There’s a superstition on Real Housewives that if you renew your vows, it’s a curse. I suppose Ne-Yo and his wife, Crystal Renay, just made the case for why it may be true.
Just a few months after renewing their vows in Las Vegas in April, the former music video vixen took to social media with a scathing post about Ne-Yo’s years-long infidelity. In her post, she detailed him cheating on her with “numerous women who sell their bodies to him unprotected,” asking the public to stop sending her videos and information about him cheating, insisting his actions are “no longer my concern.”
It’s a sad, but predictable ending to the couple’s 8-year run. They met in 2015 when she auditioned for a role in his video for a song on his album Non-Fiction. The two got to talking and within less than a year, it was announced that they were engaged and that Renay was pregnant. It was her first pregnancy, but Ne-Yo’s third baby. I’ll come back to this shortly. The pair married the next year, and she gave birth to their son a month after their wedding. Two years after that, they had another son.
In February of 2020, there were rumblings that the couple was getting a divorce. Finally, Ne-Yo officially announced the split during a podcast appearance. He filed for divorce in March but withdrew the paperwork one month later.
In June of 2021, the couple’s third child together, Isabella, was born. And that, of course, brings us to the fancy vow renewal ceremony in Las Vegas that they had in April, just a few months before Renay aired out their dirty laundry, or his dirty laundry, to the entire world.
Personally, Ne-Yo always gave me the ick. It could be his incredibly large, bald head, or how frequently I heard how full of himself he was. Perhaps he has the right to be. He’s earned more than 30 award nominations for his music and has taken home 8.
But it’s his song writing skills that separate him from the pack of other male R&B artists. He’s responsible for penning hits like Beyonce’s Irreplaceable, Jennifer Hudson’s Spotlight, and Keri Hilson’s Pretty Girl Rock – and ironically, one of his own songs entitled Why Does She Stay? Amazing songwriter or not, he’s still always given me the ick.
It could be because, as an avid Real Housewives watcher (I mean, did you read the intro to this?!), it became public knowledge that he and his ex-fiance, Monyetta Shaw, both agreed to undergo sterilization procedures, and while she followed through, he didn’t, adding three more kids to his brood after leaving her.
Back in 2011, Shaw delivered the then-couple’s second child. Feeling like their family was complete, she requested her fallopian tubes be tied after the birth, a decision she maintains was a joint one made by her and Ne-Yo.
“The doctor must have asked us eight times if this was what we wanted. Each time, we both replied yes,” she wrote in a 2016 New York Post column.
She says they talked about it extensively, leading up to the birth of their second child. She says he also agreed to undergo a vasectomy in a show of good faith and commitment to their relationship and mutual decision.
“I was so busy caring for two young children, I just assumed Ne-Yo had followed through and had gotten the vasectomy. I trusted him so much that it never even crossed my mind that he hadn’t gone through with it,” she explained in the post.
Then, in 2013, just two months before their August wedding, the singer called her and said, “I don’t want to be monogamous anymore.”
Shortly after that, they had a “deep conversation” in person where he explained he wanted to separate. Having come from a family where her parents were married for nearly 50 years (back then), the decision devastated her.
Shaw went on to describe her feelings about his relationship with Crystal Renay, which was moving at lightning speed (again, married with their first child just one year after meeting. Yikes!) “It hurts to see them parade their love on social media. They recently married, and Crystal gave birth to their first son,” she wrote. “She seems like a nice girl, but I would be worried if I were she. How does she know that he’s not going to do the same thing to her that he did to me?”
Have you ever heard the old adage, “How you get him is how you’ll lose him?” This entire situation reminds me of that saying. And it also reminds me of another Hollywood love disaster, one involving the infamous Tristan Thompson. Rumours that Tristan Thompson was in a relationship with his then-girlfriend Jordan Craig, while he started dating Khloe Kardashian, have always been in circulation, despite the basketball star saying he was single at the time.
We saw how the situation with Jordyn Woods really got people talking about his infidelity, further exacerbated by continuous rumours of cheating, until he ultimately fathered another child with Maralee Nichols while in a relationship with Khloe. As an observer of this circus of Hollywood infidelity, my question is always this: Why do men who know they want to be non-monogamous attempt polyamory with women who make it clear they are one-man-women?
Last week, I wrote about Nick Cannon’s brood of children with multiple women and his appearance on a panel with DVSN, a Canadian music duo who have recently expressed their preference for polyamory, and I suggested that he’s using polyamory as a means of justifying his selfish, cheating ways, which is something entirely different than a mutual and consensual decision to have multiple partners. Even then, I’d still just call that an open relationship. It’s not polyamory if your partner(s) don’t agree with the lifestyle that comes with it.
Another question I find myself asking is why these one-man-women think that these men, with all their fame and all their riches, and a proven track record of true sleazebag behaviour, will change? I want, so badly, to have my heart ache for these women, and in many ways, it does. But as Ne-Yo asks in his song, why do you stay?
It's certainly something worth examining and dare I say, empathizing with. Renay was an aspiring video vixen when the pair met, and it’s not the most high-paying job, especially because she’s given birth to three kids in eight years, and we know how hard Hollywood can be on mom bodies.
Since then, she had a reality TV stint, including being a cast member on the only season of Platinum Life, a show that aired in 2017, following the wives and girlfriends of famous musicians. Currently, her estimated net worth only sits at $500,000 U.S., which pales in comparison to Ne-Yo’s reported $9 million U.S. net worth. I feel like that’s one of the reasons women stay with men who are known cheaters – it’s a sure-fire way for them to maintain and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, or even just have financial stability for them and their children.
But what about Khloe Kardashian? Financially, she’s thriving. She’s worth an estimated $60 million U.S., exceeding Tristan Thompson’s net worth by a whopping $15 million. Perhaps she, like Ne-Yo’s ex Monyetta Shaw, just want their kids to grow up in the same homes as their fathers.
“The thought of him and my kids not living under the same roof was devastating,” Monyetta Shaw said in the New York Post column.
I wondered if Renay knew about Ne-Yo’s heartbreaking situation with his ex-wife, but learned in an Essence article about a conversation they had before committing to each other where I imagine this information would have had to come to light. During the conversation, he said, “I need to know that I can handle all the stuff that I’m not aware of. I need to know every reason that a man has ever left you or anything that you feel like a man will leave you for. I need your track record. I need it all right here, right now.” Well, that’s what he told the outlet in 2020, anyway.
“She laid out her dirty laundry, I laid out my dirty laundry [and] after this very uncomfortable conversation, the air in the room got lighter so to speak, and we didn’t feel like we had to work as hard to impress each other. After that conversation, I had a laundry list of dos and don’ts in regard to being in a relationship with her and I took that list and turned it into a song and that song is ‘Good Man.’”
I could throw up just imagining this conversation taking place. A list of dos and don’ts when you were, according to her timeline, four years into having unprotected sex with escorts? I could also vomit at the fact that according to Shaw in that Post article, he recited lyrics to a hit song he shares with Fabolous while proposing to her. “In 2010, during a weekend in the Dominican Republic for [rapper] Fabolous’ birthday, Ne-Yo asked me to marry him. We were in a suite, and he told everybody to be quiet. He pulled my hand, dropped down to one knee, and I immediately started crying. He incorporated the lyrics from his song ‘Make Me Better’ and pulled out a 10-carat diamond ring.”
Ne-Yo’s response to Renay’s scathing post is perhaps, the most telling thing about this entire situation. He liked the post on Instagram – then posted the following statement, complete with quotations likely included from his team of PR people (who I certainly hope are charging him a pretty penny as I imagine they are busy):
"For the sake of our children, my family and I will work through our challenges behind closed doors. Personal matters are not meant to be addressed and dissected in public forums. I simply ask that you please respect me and my familyâ€™s privacy at this time.â€— NE-YO (@NeYoCompound) July 31, 2022
Since their initial break up in 2020, he’s always referred to their demise as a case of their “demons not meshing” – but I and so many others, I’m sure, would just appreciate if he came out and said it plainly: I just want to have sexual relations with multiple women and not be tied down. I promise, Ne-Yo, there are people that are open to it!
I commend Crystal Renay for speaking up. I can only imagine the fear of hearing the “I told you so” that must have come from fans, aware of how he wronged Monyetta Shaw. And I’m curious to know if the two women, united by their heartbreak, have been in touch since the post.
Despite saying she’s moved on from the situation and no longer has any regrets, Shaw opened up about the deep pain her sterilization has caused her. “Adding to my pain is knowing that if I find another man to love, I may not be able to start a family with him,” she wrote. “I’m too scared to go to a doctor to find out if there’s anything they can do about it. Because I do want to get married someday, and if my future husband does not have kids, I will want to have his children.”
Way to go Ne-Yo. Wonder what song you’ll turn this into.