Love is, Love Ain't

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And my number is 28. And I just found out that I have the potential to be a big pimpin’ cougar. Don’t laugh out loud because this is a burden and a blessing. Let’s start from the top. I work/study at a university with about 25,000 students. I meet a lot of them through the classes that I teach and the jobs that I work at, but when I find myself in places where a large body of undergraduate students gather, I become Waldo. I’m serious – try to find me – the 28-year-old grown woman with 2 degrees, 2 years of serious career related experience – and you won’t be able to find me. And this is my blessing. I look nothing like what I have been through.

But recently I realized I have to start asking for identification from the young men who ask me out. I laughed when the young guy at the grocery store ran to catch up with me and ask to take me out. He was a cutie pie – tall, caramel skin, short hair cut with the line to match – but when our eyes met, I knew he could not be any more than 17. “How old are you?” I asked. He flashed me those beautiful, straight teeth and said, “16.” As I walked away, I smiled ‘cause I will look like I’m 30 when I’m 70, but I realized I have got to be like the liquor store cashiers and start asking to see some ID.

I began to wonder if I was going to ask for ID so that I can keep things legal at all times or if I was just interested in dating only guys in a certain age range. Well, the other day as I sat at my office desk, a handsome young man came to the door and said, “How you doing?” I reacted like the police and said, “Can I see some ID?” He laughed and explained that he just wanted to get to know me. I asked if he played football, and when he said yes, I named my little boo boos on the team. He said he knew them. I told him to ask them why we don’t really need to get to know each other. He insisted that I tell him instead. “I’m 28.” His jaw (and his friend’s) dropped to the floor, and he screamed, “You look like a baby!” I thanked him, and he gave me his billion-dollar smile (I mean he had a gorgeous smile!). He paused for a moment and said, “We can’t be Facebook friends?” I laughed.

My colleague that witnessed the whole thing thought it was hilarious. But she said, “What’s wrong with maybe grabbing lunch or hanging out with him one day?” I said, “If he knows my boos, then he’s no more than 19.” “So,” she replied. That “so” has stayed with me. And no, Sistaoutsider (who I can hear saying “I’mma need you to stop”), I’m not interested in 19 year-olds no matter how handsome they are, but I do discriminate on the younger men a whole lot. Instead of revealing my standards, I reveal my age first. I’m 27 and you’re 23, we’ll never work. I’m 28 and you’re 19, we’ll never work. I need to practice more on making my standards show the maturity because age sure doesn’t. I’m interested in my career, and you haven’t chosen a major yet, we might not work. I could get married right now if the person designed for me asks me, you can’t even decide which young lady you want to kick it with tonight, we’re not gonna happen.

Don’t be like me and laugh in every baby face. They might be 28, 30, 33 – you just need to see some ID.

 

Today one of my friends called me to talk about her boyfriend, other guys who are tripping over themselves to take her boyfriend’s spot, and her favorite topic – my singleness and lack of desire to marry just anybody. So she calls to talk about next weekend’s wedding (her cousin’s – and also my really good friend’s – wedding). She then names like five other people who are recently engaged, and I get excited with each announcement because I love me some love and really love when people find their calling of marriage. I then try to have a really serious conversation with her about marriage – I share that I’m sure I’m not ready for it, and it’s a possibility that it is not my calling (I’m really serious about my belief that marriage is a spiritual gift and calling). So as always she interjects and says, “You’re just going to be all alone with your 15 cats.” Yes, roll your eyes here if you would like – I won’t judge you. I took a deep breath and reminded her that I’m not responsible enough for animals and that I needed to go.

I thought that we had at least punched the patriarchy hard enough that people had stopped saying and insinuating such archaic ideas. But it didn’t bother me as much because I’ve realized that my journey to the union God has designed for me is a really private one. I can’t expect all of my friends to understand that for me marriage won’t work if I am not complete by myself. I don’t need someone to complete me – I need someone to help me get tax breaks. Just kidding – kinda. ☺

So I did state earlier that I want the journey to my union to be really private, but I’m willing to share so that other single ladies who may be placed in really awkward conversations and experiences (especially during this wedding season) will know that they are not alone. I want to share the really corny thing I do to stay realistic about my marriage ideas: I write letters to my future permanent boo in my journal. It was originally designed to be a gift to him when I realized that he is my permanent boo, but two very wise ladies encouraged me to just keep it to myself and use it as a reflection and guide to what I want. I haven’t had time to write in it lately, but I decided to read it and found one that I will share with you.

Dear honey pot,

I’m waiting for you – and it’s much easier now than when I first started writing you. No, I don’t know who you are, but I still love you. I thought that the first dance at our wedding reception would be “International Players Anthem” by UGK & Outkast, but it will be “The Makings of You” by Curtis Mayfield. You’re affecting me already, and we aren’t even engaged! I love you!!!

Laugh at it, analyze it, or be inspired by my silly, corny letters, but ladies, this wedding season when you are assaulted with sexist comments and questions or are played like you’re desperate to get married, just do something corny like me – imagine your future permanent boo – if marriage is your thing – and pretend you are sharing your encounter with the wedding and baby police to remind yourself that you don’t have to be married with kids by 30. And if marriage is not your thing, remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you and continue to stick it to the patriarchy! ☺

Back in January I grieved the engagement of the one guy I consistently wanted to share my life with. And whenever I grieve anyone or anything, I have to find a theme song. As I thought about how egregious it was that he chose someone without at least trying it with me first, my emotions welled up deep inside of me and as I waited for the tears to roll uncontrollably down my face (and they didn’t), I turned to Jay-Z and decided to let his “Song Cry.” Because all I could hear was Jay saying, “I was gone get right back…”

So after I zoned out with Jay and his story about a relationship that diverged in his transformation into a star, I realized that I had been bamboozled by the “Get Right Back” play. That though I should have never emotionally tangled myself up with someone who always had something else – he had a girlfriend when I first met him, he was too hurt by her betrayal when we were both single and living in the same city, he wanted to build his career and travel the world – he was gone get right back.

Well he did get right back. He sent me an e-mail back in October, and I was ecstatic!! Yes, he got back – maybe this would be the beginning of our perfecting timing. I e-mailed him back – he e-mailed me – and we had a tennis match over e-mail. Finally, I decided I would act like a grown woman and say how about you give me a call sometime. He never e-mailed again or called, so I figured – he was gone get right back. Fast forward to January and he announces he is engaged. Well, no getting back on that. One of my best friends still thinks we’re meant to be and has concocted a plan for us to crash his wedding with an unsolicited objection. It would be fun in a motion-picture sort of way, but I’m single (by choice), not desperate.

I had previously written this post and didn’t post it because I didn’t have an optimistic type of life lesson to add to it, but I thought it would fun to add as I will try to pay homage to wedding season 2011. A single girl has got to have fun while people continue to ask her why she’s not married yet or what’s wrong with her  – doesn’t she? ☺

If you are trapped between your feelings and what other people think is right, always go for whatever makes you happy.

Unless you want everyone to be happy except you.

*I read this on another blog but thought it worth repeating here.

I have really been working hard to establish standards that are clear.  I haven’t met anyone new that I have had to establish standards with, but new boo still shows strong interest, and I have had to continually uphold those standards I have set with him.  I have listened to stories of other friends dating and been scolded continuously by my close friend because I’m not working hard to find (or keep) a man, and I began to question if I really knew how to compromise.  My ex likes to say I don’t know how to compromise, but I guess it all depends on who you are asking.

So I have been working on listening to the greater influence within me, and as I asked, “Do I know how to compromise?” I received almost an immediate answer.  A pretty important man in college football these days said, “Accept and tolerate only that which you want to encourage.”  This is some of the best advice I have received in a while, and I knew that it would be invaluable across the board in my relationships.  So I just had to share this on the blog.  Remember:  Accept and tolerate only that which you want to encourage.

I seriously thought my blog about What Chili Wants would be only one part, but since I watch the show regularly, I could not help but blog again about what we can learn from Chili.  So Chili and Floyd (UGH!!) hang out some more.  He basically ignores her while they are at Six Flags – he’s too busy having fun with his entourage.  This prompts Chili to finally have the talk that they should have had a long time ago.  I can’t remember what she says specifically, but she wanted to know if she and Floyd would be in that weird space they titled “friendship” forever. I heard Floyd loud and clear though when he called their relationship a friendship.  And I have learned from my own experiences that that is all I need to hear to cue my exit from a weird friendship.

What I have also learned is that you can never change another person; however, you can change yourself and can get out of these paralyzing “friendships.” Here’s a list of statements that your “friend” of over a year (I’m being lenient with this time period) should not be saying:

“I don’t want to get hurt.” – No one wants to get hurt.  This is really irrelevant, and I’m not trying to be coldhearted.  Ok, if you want to be specific about past heartbreak, family/relationship issues – fine, I’ll listen.  But you need to understand that there are very few people who have not been hurt or affected by someone else’s heartbreak and pain.  Don’t allow him to keep saying this to you for an extended period of time.

“I’m scared.” – Fear can be healthy in some cases.  After 3 weeks of knowing someone, you should be scared to make a commitment or move in with this person.  However, remember we’re talking about knowing this “friend” for a year or more.  Maybe he means he’s scared that you will find out that his intentions have never been to be your friend with the possibility of being your man but a lukewarm relationship parasite.

Anything with “just friends” or “our friendship” – Hello, no matter how many diamonds, dinners, private Six Flags trips he has given you, if he’s saying this word or combinations of this word he’s being loud and clear – you’re only friends.  Please, take him at his word.  I would even suggest that you not accept his lavish gifts.  Accepting the extravagant gifts is one of the signs that you’re OK that your love for him is “in the layaway for a rainy day.”

“I can’t see the future.” – Well, guess what, no one can (generally speaking).  However, after spending significant time with someone especially over the period of a year, you know something.  This person knows enough that will allow him to take the risk to see what the future could hold.  Part of me believes that this statement reveals that this person does know what the future holds, and I’m 95% sure it’s not you.  Sorry 😦  *hugs*

“Women are my weakness.” – Actually, he should never be saying this if you are in that weird maybe-more-than-friendship relationship.  He is actually playing you from the start.  If you really value his friendship, you should make sure that it is clear that he knows that you want to just be friends and then inform him of the standards you have for your friendships.  This means no evening romantic dinners, no extravagant trips/gifts, no spending nights at each other’s places and having closet/drawer space, and no sex.  Sorry, I digressed. 🙂

I’m not bashing male friendships.  I established in Part I that I have some fantastic male friends.  I also believe that it is so important that your partner is also your friend.  But I also believe that sometimes your friend has to be just your friend.  And if someone is your friend, they don’t play games with your emotions.  He doesn’t lead you to believe there could be more at some point.  He will encourage you during all parts of your journey even your dating journey. He will remind you that there are so many great men out there, and you will be so lucky that you can call him your friend.

And sometimes when you find that your wonderful male friend is the man of your dreams, it won’t be because he led you on at some point but that he carries the qualities you would like your mate to have.  He will have proven to be faithful and respectful during your entire friendship.  He will not take the opportunity for you two to be more for granted.  Don’t dismiss all your male friends or stop making male friends – just be very clear about what is going on.

 

I find What Chili Wants on VH1 interesting.  The one thing that intrigues me about this show is that this TLC group member is a beautiful, successful woman with specific standards (nit-picky standards but standards nonetheless). Well, in the last season, Floyd, her rich, athletic “best friend” would pop in and out, and I began to believe that he (and probably Usher) was the real reason she could not find her life partner or was not available for her life partner to find her.  Now, yes, let’s remember this is “reality” TV, but a lesson can be learned from Chili and her “best friend.”  In a recent episode, pretty boy Floyd comes to visit and goes with her to get a facial and buys her $14,000 13k diamond earrings (no typos there, yes he bought that) and took her out to dinner and talked about how he loves her and etc. etc.  Chili’s matchmaker interjects in the commentary portion of the show and asks a valuable question, “Ladies, how many of your male friends buy you $14,000 earrings??”  Most of us would say none of our male friends have.  But take a moment and ask yourself, what are some things that your male friends have done that suggest something greater than friendship?  What have they done that leads you to be emotionally connected to them in an unusual way for people who say they are “just friends”?  What do they do that makes it difficult for you to genuinely date someone else or be available to the possibilities of dating someone else?

About a year ago I had to ask myself some of those questions.  I have some fantastic male friends.  They treat me like a lady.  They look out for me.  They check up on me.  They make sure I’m good.  I’m baby girl, and they treat me as such.  But one day a close male friend of mine said the strangest (at least to me) thing.  He had recently broken up with his girlfriend of over 2 years, and he was just not feeling the dating scene.  He said, “You know what, M-boogie, I want to marry but I don’t want to put forth the effort to meet anyone.  We should just get married – I won’t have to do much with you.”  Yes, I think we should all laugh here.  Now you may believe I was being overly sensitive to his idea, but he was serious.  And that was not cool with me.  I immediately shared this with a few of my close girlfriends, and they all felt the same.  My close friend, Sistaoutsider, broke it down for me.  She told me to evaluate my male friends and see who were truly friends and not someone using friendship as a way to keep me as an option.  I remember it clearly when she said, “Think about it.  Are any of them trying to put you on?”  And by put on she meant were they introducing me to eligible bachelors, were they inviting me to events that would broaden my social circle that may lead me to meeting eligible bachelors.  Now she didn’t mean that they had to be active matchmakers, but she wanted me to consider their actions to see if they were trying to hold the monopoly on my companionship, you know just in case they didn’t want to put forth the “effort” anymore.

This was some of the best advice I’ve gotten.  I ended up separating myself from a couple of guys who had been doing just what pretty boy Floyd had been. No, they weren’t showering me with ridiculously priced diamonds, but they were always talking about how much they adored and loved me.  We never went to dinner or other events with other people.  We always had intimate dinners and dates.  Yes, dates.  I was dating my friends and didn’t even know it.  They had a friend with benefits.  No, not sex, but everything but that.  In some cases, I would not go on a date because I could hang out with my friend.  He was going to make me feel like I was the only girl in the world but with no commitment.  But don’t get it twisted, he would still be dating and would tell me about the dates and like a fool I had passed on two or three dates just to “hang” with him.

These guys were beneficial as I dealt with issues I had at the time with my old boo, but if I had continued to let them put my “love in the layaway,” I would have not met new boo.  And though I don’t know what new boo and I will ever become, he stands as proof that when you remove the blockers you can meet a great guy.

Recently at a party, a friend of mine and an associate got on the subject of how hard it is to date because of their past dating experiences.  Here’s how this conversation went:

One said, “You know, when you’ve been hurt, it’s hard to deal with the next man.”

The other cosigned, “Yeah, because I refuse to be mistreated by the next guy.  I’m not going to fall into the same traps like before.”

A male friend (I’ve never dated him before, but I think he’s a great guy) interjected and said, “Whoa, you all have got to stop allowing the hurt from the past men influence how you approach the next guy – you’re not going to find anyone that way.”

I sat there silently saying to myself, “Amen to that!”   My friend yells out, “But I refuse to be naive!”

Folks, this is where I had to jump in.  “Well, he’s right, you can’t let the liar, cheater, scumbag, jerk, asshole, or whoever you’ve been dating negatively influence how you approach the next guy…”

My friend cut me off before I could finish.  I guess she thought I was not qualified to say that.  I mean, I was sitting next to my date, whom everyone affectionately calls “boo” behind his back, and I obviously wasn’t having a shortage of men (in terms of quantity more so than quality) to choose from.  But the “boo” sitting next to me was all the reason I needed to be qualified to speak about how to deal with the next man.

Before I met “boo” I had spent way too long going back and forth with a wonderful man who I thought I would marry, share my life with, and start a family.  One day he decided that he no longer wanted to be my wonderful friend but a jerk and sperm donor.  I mean, really??  After that, I just wanted to not deal with men for awhile.  When “boo”asked me out (and my friend made me accept), I had to really make a conscious effort to give him a fair chance and use my unfortunate experience with my last potential husband to know what my standards will be and not become an expert at finding people’s faults.  And this my friend is where I think we should join Kanye West and have a toast – a toast for the jerks, the sperm donors, the assholes, the men who pretend they want marriage just so you will stick around but they never intend on marrying, oops sorry, had a flashback on the last one. 🙂  So here are my toast speeches – feel free to steal them and tailor them to your encounters in your previous experiences with like or love!

For the jerks…

Thanks for making me feel like something was seriously wrong with me.  It made me take time to personally reflect on who M-boogie is and realize my self-worth.  Otherwise I would have been OK with just being good enough.  But no, I found out that your insecurities, self-hate, and unresolved issues had nothing to do with me.  I am actually beautiful, smart, sweet, and caring.  I know these things for sure, and I believe it so much in my very core that the men I share my time with will remind me that I am all those things and more.

For the sperm donors…

Thanks for your continuous requests for me to be your baby’s mother (not wife, just baby’s mama).  I must be sexy as hell!  I must have taken such good care of you that you wanted to not only have beautiful babies but you also wanted to entrust your legacy (and your paycheck) in my care.  At first I thought you were trying to trap me to be your love machine and to have court orders that require us to see each other when we exchange the babies for visitations over the next 18 years, but after trying to look at the bright side of our lame encounter, I see you just didn’t know how to communicate to me how sexy and caring I really am.

For the assholes…

Oh, assholes, I really want to thank you.  Your ignorant, narcissistic, hateful, cold-blooded, downright evil existence is worthless.  However, had I not met you, I would have been unequipped to…well, actually I can’t even sarcastically thank you because I don’t want to thank you, but cheers to me running away from any future assholes (and men with asshole-like tendencies) as fast as I can!

These toast are really all about taking our experiences and using them as foundations to become better people equipped to interact with those who are worthy of our time and attention.  So many times we take our bad dating/relationship experiences and become better at figuring out what is wrong with the next person instead of figuring out what we truly want for our lives of love.  Sometimes the hurt can seem too much to bear, but pop some bottles and make some toasts because we will share our lives with some amazing humans who won’t be perfect but who will be perfect for us in the stage of life that we are in.


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