Lyon storyline, as well as Cookie’s sass & dominating on-screen personality. Terrence Howard also immediately captivated my attention as Lucious Lyon. I don’t think any other actor could have been hired to effectively pull off his intense, alpha male role.

Meanwhile, some people are arguing that the series was never really “good” and we simply rallied around it because of the excitement & thrill of seeing a predominately black cast framed in a primetime drama slot. Just as with ABC’s Scandal, people seemingly jumped on the “Empire” bandwagon via social media in an effort to not be left out of what quickly became a television phenomenon. Others are presently stating that the recent focus on celebrity guest stars and gay themed plot lines are spoiling this second season. There’s already talk of a spin-off series in development, but IT MAY BE TOO SOON.

I will admit that I don’t hear the same level of post-show chatter or see the onslaught of online commentary that followed the pilot season episodes. And I will also admit that I am having a difficult time identifying with the riff between Jamal & Cookie, while trying to enjoy the particular songs/rigid musical numbers that have been performed thus far. I have also experienced difficulty over the past two weeks in connecting to the lack of depth or growth in central characters between season 1 and the most recent episodes.

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I do realize that we still have 16 shows to view this season, but I’d like to see MORE FOCUS placed on Andre’s battle with his mental illness. I think it’s very impactful socially for the series to focus on how Andre’s mental health affects the Lyons family short & longterm — especially since black people are just recently beginning to openly discuss the issue. It makes perfect sense right now that Andre would be experiencing increased levels of anxiety and out-of-control rage now that he has lost hold of one of the more important aspects of his livelihood — his job. Andre’s character isn’t being given the screen time to react or reveal the inner workings of his present, mental state. We hear Andre express his frustration and share his dismay before Cookie. However, the intensity of the internal warfare that would be boiling inside of someone who endures mental instability isn’t present AT ALL.

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I also feel that we don’t know who Rhonda or Becky truly ARE, aside from their very secondary roles as Empire Records employees. I’m interested in what makes these two ladies tick internally. We’ve already seen them both be FUNNY. That’s no longer enough now that the second season has launched. What are Becky & Rhonda’s relationships with their loved ones? Are either of them involved in romantic relationships? What are their creative passions & personal fears? How do they feel about themselves as women in the world and do they have dreams/goals that extend beyond their temporary assistant jobs? As of right now, neither character appears to be significant to the overall series, as they both simply provide occasional comic relief.

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Becky’s character is displayed as nothing more than the girl in high school who has the gay best friend and is liked by everyone because she’s “so nice”. I want to see and know more about each woman outside of the Empire offices.

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In comparison, Hakeem’s character is becoming less and less significant to the structure of the Lyon’s family. We know very little about the internal battles that are truly plaguing Hakeem as a young, black man living in America. He should have been standing alongside Cookie on stage during the second season opener and chanting, “Black Lives Matter”. If the show wants to deal with real, social issues, Hakeem is then the perfect character to target the epidemic of black men losing their lives carelessly on American soil. The show very lightly taps into Hakeem’s passion as an artist or his personal feelings of being neglected by mom AND dad in the past. We see Hakeem catch attitudes, TALK about his music and make other little snide remarks, but the pain he obviously carries around each day isn’t presented on-screen in such a way that the audience can truly empathize with him.

Every time we see Hakeem, he is ALWAYS paired alongside one of his brothers or one of the other supporting characters. He is rarely framed ALONE, and that is partially why viewers dont know who HE IS beyond the “rapper” and youngest sibling. Strong, well developed characters have to be displayed privately — alone with their emotions and able to successfully portray them in silence in order to reveal the layers that an audience will care about. I am thinking about the pivotal scene in the first season of “How To Get Away With Murder” when Annalise is home alone, sitting in the mirror, peeling off her wig, removing her makeup and taking off her lashes after a grueling day of being “seen as” strong and seemingly having it all together. 

I can’t truly say who Hakeem is beyond his character description. We have not been privy to layers of his emotional being or even his reactions to other characters that aren’t immediately seen as being defensive.

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I was also very taken aback to see Jamal romantically paired again alongside Michael. While I certainly understand that couples split and get back together all of the time, it would have been great for the audience to witness the very challenging process that couples endure between their first breakup and that moment where they decide to rekindle the flame. I don’t personally believe that Michael is strong or passionate enough to exist as Jamal’s central love interest.

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Ryan Morgan (the filmmaker from season 1), was closer to the TYPE of guy that someone like Jamal would logically choose and organically connect to. Ryan pushed Jamal professionally, encouraged him personally and aggressively forced Jamal to see certain aspects of his life. It was Ryan’s presence in Jamal’s life that planted the seed of change in how Jamal’s character presented himself publicly for the remainder of the first season. Ryan’s character and that particular storyline should have never been so prematurely dismissed.

I do, however, appreciate that Jamal’s sexuality has been bumped to the backseat of his now leadership role amongst the “Empire” ranks. I don’t necessarily believe that a son would ever betray his nurturing mother to side with his physically and verbally abusive father, but I love the way Jamal’s new position has brought out the more aggressive sides of his personality. I think Lee Daniels realized very early on that Jussie Smollett had become the “fan favorite” amongst the brothers. It’s also obvious based on social media postings that Jussie & Lee have grown close off screen as well. It was a great choice creatively and business-wise to increase the role responsibilities of Jamal Lyon this season.

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As for Cookie and Lucious, their battle against one another to frame EMPIRE RECORDS against DYNASTY RECORDS will carry the interest of the viewers throughout the next 16 episodes. I think watching Cookie build her business from the ground up will allow the audience to experience firsthand the inner workings of Cookie’s mental savvy — the know how that helped her secure the $400,000.00 Lucious used to ignite Empire.

Meeting Cookie’s older sister in episode 8, to be played by Vivica Fox, and potentially meeting her mother as well, will definitely add layers to her character. I am confident that behind the scenes, Taraji is pushing to give Cookie depth beneath the catchy one-liners, sharp attitude and ongoing feud with Anika. It’s undeniable that Cookie is the focus of the Empire series, even if her character wasn’t intended to lead the cast. Viewers tune in each week to be entertained by her antics. However, the series cannot stand on another season filled with surface behavior and quick, sharp dialogue spewed from Cookie’s mouth. This second season will hopefully reveal all of the internal strength, passion and intelligence that allowed Cookie to transition between drug lord 17 years ago to now being an aspiring, legit businesswoman.

Empire hasn’t lost my interest, but I am hoping that before a spin off season goes into development, each of the central characters are given a fair chance to grow. I do feel that it is way too soon in the fruition of this series, for the Lyon’s family to be sharing such increased screen time with random, celebrity guest stars. The inclusion of celeb cameos could work if these celebrities were playing themselves and appearing in diminished roles, much like they did during the final 5-10 minutes each week of FOX’s “New York Undercover” series during the early 1990’s. It honestly makes no sense to include these singers, comedian’s and reality stars in roles that solely seem to have been created JUST TO make room for them. I applaud Lee Daniels for using his favor and media opportunities to create positions for our black stars, but I’d prefer to first feel connected to the characters who matter to the core of the series before being bombarded by guest stars whose roles are only good for pieces of one or two episodes.

I am looking forward to watching this second season pan out. Despite any of our personal or collective opinions about the showcase, I think we all can relate to the dynamics of family and loyalty, the themes of jealousy and competition, as well as the universal language of music that are all combined to make EMPIRE the hit series that it is – still 14 million viewers STRONG.

The 20 Most Popular & Recent Social Media Posts You May Have Missed From Xem VanAdams

 

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Over the past few months, I have posted quite a few original thoughts, ideas, opinions and advice blurbs via my social media networks. This content has ranged from my praise of certain mainstream media entities like Jussie Smollett, to my personal joys of being able to spend 10 days on the beaches and sands of Los Angeles, California. I have tapped into the universal language of love — offering my point of view about how we engage with our romantic partners, as well as maintaining unhealthy attachments to our exes. I also began publicly sharing some of my favorite skin and body products; encouraging many of you to try samples of some of the cologne or face washes that I’ve recently sampled and purchased. Additionally, I recently dedicated #MCM (Male Crush Monday) to an idea, as opposed to a specific person. I outlined a fanciful day that we’d all ideally like to spend with the special man in our lives. And since many of you enjoy following me via Twitter, I’ve engaged in a series of live tweeting sessions while popular series such as FOX’s Empire and ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder, were airing. Obviously, my recent social media posts have resonated with my core audience because many individuals who may not follow me directly via social media, have sent messages of support and agreement after seeing my posts shared on their personal timelines from those who have been loyal to my online platform over the past seven years.

Receiving hundreds and sometimes a combined total of thousands of Likes, Shares, Retweets, Favorites, Reblogs and Comments via both of my FACEBOOK pages, INSTAGRAM, TWITTER and TUMBLR timelines, I selected a few of the most popular posts to be featured here at XemSays.com

 

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JANUARY 14, 2015

 

THIS is absolutely what I hope to come home to each day — a partner whose artistic talents & creative passions are enough to keep him occupied in my absence. Someone who truly knows & understands the value of free, human expression VS. social standards of “success”. To me, there is nothing more attractive than a man who can paint his feelings, sing his pains, play his struggles, dance his truth, recite his sacrifices, sculpt his frustrations, film his untold story, cook the goodness of his heart into meal form, photograph images reflecting his trials & triumphs, or simply creating from a rigid or raw place.

Power Couple. A unique bond between two individuals whose strengths compliment & build one another to higher spectrums of the world. The results of their private labor have tremendous influence over public spectators.

Sweet Valentine of mine…

 

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JANUARY 18, 2015

KINDA DOPE! One of my supporters tweeted me last night to let me know that #eonline posted one of my #WhitneyMovie posts to their website alongside Amber Riley, Kathy Griffin & Sherri Shepherd. -
I know it’s not really a big deal, but it’s the first time in 7 years now that a mainstream media outlet has ever shared or posted any of my words. I think…

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JANUARY 27, 2015

 

Laptop. Oatmeal. Tea.–

This is LITERALLY what dating me would be like. LOL! Indoors. Dimly Lit. You curled up with an attitude in that dark space on the right side of the bed. I’m working on a project. You’re wishing I had the desire to leave the damn house other than to go to the gym or to grab lunch from Whole Foods.

BUT I told you that I’m a homebody in the very beginning & you said you were cool with it. Right?

 

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FEBRUARY 8, 2015

 

MY VALENTINES GIFT FROM YOU TO ME.

You all actually paid for these AVEDA products by clicking the links on my website last month. THANK YOU!

I’ve been wanting to get back on the Aveda acne prone facial regime for a while now, but everything is so damn expensive! Two weeks ago however, I decided to use some of my Google check to buy the OUTER PEACE FOAMING CLEANSER, the BOTANICAL KINETICS EXFOLIANT, the OUTER PEACE ACNE RELIEF LOTION and the OUTER PEACE COOLING MASQUE.

I started using Aveda products on my face after I came off the Accutane in 2006/2007. However, once I moved to California in 2008, I could no longer afford to drop $117 every 3 months to repurchase everything when I would run out.

It really feels GOOD to treat myself. I think we all should invest in taking better care of our skin, our teeth and our bodies as best we can. I just want to be healthier this year. I’ve been taking the ONE A DAY men’s health vitamin on a daily basis since November. My immune system is getting stronger. I haven’t been sick at all this winter. It’s crazy that I stopped taking essential vitamins in October 2012, but would pile my body with the creatine, protein supplements & muscle milk to aid my workout recovery. I am also now buying a new toothbrush every 3 months & using it EVERY morning + night. And I’ve also started using enamel protective toothpaste to combat all of the whitening products I’ve abused over the past few years.

It just makes me feel good to take better physical care of myself overall, as opposed to just going to the gym & convincing myself that’s enough. You know?…

 

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FEBRUARY 19, 2015

Cicely Tyson is a screen siren! The epitome of dramatic performance. A matriarch of theatrical expression. #HTGAWM

and the Emmy goes to…

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FEBRUARY 22, 2015

 

THIS IS THE SCENT YOU WANT FELLAS! and this is the cologne you want to buy for your special guy, ladies…

This Yves Saint Laurent was one of my birthday gifts from my darling sister. It smells like passion

You know how you see a guy that is built like NATE LEAHY from “How To Get Away With Murder” & his dress clothes fit like a smooth, second skin? He walks by you in an open space & his sensual smell lingers until he & his size 12 wingtip shoes have turned the next corner?

YEAH… that’s EXACTLY what this “Yves Saint Laurent” gives once it settles into the skin

I’m spraying it on now as I hustle out the door to head to DC for Ayana’s birthday brunch.

PURCHASE IT if you don’t already have it in your collection. I adore!

 

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MARCH 11, 2015

For probably the first time in my entire life, I can honestly say there is a male character on mainstream television who looks like me, acts like me, speaks like me, carries himself the way I do, presents the same passion, and allows me to say that I SEE MYSELF IN HIM. I met Jussie briefly in April 2011 or April 2012 at the premiere of “The Skinny” in Washington, DC. Automatic good vibes & positive energy poured from his spirit. Seeing him each week portray Jamal Lyon on ‪#‎EMPIRE‬ reinforces to me that our stories, our trials & triumphs ARE significant within the scope of mainstream society. Jussie’s portrayal of an openly gay black man SEALS a lot of truth about our normal, everyday experiences. Nothing is watered down or overdone. It’s as if I’m watching my male friends & associates on screen; the REALITY that was hardly ever displayed publicly until now. I don’t know Jussie’s personal struggles, artistic journey or his full life story, but I know that his presence amongst the masses right now truly makes me PROUD…and excited about the promise of tomorrows possibilities. I am leaving for Los Angeles on March 21st & I fully intend to soak up every moment of opportunity that my trip presents. Every dream leads to a destination & we can’t be afraid to continue walking towards the space our good lord has carved out for each of us — individually.

LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO KEEP TRYING. BELIEVE IN YOUR TALENTS ENOUGH TO CONTINUE PUTTING THEM ON DISPLAY.

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MARCH 16, 2015

 

young, black male teachers in our public school classrooms — not simply coaching the athletic teams or operating gym, but instructing our mathematics, science & English courses. I LOVE!

 

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MARCH 17, 2015

 

the day that Whitley met Kinu for the first time. LOOK AT HER FACE! — but nothing tops the scene when Whitley was working as Dwayne & Ron’s maid. Dwayne’s mother (Patti Labelle) makes a surprise visit. Whitley pretends to not know Kinu’s name, so she starts calling her everything & anything beginning with a “K”. BWAHAHAHAHA! –

“I’ll have to ask you to wipe those less than petite feet on the mat before entering the apartment Kukilee.” I DIED!

 

 

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MARCH 18, 2015

 

This finale was almost written as if the writers & producers didn’t expect the series to be green lit for a second season. ‪#‎EmpireFOX‬

I enjoyed the show, but I felt that some of the storylines were rushed and given premature closure. You know?…

 

 

 

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MARCH 23, 2015

 

Malibu Beach California – I am so incredibly happy and blessed to be here right now. I NEEDED THIS. Feeling so at peace & slightly removed from some of the “stuff”. You know? It wasn’t exactly beach weather today (LOL), but I couldn’t wait for the 90 degree temperatures coming Wednesday before I soaked this up.

 


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MARCH 24, 2015

 

Embrace those rare moments in life when you are removed from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine in order to refuel your physical, mental and emotional self. God absolutely knows when you have had enough or are in need of a healthy replenishing. He watches us give and give and give of ourselves to the point where we feel depleted of all energy or focus. Sometimes, you just don’t want to be the strong, nurturing mother or the protective big brother or the outspoken co-worker who puts management in their place or the perfect, listening friend who offers the best advice. Sometimes, you really just want to pack your damn bags, get on a plane, sit by the ocean and listen to Lenny Kravitz all day. And that is okay! –

We all deserve a break, regardless of our tasks or responsibilities. You can’t possibly be of service to others when you aren’t taking proper care of yourself. Make time for YOU, even when the money or opportunity to do so doesn’t “seem” to be there. It’s necessary.

 

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MARCH 30, 2015

 

#‎MCM‬ — not the individual. the idea. its the idea of you and your dude both calling out on a Monday morning to spend the day together. weekend was so hectic between running errands, attending your best friends baby shower, cleaning the house, taking your grandmother to church and doing dinner with your parents on Sunday evening that the start of the week has come too soon. it’s the sweet serenity of watching your dude sit peacefully on the couch — holding the puppy that he purchased at the top of the new year. he and yall’s little pup pup are just getting in from their morning walk. you have filled the doggy bowl with dry food, filled the water dish with ice cubes and are just about done preparing breakfast on the stove. nothing fancy, but something you and your man will both enjoy. neither of you has made any plans to fill the unexpected day off but resting and relaxing is of the priority.

laying beside him even though he still smells like outside actually turns you on. he keeps playfully saying he’s going to get in the shower… “in five minutes”, but five minutes tips toes past the afternoon hours. by the time the two of you have awakened from a deep, day long sleep the sun has set. curtains & blinds still open. that annoying audio from the home screen of the Netflix movie you closed your eyes on is playing repeatedly. puppy nestled at the bottom of the bed waiting to be walked. you force yourself to sit up in the bed though you’ve lost all awareness of where you are or even what day it is. you look over at your man who is half passed out but pulling on you to now help him release. his left hand yanking your upper arm. right wrist hidden beneath his drawstring. his deep, groggy, muffled slur, “baby…real quick.” you somewhat wanting to, but totally distracted by everything that now has to be turned off, powered on and prepared before tomorrow morning. he turns over to face the wall and pulls the covers over his head. you nudge him in the back & tell him to walk the dog. in his deep, groggy, muffled slur, he replies… “in five minutes”.

he’s so use to you doing everything to keep his days and nights in order. this is how you’ve conditioned the relationship. its frustrating at times that he doesn’t offer to pitch in more often. however, you can say that he’s always active and engaged when you specifically ask or call upon him. sure, this has been the toughest two years of your life, but the challenge has been worth his presence. this is the man you love. this is the only man you think about calling out to simply lay with on a Monday morning. he is your ‪#‎MCE‬ — your male crush everyday.

 

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APRIL 1, 2015

 

Seriously…. this “MURAD: Acne Spot Fast Fix” cream WORKS! — my face broke out terribly the week I was set to leave for California. I went to Sephora in hopes of finding the “Henriksen: Roll On Blemish Attack” cream I used during desperate situations like these in previous years. Well, come to find out, Sephora has STOPPED selling the product.

The lady assisting me suggested the MURAD treatment. She said many of her female clients loved the results. I felt I had no other choice but to trust her & try it. She suggested I start slow by using a thin layer of the cream on the problem areas once a day… and then gradually work up to 3 times over a 24 hour period. I didn’t have time to “work up to” anything. So, I started using the MURAD Acne Spot Fast Fix cream in the morning, during midday and night– immediately. LOVED the results. Very pleased. Skin had cleared up enough within 3 days that I could still take pictures while in LA & not edit them before posting. The MURAD is only $16.00 for the tube. So, if you’re experiencing breakouts right now with this change in season, DEFINITELY try the MURAD. Sometimes, even with our face washes, exfoliants & moisturizers, our skin will breakout for no good goddamn reason. It’s so ANNOYING — especially because it happens right before an important event or situation. You know? UGH!

Just thought I’d share.

 

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APRIL 12, 2015

we all need to collectively unlearn and reject the idea that certain accomplishments only count if they’re achieved by a certain age or within a “normal” time frame.going through life at your own pace does NOT equate to laziness or failure.

there is no expiration date on graduating from college, securing a “good paying” job, existing in a romantic relationship or purchasing your first home — (if those are even your goals in the first place). it’s society that misleads us to believe that if we don’t have ‘it’ by THIS TIME, then OUR TIME has passed. it simply isn’t true.

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APRIL 14, 2015

 

I want to fall in love again — with someone who will greet me before saying “good morning” to strangers on social media, with someone who likes me more than the “likes” they receive beneath pictures, with someone who doesn’t mind answering all of my questions in detail or choosing to stay in the house with me on weekends instead of running the damn streets. I want to fall in love again — with someone who misses me when I’m gone, but not so much that they attempt to fill my physical void with the presence of someone else’s flesh.

Don’t contemplate breaking up with me simply because I’ve been in a mood for the past few weeks & I can’t explain specifically why I’m so sad or annoyed. It’s not you. I’ve said that. Embrace me tighter in moments when I’m at my worst, as opposed to getting frustrated and publicly embarrassing us by getting caught out there being thotty.

I want to fall in love again — with someone special who believes that we possess the collective power to reach our potential & live our purpose together. Is it even possible? I simply want to fall in love again — with someone who believes that what we’re building is totally worth the try… a constant, repetitive, unyielding TRY. Never leave me. And hold my hand even when you can’t stand being around me. Please. Because I’m going to do all of the same for you.

 

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APRIL 16, 2015

 

#‎TBT‬ MOTHERS DAY 2014 —

Zaxembi & Zakiya

as my mother has gotten older, this lady has become reeeeal comfortable asking for very specific holiday & birthday gifts. mmmhmm. she use to just say, “I don’t want yall spending your money on me” — and we would OF COURSE get her something nice with cards as well. she’d be “surprised”, overjoyed & cry opening whatever we presented. HOWEVER… ever since we bought her that tablet or new luggage it was a few years ago, NOW she presents a gift REQUEST before every event. HA! she done already laid out EXACTLY the beach bag, surrong, matching hat and glasses she wants us to ORDER for Mother’s Day so she’ll have it for her boat trip in September. Zakiya is something else. I tell you. LOL!

– but this is also the same lady who would often set aside her own wants and needs to make sure we had every item placed on our Christmas, birthday and back-to-school lists. I was 16 years old before I discovered that she was dipping from bill money here or skipping hair appointments there to guarantee we had a few of the extras. I was blessed to be raised in a two parent household, but my father didn’t support or believe in the excess of westernized materialism. now, I fully understand why. however, as mothers have done since the beginning of time, Zakiya made our naive, youthful wishes a reality. as children, we rarely understand the SILENT SACRIFICES our moms make in order to frame our childhood as “comfortable” as possible. OUR MIRACLE WORKERS

– so yeah… Mothers Day is in only 3 weeks from this SUNDAY. start thinking about your plans NOW.

 

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APRIL 17, 2015

If you don’t want your close friends or family members judging you for “trying to make things work” with a romantic partner, STOP discussing only the negative situations that frame your relationship. When you are telling your little stories, be sure to also talk about ALL of the shit you said and did over time to contribute to the messy circumstances. People only know what you share with them — and when you’re always painting your partner to be the villain, that’s exactly how your loved ones are going to perceive them. Blame yourself for others looking at you with the side eye for choosing to stay.

 

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APRIL 22, 2015

 

HERE’S MY THING:

when you say, “ME AND MY EX ARE JUST FRIENDS”, that means to me — that your ex should be fully aware, accepting and respectful of your present, romantic relationships.

if you and your ex are “JUST FRIENDS” who communicate 3-4 times each week, there’s no reason why I can’t be in the room when the two of you are texting or talking. if you can hold conversations with your mother, cousins, your homeboys — Black, Big Mike & Lil Kevin while I’m sitting right beside you, then don’t step out of the room or wait until I’m not around to converse with your ex.

if you and your ex are “JUST FRIENDS”, there should be nothing awkward or uncomfortable about you having the both of us in the same room, at the same damn time. why? because as adults, most of us look forward to introducing those we see as “just friends” to the individual we are seriously dating. most often, we want our loved ones to know and get along with the special, romantic partner in our lives. RIGHT?

if you feel so incredibly odd or weird bringing me around your ex who is “just a friend”, then it lets me know there are still feelings involved on your part and/or theirs as well. my ex and I can double date in public or behind closed doors because we ARE really “just friends” — genuinely happy to see the other involved in a new, healthy relationship.

when you can’t openly discuss your love life with an ex without hurting their feelings, the entire “JUST FRIENDS” bullshit is simply in place to sum up the fact that you two have broken up on the surface, possibly stopped sleeping with one another, but haven’t emotionally detached.

cause see… friendship isn’t censored or selective. any ex in my life who I call just a friend, is someone who can sit across a table from me and my present date and not “feel some type of way” regarding my newfound happiness. period.

you and YOUR EX are NOT “JUST FRIENDS”.

I hope you have had an opportunity to catch up with some of the more popular posts you have possibly missed from me since January, 2015. Be sure that you are FOLLOWING all of the Xem VanAdams social media. You never know when an idea is going to pop into my head, I’m inspired to share a tidbit of love and relationship advice or I get the urge to share a new product that is working on my body + skin.

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