Actress and singer Amber Riley is proving that “making the first move” is not necessarily relationship suicide.
In a new interview with XO Necole, the normally tight-lipped star opened up about her relationship with fiancé Desean Black, including the infamous story of Riley initiating contact by sliding into Black’s DMs first.
“I literally was just scrolling and it was a wine night for sure,” she recalled.
“When I saw his picture, I was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s such a handsome man.’ I believe I followed him that night, and I remember scrolling through my Instagram, I saw his picture, and I was like, ‘Who is this guy? I don’t remember following him.’ He was on my timeline and I was like, ‘Hmmm, I’m gonna say hi,’ and I did. I literally just said, ‘Hey Desean, how are you?’ in his DMs.”
Some on social media were critical of Riley’s actions, indicating that she was “desperate” and “thirsty” for being so bold. Riley rejects the disapproval from other women, particularly since her strategy worked out for her in the end. She went after what she wanted, and got it.
“A lot of women say, ‘I don’t want to be thirsty going into a guy’s DMs,’ but I wasn’t thirsty and I wasn’t chasing him,” said the “Glee” star. “I just made myself seen and I made sure that he saw me and it went on from there. In our first conversation, we were talking about science, brains and nerdy sh*t.”
The singer — behind the self-titled debut album “RILEY” — said it shouldn’t have to be an unconventional thing for a woman to pursue anything she wants, including men.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there if you’re interested in someone,” she said. “You don’t know the circumstances because some guys may be a little bit shy and you could be missing your opportunity to get an amazing friend. That could be the person that you’re gonna marry, the love of your life and you miss it all because of ego or pride.”
“If the person doesn’t want you, that just means the person wasn’t for you but you’re just making yourself be seen or available to that person,” she added. “Don’t think about it as chasing them. It’s basically saying, ‘the ball’s in your court,’ as a man, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
Riley recognized the complexity of gender roles, acknowledging that many women think, “‘I want him to be the man and I want him to take the initiative.’”
However, she doesn’t conform to that way of thinking, explaining that if a woman takes the lead in going after what she wants, the man will follow.
“If you put the ball in their court and just let them know you’re interested, if that’s the kind of man you want, they’re going to pursue what it is that they want.”
Riley’s more assertive attitude has been one that the performer has cultivated and applied to her own romantic life, with, so far, successful results.
“I’ve also been much bolder this year about dating and putting myself out there,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to put themselves out there because they fear rejection. I’m not a special case, so if the person that you’re interested in is interested in you, then they’re gonna respond in that way.”
As far her relationship with Black, Riley emphasized that regardless of her tactics in the beginning, for her love won in the end.
“This is the first relationship that I’ve been in that I feel is really healthy and I love him to pieces,” Riley said. I need people and the people that also be in my DMs to know that I’m taken, I’m spoken for and I’m giddy and in love. It’s gross (laughs).”
Riley called Black her “best friend,” and an all-around “great man” committed to working on their friendship and “respecting one another.”
“I feel super blessed to have even met him and I’m blessed to even have his friendship. Nothing’s perfect obviously, but I wouldn’t want to go through the ups and downs of life with anybody else.”