Oprah says that if she’d married Stedman they’d be divorced by now

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Oprah has a new essay for O Magazine about her long term relationship with Stedman Graham. I know a lot of people believe the “Oprah is with Gayle and they are an undercover power couple” conspiracy, but I do not. As Kaiser often says, I think that if Oprah was gay she would tell us and be the lesbian icon we need. Gayle and Oprah are BFF goals, and the more we get to know Gayle the more their deep friendship makes sense. We do not know much about Oprah’s boyfriend, Stedman, and that may be part of the reason people have a question mark over their heads about his relationship with her. Oprah is telling us about him though, and it sounds like he’s been there for her, quietly behind the scenes, for decades. She focuses more in this essay about her reasoning for not getting married though. Oprah’s knows it’s work to be married and she’s been focusing on her business.

1986… I had seen a particular man around town, but he was always with the same girlfriend, so I didn’t pay much attention. One day, though, we were both visiting a mutual friend who was ill and later died of AIDS. The guy with the girlfriend had come to the friend’s home alone, and so had I. We left together, and I asked if he wanted to get a beer. (Yes, I drank a lot of beer then and wore cowboy boots every day.) He said he didn’t drink. (Still doesn’t—not one sip of nothin’ alcoholic since I’ve known him.)

I thought he was nice enough, but I wasn’t that impressed. He was polite, yes, and kind. The sort of guy who sits with an ailing friend. Tall and handsome, for sure. But actually too handsome, I thought, to be interested in me.

I figured he must be a player. So did all my producers. They warned me not to get involved with that Stedman guy.

Aside from his appearance, they knew nothing about him. But anybody that good-looking driving a vintage Mercedes merited suspicion.

So I proceeded with caution, even with a friendship. It wasn’t until months later, when I learned he’d broken up with his girlfriend and had been inquiring about my dating status, that I gave him a serious thought.

Anyone who’s ever met him is always amazed by what a genuine gentleman he is. He’s so positive. Wants the best for me and everyone he knows. Truly wishes people well. Doesn’t curse. (I’ve been known to.) Never have I heard him gossip or say a negative thing about anyone. (I have, plenty of times.)

For years, there were hundred of tabloid stories, weekly, on whether we would marry. In 1993, the moment after I said yes to his proposal, I had doubts. I realized I didn’t actually want a marriage. I wanted to be asked. I wanted to know he felt I was worthy of being his missus, but I didn’t want the sacrifices, the compromises, the day-in-day-out commitment required to make a marriage work. My life with the show was my priority, and we both knew it.

He and I agree that had we tied the marital knot, we would not still be together.

Our relationship works because he created an identity beyond being “Oprah’s man” (he teaches Identity Leadership around the world and has written multiple books on the subject). And because we share all the values that matter (integrity being number one). And because we relish seeing the other fulfill and manifest their destiny and purpose.

[From Oprah.com]

Oprah is successful, but more than that happy and fulfilled, beyond most people’s wildest dreams. She’s a billionaire with a worldwide empire and access to the most influential and knowledgeable thought leaders and spiritual gurus. She has chosen not to get married and that works for her! We’re taught that marriage should be our ultimate goal as women, that’s what the majority of children’s shows portray. When women and girls have actual starring roles it’s as lovelorn princesses who need saving. Oprah is one of the best examples of a woman who made her own fairy tale and who is living her dream every day. Her man is secondary to her business goals and she will tell us about it. Also I love how Oprah makes it clear that she didn’t snatch Stedman away from his girlfriend.

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32 Responses to “Oprah says that if she’d married Stedman they’d be divorced by now”

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  1. BlueSky says:

    Relationships are hard and time consuming and I’m one of those women who would rather focus my energy on other things. I’m single and content, and I know that bothers some of the women I know or encounter because like you said, this is how women are conditioned to believe. It’s gotta be frustrating that even in your 60s and being rich you STILL have to explain why you don’t want to get married.

    • Nahema says:

      I’m with you all the way. I’ve been single for several years now and I can’t see myself wanting to settle down and live with someone, let alone get married. I know I don’t need a man and the energy it takes to make a relationship work isn’t worth spending if it’s not what makes you happy. Ultimately it’s about figuring out what makes you happy rather than what everyone else says you should be doing but friends always side eye me as though I’m just saying this because I don’t have a man.

      • Bailey says:

        I agree with both of you. I’m more than happy being single in my 40’s. I was married once and it didn’t work out. My single life now is so much fuller than it ever was when I was married. I love that Oprah speaks her truth. Why shouldn’t she be happy.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Expectations surrounding marriage and women’s emotional labor and domestic chores are so toxic. I’m glad she found a way to avoid that and still be with the man she wanted.

    I’d hope Stedman had also come to confront and dismantle any exploitative expectations or sexism he may have had that would have made Oprah think marriage with him would be so destructive personally.

    It always skeeves me out when I hear women talk about giving things up for a man. Like their dreams or careers or even their time to just relax. Or when they talk about being his domestic servant like it’s a blessing.

    • AA says:

      I don’t think the problem lies in Stedman having latent sexism. I have a strong belief that because Oprah had such an abusive start to her life up until her 20s or 30s, she has vowed to never be ‘shackled’ by a man again. She would also have only probably seen quite negative modellings of marriage. I remember one Oprah show where she vowed to never get married because she was convinced men changed and had a propriety complex over you. By all reports, every story I’ve heard Oprah share about Stedman is #RelationshipGoals.

  3. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    Good for her and Stedman. Seriously. Why must we fit into a box that is so sexist and restrictive?

    Even though I did choose to get married, the timing was everything. If I had married my husband the first time we were dating, it would’ve gone up in a ball of flames. I walked away because I wasn’t in a good place emotionally (abusive family of origin, among other things). When life circled back around and he popped up again a year or so later, things were different. We’ve been happily married for almost 8 years now. But yeah, in the beginning? It would’ve been a disaster.

  4. Suzieq359 says:

    I really wish she would stop talking about not marrying Stedman. It’s been over 30 years. We get it.

    • Anh says:

      Haha. I kind of get what you mean. The lady doth protest a bit too loudly?

    • Leskat says:

      I think she keeps talking about it because it’s STILL brought up. People still wants to talk about why they’ve chosen not to be married and I think she probably has to defend her choice over and over. I think people still get confused that you could be dedicated in a relationship without wanting to be married.

    • Jo73c says:

      She’d probably stop talking about it if people stopped asking her to explain it.

    • Haapa says:

      Blame it on the patriarchy that she still gets asked about it then.

    • Nibbi says:

      I for one was super interested to read this because she went into more detail than I’ve ever heard about it. I think she’s been super loud about “never marrying Stedman” for years, and that’s a good thing, because it sort of raises eyebrows and introduces the notion that that might be okay… but on the whole they’ve both always been super discreet about it. Really, we know very little about him, or I didn’t, anyway, and it’s nice to get more of a glimpse now, finally.

  5. SamC says:

    I’m single, late 40’s, and mostly content but I do relate to her wanting to be asked. Don’t know why, I really don’t want to be married, never have, but there’s that wish for a proposal someday.

    • Anners says:

      I feel you. For me it’s the difference between knowing I’m single by choice and not by circumstances. I feel less like an object of pity when I know this is what I wanted and not just that no one else thought I was worth their time. Internalized misogyny is one hell of a bitch, eh?!

    • tealily says:

      I am married but was never exactly “proposed” to, and even then it sometimes still bothers me. I love the man and I’m happy we’re married, but I wish I’d been on the receiving end of a grand gesture from time to time.

  6. fatladysinging says:

    “I think that if Oprah was gay she would tell us and be the lesbian icon we need.”

    I don’t know, nor care, whether Oprah is gay. But if you think Oprah is not all about conforming to the “old-fashion” status quo, come hither so I can sell you a bridge. Oprah made her billions by feeding the beast! By telling straight, white women that they were the very, very best and never had to change!

    I’m fine with Oprah. She wanted to be a billionaire and got it done! Props! But let’s not pretend she is some courageous social crusader.

    • Anh says:

      In her time, she did bring some extraordinary stories to the fold. For example, one time she brought ~100 adult male childhood sexual assault survivors into the audience to spread awareness and destigmatise the issue and survivors. She also did stories on women whose husbands crossdressed when no one else was discussing it. She also literally built an African school just for girls. She shared her story of childhood sexual assault at a time when most people did not talk about it publicly if at all.

      • fatladysinging says:

        I’m older. I know it all. And yes, occasionally, she did “good” shows — but the bulk of her brand was stroking white women and their feelings. That’s just the truth of it.

        As for her school for African girls…I won’t dive too deep into that here, because I don’t feel like digging up receipts and corroborating evidence. But I will say this: If she didn’t get serious tax and financial benefits from it, she would not have done it. Plus, cough, PR is a thing.

    • Thinking says:

      Like when she did the show on how much to tip the maitre’d ……hahahahahahaha. Yeah I wonder which demographic her show was pushing towards. And there is no shame in that. But people act like she is some sort of almighty or something.

      • fatladysinging says:

        LOL! Exactly!

        Yeah. Oprah is where she is BECAUSE she did not rock the boat nor veer from the path well traveled.

        Yet, some people view her as some sort of social activist by dint of her skin color. (That ‘ol implicit bias rears its ugly head again.) Yes, she gives money to HBCUs; all billionaires give large donations to various schools and causes. It’s the financially sound — SMART! — thing to do. But Oprah has never been out here trying to tell conservative, traditional, bigoted people difficult or uncomfortable truths they don’t want to hear.

    • Ally says:

      I don’t think she is gay because I remember an episode where she held up the microphone to a gay man and asked him: “When did you decide you were gay?” He responded: “When did you decide you were straight?” And she was stunned into silence for a moment, wheels turning, trying to apply her life experience of sexuality to someone else’s orientation. So yeah, it didn’t look like these were thoughts that she had sat with for any length of time previously.

  7. Valiantly Varnished says:

    In honestly think the key to their relationship is that they don’t live together. Steadman still resides here in Chicago. Steadman sightings still occur here lol. I think they are a testament to the success of non-traditional relationships. That relationships – and even marriage – dont have to “look” a certain way to be fulfilling for the people in it.

    • tealily says:

      I know a couple who live in the same city and are married and each owns their own house. I thought one of them would sell when they got married, but nope! They seem completely content to keep in all separate. I find it so refreshing. It’s the second marriage for at least one of them, so I guess they know what works and what doesn’t for them.

  8. Angie says:

    No comments from me other than that Stedman has a tiny facial features on a large face.

    • Frida_K says:

      I didn’t see that at all.


      I saw a handsome African American man who is aging gracefully and realistically. His face looks thin, he’s a bit droopy, and he has receding and white hair. His future aged self is showing, I think. I think he’ll be a thin older man, very stately looking, and that he is handsome now and will be handsome then.

      • Angie says:

        Oh I think he’s handsome and stately as all get out, I just think he has small facial features which I have never really noticed before.

  9. LindaS says:

    Why does she keeping saying this. She has been saying this prob 20 or more years. We know and we dont care

  10. Mtec says:

    I’m curious what is it that marriage changes in a relationship? I’m also a bit like Oprah and would want to get asked, and even have a wedding… but I don’t want to get married and be a wife. And i’m not so sure why to be honest, I just know I really don’t want that, and I feel like If I were married things would eventually change for the negative. But not sure why I think that.

    Though I have seen long term partners get married to just suddenly divorce after a year or two, I have also seen new and older marriages work. So i’m truly at a loss why I think marriage would change a relationship so much.

    One thing I do know for sure Is that I don’t like that women are expected to change their titles to “mrs” which indicates their relationship status to everyone else, but men don’t have anything like that. I also don’t like how some ppl insinuate that it’s important to be married to make sure other people know your relationship is serious. But other than those two things… I don’t know.

    But it’s cool that Oprah and Steadman have found what works for them.

  11. Senator Fan says:

    I agree that if Oprah was gay she’d be loud and proud about it. Good for them for finding what works for their relationship. Having a successful relationship whether married or not takes a lot of work . I don’t know why this is a thing still being asked of her.

  12. Ishqthecat says:

    How is a 30yr committed relationship different from being married? In my country very many long-term couples aren’t married and they go through exactly the same things as their married counterparts e.g. breaking-up, having kids. Only 3 things are different; 1) difficult to do international adoption, as many other countries don’t get it, 2) inheritance laws are slightly different., 3) the father of a child needs to sign special paternity a document if you aren’t legally married to him at the time of the birth (which many parents find discriminating towards non-married couples). Does she mean the co-habiting part? Plenty of married couples don’t live together in the same house the whole time either…

  13. margedebarge says:

    I don’t entirely understand the functional difference between being married for decades and being in a committed relationship for decades. Not to sound flippant, but in one scenario there’s a ring and a piece of paper and in the other there isn’t? I’m 26, I think a little younger than most of the commenters here so maybe it’s a matter of life experience, but from where I’m standing it seems like commitment is commitment whether you sign legal docs or not. Totally open to a new way of looking at it though!

  14. Mel says:

    Meh, marriage isn’t for everyone. What’s the big deal?