Pay me what you owe me

I saw a hilarious tweet about having your ex pay you for emotional distress and how much one would ask for. It got me thinking if I would even want emotional distress money from an ex. I mean, I’ve moved on, right? But then, I could always use more money.

It is no surprise that some relationships sting more than others. And when they are over, the pain of recovery takes time. And worst of all, there are times you never get what you really want…closure. Sure, if a relationship ended, a check would be nice. But we put closure above anything when it comes to moving on from heart break.

I once asked a friend of mine if she felt she was “owed” closure. Meaning, do you deserve having your ex explain the cause of the end of your relationship? Or do you just want your ex to acknowledge it, and the actions that may have led up to it? At the end of the day, no one is owed closure. Even writing that I feel like a hypocrite. But when I take an honest look at even the most painful of breakups, the ones where I felt I “deserved” closure, I saw that over time, that need became less and less.

What we want is to put a pretty bow on the end of that chapter, in hopes that turning the page is easier. But that simply isn’t true, and isn’t real life. Sometimes you have to go through that pain to come out on the other side. And for some people this process prevents them from moving on to something better. We hold so tight on the “What if” of an ex, that we miss out on great future possibilities.

I asked that same friend of mine if she would feel better with closure, and of course she said yes. But I then asked her if she would honestly feel better without. Over time, won’t you have found peace and moved on? Yes. And in some cases, finding out the “Why” of the end of a relationship, can make things worse. So why put yourself through that?

Whether your ex gives your closure, or if we had the ability to get a fat check from emotional distress, moving on is the best reward. You can look back and see your personal growth. Sure, I can name at least two ex’s that I would easily request $10,000 in emotional damages. But let’s be honest, they couldn’t pay it anyway. Hence why they are an ex!

Temptation Island or bust!

Along with my love for “90 Day Fiance” quarantine also introduced me to another reality show gem. Temptation Island. This show has everything. Hot guys, gorgeous girls, beautiful locale, tons of drama, shots of tequila and of course…temptation. If you don’t know the show, let me explain.

Four couples set off to a private island to explore if their relationship is worth saving. The men and women are separated from their partners and put up in stunning villas. Now, here is where it gets tricky. Each villa has 12 singles, all vying for their attention. The idea is to see if you will be tempted, or if you will stay committed to make your relationship work. I know! It has hot mess disaster written all over it. It also has me wondering why a couple would ever put themselves through something like this?

Let’s be clear. Temptation is everywhere. It can be small, like walking past a cute guy. Or a girl sliding in your DMs to say she thinks you’re cute. To something bigger, where how you respond to temptation effects your relationship. Temptation can also be flattering. Someone asks you out not knowing you’re in a relationship, or says you’re hot, can be very flattering. You think to yourself “I still got it!” But what do you do after the message or the text or the comment?

Temptation is really an emotion in judgement and will power. When I think of temptation in relationships, I like to think about a cupcake. Many of us have been on at least one diet in our lives. If you haven’t you know someone who has. And you may have heard them or yourself say something like “I was doing so good until I went to work. They had cupcakes in the office and I was so tempted. I caved!” Sure. You caved and had a delicious treat, but it’s not like the cupcake was doing anything. It was just a delightful confectionary treat. You made the decision to eat it.

Now, this isn’t to say that real life works the same way. In many cases, the temptation becomes dangerous when we engage in it. Think again about the cupcake. What if it could talk? Or send you pictures of itself putting on icing. (Can you tell I really want a cupcake?). It then becomes harder to just walk on by. This is where judgement, has to outweigh will power.

When you are tempted, what deeper desire is it bringing you? Is it appreciation? Attraction? Adoration? Respect? If it is something that you can pin point that draws you toward the temptation, you can then look to see what it is you may be lacking that is drawing you away from what you currently have. Like the cupcake, the attraction is the dessert. You’re tempted because you don’t have it, and on a diet, you don’t get to eat it. So what do you do? You either recognize this, or your give in with some form of justification. “I’ll go to the gym and burn this off.” You can do that, but the act is done. In relationships however, it’s far worse. You can’t just talk about it and move on. You have succumbed to temptation.

So when this happens, what do you do? If you can’t recognize prior to the act what is drawing you toward the temptation in order to understand how NOT to engage in it, you need to then be honest. Honest with yourself and your partner. Countless couples are tempted and are able to hide what may have come from the temptation. But if you do cross that line, it may prove difficult to stay silent. And that’s where honesty comes in. Even if you didn’t cheat per say, being honest about being tempted is just as important. It shows your partner that you value them enough to speak truthfully. It also reminds you that you either had a choice to give in or not.

Temptation is hard. And some people make it harder by actively being the temptor. However, take the time to recognize what is really underneath the temptation. At the end of the day, loaded sugary carbs never really hurt any one, but diabetes kills.

What I learned from 90 Day Fiance

I spent most of quarantine like a lot of you. Aimlessly walking around my house trying not to go slowly insane. I didn’t have the luxury of working from home, as due to COVID, my entire department was laid off. In between self pity and countless bottles of Jameson, I discovered a gem of a show called “90 Day Fiance”. I’m not going to insult you with the details of the reality show hit, but I will sum it up as follows:

Long distance and cross cultural, love meets tv cameras and national judgement.

This show has everything. From aspiring rappers, to sugar mama Karen’s, to sweet country boys, to more sugar mama Karen’s, to Ukranian women who may or may not be real, to you guessed it…more sugar mama Karen’s. For the life of me, I never understood why these women would send money and gifts over so freely to these dudes. But in reality, it’s like watching one of those Nigerian email scams in real life, only the guy on the other end isn’t a prince.

There is a lot to learn from a show like this, but the biggest thing I learned was compromise. Or in some cases, the lack thereof. In a recent episode, this lovely Ukrainian woman is engaged to this sweet simple country boy from Washington. They could not be more opposite. He loves beer, she doesn’t drink. Like me, he finds joy in a Tomahawk steak, shes a vegetarian. The latter came up recently when she watched him in horror devour this gorgeous piece of meat.

Side Note: I totally respect vegetarians and vegans, but I mean, a beautiful piece of medium rare filet in a garlic butter sauce? Chef’s kiss!

Any way, the woman asked if he would try giving up meat for a week. He sheepishly agreed as she says to the camera how doing this was a sign of respect to her and a good compromise. It caught me a bit off guard. My first thought was “compromise”? What are you giving up for him? He doesn’t have meat for a week and you get to sit back and enjoy not having the smell of bacon in your house? But then it hit me. Oh yea, she moved to another country for him. Big compromise.

The thing about relationships, is that they are chock full of compromise. Whether big or small. Women will look past the toilet seat always being left up, if you don’t judge us for eyelashes you find on the counter. You take out the trash, I’ll put away the groceries. But then there are the bigger ones. Where do we live in relation to our family members? Or different religious beliefs? Are you a smoker and your partner isn’t?

Learning to balance compromise in a relationship, rather than it being a punishment, is a huge part of making it work. Compromise, like communication, isn’t easy and doesn’t happen over night. It’s the basis of that tried and true piece of relationship advice “Pick and choose your battles.” You can either make something into a huge deal or stop and ask “Is this something that I can compromise for?” Because maybe, you are doing something that drives your partner up the wall, but silently, they haven’t judged you for it.

Compromise. It’s the name of the game.

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

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

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.

Arguing couple

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.

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!

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”

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.

 

 

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!