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Love and Caution

Some folks say that they fall in love too easily.
I’ve never had that problem.
In fact, I’m usually not the first to say I love you.
I warn anyone in danger of loving me not to be offended if I don’t say it first, but know when I do say it, I mean it.
There was only one time, I was fighting myself not to let it slip from my lips, and that was in my last relationship. I waited to let him say it first, so I can say it back.
Anyone who falls in love with me too quickly, I look at them with a side-eye. I just have to. I have difficulty believing them. I also feel like folks who are quick to fall, are just as quick to hate you. I’ve seen that happen too. A recent guy went from wanting to tell his mother about me, future children and thanking God for me on Facebook, to being hurtful and saying he had to take me in small doses, or calling me indignant because I dared to speak my mind. So there’s another side.
I don’t have self-esteem nor do I think not I’m lovable, however, if you’re too quick to pull the love trigger, you worry me as a potential love. It makes me think you don’t put a lot of thought into things and are too emotionally driven and that scares me.
So I think I’ve decided that I need to be with a person who is cool with the pace in which I fall in love and won’t see my need for caution and time as an insult.
Because once I’m there, there’s no turning back. I’ve made the conscious decision to be all in. Hurrah. You’ve got me.
I have difficulty with people who want me to speed up that process, or believe that the pace in which I fall for someone is in direct correlation with how I feel about them.
Should it take me years to fall in love? No, I don’t think so.
Is it measured in hours or months or a specific number of dates? No. It isn’t.
What makes me fall in love with a person is a series of moments in which both people are vulnerable, honest and where I’ve felt completely safe and like myself.
Moments of truth, moments of unbridled silliness, confiding in each other, that means something to me. Those moments help my feelings grow. In my opinion, cultivating intimacy does take time. And when those moments start adding up, then that’s when I feel like I could be falling and I allow myself to.
The quickest way to scare me off is to go into instant couple mode. This means introducing me to family and friends or any people you consider important without telling me or giving me a warning.
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than people gushing about what a great couple you are, before you’ve even declared yourself a couple. It’s also very uncomfortable when people really start asking about your future together when you don’t know. Sir, ma’am, I don’t know if I’m going to be talking to this person next week… and my date has only himself to blame.
So I don’t like folks jumping the gun and ambushing me like that.
Those are just more disappointed people if it doesn’t work out. I’m clearly the bad guy. Because here was this guy so proud of me and saying how great I am, and here I am like, he’s cool. It’s still early. I’ve found friends and family don’t want to hear that.
I’m also very private. I want us to enjoy our bubble for as long as we can before we let outsiders remotely close. We’re getting us together, our message, our pace and stride together as a couple. Once again everyone understanding pacing helps the message you convey to the public and all those people you want me to meet. You pull the trigger too soon and someone asks me the wrong question, everyone will feel awkward.
Don’t make too many plans including me too far in advance. Take things one at a time. Besides, I may have already made my own plans that I could have prepaid for, now you’re looking crazy. Or we could have some epic fight in which I ether you and we never speak again.
I’m methodical about entering relationships. I will weigh the pros and cons and read all kinds of articles and take quizzes and look at astrological signs and listening to my inner voice.
So should we go aimlessly into the dark for an infinite amount of time? No. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are wasting time, yet, I can’t operate so quickly, that I’m not considering my doubts or instincts about a person.

One friend thinks I truly haven’t let go of the past.

I’m not worried about the past. Am I affected by it? Yes, certainly. The future, however, has me in knots. Making decisions that involve other people and their feelings if I’m not all in? That concerns me. I feel responsible for that.

I’ve also found out a few other things about myself. I’m uncomfortable if a man spends a lot of money on me. And I value my freedom and independence over everything, way more than I ever realized.

I’ve spent the last four years fighting with myself, fighting for myself, loving myself out of darkness making life changes for myself. It’s been about me. Giving myself over to a man or a family freaks me out. It makes me question everything about the natural next step of partnering up. The pressure to choose the right man who understands that… and coming to the realization that there might not be a man who does, that’s when the claustrophobia sets in.

I’ve been asked over and over what I want. By so many people. It’s been easy to say I don’t know. And it’s lazy.

What I ultimately want is a great, healthy, relationship where I know it feels right in my spirit and where I don’t feel trapped, or that I lost myself or I settled out of some awful fear. I want a love that feels like freedom, that embraces my independent spirit and somehow it works.

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Good Intentions

A few things have been swirling around in my head. And I’ve been making connections and comforted by the direction of where I’m headed because of the things I’m allowed to see, hear and remember.

Stay with me.

I’ve been fixed up. My sister said over the thanksgiving holiday that she didn’t understand how I could online date or meet men in random places. To her, it seemed the best way to really meet someone is getting recommendations from other people.

I’m not above that. It just always seemed my circle of friends were all in the same boat or didn’t really know anyone they thought would make a good match.

Enter a co-worker who I became fast friends with. The introduction was embarrassing, but straight to the point.

He opened a Facebook chat with all three of us, introduced us, said “ok, talk. Bye.” And we were off to the races.

Some texting and a great phone conversation later, we’ve planned for our first date. I’m nervous and excited all at the same time because our exchanges so far, without even seeing each other, have been great. Comfortable even.

If nothing else, whatever this may become will be good for me. And that is what I’m saying to the universe and I hope it accepts my sincere feeling. I would like to get to know this person and share their energy for whatever purpose they bring to my life.

What’s striking me about this person and what’s making me sit up and really take notice is just simply the way he speaks to me. It’s pleasant, it’s kind, it’s complementary. But it feels genuine. There’s an intelligent back and forth, but it doesn’t feel stuffy. He gets my sense of humor.

Weeks ago in church, the speaker talked about the extreme importance and responsibility of a man in a relationship and how he must speak positivity, and love and encouragement over his wife/girlfriend. Women kind of naturally support, but when your man speaks highly of you to others and speaks positively to you when he speaks to you, there’s something powerful about that. There’s an exchange of energy. And honestly, this can go without saying for any relationship. Kind words and being mindful of your words and being intentional about what you say goes a long way.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something intentional about the words this man uses when he speaks to me and I can feel that he’s very aware of this. There’s a confidence without being arrogant or presumptive when he makes a reference to us or the future. And when you like someone, it’s not creepy when a person says that early on, but it gives you comfort and it even gives you a compass.

Just him saying the words, “I’d like to take you out.” I knew stringing together those words were very intentional. He didn’t say, let’s hang out. Let’s chill. Meet me here or there. He said, “I’d like to take you out.” To me, this signifies that A. he’s making it clear he’s paying. B. This is a date. Not a hang out, not a meet up, not a let’s chill. This is an intentional date.

The modern dating game has been designed to be as ambiguous as possible, because no one wants to look like a fool, no one wants to like a person more than the other person likes them, no one wants to be vulnerable and take a chance because we’ve allowed ourselves to be punks and then congratulate ourselves for keeping our true feelings to the vest.

There are other things he’s said, other interests that dovetail with mine that have impressed me thus far. Now time and his actions will tell the rest. It’s not all one-sided. I want to be interesting and engaging and attractive to this person as well. I want him to see a light and positivity in me.

But oddly enough, I have an oddly good feeling about this… The fact that I’m struggling to pinpoint and articulate these feelings of excitement suggests that maybe I am headed in the right direction and it’s actually best that I can’t make sense of what I feel. I told a friend to remember a conversation we had tonight just in case this man is actually the one and to remember something else I kept saying years ago about something pretty unique and difficult to have that I wanted when I got married and the fact that he said he could actually make it happen.

Speaking over your life… speaking over the life of the ones you love. Intention. Love intentionally.

I do want to leave you with the definition of intention. The medical definition also hit me over the head. I like this word even more.

Intention:

  • a thing intended; an aim or plan.
    “she was full of good intentions”
    • the action or fact of intending.
      “intention is just one of the factors that will be considered”
      synonyms: intent, intentionality, deliberateness, design, calculation, meaning; More

      premeditation, forethought, preplanning;
      “he managed, without intention, to upset me”
    • a person’s designs, especially a man’s, in respect to marriage.
      plural noun: someone’s intentions; plural noun: one’s intentions
      “if his intentions aren’t honorable, I never want to see him again”
  • 2.
    Medicine
    the healing process of a wound.

 

Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions

In my usual fashion, I’ve put myself in quite the pickle.
I went out with the handsome bartender and we had a great time.
I felt comfortable, we were joking with one another and getting along as if we’d known each other for ages. We even shared things that were very personal and honest and real about our lives.
He actually shared quite a bit of information that would probably send a lot of people running for shelter.
Ironically, I was impressed with his openness. I think that’s the thing about being a journalist, trust of the reader, and especially trust of the person you interview is a delicate thing and you respect it and then you just absorb what people have to say. The journalist respected his candor. The woman looking for a good, stable man to be a part of her life was ready to hit the bricks.
He was complimentary but not in an annoying way, sometimes he was clumsy and it was sweet. He pulled a Darius Lovehall and knocked over my beer. Same exact way, it was funny.
I won’t share all of the red flags, but there were two that appear to be huge.

1. Very recently out of a broken engagement. I mean April, yall.
He was saying the things most people say to themselves after such a devastation. I quickly told him that he wasn’t out of the woods. It takes a very long time to heal. You may feel terrible one day and pretty ok the next. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, good, bad and ugly and ride the wave of it. Be honest with yourself.

2. Two babies mothers. I asked him about his relationship with his children and he said it wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Faithful readers of this blog know I’m not good with men with kids. And I gave him a full disclosure that I don’t really like to date men with kids.

3. I get the impression that he may not ever have had his own place, but was living with some woman or a female relative. And that makes me have some kind of pause. Male or female, everyone needs to know what it’s like to live independently and make certain choices and have certain responsibilities. (Okay, that’s three. So, yes. Flags.)

His story isn’t unusual though.  The harsh reality of the black dating pool once again dumped cold water on my still optimistic head. I noticed that for some reason, I attract men of struggle, with very sad family histories often involving abandonment, single mom’s or grandparents or aunties and uncles who step in intermittently.

Am I attracted? Most certainly. I had an opportunity to feel his chest and stomach and I was impressed, I was physically attracted.

But I think of the two babies mothers, and one live-in ex who proactively handled the paperwork to their home, conveniently leaving him out of the essential paperwork legally entitling him to the home. His naiveté was startling, considering he’s eleven years my senior. I played along that he simply trusted her… And he may have, which scared me further, that as a man building a life with someone, he didn’t think it necessary or push the issue to be involved of the very serious business of home ownership.

I thought about his kids, with whom he readily admits the relationship is not where he’d like it to be because of the moms (two sides to every story).

While he has big dreams, I’m not sure if he’s truly executing his plans, or not. And this early in the game, I’m in no place to judge.

I’ve convinced myself to just hang out with him and hope I don’t get pulled in.

The very simple, considerate things I’ve wanted from men who made way more money and had way more education, who had no desire or capacity to do what came so naturally to him– really paying attention to me,  listening,  engaging, thinking about larger life issues and discussing them openly,  having a sense of humor and joking and playing and making references to all sorts of music and movies and TV.

I feel like I’m in a tough spot, but at this point, is dissecting this man worth it? His red flags are real, but I like him as a person.

I just don’t think he’d make a good boyfriend…

Lifers, am I wrong? Am I being judgy? All I could think about was the babies mothers lined up on “Iyanla Fix My Life.” I’d like to think I’m smarter. But does lonliness and a sorry dating life lead women down this road?

I do think he is also earnest in just wanting to spend time with someone he enjoys and is attracted to but only after about a scant six months after a broken engagement, I personally know he needs time to heal. Dating shouldn’t be his objective. Sigh.

While on paper, and in a practical sense I should be able to exit without second thought.

But don’t I deserve to let someone make me feel how I want to feel? When you get a taste of that, being practical ain’t always the obvious choice. But right here and now, I can’t say that I don’t know better. I am in control of me.

This just couldn’t be easy, now could it?

Who Are the Undatables? And Are They Really Just That?

A bartender asked me out and I said yes.

He said he meets women all the time and exchanges numbers and the women never want to follow-up.
I said, well maybe they change their minds and say to themselves, they can’t date a bartender. You guys are always entertaining people. You have to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and ego to date bartenders period.

He said when he’s off the clock he keeps a very low profile considering he has to be in the mix all week. People always assume he’s a player or wants to be out in the streets turning up.

It made me think of other professions that men have that would give me and most women the side eye.

Most women don’t want to seriously date a male exotic dancer. Most women want to do their personal trainer, but don’t want to date them seriously because well, personal trainers are notorious for hooking up with clients saying that they never hook up with clients but will do it just this once.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone is undateable. We all need love, we want attention and we want to spend time with someone who genuinely wants to spend time with us.

But there were actually a few reasons I was willing to give this bartender a chance.

1. He’s handsome. (Shallow I know)
2. He pays attention to details.
3. He’s patient.
4. He fixes a mean mojito.
5. He’s clearly a hard worker and knows how to serve others.
6. He’s a good conversationalist.
7. He can anticipate and adapt to all kinds of situations and people.
8. There’s some chemistry.

Now let me get to the details and patient thing, because that really set all of this up and let me know he was being for real.

There was one other time he and another bartender were both “pretending” to “fight” over me. It was pretty funny. Every time I go to this spot for a bite to eat and a drink after a long day of work I chat it up with them. And at one point the competition was getting interesting. But I laughed it off and kept it moving.

Prior to that me and this bald, chocolatey morsel had a great convo a very long time ago and he said to me, “You know, I’d really try to talk to you, but I’m with someone.”

It was odd to me that he said this, I paid it no mind. I want to say that this was probably sometime last year.

Fast forward to last night.
He’s serving drinks, small talk is going on and then he just says, “I’d really like to take you out sometime. I’m serious.”

I laugh, because I instantly remember his unsolicited rejection of me several months prior.

“Hey, do you remember you actually told me you’d talk to me, but you couldn’t because you were with someone. What happened?”

“We were engaged and it ended. We even bought a house together.”

“Damn, welcome to the broken engagement club, one up high!” I raised my hand for a high-five. He shook his head, laughed and slapped my hand.

At this point I said why not and fought the urge to think of Miranda and Steve from Sex and the City. I guess I already did…

He asked me about my dating situation, and I had to laugh at that too, because the first thing that came to mind was the date I walked out of about three weeks ago.

But oddly enough, I temporarily forgotten about a sweet, simple date over Italian Ices I had with a recycled guy friend who just tends to be a bit more passive about his interest in me than I’d like.

So it’s open season. I’m a free agent. I owe no one nothing and that’s how I’m going to play this thing.

From that point, he shared weird music with me that he’s into from his phone. I told him this is the kind of music people play in high-end boutiques, where sales people can deduce your tax bracket with one glance and there are three items of clothing hanging on a rack, in the sparsely furnished store, none of which are over a size 6.

He laughed, “Not even a six. We carry negative numbers.”

He’s funny and quick. I like this…

Then he complimented my hair, which always gets points.

“Every time you come here I compliment your hair. I just love it.”

“I know, and I love getting compliments on it. I’ve been natural a little over two years now, and for some reason it still surprises me and makes me feel really good when people compliment me on it.”

And all of a sudden we were talking about how I gradually decided to become natural.

I told him about school. He told me about his plans for a business he’d like to open.

He told me he really liked talking to me.

We talked about common sense not being so common.
He sang a little.
I told him I’ve already figured out our first date. Karaoke.
He told me he cleaned up nicely outside of work.
I told him I had no doubt and giggled because it reminded me of the breakdown in Alicia Keys’ “You don’t know my name.” The part where the waitress tells her crush patron that she looks different outside her work clothes.

So he’s a bartender. He’s charming. Generally those things are warning signs, but I saw some other positive signs too. He’d been interested for some time, saw an opportunity, was direct and respectful and he went for it. Hence I decided off of those factors, this was a situation worth exploring.

“Is it too soon to call you tomorrow?”

“Not at all.”

After 30, “I Don’t Know Why I Love Him/Her” is no longer an acceptable answer

I’ve had yet another conversation with a friend facing an internal struggle to allow a man she knows isn’t really good for her to continue to stay in her life and take up her brainspace, heart space and energy.

So, I asked her. Why? Why him? Why do you believe you love him?

She replied, “I don’t know why.”

I told her she better figure it out.

I said right then and there, it was almost cute in our early 20s to say we just loved someone because we felt it. But 9 times out of 10, what we were feeling back then might have been everything else but love, or simplified versions of it that our tiny brains could process at the time.

I hate to take the glamour and wonder out of love because it is one of the most powerful and inspiring and amazing things we have to hold on to during our existence. I don’t poo pooh it by any means. However, if you are a grown woman and you can’t make a list of the reasons why you love your significant other, I’m worried for you. “I just do.” Is not enough.

I’m afraid that I’ll come off really judgemental by saying that’s a lazy ass answer, so I’ll stand in my truth and be a bit judgy.

Those answers are lazy. It requires nothing of you but to simply feel and it certainly requires nothing of the other person except they breathe.

The more I think about the people I love, I find it’s actually quite easy to articulate why I love them and what makes them so special to me.

There are some people in my life who know how to make me laugh. Some people who make me look at myself and strive to be a better human being. Some people make me feel safe. Some people make me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to because they believe I can. Some people remind me to take care of myself. Some people give me the safe place to be vulnerable to cry or be angry.

Like I said. The list goes on and on. I’m not in some mystical haze about my feelings for the people I love. It’s clear and it can be articulated. As we get older, we should get some clarity. We shouldn’t use love as a crutch to be lazy about our relationships and hope they succeed on automatic pilot.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, like an annual review at a job, or report card time for school, we live in a world were assessments help us decide if we are achieving goals, moving along at a proper rate, and even helping us figure out what is a good fit for us and what’s not, what we’re good at and where we need a little more help. It doesn’t hurt to look at our performance in relationships as well as the performance of others. Trust your boss doesn’t write in your review, “Eh, I don’t know, we just like her.”

Should you treat the people in your life like a check list? Should you be constantly evaluating them? Absolutely not. But taking serious inventory from time to time about your relationships can prove fruitful.

So if you can’t come up with one good reason why you love the person you love, dig a little deeper. I’m sure you’ll find one. You should want to find one.

Be Yourself, Demand Love Unconditionally

Folks have said all the time to “be yourself.”

For a large part of your life, you swear they are lying.

You do what you deem is necessary to fit in at work, or to make friends, or to be in a relationship.

But those words are the truest words you’ll hear.

You just have to be brave enough to actually do it.

Why is it that something that should be as natural as being yourself so damn hard to do?

Well, it’s because we are acutely aware of our faults more than everyone else is, hence we have the power to alter it, mask it and pretend. But that only works but for so long. Folks who truly know you, know when you are genuine and when you are not and thank God.

The lies we tell ourselves are the worst and most potent and hardest to break and reverse.

The reason I’m on this kick today is because this morning I woke up with about 30 epiphanies. I had to text them to myself so I wouldn’t forget.

I went to a beautiful wedding this week of a fantastic college friend who I hadn’t seen in years.

She was absolutely stunning, but what made her glow all the more enchanting was she was truly happy. She loved that man and he clearly loved her. It was in the little things, the way she picked an eyelash off his face, and the way she still made silly faces with exaggerated eyes and smirks even in her formal photos. Every inch of that venue had her mark– from the songs she selected to the party favors. Individual, unique, simple, understated but not buttoned up.

The moment of the wedding that stopped my heart and hit me like a freight train was during her written vows.

She thanked her husband profusely for loving her for who she is. And I believed her. Those weren’t empty words. Even as she said it, she began to cry, and my eyes began to well. Because I know the impact of those words. And yet, I can’t think of a relationship where I completely felt like was loved exactly for who I was. I didn’t feel like I was enough in every last one and it was frustrating because I truly did my best in all. But it wasn’t on me, that was the thing I couldn’t control, even though I tried to. Either someone is going to love you for you completely, or they just won’t.

They will love you when your house is dirty or when it’s clean. They will love you if you gained some weight or if you stayed the same weight. They will love you and your child if that’s what you came to the table with. They will love you when you are sick and take care of you, as they will love you when you are healthy. They will think you are amazing if you are at the top of your career, and encourage you if you got laid off and can’t find work for a year.

I guess I’m afraid of that kind of love.

Because it’s actually real.

Because I can’t make excuses for it or why it didn’t work. To lose that kind of love would seem devastating, worse than the devastation I felt when the person didn’t love me that much, but I loved them that much.

I’ve said before that love is negotiable. And we have to keep coming to the table and reminding our loved ones what the terms are if they are slipping, and they should require that of us too.

I recently accepted a job. Go me!

I did something different this time.

I asked for what I wanted, what I felt I deserved in compensation and I was willing to keep it moving if they didn’t offer me the job or the salary I asked for. I had already made up my mind what I was willing to accept, and my friends asked well what if it’s this number but not that number? And I said, no. Something in my spirit said, no. This time you won’t take less than what you deserve, you’ve been doing it you’re whole professional life. You can get what you deserve even if it’s not this particular opportunity, this time around.

So it made me think, if I can have the courage to say no to a job if they aren’t coming correct with money, why am I so flexible when it comes to my most valuable possession? Me. My heart.

I had to laugh at myself.

I started thinking about all of the relationships where I broke my neck to be the perfect girlfriend, the cool girlfriend, the compassionate and understanding girlfriend who accepted men as they were, as broken and complicated… but I had to be the one that was whole, for the both of us.

I was broken and complicated too, in many ways. I needed just as much nurturing and care and occasional eggshell two stepping for my feelings too. I didn’t stand in my truth, I pretended that I was so strong that I could live without that, but still provide it.

I kept choosing men I felt I could make better and in some cases I helped in their progression. But I didn’t get the benefit. They’d go on to marry other women and blatantly give them the things they said they couldn’t give me. But I didn’t demand more of them, I didn’t threaten to leave if they didn’t. I don’t believe in holding anyone hostage in love, but I’m learning not expressing clearly what you need and what you want in a relationship is the worst thing you can do. Because if that person really wants to love you, you aren’t giving them the tools to do so properly. And if they don’t want to love you, and you don’t tell them, you can’t be mad that they disagree with the way you desire to be loved.

I was too afraid to say what I wanted. I thought that love was sacrifice and if they saw how much I gave, then clearly they’d return my love in a tangible, fulfilling way.

They didn’t.

And those words the bride said tearfully have rattled around my head since I’ve returned home.

By George, that was it, stupid. Be who you are completely and let him love you completely. Let him decide and if he doesn’t choose you, it’s not your fault, it’s not something you necessarily did wrong. Be strong enough and be fearless enough to be you. Say what you don’t like. Say what you want and what makes you happy. Say when you are upset and hurt.

I’ve often turned my nose up at the women who lash out and raise all kinds of hell when they are mad at their men, but the men do react. And of course they do, those women made it very clear that they were upset, and if the man really loved them, they were going to be about the business of correction.

I confused my silence for class, while being complicit in the demise of my own relationships and my own self esteem. I won’t let air out of tires, or burn clothes, but I have a mouth. My fear of rocking the boat should not be placed above my own happiness. There’s a balance. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. And I always had difficulty balancing that. I hated arguments because I had a fear that there would forever be a strike against me that I couldn’t come back from. But that’s not love.

I wrote in Facebook yesterday, that my father loves me unconditionally and has been ridiculously patient with me over the years. I was a curious, head-strong child who preferred learning the hard way. And he let me. But I always knew he was proud of me and that he thinks the world of me. In that post, I said my dad taught me that I deserve a man willing to fight for me, one who won’t take a day off or who will think the task of loving me is so daunting and intimidating and overwhelming, that he’d prefer to not even take a stab at it.

And these are the men I picked. They always went out with a whimper. And that always upset me. Why didn’t they fight for me? Why didn’t they try harder? But maybe I was the one who set the tone, don’t argue, don’t fight, be classy, move on.

But I got that wrong. Life is indeed a fight in itself, messy and tangled. There are tears and ugly cries, there are yells and screams that are not the end of the world, and that don’t mean you aren’t classy. Life leaves you with far more bruises and scars that fade with time, but don’t necessarily disappear, but it doesn’t subtract from the overall beauty of life. Those scars don’t negate our inner beauty, our true selves.

I was classy and crying alone in the dark. I was classy and falling apart on the inside or filling with rage on the inside.

There is catharsis is speaking your mind and your truth be it loudly or quietly. There is a time and place for everything.

I don’t place the blame entirely on me, because that’s what I would tend to do. But I did pick men who I allowed to have red flags and flaws up the wazoo and think it was healthy to love them despite of, but not give myself the same privilege.

And now, I know to do things differently.

He will love all of me, because I’m a rare and wonderful being to love. Even on my worst days.

Choices

I was involved in a really interesting conversation this week with a friend of a friend. He was talking to a group of us women and we were sharing or man and lack thereof problems with him. He gave his brutal and blunt assessment from the male perspective.

The thing that stuck out most in my mind that he kept asking one of my friends who said she keeps getting involved with the “wrong” men.

So he responded, that women actually have choices. We can simply say no.

If someone comes to us and doesn’t have everything we want or need, we can say no. We can turn them down. We choose.

Now what makes this thing so complicated is we say yes to people who we know can’t give us what we need or want, and we decide that that’s acceptable because we don’t want to come off stuck up or too picky or unable to accept people for who they are.

More often than not, when men decide to pursue a woman, they aren’t thinking as deeply about it as we do, or even trying to gauge potential.

They see something in a woman. They desire it, they want it. They go for it and wait for us to make the choice to even bother with them. If we say no, they may keep trying. Or they just may keep it moving without much of a fight.

But here we are as women, two weeks, two months and two years in knowing full damn well the situation isn’t working, but deciding to continue to entertain the wrong folks because we don’t want to be mean, or hoping the person will magically change into the person we wanted them to be.

The male friend gave a great comparison.

He asked my friend if she ever had sex unwillingly. He said that he hoped her answer was no, because if the answer was yes, she was a victim of rape.

So if in fact her answer was no, she made the choice and consented to the sexual encounter. She was in full control of her decision to get something she wanted.

So, if she could make that kind of decision with that much accuracy and confidence, why couldn’t she do the same in selecting which relationships she was going to get into and put work into maintaining?

I sat there dumbfounded.

It made a ridiculous amount of sense. As women, we’ve become super empowered in terms of our sexuality and even being more casual in our encounters. We can tell a man how we want them, where we want them and we can surftboard all night long.

But we cannot articulate that we need to be supported. That we are weary and need affection and kindness and strong arms to hold us. We! can’t seem to find the courage to hold men accountable to what they say and do in terms of how they treat and love us. We let a lot of things slide and because of that, we want to blame them and accuse them of not acting right.

Should they just do the right thing? Sure, they should! That’s what decent people who actually care about you do. But until we find the right person, we have a lot of folks in the training program on how to treat us and we have to enforce it. I’m not saying rule with an iron fist, but there are ways to emotionally stand your ground, have standards that you won’t bend from or amend when it’s convenient. You have to be real. You have to be consistent and I think a lot of that hangs on how much we love ourselves and how much confidence we’ve accrued. We want people to like us, so it’s easier than we realize to change up from who we really are to gain other people’s acceptance. But it’s false. Real acceptance and real love comes when you know who you are and you give people the opportunity to love you for it and if they don’t, you can rescind the offer and keep stepping.

As I get older, I’ve learned a long time ago that the quality of my relationships have always trumped the quantity. That sometimes long stretches of no dates was far better than several dates in a row that went absolutely no where, or dates I accepted because I was bored and just lonely.

We can articulate everything that person does wrong to our girlfriends, but when it’s time to do the work and speak up, we freeze. We give second, third and fourth chances.

And the giving of second, third, fourth and millionth chances are actually perfectly ok and fine because it’s your choice to give those chances.

But when you continue to complain about being taken advantage of and give another chance instead of simply saying no, it’s like you totally forgot you actually have a choice in the matter.

The result of your choice may be something you don’t like, or something that is uncomfortable, but you still have a choice to opt out and say no thanks.

The male friend said that it is actually simple. We laughed. He described a scenario where if he was a woman and could sit back and choose men he’d say, “no, no, no, yes, maybe, no, yes, you and your brother too.”

He said as a woman, no matter who you are, where you are, what you look like, someone is going to try to get with you. Now, sometimes and a lot of times it may not be the guy you want to talk to you, but men will always try and you have the choice to give them a chance or simply say no.

But it’s just difficult to say no to the guy who has that smile who makes you melt, but won’t return phone calls in a timely manner.

It’s hard to say no to the guy who you’ll move your schedule for, but will break plans last minute and will still call you at 1 a.m. to see if he can come over.

But we do have a choice. We can deal with the temporary disappointment of not answering that booty call, or feeling alone that night. Or we can accept the little they give us for the little they give us. But it truly is on us.

PDA In Church Is Just Too Much…

I was sitting in church yesterday after a long hiatus. I didn’t want to go, but I felt really compelled to be there. All in all, I’m glad I went. I needed it. But back to the initial thought of this post.

Sitting in a row ahead of me was an attractive young woman. She was into the service, it was all to the good. Maybe about 15 minutes later a male companion arrives and sits next to her.

For the duration of the service, she is rubbing his back, laying her head on his shoulder, holding his hand and in my opinion, just being extra. It wasn’t a packed service, so I kind of had the feeling she was putting on this show just for me.

Actually sister, I’m happy you have a man. I’m super happy for you that he joins you and is just as enthusiastic about worship and the word as you are, because this brother was taking notes and everything. He was all in.

But, your holy equivalent of peeing on your territory was too much, and in fact it was distracting.

I won’t front. If you are really into church, going to God’s house together is a really awesome feeling. And when your loved one actually wants to be there and is getting something out of it, you do feel mighty good about it. I knew I’d wave my hands a little more when I had my rock on my finger, but I was never to the point where I was PePe Le Pewing with my man throughout the entire service.

I have to say, she had him trained. When they do the obligatory say hi to five people thing, one, she didn’t even speak to me. Two, this brother gave me a high-five. I guess a handshake is just too much and a hug is certainly out of the question.

Whenever they do the greeting thing at church, I never hug men who are clearly with women. I don’t know them like that. And I honestly barely hug other men. Some of the older cat daddies seem to love this portion of the service and they will climb over about six rows to get to you, but hey, get in where you fit in.

The whole exercise in insecurity was comical to me. I get the competition is horribly stiff for finding a man in church especially if there are single men in your church.

I even understand how women can get super territorial of a man, when entering into a space where there is usually more women than men, and women looking for men. But I think this kind of paranoia in church is really, really scary.

Really scary.

A dear friend of mine was talking about getting a friend request from a high school rival of mine.

“Didn’t so and so hate us, you especially?” she asked.

“Yup.”

As we talked, I told her she did happen to manage to get married and have a pretty cute kid. Which made me launch into the, how the heck are these mean ass women getting married? To which my awesome friend responded,

“Oh well. That just means they have a longer life sentence.”

I fell out. That perspective made me think again about the *dare I say it again* gift of the season of being single.

So, basically if you are a church chick, and you have a man and your man loves going to church like you do, I congratulate you. I’m happy for you, because if I believe in God, which I do, I already know your man is NOT my man, but that the Good Lord has someone just for me. But please, please, please have a little faith. You don’t have to spend the entire service proving to people outside of your relationship that you’re in one. We get it. That’s your man.

We ain’t here for you, boo. I’m just trying to get my mind and spirit right before I walk into another crazy week.

Am I A Jerk?

The older I get and the longer I’m single, I really struggle with whether or not my reactions to dating and relationships are unreasonable.
After all, there’s compromise and give and take and thinking of others besides yourself.
But after moving my very hectic schedule around for a potential date with a handsome guy who says that I “talk too much” (see, I let that one go) “But sometimes you say really interesting things. I love that about you” I decided since I needed some handsome male energy, I’d stay up til the wee hours to write a paper that’s due tomorrow. A girl needs a little fun.
Welp, after confirming our date, he asks me if any of the places I had to suggest had televisions. I told him they did.
Then I told him I was hoping his focus would be on me.
“I will focus. But I really want to watch the game.”

For some reason, handsome or not. That text made me livid. I rushed to text my best male friend to help me react or not react, but he took too long. So I told my date we should postpone.

He hasn’t responded.

And that further shows me he’s not really that interested in me. Even though he claims he is.

If I’m going to move my schedule around and stay up all night to get my homework done, it needs to be worth it, for someone who values me and my time. I’m not playing second fiddle to the NBA Playoffs today. I forgot about this guy’s obsession with basketball. But I’m in no mood to compete for his attention tonight. I enjoy sports, but cmon, man. I do feel my reaction may be knee-jerk and I may be a little inflexible, but I also feel like I put a lot of effort into even taking time to go out with him. So looks like I’ll be in my sweats working on my paper tonight.
#Priorites.

I hate fighting with myself about not taking this L and possibly ending up alone for the rest of my life because I couldn’t accept a little basketball with my dinner and drinks.

Oh well.

Is Relationship Advice From Single People Valid?

Ha! I’ve just witnessed an argument on this very topic unfolding on social media.

One person said they will never take relationship advice from a single person. Another person said that to say that is ridiculous. And a third person, there’s always this person, recommended to ask the Lord for advice.

I’m not mad at any of these answers, I think to some degree all of these folks are on to something and I appreciate help from “anyone who has a heart.”

As with any topic, any time you get advice from someone you have to a) consider the source b) understand if they have any biases or conflicts of interest c) and take what they say with a grain of salt. What works for one doesn’t work for all, especially in matters of the heart.

There are some folks who swear married people will give the best advice. But who out of married people is qualified to give good advice? Folks who have been married for three months? A year? 20 years? Married folks with kids? Married folks who don’t have kids? Married folks who split up and got back together? Folks who have been divorced multiple times? Normally divorced folks are sent to the back of the line because from the outside, we straight up call them failures. “Failed marriages.”

Well damn. So because they failed they don’t have input?

I have mixed feelings about folks handing out relationship advice and folks either swear Steve Harvey is the oracle or his full of crap, but I agree with what he says when folks call him out for being married like three times. He says he knows what he’s done wrong. He’s well aware of his mistakes.

For me, married, single, divorced, widowed and even couples who are staying together but falling apart, I’ve learned from everything in the things they say, in the things they do, how they present themselves in public and if you get a glimpse of folks at home.

Plenty of single people have been in love, and have participated in relationships and have had their heart broken or broke a heart. So, in some way we are all qualified.

As someone who fell madly in love and almost got married, I have an opinion on things. People can agree or disagree and my experiences don’t make me an expert on everything, but it gives me a certain level of insight. We all have this. So why don’t we trust ourselves?

Folks say all the time single people offering one another is like the blind leading the blind. Sometimes, that is the case, but I don’t necessarily believe my friends who are booed up and or married have ALL the answers either. They are still navigating their own ever-changing and evolving relationships too and it ain’t always pretty. They are in the trenches too. Relationships are hard work. If you are lazy, don’t even bother.

What do you lifers think? Who gives the best relationship advice? Who should be giving out relationship advice and who shouldn’t be?

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