break ups, dating, feminism, insecure, love, marriage, relationships, self awareness

7 Tips to Ruin your Livelihood in Love and Relationships

The 1950s. A decade filled with A-line skirts, the dawn of rock ‘n roll, and good ol’ American segregation. Mad Men glamorized this era, where the men were powerful and their doting housewives drowned in depressants to keep afloat- with not one strand of hair out of place.

‘Twas a simpler time, indeed.

When I read the article below, I laughed heartily. Not because the tips are ridiculous, but because I knew that men who came across this blast from the past would be chomping at the bit to go back to this time – when women catered to their every need.

tips to look after your husband

But this entry isn’t about that. It’s about how seemingly progressive, feminist women get stuck carrying the emotional weight for their relationships and partners.

Black women experience stress-related weathering at the molecular level. And it’s killing us. We literally cannot afford to do this kind of stuff anymore if we want to be alive and thriving.

You may not be in a scurry to freshen your makeup and clean up before your partner’s arrival but you may be doing these 7 things that are detrimental to yourself.

  1. Saying “yes” when you mean “no”. Every time a woman says “yes” when she doesn’t mean it, an angel loses its wings. We are conditioned to be a man’s “peace”, and for many men, peace means subordinate. If you don’t want to do something, say it with your chest.
  2. Not sweating the small stuff. “It’s just the trash,” you mutter, as you haul the garbage out in your PJs while your partner watches his team play ball.  You’d asked him to take it out at least 4 times that day. Some other relationship coach may tell you let sleeping dogs lie, but this ain’t that. When you don’t sweat the small stuff, they don’t disappear; they grow. The “small stuff” thrives on resentment.  Bring it up. Talk it out.
  3. Playing detective. You’re likely not a detective, and if you are, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spend unpaid hours investigating your mate. If you have suspicions, then you need to pony up and address them head-on. Be smart. But routinely looking through his phone, email, social media, etc., only makes you look like the crazy one. Then you end up feeling guilty and taking the blame, which brings me to number 4.
  4. Conflating accountability with blame. Accountability is a crucial component of any whole and loving relationship. Each partner commits that they will uphold their end of the bargain. They make a concerted effort to honor their commitments and apologize when they fall short. Accountability is not saying that everything that goes wrong in the relationship is your fault. It is not a pity party. Sis, it’s not always you.
  5. Playing therapist. One of the most irritating things about that 50’s article is that it instructs women to place the emotional health of their husbands above their own. His long day at work warrants a quiet and clean home upon his arrival, with nothing to greet him but docile children and a smiling wife. Meanwhile, anyone who has children or has looked after them knows how something as simple as getting them dressed can turn into a puddle of tears.
  6. Your job is not to help solve his problems, unpack his emotional trauma, serve as his whipping boy, or address his resentments.  I don’t care what meme or video you saw floating around that said the opposite. You are not his therapist and that boundary needs to be firmly in place.
  7. And before you object with the very real importance about being a supportive partner, take this into account: there’s a reason why therapists charge $150/hour and don’t treat people they know.
  8. They know their time and barriers are valuable. Why are you volunteering?
  9. Telling your business. Long after you’ve vented to your close friends and family about the terrible thing your partner did, they will remember. And while you may have forgiven him, they haven’t. It’s important to note that this one is often overlooked because women tend to confide in one another. The problem is that long after the dust settles, your closest companions will feel used and robbed of their time. You have an issue? Either fix it internally or vent but be prepared for your friends to have a vested interest in what happens next.
  10. This is often how emotionally abusive relationships strengthen. When I was in a relationship with someone that was a habitual cheater and verbally abusive, I vented to my friends until the did not want to hear it anymore. This made the man I was with my only confidant. He and I kept our mess quiet while I died internally. I touched on it here.
  11. Taking your foot off their neck. The modern woman is often told that she is too demanding, bossy, or picky. I argue that we are not assertive enough.  Relationships often start with him pulling out all the stops to woo you and once you agree to be in a committed relationship, the romance and good behavior fades away. Sometimes, it’s gone so quickly, you wonder if the good behavior was all an act. ( Spoiler alert: It probably was). And so you end up trying to bring the relationship back to its former glory, as if that’s something only one person can do, when your partner acted like they had a real interest in being with you.
  12. I learned a decade ago that the true test of your will is not how many flowers you get or public proclamations of love after a fallout; it’s in the little things he does daily to honor you, himself, and the relationship you both agreed to be in.
  13. If you saw “Fences” starring the incomparable Viola Davis, you remember the monologue that secured her the Academy Award. After her husband (Troy) of eighteen years reveals that he’s not only been unfaithful but also is expecting a child with another woman, he then goes on to explain how he’s felt trapped and unfulfilled in life. He’s “been standing in the same place for eighteen years”.
  14. Rose (Viola) then goes on to say “I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy. I got a life too. I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot with you. Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me? Don’t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men? That I wanted to lay up somewhere and forget about my responsibilities? …But I held on to you, Troy. I held you tighter. You was my husband. I owed you everything I had. Every part of me I could find to give you. . . . I gave everything I had to try and erase the doubt that you wasn’t the finest man in the world. And wherever you was going . . I wanted to be there with you. Cause you was my husband. Cause that’s the only way I was gonna survive as your wife.
  15. You always talking about what you give . . . and what you don’t have to give.
  16. But you take, too.
  17. You take.”

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Peace & Love,

Adri

feminism, love, relationships

I am Not your Lemonade

I’ve been meaning to broach this subject for quite some time; Jay-Z’s most talked-about track on his latest album just happened to be the impetus.

Like many listeners, I groggily played the album when it dropped on TIDAL at exactly midnight. With eyes heavy from the fatigue that seems to be more present as I get closer to 30, and the first few songs piquing my interest, I immediately was struck by the haunting sample of Hannah Williams and the Affirmations’ “Late Nights and Heartbreaks” on 4:44. Could this be the “Lemonade” response that was rumored to be in the works for over a year?

With HOV starting off plainly stating “I apologize, often womanize”, my suspicions were confirmed.

There’s something especially painful about relationships that end with you feeling as if you’ve wasted your time. You look back at the money spent, hours used to coach him on his next interview, the dozens of times you overlooked some questionable behaviors, all for the sake of him getting his act together.

In some cases, the resources you expended were begrudgingly accepted, as the object of your affections sought an escape route from the relationship that you thought would end in “started with a DM” happiness. I’ve been there. I actually don’t know any woman who has not. We date men with the understanding that they need work, and it is our job to tinker with them until, like an old Chevy, they’re on the road, custom-made for us.

As my mother and her mother often say: nuttin nuh go so.

Instead, what happens more often than not is the man that you diligently fine-tuned to your liking, despite him being less than desirable, will move on. And you will be left in the dust feeling like you were with him shooting in the gym but never got to see that Lakers money. You look back at the past few months/years, and wonder “how could he?”

The default answer is that he’s trash and a user. And in many/most cases, he is.

But as I watched myself and other attractive, charming, and successful women go through the same thing, I wondered: what can be done to avoid this? Can it be avoided? Should I be more supportive? Spontaneous? I’d heard men don’t like women who are too available. Was I too available?! My best friend’s dad had given us advice when we were teenagers “all men are dogs, they just have to find the right trainer”. OMG I WASN’T A GOOD TRAINER.

And on it went as I dragged my love-sick vessel from one dead-end fling to the next. Until, one day, it hit me as I read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God.

“De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”

Black women were and are often viewed as beasts of burden that are expected to toil without complaint and bend without breaking. “I am not your mule” is a typically strong response to those expecting things for free. I wondered why so many of us were putting in overtime on our next new man project, when we were so adamant about others’ respecting our time and effort. Why was I so willing to take on the task of doing the emotional heavy-lifting in the relationship, with the expectation that it would all work out in my favor?

As much as listening to 4:44 left me feeling horrible for Beyonce and all that she endured, I was dismayed to find women on social media hailing her for her ability to be “strong”, and put out albums, while likely crippled with grief over her miscarriages and stillborns, and facing the humiliation of a philandering spouse.

Was this the picture of strength? A woman who can go through something ugly but step out and make it look beautiful? An alchemist who can transform the pain left by her empty womb into entertainment for the masses?

Was this something to be admired?

I recalled pieces of 4:44 and Lemonade in tandem:

Beyonce: You spun gold out of this hard life
Jay-Z: You matured faster than me, I wasn’t ready
Beyonce: Found healing where it did not live
Jay-Z: Please come back to Rome, you make it home
Beyonce: Discovered the antidote in your own kitchen
Jay-Z: Like the men before me, I cut off my nose to spite my face
Beyonce: You passed these instructions down to your daughter
Jay-Z: I suck at love, I think I need a do-over

 

And I was relieved that I’d given up making Lemonade.

 

Adri

dating, feminism, love, relationships

So You Want a Roster?

You’ve thought about dating multiple guys. The idea always intrigued you.  “How does she do it?” you wonder, as you watch this woman effortlessly handle her professional and dating life with a fluidity you’ve only seen in movies with plot holes. Her weeks are filled with everything from brunch dates on the Hudson to court-side tickets at the NBA finals and as far as you know, she’s happy and secure.

Perhaps you came across my blog The Starting Five and while amused, you were left with a lingering question that lasted for weeks, or months….”how can I have a roster?”

I realized when  I wrote that blog that I did a disservice to those who had no idea what I was talking about. How could I so casually encourage women to date (not have sex with) multiple guys at a time and not even give them a strategy? I didn’t even toss you a bone. So for that, I apologize. I left y’all out there to fend for yourselves. Let’s hope you forgive me.

So you want a roster?

Step One: Treat Yo’ Self

How can you even think about dating some guy, let alone several, if you haven’t been good to yourself? Are you right spiritually? Mentally? Emotionally? Physically? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and told yourself you were sexy, and believed it? When was the last time you met with a therapist to work through some issues? When was the last time you threw caution to the wind and bought yourself that overpriced but totally worth it lingerie set?

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Step Two: Who The Hell Are You?

All jokes aside, do you even wanna date multiple guys? I know that I encourage it and I think it’s a great way to expand your options while also maintaining your standards. But it’s not for everyone. To that end, do you know who you are, period? Are you trying to fill a role that’s not meant for you? Because let me tell you, hell hath no fury like a misogynistic man who discovers he’s not the only one you’re dating. Are you prepared to take the heat with grace?

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Step Three: Look Good, Feel Good

Do you feel comfortable in your skin? Are you willing to forego the obligatory 20% per check to your savings account in order to get yourself that spa treatment just once? Are you comfortable among strangers? Take it from a loud-and-proud introvert, these things take practice. And in order to even be in a space to converse with a guy who approaches you or who you approach, you’ve gotta be able to move in a room full of vultures.

Challenge: Go to a bar during Friday happy hour – alone. Order a drink and strike up a conversation with anyone. Learn to embrace whatever awkward habits you think you have.

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Step Four: Get Out There

Home Depot on a Saturday, a sports bar during Sunday football, a spoken word event, live music at a local lounge, Meetup group, online dating, etc. How can you expect to build a roster if you spend every waking moment in the house or at work? Sure, you could bump into the man of your dreams over dog food at Petco, but this ain’t the movies. In reality, the guy at Petco looks just like his French bulldog and smells like her, too.

Get in the habit of going out to handle your errands. Strike up conversation. I love Amazon Prime as much as the next person but why not pick up those light bulbs at the hardware store? I’m not telling you to be on the perpetual hunt. Just be willing to get out and smell the roses. Name a scout who stays home all day and watches videos of prospective talent. She/he goes out on the field or court and sees them live and in-person. You should do the same.

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Step Five: Protect Yo’ Self

You’re sexy, engaging, funny, maybe even a little bit weird and quirky. Of course guys like you. Of course they’ll sidle up to you at a lounge and ask for your number. Here’s the thing: building a starting five doesn’t mean that you’re open to any old fool. You are selective. You have standards. You have a right to be decisive.

You are not desperate for a roster; the roster is desperate for you.

The sooner you know that, the less likely you’ll be to entertain some brokeboy who has a cute face but hits you with the “come over and chill”.

Step five, like step one, is extremely important. Protecting yourself means to protect your space. Don’t be so quick to let these guys know where you live. Protect your health. If you’re really feeling a guy or two, demand that they get tested before you have sex.

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That’s it, folks. I can’t spell it all out for you.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Peace & Love,

Adri

 

 

dating, feminism, relationships, self awareness

I’d Rather Be Crazy

When was the last time someone called you crazy? And I’m talking to the women here.

Think about it.

I’m willing to bet you didn’t have to think that long. I’m also willing to bet it was by a man. Perhaps a man you are/were dating. Either way, I decided a while ago that I’m not going to be offended by the oft-misused epithet.

Why? Men default to “crazy” when a woman expresses herself in ways that they deem extreme. They use it to gaslight and dismiss women. They use it to ignore the message and demean the messenger. To be clear (because I know how y’all like to misconstrue things), I am not justifying behavior that is violent or manipulative.  A woman who calls you 50x back to back in a non emergency situation MAY have some issues. But men call women crazy so often that it hardly even means anything.

Take this scenario: Jamar shows up late for the fifth time to your date. This time, he doesn’t even bother apologizing. You’re left standing outside of the movie theater feeling disrespected as he walks up 15 minutes past the starting time. You want to say something but the last time you brought up his tardiness, you got emotional and your voice cracked, betraying your hurt at the situation. You were never the type to get loud and yell, but in moments of frustration, you tend to cry. In that moment, however, he rolled his eyes and said “yo I don’t like that crazy shit. What’s there to cry about? I said sorry, damn!” So this time, you say nothing. You don’t want to be crazy like all of his past exes. (By the way, men who swear that all of their exes are crazy, are usually the problem).

Crazy is just another tool used by men to avoid taking ownership over their own issues. And since it’s so popular and rarely questioned, women often take personal responsibility for being the most sane, most levelheaded person- even at their own expense.

I’m tired of it. I am a human being who won’t bust out your windows, call you 100 times, or scream at you. But I have a right to express how I feel in the way that is truest to me. Sometimes that means I’ll write, or cry, or shut down to collect my thoughts. And I will no longer apologize for any of that. It’s what makes me unique and beautiful and worthy of someone who can respect all of that, so we can move forward with a newfound understanding of one another.

So if I have to risk being called crazy or assume a role that makes my partner feel comfortable, I choose the former. I’d rather be crazy.giphy

Peace & Love,

Adri

dating, feminism, relationships, sex

Dating as a sex-positive feminist

Feminism. The buzz word that is as ubiquitous on the internet as a cat is in a bodega. I’ve probably come across hundreds- no- thousands of listcles and videos and articles about feminism. So much so that the word has almost lost its meaning in certain circles. But for better or for worse, it gets people talking. It’s controversial enough to reveal the ugly side of people yet daring enough to embrace those like me. It is a community that is loving, resilient, and sex-positive. And the last bit is what I have a hard time with- even though I shouldn’t.

I have stated openly that my brand of feminism is an amalgamation of traditional nuclear family ideals and radical sex-positivity. It’s liberating and safe and exactly what makes me love feminism to its core. I have the freedom to do what I choose regardless of my gender. Yet dating as this type of feminist woman has particular challenges that I continue to struggle with.

women-feminism-Women-Against-Feminism-facebook

I am not interested in dating men who try to debate the validity of feminism with me. I’ve been in this game for a few too many years to explain to a grown ass man why the sexes should be politically, economically, and socially equal. If I could get “it” my sophomore year of undergrad, then so could anyone. I come from an uber-religious West Indian home where I was taught things like “women shouldn’t whistle” (I whistle) and “women should play hard to get” (the only game I truly enjoy is Taboo). By age fifteen, I was a bible quiz winning, Catholic-school going, “homosexuals are going to hell” zealot. Then one of my best friends told me she was bisexual. And I completely lost it. Everything I knew about the bible came in direct conflict with everything I knew about my friend. And so that revelation- along with years of intense study of other religions (Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, etc) led me to expand my thinking in ways that I was previously afraid of. Now fast forward a decade and then some and here I am- a Christian spiritualist with an affinity for tarot and deep interest in astrology. And a *gulp* sex-positive feminist.

I encourage my friends to embrace the freedom that comes with sex-positivity. I believe that people should engage in sex that is safe, sane, and consensual. I’m just as much of a supporter of a couple who chooses to wait to have sex until marriage as I am of a couple that gets it in right after the first date. But when it comes to MY personal actions- I struggle with operating within the confines of society, my traditional beliefs, and sex-positivity. How can I be conservative and sexual? How do I convey that to men I’m dating? How can I be certain that the men who claim to understand won’t simply relegate me to “hoe” or “frigid” status? Women have yet to escape these harmful “hoe or housewife” binaries and many men are unable or unwilling to catch up.

Yes, I know that I should be able to do or not do whatever the hell I want. I have never been forced or felt pressured to do otherwise. But conversations get murky. Dating is difficult. Men typically throw out the “oh so you’re sex positive?” as to a way to determine just how soon I’m going to put out. In many spaces, feminist = hoe OR lesbian. And so my solution, as of late, has been to simply disengage. I think women are trying so hard to eradicate a system (patriarchy) that we didn’t create in the first place. Can we truly shift the tide?

I’m not sure if we can do it alone but I’m hopeful. After all, I’ve never seen a mouse in a bodega that had a cat in it.

music photos by clayton hauck for claytonhauck.com / everyoneisfamous.com
music photos by clayton hauck for claytonhauck.com / everyoneisfamous.com
career, feminism, workplace

Confession: I’m a bad feminist

There’s no easy way to say this so I will just have to get right to it. I’ve been living a lie and it’s time I came clean. For the past few years, while I have been touting the feminist rhetoric, empowering young girls in my community, and proudly proclaiming myself as a feminist (even going so far as to write a whole blog entry about it), I’ve been hiding a massive secret. I haven’t burned any bras. I don’t hate men. I believe that men and women have special and important roles in society. And worst of all, I don’t promote promiscuity. You see, according to a large population of those on and off social media platforms like twitter, feminist women are man hating whores who “don’t need no man”. They are angry, unattractive, emasculating, and belligerent. They are why chivalry is dead and why many men (black men in particular), left the home.

If that sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, here’s why: because it is. But for an incredibly long time, I often found myself at odds with several sides of the feminism debate and within myself. One side was comprised of my religious associates and family members who cited biblical scripture to support their narrow-minded and often misogynistic views on women. I couldn’t and still can’t utter the word “feminist” without being barraged with all sorts of language around Adam and Eve, the “proper order of things,” and did I mention Eve?

Loud and prominent voices in the feminist community also made me feel that my type of traditional feminism was wrong or not progressive enough. For instance, while I do believe that gender roles are largely comprised of social conditioning, I also believe that there is a biological basis for behaviors in a majority of men and women that is shaped by our environments. So yes, I would prefer to date and marry a man who has physical strength, for instance. I would also like to be professionally successful but would limit my career progression for the sake of raising my children in a home where both parents are present, engaged, and loving.

I am not traditional enough or feminist enough for either side and I am certainly not black enough for those in the black community who say that feminism is responsible for the destruction of the black family. The idea is that white supremacists used black women as pawns to convince them that they did not need their black husbands/partners, thereby eroding the nuclear family and leaving children to be raised in fractured homes and disenfranchised neighborhoods. Largely based on assumptions and outright lies, those that spread this nonsense also say the absence of the black father is a leading cause of homosexuality and promiscuity in the black community. I won’t even dive into how dangerous this ideology is at this time.

What I will say is this: I am comforted by the fact that my feminism is just that- MINE. Yes, it is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. But it’s more robust than that. It says that my partner should not have to be made to feel like “less of a man” if he earns less than me, cries when he’s overcome with emotion, or has to ask for directions if he’s lost. Feminism says that I can come home from a late night at work (in which I am paid fairly and not less than my male counterpart) and dinner will be waiting for me because my husband got home 2 hours earlier. Feminism says if a woman is sexually assaulted, her attire at the time or personal sexual history shouldn’t be brought into question. Feminism says that Odell Beckham Jr. should be able to dance without having his sexuality come into question. Feminism says that black girls and women are also beaten and killed by law enforcement officers and their names should be uttered and shouted.

 

I am a woman. I am black. I am a feminist. And I will never apologize for what feminism means to me.

feminist