Russell Wilson

Russell, Keep Yolanda Off of Your Lap

What we can learn when seemingly innocent acts go wrong

by S. Tia Brown, LMSW, March 15, 2017

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Russell Wilson

True Russell Wilson and Ciara fans know there is absolutely nothing wrong with a married man inviting a dear family friend to sit on his lap… and recording it… and singing her praises. Wait, what? Right. Here’s the thing, Russell seemed to have genuine intentions when he invited the couple’s bestie Yolanda Frederick to cop a seat on his lap. He was championing her business on International Women’s Day. It can also be argued that he was trying to give the camera a better view of her face. Unfortunately, even Mr. Wait-Until-We’re-Married can’t get a pass on this. All parties need to do better. There is one good thing that can come out of this situation. It’s a great lesson for all couples in high functioning relationships on how to avoid creating unnecessary drama.  Consider this:

Play it in reverse. Whenever someone feels that his or her good intentions are being blown out of proportion the first thing to consider is how it feels (and looks) if the same thing was done to them. For example, how would Russell feel if Ciara was pictured sitting on any lap other than his? Even if he knew the situation was innocent, how would the questioning, ribbing and criticism impact his mood, self-esteem and perception of the relationship he has with his spouse?

Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. Friendships are extremely important and when you work with those you love they grow to become family. While folks readily focus on the sexual boundaries between opposite gender friends, there is something even more dangerous: an enmeshed relationship. Couples often embrace dear friends as confidantes and problem solvers, but it is important to remember that marriage—well most—are not threesomes. It’s easy to create a dynamic where a bestie becomes too involved with the day-to-day functioning of a relationship and what was once support begins to undermine the primary bond between husband and wife as partners and friends. Couples need the space to fight, problem solve, miss each other, make-up and grow—together.

Intimacy is more than sex. In the movie The Best Man the character Harper (Taye Diggs) famously used a forehead kiss as a symbol of intimate affection. Why? Because we all know that the art of seduction, falling love or even crushing it isn’t about a penis going in a vagina; it’s about the growing allure, comfort and connection between two people. It’s the reason why platonic friends can all of sudden have a burning desire to smash. And, what’s even more dangerous, this level of attraction can build through even the most innocent acts. Cooking together because you both happen to be home. Taking a long drive to go meet up with other folks. Sharing personal stories because the other person is upset. Have you ever heard stories of people just “falling in love” with someone they’ve been around? That’s not magic or a fairytale. It’s because intimate exchanges with others increases feeling of vulnerability, which can make people more susceptible to developing feelings for folks they shouldn’t. That’s why it’s imperative to be protective of what we share with folks—like laps.

Rumors change realities. One of the best ways to protect any team is  having a good offense. Being aware of the types of behaviors that may feel uncomfortable for your mate, are guaranteed to stir drama or may plant seeds of familiarity that simply aren’t appropriate is the first line offense. The second? Avoiding them at all costs. Rumors have the innate ability of making things our brains know are too ridiculous to be true change our feelings, and then actions. The best defense is a good offense.


S. Tia Brown is the lifestyle director at EBONY magazine and a licensed therapist. She also believes in love and the promise that it gives. Follow her @tiabrowntalks.

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