The Help You Need

The Help You Need

The older I get, and the more serious of a relationship I find myself in, I come to a point where I feel that outside help will be a benefit to my partner and I. And I mean more than just talking to your girlfriends, your crew, co-workers or parents. I mean…professional help. I’m going to say something that may seem a bit controversial, but hear me out. “Every couple…even you…should speak to a counselor/therapist/mediator at some point in your relationship.” To be honest, I’m not sure how some couples make it without outside help.

Think of it this way. How many things do we do to prevent issues with our automobiles? It’s like preventive maintenance for your relationship. We regularly get our oil changed, tires rotated, etc. The same approach should be done with anyone that you plan or are planning to spend a substantial amount of your life with. But why? What’s the point of seeking outside help?

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Just like you shouldn’t drive a car off the lot and when it first shows issues do you take it to a shop; the same shouldn’t be done with a relationship. You can go along the road of life, hoping your relationship  runs smooth and maybe you will have one bump that requires attention. Or that one bump, because it hasn’t been treated sooner, becomes a huge front end blowing problem. You do the work to prevent bigger issues. Now, is this to say that it will work all the time? Hell no. There are some major issues that are unforeseen.

For most couples, the biggest issues usually revolve around four things: Money, Children, Sex and Communication. Some of these are issues that can be tackled before problems occur, simply by having in-depth conversations. And I mean, the conversations that may be uncomfortable. For example, I don’t want to have children. I never really did. I’ve always been very frank and open about this, early on in all of my major relationships. And with the exception of my marriage, I’ve always told my partner there is nothing they can do to change that fact. So the conversation became, “If you want to be with me, this has to be something we both agree on, or you need to be with someone else.”

That isn’t a fun conversation and it can bring up bigger issues down the road. But for me, having that talk early on, saves a lot of heartache. But what if you’re someone who is ok with say, not having kids and your partner at first feels the same way, and then over time that changes? What do you do? Well I promise you, issues will arise. The conversations will turn into disagreements, then to bickering, then to arguing or worst. That’s where getting outside help can be of benefit.

For one, it allows a neutral party to sit and listen to both sides and give counsel that doesn’t benefit that person. Whether we want to say it or not, when we ask our friends or loved ones for advice, there is always a part where it can benefit one person in the relationship more so than the other. It’s natural, they’re your friend. A third person outside of your circle can look at things truly objectively. Another reason to talk to a professional, is to shed light on any potential issues that may come down the road. “Ma’am, you’re gonna need an alignment soon.” AKA “So how do you get along with her mother?” This is a great time to openly and honestly, talk about things that may be on your mind that you fear to bring up in casual conversation. Or maybe even things, that you haven’t really thought about, but should talk about.

And what kind of help should you seek? I’m not going to tell you that you need to see a licensed therapist/counselor or a minister or even a doctor. Find someone who works for both of you. It could be any of the aforementioned professionals. Most importantly, it should be someone that you both trust and can speak openly with. The important thing to remember, is that this a process. I’m not also telling you that you should speak to someone weekly or monthly. But that you should give it a try. Maybe you will find that like a tune up, it’s something you do every few months. Either way, there is no harm in lifting the hood of your relationship and see how things are running. In the end, it will truly help it perhaps run a little smoother.

That is…unless you’re planning on an upgrade! (lol)

I Messed Up

I Messed Up

During this unprecedented time of social distancing and self quarantine, you may have found like many of us, that you are spending more time with your partner. They say the true test of any couple is to see how well they travel together. I say, sharing the same space for days and not wanting to throw a pillow at them on an hourly basis after the third hand of UNO, is also just as important of a test.

But if you’re like me, this time has proven extra difficult because you have nothing but time. Time to think and re-think and question. Question not only yourself, but your role in the relationship and your partners intent. True story: I messed up. I’m not proud to admit that, but I did. Months ago I did something that made my partner question and doubt my love. I did not cheat on him with another man, but I did break his trust. During the subsequent months, we have tried to move past it. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard AF.

When you break the trust of someone you love, the process to regain it is a constant challenge and battle. It’s one that requires work on BOTH ends. That work revolves around two key factors, trust and time. If you’re like me and you were the person who broke that line of trust, you have to understand that the path to moving on is going to take time. And then more time….and perhaps a bit more time after that. It’s not a quick fix, and it’s not something that can be erased over night. So during this time, you have to sit and wait and be patient. You have to be PATIENT. (As an only child, this is the most difficult thing for me to do in the world!)

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For those who were hurt, it’s going to take trust. It seems ironic that the thing that was broken, is the one thing that you will need to relay on the most. You will need to come to a new level of trust that makes you work together on the issue. Notice I said “together”. As much as the transgression might have been done by one person, the two of you have to work in tandem in order to move on. A big part of that is getting to a point where you begin to trust your partner is making an effort to make amends and move on. This level of trust is not easy to come by and will take…time.

In the end, this is a long and winding road that will involve both parties putting in serious work. It involves no judgement, releasing the past, looking forward to the future and most of all, forgiveness. This will not be easy, but if the relationship is worth it, if your partner is worth it, anything is worth the fight.

Love’s Soundtrack

Love’s Soundtrack

I am very protective of a few things in dating relationships. For one, you must love football, and if you don’t, you must understand and be ok with the fact that from August through February, you aren’t dating me as much as observing my madness into College and Professional Football. Two, you must show some form of passion in your life. Whether it’s your job or your family or your love of Kitesurfing. Show me that there’s something that fuels your soul and gives you a thirst to wake up everyday.

I  have that kind of passion for one thing…music. For me, the soundtrack of a relationship is just as much a part of my dating life, as the other persons preference in whiskey. I can almost point with clarity, any particular part of my past significant relationships to a song. Or a soundtrack, or movie theme, or angsty 90’s rock ballad.

For a while, certain songs I held so sacred, to not tie them to a particular guy. That’s the power of music. The beauty in a love song. The joy in a rock anthem. The soundtrack of any relationship consists of four main components.

  1. The Song That Started It All
  2. The Song That Made You Fall In Love
  3. Pain
  4. The Immortal Classic

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The first, the Song That Started It All. If you’re like me, sometimes this song is as random as the circumstances around first hearing it . This isn’t nesscarily the song that played on your first date. Or even your first kiss. Sometimes it’s the song that plays on the way to the first date. The song that you hype yourself over to remind you that you need to get back out in the dating pool. Or maybe the song that was playing at the bar when you met with your closest girlfriends to talk about the date the night prior. Whatever it is, it’s the song the kickstarted the romantical hot mess that you’re about to enter

Number 2, The Song That Made You Fall In Love. For me, these are best left to fate. The melody that randomly pops in your head when you’re both out for brunch. You later wonder, what was the cause for the tune to just magically appear in your head, and why at that time? It makes no sense. Maybe just as much since for a football loving whiskey girl to end up with a baseball fanatic tequila drinker. Either way, this is the song that makes you smile because it later becomes “Our Song”. I love when I meet couples and I find out that they buck tradition for a more obscure romantic hit. This song should speak to who you are as a couple and what you both bring to the relationship.

Pain. Pain is number 3. I know it seems odd to think that “Pain” should find a place on a relationship soundtrack. But let’s be honest, pain and love go hand and hand. You can’t have one without the other. I think every relationship has that moment where you can stick it out, or you just cut your losses and run. When this pivotal part of courtship happens, it’s usually faced with a song that sums of the fear, pain, heartache and sometimes resentment, that comes with consensual monogamy. Pain for me is usually a classic R&B, B-side melody, that only plays on the radio on the artist death day. Whatever it is, Track Pain brings meaning to a relationship just like the love behind Track 1.

Number 4 is The Immortal Classic. Whether this relationship is “The One” or the one for now, this song is the track that lives on past both of you, and the gooey center of perfection that was your romance. Sometimes, this song is one that is recommened by outside forces. Friends, who mention it to you in passing and it seems to play out of the blue every time you’re out together. Or an undiscovered classic told to you by a parent. Either way, this is the song that at the relationships end, will forever hold that place of equal cherished hit and regretful melody.

No matter what the songs are in the 4 components, they should be songs that touch your soul. They should make you feel more than just the meaning behind the lyrics. They should bring joy and love, heartache and romance. Songs that remind you that the person is worth the fight, or worth their nasty habits to look past and see their big heart. No song is perfect, no love is perfect and perfect is an ideal that doesn’t really exist. What does, is a great melody, soul changing lyrics and a body of work that can bring two people in love like nothing else in this world can.

 

 

 

How to Fight Fair

How to Fight Fair

I have noticed that with age, comes a sense of clarity and patience. Who knew? You can actually “grow up” when you grow up. This point became very clear to me a few days ago when I was having an argument with my boyfriend. One of the things I remember doing a lot when I was in my 20s and early 30s in an argument, was, to be honest…a lot of screaming. I wanted to be the loud, agressive person in the conversation. Because everyone knows, the louder you are, the easier it will be to get your point across.

I also had a nasty habit of saying hurtful things. I even took pride in it. My ex-husband pointed this fact out to me one evening when we were fighting. “Just because you have a degree in Rhetoric, doesn’t mean you can just win the argument all the time!”, he said. But in my head, that’s exactly what I thought. I took classes in college about oration and arguments, and would use that knowledge to my advantage. And applying “Pathos”, I knew exactly what to say, that would cross the line, silence my partner and make my point, thus causing me to “win” the argument.

Fast forward to more than 10 years later. A marriage and several long term relationships later and I noticed one huge difference, I fight like a grown up. What does that mean? Early in our dating lives, the only fights we have experience in, are those related to our youth and adolescence. There’s a lot of name calling, maybe some throwing, some screaming and talking with no point of accuracy but more so to hear who can be the loudest. Whether we were fighting with our siblings, our parents or friends, these were the only real arguments we had that we drew experience from when it came to fighting when we started dating. But then one magical day, you grow up. Or at least, I hope you do.

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And what you realize is profound. A fight between a couple should never be about who will win. It shouldn’t be who can say the most hurtful thing or whos blow is the lowest. It shouldn’t be about pulling up past pain and hurt, to make a point in the present. To fight fair, and I think, to fight smart boils down to one word. Ready?

Silence.

Now I understand that sometimes this tactic can scare men. They have programmed in their relationship DNA, that when a woman is silent, she is at her most dangerous. And to be completely honest, you’re right. However, there is a way to be silent and engaging in an argument that won’t elicit fear in your partner. A few days ago, this point struck me while in mid-argument. My boyfriend was trying to make a point, which my immediate thought was “Well, that’s dumb, and I know I’m right.” But rather than act on that impulse, I took a moment and sat in silence. I remember looking at him and thinking “Don’t talk, just listen.”

For one, silence gives you the chance to listen actively. Take a moment to register and process what your partner is saying. It also prevents you from blurting out your first initial thought, which in some cases, can be hurtful. Silence also affords you time. Time to think about their point, think about your point, and evaluate if the argument is really worth the energy. I’m not going to lie, this is hard. It’s like some Jedi level mind trickery of the dating world. Especially for a black woman. We can’t just sit back and be quiet. But I will say, that the older I have become, the more I have sat in the moment of silence to listen, really listen. And I have been amazed at the results. Fewer fights, laughter in the middle of an argument and mostly importantly, fewer hurt feelings.

So the next time you find yourself in an argument with your partner, and you KNOW your points are valid, take a moment to surrender to the silence. Really listen to what they have to say, and before reacting, pause. Remember that the way you are feeling in the moment is just temporary, and you have just as much power as your partner, to change the outcome.

What makes me so special?

What makes me so special?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my dating past. I am a firm believer that your dating past brings you exactly what your present and future can be, as long as you learn from it. Meaning, are you making the same mistakes and getting the same results, while at the same time, blaming your dating partners? Have you ever wondered what makes you so special? And why would someone want to be with you?

A friend of mine is in a new relationship that seems to be blossoming. She’s one of these women that for years I wonder, why the heck guys don’t see how amazing she is. In a lot of ways, she reminds me of me. Loud, funny, highly career focused, no kids, lover of booze. For a while, I was afraid all those things held me back from finding a great guy. And again, I found myself wondering, “What makes me so special?”

Over the years, the question of finding someone who makes you feel special, was always one that I tried to answer. I need a man to treat me like the goddess that I am. The older I became, however, I realized that I need to tap into my own blend of special, and love and appreciate that, before anyone else can. Believe it or not, our moms were right. “You have to love yourself, before anyone else can love you.” Who knew?!

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All you can hope, is that the next person, your person, that you end up with, sees something magical in you, that no other partner ever has. At the end of the day, that’s what makes that relationship “The One”. And a lot of that, comes from not only loving the  things that make you “special”, but the bad, the ugly, the insecure, the annoying, the flatulence. So here’s to finding and loving what makes you special. Here’s to first appreciating it on your own and the beautiful dating process, that will lead you to find someone else, who will think that you’re not only special, but pretty darn groovy, too!

Partners in Love & Life

Partners in Love & Life

Sometimes when I think of my favorite couples, I think about the characteristics that I love about their relationship. One couple that I love spending time with, playfully give each other a hard time, but openly are each others biggest cheerleaders. Another, put God above everything. One couple are big sports fans, and their love and life revolve around how their team is doing at any particular time in the season.

I like to think that what makes a great couple are a variety of little things. But one big thing that I noticed in some of the most stable and lasting relationships, are couples that are true partners. Partners in life and in love is actually something I feel some relationships lack. If I look back at majority of mine for example, we had chemistry, similarities and fun, but few of them made me feel as if I had a partner. Someone who was on the same page as me and someone who saw the relationship for more than just an answer to loneliness.

What makes having a real partner in love so important is that, that person sees not only the good and the bad, but they can see and react to your needs, sometimes before you even mention them. A partner anticipates, hears your words and responds to your actions. You both flow and work together as one, as a unit. Not that I ever want to use “Twilight” as an example, but there is a line said in the second move that I love. When Bella brings Edward to meet her mom, her mother said “You two act like magnets. You move, he moves.” At first, I thought that was a bit creepy. And slightly teen age angsty. Then it dawned on me, Edward was her partner in every since of the word. He moved, she moved. He had a need, she fufilled it. And it was more than lust, or chemistry, or laughs or support. It was someone who added balance and wholeness to the relationship.

I think the older I become, the more the idea of having a real partner becomes something  of vital importance to me. Of course I want all the other things that are crucial to a great relationship: passion, humor, loyalty, trust, patience, love, Bourbon. But now, when I think of “The One”, I want him to be the person who literally has my back, because I will have him. He’s not my better half and I’m not his, we are each others equal. He is my partner in life and love.

 

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To Dick Pic, or not to…just DON’T!

To Dick Pic, or not to…just DON’T!

In this modern dating age of dating apps and websites, communication is often sped up or worse, muddy at best. Sarcasm doesn’t translate and sincerity is often laughed at. And when chatting for one day with a match can sometimes feel like two or three, people often throw out the rules of conventional conversation. Enter “The Dick Pic”.

I’m not sure when, how or why this became a thing, but it did. And I fear that as long as we have smart phones, there will be dumb guys who will send photos of their junk. Case in point. I matched with a cool guy on Tinder and we were chatting for several days. Due to work, we hadn’t had a chance to meet up yet, but we were working our way to that point. Our conversations were always simple and harmless. “How was work?” “Did you watch the game?” “What scotch were you drinking last night?”

We shared Snapchat screen names and our snaps were pretty mild. To be honest, they were mostly chats and no pics. So color me surprise one day when he asked me to send a pic from work. I happen to look AH-MAY-ZING that day, so I was happy to send one. I replied to him that I was curious if he still had his beard, since in some of his pics he has a beard and in others, he does not. That’s when it happened. Unprovoked, unannounced, unwanted, he sent me a picture of his erect Johnson in his boxer shorts.

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I took a moment to examine what I may have said that may have caused him to think “You know what, she may have asked about my beard but what she REALLY wants to see is this!” I didn’t reply to his snap and about a minute later he messaged asking “Not impressed?” Truthfully, no. I’m not impressed that you think that’s appealing. That your response to a legitimate question was to show off your member. I’m not impressed that you would think that I was the kind of women who WOULD find that impressive. No sir, I was not impressed at all. I replied “I’m curious what made you think I wanted to see a pic of your dick?” Silence. I gave him about five minutes to have the courage to reply. Then I blocked him on all social media.

I was talking to a guy friend of mine and we had a big laugh about it. “I have never wanted or sent a picture of my dick to a girl. Why do guys do that?”, he said. “More importantly…” , I started to say, then we both finished the same thought “WHAT GIRL WANTS TO SEE THAT?” But seriously, who is the woman who sees a random dick pic and thinks “I at least want to have coffee with this guy.” Or maybe “This will be a funny story to tell our grandkids one day.”

Rather than go into long details on why this is so off putting to women, guys, might I make a suggestion. If you really do have any desire to sleep with us, and if you truly want that desire to be mutual, might we first start with a conversation that happens in public? And perhaps, I don’t know, leave your dick in your pants? I’m sure there are women who go for that kind of stuff. And to you sexpots I say BRAVO. But for my piece of mind, my dating sanity and the risk of me not literally laughing out loud and telling my girlfriends about you, if you want to date me, leave the pics in your own damn phone.

Being Alone vs “The Lonely”

Being Alone vs “The Lonely”

I’m gonna be really honest. Well, not like I’m NOT honest here, but, you know what I mean. I’m not a fan of being alone. At least not for long periods of time. You’d think as an only child, I would be use to it by now. Don’t get me wrong. There are some real perks of being alone. I actually really like that I live by myself. Until I think about that episode of “30 Rock” when Liz Lemon talks about how she fears being a single woman alone, that she may choke on her dinner and there would be no one there to help her. This horror hit me hard one night when a particularly large piece of sushi decided to go down the wrong pipe.

Living alone means, I only have to worry about me. Cook for me, clean for me, walk naked around my apartment and not care what others think. But that kind of “alone” is fine with me. “The Lonely” is different. “The Lonely” is having a 12 hour work day and all you want is someone to massage your feet. Or crying at a movie that makes you think about your father, and wanting to be held. “The Lonely” is cooking a bomb ass Red Sauce and wanting to share it with someone, but realizing it’s gonna be stored in the freezer so it doesn’t go to waste.

I use to be embarrassed that I would ever say out loud that I don’t like being alone. Very few people actually like it. You get more things done in your solitary. But you also have a million little voices talking to you, making it a their mission to point out that you are in fact…alone. The more that I think about it, it’s the voices that I hate. They want to run around saying “You should be with someone.” “You should scroll through Instagram and see all your happy couple friends and lust over what they have.” “You are alone for a reason.”

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That my kiddlets, is “The Lonely” talking. The little gnat of a voice that points out that you can’t survive in your solitude. But one of the things I am learning and appreciating is that I can live in it, and survive and grow to love it. “The Lonely” is causing me to listen to the voices and rather than take pity on myself and my situation, but work on some shit. I mean real shit. Shit that scares me. And perhaps even admit a few things.

Case in point, I admit a big desire I have to be in relationships is to find validation in myself. I like the compliments and the looks a couple gets when they walk into a room together. It’s like you announce to the world, “See this….this is an US. Not just a ME!” And that need for validation, to understand WHY I need it comes from hours spent in “The Lonely”. Rather than running from it, I decided to listen to it. While I’m cooking, or taking a shower, or doing Yoga or meditating.

And that’s when it happened, I slowly became ok with it, because it didn’t define me. I wasn’t alone because I was without someone. And being alone wasn’t the end of the world. This time alone is making me, as cliche as this sounds, work on some crap that I needed to work on. So that one day, when there is “someone”, I won’t feel like I need them to be an US. I would have dealt with being alone, listened to “The Lonely” and come out stronger person. This also means I will be drinking severals bottles of scotch on my own. But I ain’t complaining about that either.

 

 

Happy Valenti…Ah Screw It!

Happy Valenti…Ah Screw It!

I am never surprised that I usually find myself single around Valentine’s Day. I have either ended a relationship at the start of the year. Or more often than not, started something brand new, but not add the pressure of a “Couples Holiday” early in the dating   process. Either way, I can count on one hand how many times I have spent VDay with someone.

Over the years, rather than treating it as a “Whoa is me!” day or a “Man Hating Party”, I focus on the one vice I love almost as much as booze…horror films. I would host “My Bloody Valentine’s Day” parties, complete with red velvet cupcakes, bloody sangrias and hours of some of my favorite horror movies. I figure, rather than being surrounded by love and all things romance, why not love the beauty and gore that is dumb virgins being killed in the woods!

My horror Valentine’s however was simply a mask for one simple truth…being alone that day really does suck. Over the years, I have grown to love my solitude. I relish that I have a two bedroom, but live alone. I have found joy in trying out new restaurants and having full meals with just myself. But there is something about that one day in the year that makes you feel as if you are not complete unless you’re with someone. Recently, I have tried to make it a point to show more of my love to others on that day.

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But why not show some love and appreciation to yourself? What makes Valentine’s Day so special is that a person feels valued and seen. But that is in the eye of someone else. However, what if you don’t have that someone? Or maybe, your someone isn’t a romantic partner. Maybe they are a friend, a coworker, a parent, a sibling, an ex. In any event, it’s just one day. It doesn’t define you and you are not just one day. If your value is in knowing that you’re appreciated and loved, first tell that to the person in the mirror. And then, go out and show that to others. Oh, and pick up a horror film, a good bottle of bourbon and cuddle with the best date ever…YOU!

The Advice You Give

The Advice You Give

When I started my blog 8 years ago, it was because I wanted to work through some issues. A girl might look like a Power Ranger but I need help. What I never expected but has turned into a happy surprise, is my ability to give advice to others. You’ve heard that doctors make the worst patients. The same goes for those who write dating blogs. I may not always listen to my own advice, but the advice I give is darn good!

A few days ago, my college best friend called me. She needed some advice about whether to pursue dating a guy seriously or to let him go. We caught up for a few hours and I realized very quickly, a lot of the advice I give, sounds scarily…like my mother. I have to laugh especially since I don’t have kids. I don’t have many moments where I can go to my mom and say “I get it now”. It does, however happen several times when giving advice.

The advice that I give comes from a place that splits my head and my heart. Most of the time, when my friends come to me and I hear their concern, my first response is something that I’ve heard my mother say countless times, “It sounds like you know what to do, you just have to do it.” And in classic mother fashion, sometimes the thing we know we NEED to do, is the thing we don’t WANT to do. But why is that?

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Because deep down, even though we often seek out the advice of others, we already know what we NEED to do. Sometimes, we want to even be talked out of those things. We have our mind made and know what we WILL do. But hearing advice gives us insight one way or another.

I’m always happy to be a sounding board for my friends. Often, they do the same for me. And I will continue to give advice, whether they listen to me or not. Just remember, the advice you give is often the advice you need to take. Be a better patient, then a doctor!