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.”

giphy-downsized

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, love, relationships

Date Smart, Not Around

Ok, folks. It’s time to get to the nitty gritty. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts these past few months, you’ve seen how important it is to spend some time getting to know yourself, acknowledged your insecurities and vulnerabilities, and admitted to yourself that you’re tired of jumping from prospect to prospect like a twisted game of hopscotch. Or at the very least, you’re done faking the funk and acting like you don’t want something more meaningful than a “can I come through?” text at midnight. You’re finally ready for the big leagues. You’re ready to date smart- not around.

I’m not a dating expert or the female version of “Hitch”. As I said in the last post, I hate most of what modern dating has become. My advice for how to date smart is based on the fact that I’ve been in healthy relationships for the past few years. I have a good eye for character and can usually read people like a book. And that essentially is what dating is: reading between the lines and projecting your best self. There’s A LOT more to this but for this entry, I’ll boil dating smart down to three main buckets:

1. Attract with Confidence

I don’t want to repeat what you’ve probably read in a bunch of other books and columns, so I’ll keep it simple: project your most confident and dazzling self. From the wardrobe to your witty sense of humor, it all matters. Ladies, even if we’re having a bad hair day or we have an extra 10lbs we’re feeling self-conscious about, too bad. Slick your hair back, put on a bold lip color, and don your most flattering A-line dress. If you’re like me and introverted or less talkative, own that. Crack a joke, be a little goofy, sing along to the song playing in the restaurant. Remember, you’ve worked hard to love yourself. If he’s not feeling it, it’s cool. Don’t forget, he’s there to impress you, too. And if he’s on a date with you, he’ll also be nervous. You have to decide if you like him! So fake it til you make it and act like the world is your stage. Which brings me to number 2.

2. Listen by Asking

Ask the right questions. Get him talking about whatever he wants but keep asking questions. I’m not talking about those overly invasive “Think like a Man” kinds of questions like “what are your short term/long term goals?” If that comes up organically, then by all means, discuss. But randomly bringing that up on a first or second date can be weird. So let’s say Mister is talking about a movie he saw the other day where the woman broke up with the boyfriend because he cheated/lied. You can interject to ask “would you break up with your partner if they did that?” It seems like a simple question but you may find out about their views on relationships without exactly asking outright. Remember, this is an investigation! Dates aren’t all supposed to lead to an amazing romance. It’s just a date. But if you’re dating smart, you’re there to sift through the riff-raff without investing too much of your time and energy. Shallow or unsavory men can and will talk themselves out of a second date if you ask the right questions and observe their body language. Is he leaned in to you, giving eye contact, and engaged? How often is he checking his phone? Read that man like he’s a magazine in the cash register aisle. You’re gathering intel on this guy. And by asking the kinds of questions that gets him talking about what you want, you’ll find out more about his character.

3. Adjust Accordingly

Remember you’re about your business. You’re not going to deal with a fool just because he’s offering free meals. Another free meal is right around the corner from a man with the energy and vibe you’re looking for. I’m not an advocate of using people so if you want to continue to entertain duds just to be fed- be my guest. But I like efficiency and while you’re dining with Mr. Not Right, you could’ve been out with your girls and flirting with a romantic investment banker from across the room who’s looking for a woman just like you.

Adjusting also means giving what you’re getting. If you find that a man won’t call you for a few days, don’t be the one always texting and calling. You don’t need to keep an exact count of who texted who but pay attention to how he’s interacting with you.

Adjusting also means flat out getting rid of someone. My friends know when they ask me about a prospect, if I say he’s nearing cancellation, that means his actions are not up to par with what I’m looking for. I’ve listened by asking, observed how he interacts with me, and now have adjusted him out of my current dating pool. That’s actually the bonus: keep your options open.

Bonus: Keep your options open

Dating one person at a time can cause you to focus too much energy on them and before you know it, you develop feelings faster than you normally would have if you were dating several people. And just to be clear: dating several people does not mean that you’re sleeping with them. If you want to, that’s entirely up to you. I don’t advocate having multiple sexual partners because it significantly increases your chances of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections. Safety First! But the great thing about dating several guys at a time is that you’re never really bored. And if you’re dating smart, you’ll continue to adjust as you learn what you like and don’t like.

Most of us date so intensely because we’re focused on getting in a relationship. And I understand and have written about dating with intention. But we have to be sure that we’re not settling for a guy just because he happened to be around when we felt our ovaries age another year. Or because all of our friends are in relationships. Committed relationships take work so before you convince yourself that it’s super important to get locked down and “chose” make sure you have an active part in doing the choosing, as well. He has to be worth it.

So remember: dating isn’t a game. But it can be fun.

Peace & Love,

Adri

love, marriage, relationships, social media

Kill the Bat Signal

For quite a few us who have lived in the social mediaverse, posts about relationships seem commonplace. Some range from the cryptic yet impending sense of a breakup: “Sometimes you gotta know when enough is ENOUGH” (the caps make it official) to the more obvious: “I wish I never even bothered with him. What a waste of time.” The feelings and emotions behind these posts are real, no doubt, but nothing grinds my gears more than the bat signal. You’ve seen it and if you’re like me, you’ve either scrolled past quickly if it was sent out by someone you hardly knew or you may have rolled your eyes because you *do* know the person.

Bat signal: A virtual post seeking companionship, disguised as frustration with the dating pool.

It looks something like this “I’m gonna start being a jerk because clearly that’s what women want. Women don’t know what to do with a good man.” Or this: “What’s the point of cooking, cleaning, giving my all when no guy appreciates it. All they want are HOES!”

I’m gonna stop here for a moment to address readers who’ve sent out the bat signal. You just found out what I’m talking about and everything in you is ready to close this page. I can’t stop you if you do. But I’d encourage you to read more. I’ve put out the bat signal, so I’m not judging you. I just want you to do better, because after reading this, you’ll know better. Cool? Cool.

So why do folks put out the bat signal? Because they’re lonely, upset, and unable to be real with themselves. They may have been friendzoned for the 10th time or dumped for the 12th time. Their advances may have been denied. The point is, the bat signal is only put out after some sort of rejection. Much like Gotham’s police department, your bat signal is projected as a sign of distress. But that’s where the similarities end. In your world, you’ve had it up to here with the guys/girls you’ve dated or dealt with and instead of reflecting within, you project your frustration outwards, secretly hoping that someone worthy of you will show up.

Throwing virtual tantrums won’t make things better.

Unfortunately for you, your amazing qualities that you’ve undoubtedly enumerated for anyone willing to listen are a dime a dozen. You cook? So does Walter, the local handyman. You have your own car? So does the high school student who works at Target. You have your own place? Lack of ownership never stopped a broke college student living in a dorm. You have a good job? So do your married and committed colleagues. So what’s your problem?

The truth is: it’s not them, it’s you. And that’s okay! You are a human being with strengths, flaws and everything in between. Sometimes we just make bad choices or haven’t taken the time to really think about who we are and what part we play in this dating game. No one is born with a strong sense of self awareness. Everyone starts from somewhere. You just have to make some changes. What those changes are remains between you and yourself. But it starts with putting the blame game to rest and trying something different. Because in your world, Batman isn’t coming. So kill the signal and start thinking about what you can do to make yourself better as a single person.

Peace & Love,

Adri