Relationship expert, entrepreneur and author Tionna Smalls is a no-holds-barred kind of Vixen.
Since we were first introduced to Smalls on VH1’s What Chili Wants, audiences have witnessed the blunt honest take an alternate route to get her point across. Instead of sugarcoating tips or giving faulty advice (which TV sometimes calls for), the 27-year-old media personality decided to pen books that serve as self-help manuals.
Girl Get Your Mind Right and most recent kickstart to a pocketbook series, Men Love Abuse, have gained a healthy amount of recognition, launching Tionna to the top of our list of relationships advisers. Should we sleep with the man we’re dating? Do we give men too much power? Should we ignore his phone calls?
She answers it all, even adding in tales of her own love mishaps.
Vixen caught up with the Brooklyn native on her way to Lovey’s boutique. In part I of this interview, she spills on why nice girls finish last, why she thinks celebs are watering down her lane and the top dating no-no’s. —Niki McGloster
VIBE VIXEN: How do you feel about Musiq Soulchild writing a book on relationships?
TIONNA: I mean, I love Musiq. We were together last year at The Women’s Empowerment Conference, and we were discussing relationships. He has a good amount of knowledge, [but] I just feel like everyone is trying to jump on it now. Like, him, Tyrese and Steve Harvey, it’s all becoming a mess now. And it’s messing it up for people that do this for a living. There are a lot of guys that you guys don’t know about.
Like who? Who can you name that we should be on the lookout for?
You got Paul Brunson. He’s on the come-up! He is about to have his own show. Tony Gaskins. A lot of people know him on Twitter, but a lot of people don’t know him on the mainstream arena. It’s like all us relationship people should get together and record an album get make some money. [Laughs]
Now on that same note, there are popular relationship bloggers and writers in the mix. You have Demetrius Lucas, Jozen Cummings… What are your feelings on that angle?
I don’t think about them. I just do what I do. I’ve been doing this for awhile, and we are in two different arenas. I feel like we talk about the same stuff but don’t talk about the same stuff.
What are some things that you think qualifies a person as an expert?
That’s just a title that someone gives people like me. I don’t think I’m an expert; I’m more of a relationship coach. I’m going back to school to be a therapist because I’m really good at it, and I’m taking it seriously. I think what makes someone an expert is having their papers together. You aren’t an expert until you have all those things together, but if you are really good at this you will be able to influence, you are able to empower and you are able to lead people. I always put on Twitter, ‘I’m your leader,’ and I always say that because when it comes down to entrepreneurship and this relationship stuff, I’m the best that has ever did it. I mean as a young female.
It seems that people trust your opinion, especially since your appearances on What Chili Wants.
Because I keep it real, that’s why. and people don’t keep it real. That’s why I share my own story; I don’t write books that say, ‘Oh, you better do this and do that.’ I share stories of myself and others. Most of my books are 50 percent my life and 50 percent the life of others, so I’m learning.I definitely respect that you share your own stories. Now, you rag on the ” nice” girls when it comes to your new book. Have you ever been a nice girl?
I’ve never been a nice girl. I believe nice girls finish last. I mean it’s sad, but I believe you have to be [tough].
What about the girls that are just naturally nice?
Being nice has gotten you what? Are you married? Are you with the guy of your dreams? Does he drive you places? Nah? You have a big fat zero! Therefore you don’t need to be nice but don’t get me wrong you can’t be too bitchy because you will lose but with my man it’s a balance I get nicer every year.
[Laughs] So what is it that these nice girls should do to be less nice?
Become more aggressive. I would tell them to read my book first, then try to be a little more aggressive to be a little not passive and they will see results immediately.
You can guarantee that?
I can guarantee that one specifically. It’s like you don’t put yourself in situations where you don’t want things to happen. For example, if you don’t want to have sex, don’t put yourself in the position to want to have sex. Dudes will try to play you. They will try their luck with you early.
So you learned fairly early that men love abuse?
My father would always tell me about the game when I was young. I was eight and my sister was 12 back, and he taught us very non-traditionally. Like, of course we all make mistakes, but I learned from them and I never made the same mistake twice. Disappointed maybe, but never heartbroken twice.
You advise not cooking for a man that you’re dating. What are some other things that you would put on the ‘do not’ list?
Save the Suck! That’s one of the main chapters in my book. You don’t need to be giving all your sex to your man. Like, we all did it; I was the head master at one point, but we can just keep on sucking and jiving with a man that’s not your man. And stop giving him so much access. Women we have to change in 2012 because black women are losing and not finding love.
Check back for Part II tomorrow!