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Women, You’re Dating Each Other

A guy friend of mine who I very recently reconnected with after a few years blew my mind with an observation he made over drinks.

I’m still single, he’s still single. We probably met a good ten years ago, but stopped speaking after a perceived slight on my part. We didn’t discuss that.
But we did talk about the world of dating, how things have changed between our parent’s generation and how awful going to the club is, but how “Netflix and Chill” and online dating is contributing to our social downfall.

He lamented that our generation’s dating fails are connected to one thing our parents had on a regular basis, that we lack.

House parties.

He said that house parties were unpretentious. There, you got social, you danced with people, you met a few new people outside of your social network who were friends of friends, there was good food and drink. Who wouldn’t want to warm up and get friendly in that kind of environment? Anyone in attendance was already vetted by someone in the room that you know.

I agreed. I couldn’t think of the last time I went to such a party. The best ones were probably in college. The closest thing in my adult life were ones I’ve thrown on a far smaller scale, and a wine party hosted by a couple I know, that was mostly attended by other couples and was quite awkward for me in the beginning.

I digress.

He also made my ears perk up when he said, let’s face it. Most women are actually dating their friends and don’t realize it.

I blinked. I needed him to elaborate, so he did.

“Look, y’all go to the movies, out to dinner, to the theater. And y’all all look so nice too, but out with your girlfriends. Great restaurants everything. Y’all even go on vacations with each other. Y’all don’t need to date a man because you’re already doing it with your friends. At the club, you dance with each other and get mad if a man wants to break it up and ask one of you to dance.”

I had to laugh.

He was absolutely right. I’d just come off of an extraordinary trip to Belize with some girlfriends, and it’s not unusual to hit up my friends to go out for a nice meal or see a movie.

I was complaining a few weeks ago, that being a part of a support system for a crew full of single women was tough and could be emotionally draining.

It felt like I was pulling double duty, doing things for some of my friends that I think boyfriends should do, right down to helping each other move, fix things, hunt and remove rodents and insects, or helping each other shovel out our driveways in the winter.

Sisters are doing it for themselves, but it’s kind of worrisome.

We’re leaning on each other a lot, and there is a void of protection and security and companionship a man provides.

I was getting worn down from helping my friends recover from bad breakups, health problems and other issues.

I wanted my friends to have a man, so he can help carry the emotional load and just give my friends that dose of male stability they are yearning for. Not long ago, I even prayed a prayer, saying, “Lord, I don’t even need to be first. I can be last. But give my girls the partners they need and deserve.”

My male friend went further to explain that this is a female phenomenon.

“You don’t see groups of guys out with the same frequency of women going out together.”

I had to agree. My friends won’t ever be a substitute for a real date, but if there are nice things you want to do and you don’t want to sit around at home, you will invite your homegirls. Usually, those really cool things that would make a great date, you still want to go, whether you have a man or not. On three occasions, I’ve bought tickets to some really great concerts that I invited men on dates to, and I was either stood up, or we fell out by the time the concert came around. So, I’d invite a homegirl to join me, because I’m still going.

So by my male friend’s description, I have been going on a lot of “dates” with my friends. However, there are times I have really, really, really wanted and needed the company of a man and some flirtation. My friends can’t give me that, and I can’t give them that either. Do I tell my friends they are beautiful and awesome? All the time. But there is a difference and a tingle you get, when the right man hands you a well-timed compliment.

I’ve joked with some friends that honestly, it’s almost like we’re in a relationship anyway, the way we support and come to each other’s rescue because at the moment, there are no men to do so, or no “Steady Freddies” that have come along. But then my joke didn’t feel so funny when I really started to think about it.

I found myself getting angry. I was angry that so many women have to lean on each other when they are sick, tired, sad, mad and in-between.

I’m thankful for my village, but there needs to be more diversity. By diversity I mean penis. Penis support.

So what say you? Are you unconsciously dating your friends? Be real!!

In a land far away on another social media thread, I peeped that people said, this post made sense, but I had no solutions.

I don’t have solutions. I was sharing a really funny observation and perspective I hadn’t considered. It had some truth to it. So, Sway, on this one, I don’t have the answers.

I do think women shouldn’t sit at home and twiddle their thumbs. There’s so many great things to do and see. Waiting for a date (and sometimes your company is awful) isn’t the look. Pick who you want to spend time with and go and most importantly, have a great time, whether you’re with your homegirls, homeboys, boo, undercover lover, hotline bling…

Oooh, back to answers. I’ma go with my friend. OLD SCHOOL  HOUSEPARTY!!!

More specifically to my life, maybe for me, myself, personally, I should try to get my guy friend to take me on a date…

Relationship Status Not A Reflection of Your Individual Value

If you survived your mid- to late-twenties without going to a lot of weddings, and you are in your 30’s, you better guard your loins and brace yourself like Braveheart and his crew.

I’m starting to get a bunch of save-the-dates, as some of my dear friends (mostly male though…but that’s a whole other post) are finally making their way to the altar.

I’m very happy for my friends. Most of the folks I know getting married over the next two years are folks who have been in very long-term relationships. They’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, they’ve been able to watch each other change and grow, they’ve had serious battles and challenges, and they’ve decided to keep on choosing each other for the rest of their lives. It’s really beautiful. I’ll probably shed a tear because I know the behind-the-scenes stories. These couples haven’t always had the fairy tale, and for that reason, them making the conscious effort to choose each other over and over again, every day for the rest of their lives, is what makes these new unions magical. They put real thought into the huge life decision they are making. And for that, I applaud them and can be confident in their futures and really relish the celebrations.

But I had a thought as I was talking to a friend. It’s nothing new that a lot of women place their value on being proposed to. Simply being asked elevates them.

And I’ve even had the thought that being asked was in direct correlation to my value.

I had even said on a number of occasions, the reason I’ve kept my engagement ring is because it was physical proof that “someone loved me that much, someone wanted me to be his wife.”

Well, I’ll have to tell myself now after about four years of healing that in the illustrious and oh so truthful words of Brandy, almost doesn’t count.

I understand now that simply getting “chose” as my southern friends would call it, isn’t a reflection of your value. There are so many amazing single people who are amazing, period. If they got married tomorrow, they’d be amazing. If they were single forever, they would still be amazing. There are people who are just really great at being a human. They do it well, regardless of being involved romantically. And I do believe in my heart, because they’ve been so excellent at being a human, they will attract an equally amazing human, decide to be together and save the world by creating more awesome humans.

In my biostats class, we talk about independent and dependent factors. If an independent variable changes, the dependent variables are studied to see how much the independent variable effects them.

I think of marriage, relationships etc., as independent variables. They can change the other dependent variables about you, but those dependent variables you always had, your intellect, your ability to care for other people… you get the picture.

So for people thinking getting selected by someone makes you better than all of the other “pitiful” single people (something must be wrong with them) out there, or if single people believe married people or people in a relationship are “better” you’ve got it completely wrong.

Maybe I need to do another post about something that’s taken me a long time to figure out. I kept wondering why some people never got married or why they are still single. I’m learning it’s a bunch of things.

You know yourself too well to settle, even if it means turning down people who seem to be really amazing (on paper, or physically).

You trust how you feel first, even if it makes no sense to other people.

You know that you can be selfish sometimes and you’re just not ready to share anything, your space, your food, your time, your life…

You still have big decisions that you want to make and only want to have yourself to consider. Do you want to move to another country? Do you want to change jobs? Do you want to buy a house or sell it? Do you want to take out $60,000 in student loans to go get a degree? Do you want to take a significant pay cut for a dream job?

Do you just want to opt out sometimes? Being single gives you the space and freedom to say fuck it and it doesn’t affect anyone else but you. Want to take a few days off and go away? Book the ticket, you’re gone. Want to call in sick? You aren’t squirreling away days just in case a kid gets strep, you can take your mental health day and not slave to make it up. Wanna stay in your sweatpants all day and eat pho? No one is going to tell you no in your own house. Compromise isn’t something you have to consider in the single life. Doing you is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Entering into a relationship can make you a better person, because that person can bring out the best in you or challenge you to be your best self, but you’re relationship status alone doesn’t make you better than anyone else, especially those who aren’t attached.

Entering into a relationship is just a mutual decision between two people. Let’s be together! Ok! Whooo hoo! So is getting engaged and getting married. Let’s make this thing legal! Ok! Whoo hoo!! It’s the decision to choose each other for an undetermined amount of time, based on if you want to continue the relationship or if one of the parties expires. (Singing Fantasia’s Free Yourself, or Mahalia Jackson’s Upper Room) That’s it.

So people in love, even though you feel like it, you didn’t cure cancer, or create wrinkle-free clothing or the cronut.

You were simply able to match hearts at the right time and right place, which is quite a feat, but not one to place you on a perch.

Single people wanting to be in a relationship. Take some inventory of the luxuries and freedoms you currently have in your season of single and be that excellent human. Because it will sustain you when it’s time to really dig in, compromise, love and give freely to your future love.

Dating Fails Don’t Exist

I had a major light bulb moment pulling into the parking garage at work this morning. It’s been horribly cold, which tends to make people always a little more pressed for physical contact and affection and some love.

Since December, I was fixed up with a guy who was attractive, smart, and was passionate about music and the arts. I thought everything was all good. He was interested, he spoke highly of me but something wasn’t quite right.

Even from our early dates, he would abruptly stop the conversation to say that I cut him off, even if I was ten minutes late to PICK HIM UP from the metro, it was unacceptable.

Meanwhile when it came to my birthday, he did send flowers and cards. I love cards, but I love them most when people write in them. I should have known that when he didn’t write much in them, welp… (blame my dad, he always writes the most wonderful things in cards.)

Anyway the final straw was when i pointed out to him that sometimes he can come off condescending and it causes me to shut down.

Instead of saying he was sorry or he didn’t realize that he went off on me he blamed me, saying that I was too thin-skinned for him and that he shouldn’t wonder why he needs days off from seeing me.

Now, I was sensing something was up when he didn’t want to hang out on the weekends, and that outburst totally sealed the deal.

I told him I just might be sensitive and that’s ok, but I certainly don’t want anyone who tolerates me or needs to take days off from me. He said something else about him patting me on my head and telling me to settle down to which I responded “Pats on the head are for dogs and children, not your partner.”

After he refused to speak to me for a few days, it was hilarious that on valentine’s day, in an effort to be gracious I guess, sends me a text saying he’d understand if I took someone else to a concert we were both looking forward to. You don’t say, sir? I had already made arrangements to take someone else. And I had a great, worry free time without him.

For a few days I had this nasty after taste left in my mouth. I couldn’t figure out how someone who went through the trouble of all of these grand public gestures could be tired of me or harbor whatever feelings. Maybe like me he knew it wasn’t going anywhere and was trying to force it because a mutual friend set us up.

Either way, I just couldn’t shake how I let myself ignore the feelings I had because he once again seemed like the type of guy I always wanted, except for the part where he accepts me completely and adores me. This guy would go from one extreme to the next, pondering what our children would be like to not complimenting my hair when I asked if he preferred one style to another, but responding that at least one style was “neater.”

So who needs that?

So this morning I reminded myself that dating is a tryout. Dating is not a relationship. Me and this person were not in a relationship, therefore it wasn’t a failure or a reflection of my character, beauty, ability to keep a man. The sad part was I was changing myself, being more quiet because I preferred that to him tearing me down or challenging me for challenging him when I spoke my mind or shared an opinion. It seemed as if he had something to prove a former musician, who I still believe prefers to be that, but reality is reality and he has to pay bills. He was older.

There is an unhappiness in him. I hope he finds some peace. I think he’s envious of his best friend who has a beautiful wife and baby and he’s trying to play catch up. It didn’t help that after I’d had enough and called him out on being a jerk, that earlier in the week his job basically told him the same thing. So honestly, I feel vindicated. He’s oblivious. No matter how old you are, you should want to grow. And normally you are wise enough to accept feedback from people. Guess he didn’t want that from me.

Unfortunately for him, he wants a brilliant, beautiful mute who will carry his child.

I can’t be that.

I am loud sometimes. I am very quiet sometimes. Sometimes I like being the center of attention (he likes it all the time), sometimes I like playing the support role for others. I believe everyone has something to offer.

So I did something unexpected.

A person who managed to keep in touch with me had asked me to lunch or dinner a few weeks back.

I spoke to this person and asked if their offer was still on the table.

We got together on Monday. I laughed, I occasionally used foul language. He PICKED ME UP and he said some things that kind of hit me over the head.

I was talking about the new job I had since we last talked and being in school. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year, maybe even two years. I said doing this new job has given me the confidence to ask for more.

He said that he was shocked that I had a confidence problem because he knew I was a hard worker and creative and can read people. He said you always deserved more. You can think bigger, you should have been thinking bigger a long time ago.

So just days ago, I was dealing with someone who said I was too much, while someone else is saying I should go harder.

Days ago I was dealing with a person who said I could only be taken in small doses (even when I’m letting him do all of the talking), while someone else wants to plan trips and didn’t want the night to end.

Ok. It’s taking me a minute to see the light, but I see it.

Dating fails are an illusion. All dates don’t lead to relationships. That in itself is not a failure. It’s a tryout. And not everyone makes the cut, nor should you just give someone points for participation or attendance.

Self Awareness and Sight

I told a friend earlier today that the most important thing that you can bring to a relationship with you that’s just as important as love and compassion and forgiveness and flexibility is self-awareness.

Folks have often said if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else. And it’s very, very true, but even in addition to that, you can’t really love others if you have a distorted and unrealistic view of who you are, what your strengths and your limitations are.

You have to know these things about yourself, so you can establish expectations… what the people you love can expect from you and how you react to things. That way, they can choose if they can deal with you or not.

When we really practice accurate self-awareness it’s like going to the eye doctor and finding out you need glasses. Sometimes, there’s stuff about yourself that you just can’t see. You have to get help from others, and you personally have to do what needs to be done to help you adjust for your deficiencies. You are always going to have blind spots if you don’t wear glasses, but at least you know exactly what they are and you adjust for them.

To me, that’s self-awareness in a neat little bow.

People who don’t want to be self-aware are like the folks who know they can’t see, but either don’t want to get glasses because it reminds them of a weakness or they are just stubborn, or they don’t realize just how beneficial they are.

A good example is the first time I wore my glasses, I was shocked that I could see so well. Shocked at how far I could look and at how small the writing was I was able to read on signs. But it also showed me how close I had to be to larger signs to see them well.

Self-awareness does the same thing. That’s why we have to work on this and be honest with ourselves and the people we love. It allows us to help us teach the ones we love how to love us better.

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.

Season of Single

There have been plenty of pastors and older, wise married folks who have said, “Don’t rush into marriage. Learn how to enjoy your season of single.”

Most of the time, women, myself included have plugged our ears and started singing “la, la, la” because we wanted to be in love so badly. And what’s the highest height of romantic love? Getting married or so we think.

At 32, being in school and working and really having to prioritize my time has made me kind of realize that I’m nearing the end of my season of single, so I need to make it count.

All of my resources, my time, my money, my energy, my fun time, vacations they belong to me!

This is going to be the only time in my life where that is the case. We all know that I’m still on the fence about children, but I’m very interested in being married someday. I’m going to be sharing resources with someone. Even if he makes more than me or equal or whatever, I’m going to be sharing my resources, I’m going to be accountable to someone else.

I was just talking to a friend about how hectic my schedule is and about to become. I’m going to the Art of Cool music festival in Durham, NC next weekend; I have my 10 year reunion at my university; I’m going to attend a wedding in a city and state I’ve never been to in June and oh yeah, I’m still doing school. A good friend of mine is itching to go to Greece in the fall, and honestly, I’m ready to pull the trigger and do it.

This stage in my life is for ME. Now all stages in your life should be about you, but no other stage than right now is about me or will ever allow me this much freedom, even though it feels like every moment is accounted for because of my school and work schedule. The strictness of my schedule has actually opened me up to LIVING in my free moments. Even making the decision to take out thousands in student loans to go back to school, that was a conscious decision I made for ME and no one else. There’s something special about saying, I’m worth this. It’s going to work out because this is a part of my purpose. This is necessary. I’m already appreciating the benefits and what being back in school is doing for my mind and my self-esteem. I keep telling people this was the time to do what I’m doing. I wouldn’t have appreciated it the way I do now, I wouldn’t have a razor-sharp focus on why this is so important and so worth it if I did it any sooner.

I’m taking deep breaths and in my spare moments when I’m relaxing, I’m truly doing so. I may actually go off to Spa World in Va. and veg out for a few hours over this weekend to recharge since I’ve given up my Massage Envy membership.

It’s about me now and I get it. I fully get and appreciate it and it doesn’t feel selfish or wrong. I don’t feel guilty about it and while thinking about love and a future with a great person does hang over my head from time to time, I can say I’m happy right now and I’m happy alone. DID YOU HEAR THAT UNIVERSE? IM HAPPY WITH WHERE I AM AND WHO I AM RIGHT NOW!! Everything belongs to me right now. My money, my time. It’s my world. I have full autonomy to do exactly what I please with it. I’m learning to value how liberating and powerful that is, because this too is a season. This won’t always be the case. And when my season does change, I want to know that I took full advantage of every resource and moment and spare time and extra dollar so I won’t walk into my new season with any regrets. I can accept the joys that come with the next.


Should Your Man Have a Say In What You Wear?

This blog is called 29 to life. So when I write about certain things, I write from the perspective of a grown woman who understands compromise in relationships and values it.

Recently, I saw a bunch of bloggers or people on Twitter with various opinions about Rapper/Actor T.I.’s reaction to his WIFE’S let me emphasize WIFE’s sexy Instagram photos.

And he said the following on social media:

“You have so much more going for u other than you a**. Although it is magnificent, I think u should spend just as much time showcasing those other things as u do ya #booty…Awesome pic tho. Luv.” – See more at: http://madamenoire.com/346855/t-checks-wife-tiny-showing-much-skin-instagram/#sthash.S5n4IXYA.dpuf
A lot of the websites are saying he “checked” her or put her in her place.
So of course all of the “independent women” chimed in about Tiny flaunting her assets.
I see it from two sides of the coin. I see it from Tip’s point.
That’s his wife. The mother of his children and most men want you to be appealing and attractive and they feel good about having a good-looking woman, but they don’t want your goodies all over the net. And they don’t want you to pose in ways that are suggestive in your photos.
I agree with this.
On the flip side, as a woman who is now into her 30s, I can see why Tiny is posting the photos. Tiny has like five kids.
It looks like she’s lost some weight and she’s probably very proud of herself and her body and is feeling really sexy.
I’ve already told folks, even if I lose 15 pounds, you can’t tell me nothing. I’m going to be feeling myself. And when you get older and have kids, you have to work extremely hard for your body.
But the best thing about getting older is if you are lucky and you’ve learned something, you really start knowing who you are in the inside and feeling good about that person. So when your outside is looking right, grown women can’t be stopped. So, I also understand where Tiny may be coming from too, wanting to show off a little bit.
I’m more on the modest side and I do think with age you can keep it sexy, but the more simple and subtle you keep it the more appealing you are. Times have changed. Women in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s (hey Michelle Obama!) are looking fabulous, taking care of themselves and wearing great flattering clothes.
We aren’t going off into that dark night with a whimper. And I love this.
But within the confines of a committed relationship, does the husband/boyfriend have a right to express his dislike for how a woman dresses or conducts herself on social media? I do like the fact that he didn’t tear her down, he did say it was an “awesome” pic. So he wasn’t out there just being a hater.
Some people have argued that should have been a private discussion. But I’m glad T. I. did it, because it opens up dialogue about how far should people in relationships go with semi racy photos online.
But there’s also a third leg to this chair. Women like Beyonce and Gabrielle Union are in committed relationships. But they have a different body type than Tiny. I think Tiny looks great, for the record. She would be considered thick in my opinion (and my scale of thickness is a sliding scale, I also think Jill Scott and Marsha Ambrosius are thick. I consider myself thick too). There’s a part of me that wonders if when women like Bey or Gabrielle wear bikinis or revealing outfits, their bodies are more accepted? I wonder if T.I. would be less critical if Tiny looked more like the chicks in the Blurred Lines video, or if his reaction would be the same…
What say you lifers?

Can Professional Women Make Great Wives?

Now that’s dumb.


Any woman can make a great wife or a great girlfriend if one, they find the right man. And two she works at it with even more enthusiasm than her career.

For some reason, our culture has, when it comes to women or feminism or anything it always wants women to choose one path and stick to it.

Working moms look down on moms who stay at home. Moms who stay at home write venomous blogs about how what they do is more important than what working moms do.

Women who don’t have kids or don’t get married trash women who do and say they aren’t living up to their truest potential, while on the flip side the married moms rail on about how the over worked childless women don’t have values, they aren’t real women if they haven’t given birth or wiped poop, they don’t know tenderness they are selfish and cold.

I was having a discussion with a man the other night when he asked me what feminism was.

And I started to laugh.  I said feminists are people who basically support women choosing how to live their lives as they please, they believe women should get equal pay for equal work and that there are no limits on what women can do in their private and professional lives and they should not live with shame or be shamed for their decisions.

He was surprised at my answer. I was like, what did you want me to say? I feel like there are stereotypes of bra burning angry women who are always mad about something and who want to be better than men and who don’t need men.

I don’t live on Amazonia. I’d never agree to that. So he asked, well can men be feminists under your definition?

I told him most certainly.

But anyway, I’m all riled up because I was engaged in a conversation on twitter with a relationship blogger from Canada who I dig. I think he is an intelligent brotha. He brought up an interesting topic and I just couldn’t resist. I made one comment and then he pulled me all the way in. Then some other dude jumped in and at that point I got tired.

Most of what this guy said, I agreed with and said so. But as the discussion evolved, it made me think. And there are so many levels to this convo, it’s hard to even encapsulate it in a twitter discussion.

It started with the blogger saying that “When professional women bitch and moan about being single I wonder if they realize their job title doesn’t make them wife material.”

At first, it sounded harsh and felt a little offensive. I even replied ouch. But I did say it was something to think about and that it was true.

I further said that I have noticed on a number of occasions while out with my professional friends that we know or met other women who didn’t have the same education and careers who were married.

So the blogger and his co-signer were going on about how men aren’t looking for degrees and high-powered jobs when they are looking for women, they are looking for a good woman.

But I call bullshit on that, for a couple of reasons. One in society, men are expected to be breadwinners and leaders. It isn’t uncommon for men to not care about a woman’s ability to bring home money or support the family because it is assumed he will do it. So you see it all the time with athletes and musicians. They can grab women and hangers on out of obscurity and it’s all to the good. They just have to be pretty and go along with the program.

In that case, it’s far more easier to date and marry a less educated woman who may not make as much if she is working. That will help eliminate a power struggle that I will admit, a lot of professional women have, especially if they do date men with less education or who make less money.

Women of all backgrounds no matter how professional, do want to find men who can be financially stable. I hear it all the time. However, yes, in gaining education in working our way up, we display more aggressive tendencies, we are clear on what we want, what we don’t want and that may seep over into our love lives. But I did ask the blogger, doesn’t all this talk put the onus on the professional woman to change and try to be “nicer” and more “palatable” but absolves the man from maybe dealing with his insecurities that may come with dating a professional woman?

So he said he doesn’t have a problem with dating a professional woman, and his home boy jumped in saying that “As soon as they walk across the stage, they forget to be likeable.”


So it’s magic. We take off our caps and gowns and put on our bitch hats with our Jimmy Choos. Excellent (Mr. Burns voice)

Cmon. That’s so easy.

So professional women forget to be likeable. We are just garnering degrees and success and forgot how to be people.


When I asked if they gave up hope for professional women, the homeboy said his girlfriend is in fact a professional and degreed woman, but that’s not what made them compatible.

See, I think it may not be the primary thing (even though in DC it is), but your education and status play a huge role in who you date. I don’t care what anyone says. In theory, both of these well-educated men could make the philosophical argument that it doesn’t matter. Actually, the blogger was wise. He said it SHOULDN’T matter.

So for that, I give him props.

I don’t know. Discussions like this give me an icky feeling about the labels being put around the necks of professional women. And on the flip side, what do these arguments say about women who are less educated and may not have certain kinds of jobs? Does that mean, because they aren’t making as much money or in high-powered jobs, they have a greater capacity to please their men? To not be as difficult?

I wouldn’t dare paint my other sisters with that brush. It’s not right. To me that’s an insult.

Let’s face it. The two gentlemen are right status and education has nothing at all to do with love. They are often avenues by which we meet like-minded people and form connections.

So in saying that, can we say it’s safe to say whether you work at a fortune 500 company with an office on the executive level or you clean the bathrooms in that building. If you are a human being you are going to love who you love, you are going to give your all to who you want to give your all to and it’s not limited to what you do, or what school you graduated from.

I’m a professional woman and I’ve loved. I’ve loved so hard. I’ve cooked and cleaned and encouraged and prayed for. I joked around, and danced and grinded on, and freaked and massaged. I’ve treated and picked up bills and I allowed myself to be treated. I took criticism and I gave it. I know how to sacrifice and give. I know how to smile and laugh and play and forgive. And no, I don’t need a degree to do those things.

But being a working professional also taught me a few things about negotiation, understanding your worth and fighting for what you believe in, speaking up and being a little selfish sometimes. Now anyone can learn these things, but in your every day working life, you will sharpen those skills and see the results. And in a lot of cases, as I mentioned to the blogger, women will carry these things over into our personal lives. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But some women do need to learn the art of balance.

So can professional women make great wives?

Of course. Cmon.

When Is the Start of a Relationship?

Hey, hey folks!

I was just talking with one of my most faithful readers after working out with her yesterday. And as I was giving her some of the most banging gumbo I ever made, ever, she looked at me with an oh so serious and chiding face and said, “Um, Ima need you to write a new post.”

I explained to her I had a hard time coming up with material as of late. My lack of inspiration was really bringing me down, because I love writing this blog. And usually when I post, it’s because I’m given a thought I just can’t shake and the words just flow naturally.

I usually write about my relationship mishaps, and recently things have been going well with Renaissance. Like scary, well. We saw each other twice this week and I didn’t break out into hives, and I was happy to see him. He made me dinner one night during the week and I made him that awesome gumbo Saturday night and then we went to the movies to see “Prisoners” (Please go see it. It’s an awesomely done suspense film, which had me going nuts the entire time. The entire cast was fantastical.) I found myself snuggling with him and repeatedly hitting his arm throughout the movie and reacting to the madness unfolding.

Things are going so well, I’m feeling superstitious about writing about him and us and how things are progressing. So while I figure out how to deal with that, I was thinking this morning on my drive into work about how relationships progress. How they start and grow and where they come from and then boom, you look back and realize you’ve been with someone for a year or two.

I started to let my mind wander about where relationships come from and how grown folks decide to make it official.

I joked with a friend the other day about whether or not grown people say to one another, “Ok, we are officially together now.”

It seemed like in a lot of cases, folks don’t make that declaration, or when the declaration has been solicited, it usually comes after a discussion from the woman who wants the man to put a title on their meandering relationship so she can feel secure and remove all doubt and ambiguity. Ok, we’re together now.

We are on the path to the future. Together. You said it, no going back now, sucker.

Or, for some women, the moment happens as soon as her man actually introduces her to someone else as his lady, his woman, his girlfriend, his girl, etc. And in that moment, she has to play it cool in front of these people, because this title is just as new to her as it is to them.

Some men tend to take the tack that if they have been spending time with you multiple times in the week, talking everyday, usually ending the night with a phone call, peppering each other’s day with text messages and starting to know each other’s schedules, it’s pretty much a done deal and nothing really needs to be said.

You both are already in it hard-core. He is doing things a boyfriend would do, if he didn’t see you in that way, he wouldn’t do it .

But women, Oh, women. We want it signed, sealed and delivered. We need that confirmation.

We want the verbal contract so that now you can’t back your monkey ass out of the deal, and if and when you slip up, you can say, no, no sir. You said and agreed we were in a relationship, therefore you are held to a higher standard, therefore you clearly agree to be a responsible participant in this relationship and the nonsense men get away with and women allow because they don’t have a title, yeah, you just can’t do that anymore. And you sir, need to verbally acknowledge that and be held to that.

It seems these days, that when the male publicly acknowledges the relationship, that it is in fact a relationship and he is officially all in.

Some people mark the moment when the other person says I love you as the official start date of the relationship.

Some people believe getting to meet the family is the point where things are really starting to get real.

I’m not sure where I fall in this. I know that when know I love someone, there are times I fight to hold the words in my mouth until I can’t anymore. And I blurt it out and take cover. Especially when I know if the other person may not be the one to say it first. I’m actually the one who doesn’t say it first.

But when I’m ready to say it, it’s almost like when a kid looses a tooth. There are times where that tooth is just hanging and hanging and either you let it fall out, or it’s going to come right out eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, or even though you are scared as hell, an anxious family member, knowing that tooth is ready and aching to just come right out is going to help you tie a string, tie it to a door, tell you to look the other way and yank that sucker out.

There is a word that Renaissance keeps saying in regard to relationships and it is helping his case a lot in terms of winning me over. That word is responsibility.

He said as a man, in a relationship he has to realize he is responsible for someone else, and their feelings, besides himself and be honest with himself about whether or not he has the ability to do that. Renaissance believes ALL women want a relationship from age 14 on, whether they say it, deny it or whatever, they want and hope that their situations with whomever they are dating, will turn into a relationship. I’ve argued that that is not always the case. He still disagrees and says at the core, all women want and prefer having the relationship. He believes women want to be in relationships and won’t ever turn it down if the right situation presents itself. He said the trouble with men is “there are a lot of men who really love sex, but don’t really like women.” Meaning, men at certain points in their life don’t want to take the time to get to know a woman and really like her, they love the act of sex way more and women end up getting hurt.

Well damn sir. Interesting thought.

We talked about a lot of things this weekend. There was a moment I had a thought cross my mind and he sensed it. We were hugged up and relaxing at my house. I didn’t want to say it. And he looked at me with a serious look and said, “Tell me.”

And I grunted and groaned and heavily sighed.

And he said, “Be vulnerable.” First of all, that was brilliant. Those words shot through me. Here is this big, strong, giant of a man, holding me in his arms (physically creating a safe space) creating a safe space for me to speak my mind, encouraging me to enter.

Now that’s some new shit. And it’s scary. Who does that?

And I looked up at him, and after a long 40 seconds of me fighting myself and trying to decide to say nothing or tell the truth, I chose the latter and said. “I don’t want to be played with.”

“I know you don’t. And I won’t. I really like you.”

And softly, I said. “Ok.”

Tweet “Proceed”

Question (s) of the day: for people in relationships did you have a definitive starting point? Or did it just happen and you both basically knew you transitioned into relationshipdom? Do you have to speak it for it to be real and for everyone to be on the same page?

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