The Biggest Relationship Cop Out and Why It’s Hurting You

2 04 2015

Change.

Such a simple word with quite a complex meaning. Webster defines it as “to give a different position, course, or direction to; to make a shift from one to another; to undergo a modification; to undergo transformation.”

But I say one of the biggest characteristics of change is its scariness. Oh you’re one of those people who don’t think change is scary? Hmmm, well I would argue that not only do a majority of us fear change, a majority of us act like we want it and will do it when we really don’t and won’t. In fact, I believe change is something a lot of us talk about in theory, but many of us rarely practice.

And it’s also where I think many of us go wrong in our dating lives.

Stop me if you’ve ever heard or said the following statement: “I can only be me, so if a man/woman doesn’t like me, then that’s his/her problem.” Or “I can’t be someone else to get a guy/girl to approach me. The person I’m supposed to be with is going to want me for me.”

Okay, now, I get the sentiment behind the statements. Yes, you have to be true to yourself, and no, no guy or girl should be looking to change you into what he/she wants you to be… but don’t most of us pride ourselves on not being who we were ten years ago? I can’t count how many times I’ve told someone “I’m not the same girl I was at 23” or 25, or 27, or hell even at 30. I also can’t count how many times folks have amen-ed and agreed with me. And yet, the same people who will swear they’ve changed for the better will turn around and say that they don’t need to make any further changes when it comes to their relationships. That this is who they are. Period.

That just can’t be!

If we are all seeking to improve ourselves at all times, why do we get caught up in the idea that it’s somehow negative or not empowering to improve ourselves to be better mates?

My theory? It’s because we’re a generation of people (mostly, not everyone) who were taught that bettering ourselves should only really be about us. We go to school to improve ourselves. We get good careers to better our lives. We travel to make ourselves more cultured.¹ And all of that is great, because it taught us independence and self – sufficiency, but what it didn’t do was teach us how to translate that bettering of ourselves into partnering with someone.

So I get it. I really do. I get the hesitation toward saying “I will figure out what my part is in the things that have gone wrong in my dating life, and I will actively focus on changing that.” It goes against everything we know. We’re supposed to change just for us. But the problem is if you’re doing the same wrong shit over and over again, and you don’t want to change it because you don’t believe you should have to, chances are you won’t have to change a thing because you won’t ever need to. And the problem with that thinking is that every happily married couple I know talks about what they had to change in their lives to get to that point.

This is why I call it a cop out. Not changing is the easy thing to do. It doesn’t take any skin. It doesn’t break you out of your comfort zone. Saying someone has to accept me “flaws and all” without any attempt at working on those flaws is the easy thing to do. It gives us a reason for those relationships not working. It puts the blame on the mystical “other.”

The harder thing to do is to take an honest assessment of yourself and say, “some of those folks just weren’t right, but sometimes, I was complicit as well.” And then to look and see what you can do differently.

I had to do that. I had to look back over my relationships for the past 8 years or so and ask myself what was my part in their undoing. And you know what I realized? I have a problem sticking around. I leave or don’t get invested in the first place so that when something even slightly uncomfortable comes up, I can leave before he does. It’s why I haven’t had someone break up with me in years. It’s also why the longest relationship I had during that time period we didn’t even actually call a relationship until it was over. And outside of that, none of them have lasted over 6 months.

That’s not good for someone who wants to eventually get married and have a family. So you know what that means? I have to change. I’ve got to do the work to make the changes that will help me a better partner for my future guy. Yes, that’s about bettering me, but it’s also about knowing that if I want to achieve that goal of eventually being happily married and having kids, I can’t be worried about how that process may not look very feminist-y or how it’s not just focused on me. I can’t afford to take the easy cop out and keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.

And if you’re feeling stuck or don’t like what you see in your dating life or relationships, you can’t either. It’s only hurting you going forward.

1 And yes, I know many of us volunteer and seek to impact change in others’ lives, but even that sometimes can be about what’s gives us “fulfillment.”





At 31+, My Definition of Love is So Different from 10 Years Ago

5 03 2015

On a recent trip with some friends, one of the girls brought up a list titled “6 Phrases More Important than I Love You,” which was recently featured on the Huffington Post. The list asserted that while “I love you” was very important, it wasn’t always enough, and so you needed more than love (possibly the other six items) to make a relationship work. The six phrases they mentioned all sounded great at first glance, but as much as I wanted to agree with the entire list, I just couldn’t. I did, however, agree with at least one of them (which I’ll get to later).

They were:

1. I forgive you

2. I’ll sacrifice for you

3. I respect you

4. I’ll support you

5. I’ll protect you

6. I’m committed to you

Now, my reason for not agreeing with the complete list was not because I don’t think those phrases and the ideas behind them are important. It’s that, for me, at 31 +, they are included in “I love you.” If I say to someone now that I love him, I mean I will sacrifice for him, I respect him, I’ll support him, I’ll forgive him, and I’ll protect him (as I can).

This wasn’t always the case. In my early 20s, my concept of love was completely different. I fell in love at 21, as if it was a faulty emotion I couldn’t control. Love was all about passion and desire, how fast my heart beat when I saw his name on my phone or AIM account (aging myself here). It was all about romance (unrequited or not) and whether or not he and I talked to each other all day, every day.

But now? I’m not saying those things don’t matter — because they absolutely do — but love includes all those unromantic, practical things as well. I’m not looking for someone to “complete me.” I want to be whole and for him to be whole and then we come together. Love is not something I fall into anymore. It’s a choice I make. I choose to love who I love. And much of that choice is based off of certain criteria.

Such as…

Do I trust him?

Can I be honest with him even when I don’t want to be?

Do I have a desire to support him, and does he support my dreams and efforts?

Do I forgive him, even after a big argument, not because I’m a pushover, but because it’s worth it?

Love now includes aspects like responsibility and future. And sure, I absolutely still want to smile like a Cheshire cat when I hear his name and have a desire to tear his clothes off and lick his teeth when I see him. But I equally want to think of him as someone I wholly and completely respect. Someone who pushes me to fight for better, even when he doesn’t realize it.

That’s love for me now.

So when I tell a man I love him, I’m saying most of those other phrases as well.

Now, if you couldn’t tell by this point, the last phrase is the only one I thought was separate from “I love you,” simply because you can love someone and not commit to him/her. Just like love, commitment is a choice as well, and frankly there are people in love who are not committed to each other and vice versa.

But if we’re just talking about love here, I think the more mature definition, at least for me, has to include those other concepts. Otherwise, it’s just undeniable, passionate lust. And while that’s great and there’s certainly a place for it; I’m not 21 anymore, so I know the difference.





What’s Hugs Got to Do with It

18 11 2014

hug

Not sure if you all remember, but a couple years ago, I started embracing (pun intended) the beauty of hugs.

I decided to let go of my fears of emotions and enjoy the feelings you get when hugging or letting someone hug you. And I have to say, it really has made a big difference in my life. For one, I find that I’m less bitter and cynical about relationships. For two, I’ve become more comfortable with being me and expressing whatever emotions I have for a person.

Now, granted, I’m not saying all of that happened just because I came around on hugs, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence they have coincided with each other either. As Mandy Pants said back in the day, “humans need to be touched.” And I was essentially missing out on basic human interaction that was needed to survive by limiting this type of interaction.

Since then, however, I’ve clearly come around. I mean, I really believe in the power of hugs now y’all. Annnnnnnd physical touch became one of my top love languages! Who would have thought??

But here’s the thing. Once I got past the power and beauty of hugs, then I was able to just get into the pure awesomeness of them. Especially when done with boo thangs and potential boo thangs.

I thought about this other day when I came up on an old article about the 7 cute hugs a guy can give you.

Let me just say off top, I’m a fan of all of the ones they mentioned. The catch, the spin, the lift, the head rest etc… but my favorite one? The kind of hug I remember just walking down the street later? Oh that’s the combination of the squeeze (which I call the bear hug) and the long one.

Listen. That combo effect? It’ll melt even the stoniest of hearts and leave tingles all up and down your spine.

Okay let me stop telling on myself.

All I’m trying to say is that as a woman dating someone who doesn’t live in her city, sometimes the highlight of my time with sgwmms is the 1 minute hug we do where we just stand there squeezing each other tight. Sometimes that hug then turns into fits of laughter as I try fail to exert my strength on him. And sometimes… it’s… just… heaven.

Plain and simple.

Either way, though, it’s absolutely something I realize I was missing out on for all those years. And I’m so glad I eventually learned the errors of my ways.

But what about you all? Do you have a favorite hug between you and your guy (future, past or present)? Have you tried all of the ones they mentioned in the article? If not, do you have one that piqued your interest?





Accidentally C-blocking Our Friends

13 11 2014
Photo: tomorrowsmemorieswa.blogspot.com

Photo: tomorrowsmemorieswa.blogspot.com

The other night I ended up at a bar with a bunch of girlfriends, talking girl talk, laughing, drinking whiskey, and giggling about boys.

Well as we looked around the bar, we realized there were several said boys in attendance as well. But, I noted, we were in far too large of a group of women for any of those guys to approach someone in the group.

“Yea you know the only guy who would do that is the kind of guy you wouldn’t want anyway,” one of the girls said.

“Right, because I mean, who wants to walk up to a group of like 6 girls and try to talk to just one of them? The odds are not in your favor.”

Exactly.

But really, why is that?

Wouldn’t you think if you have a table of single women who like dating and someone wants to ask one of those women on a date, everyone else would be down for the cause? Wouldn’t you think the other women would revert into wing women essentially? I would think so.

And yet, that’s not what happens in real life. We know this because there’s a reason men don’t tend to walk up to groups of women by themselves. Because far too often, they are instantly grilled, pulled a part, sized up, and judged before they even get out something beyond “hi.”

Thing is, we all know this. We all are completely aware of this phenomenon… and still the six of us sat at the bar/table giggling, not having anyone walk up to us, laughed about why, and didn’t do anything to change it.

It wasn’t until one of the girls walked away to go to the actual bar that she found herself being approached by a guy. And you know what he told her right? “I was hoping you would go do something on your own so I could talk to you.” Mmmmhmmmm. Theory confirmed.

So why do you think this happens? Why do we accidentally c-block our friends when we’re out? I’m not saying you should change the amount of people you meet up with, because that would just be crazy… but somewhere along the line, we’ve made it uncomfortable for men to do what we claim we want them to do just by hanging with our girlfriends. And if everyone is supposedly on the prowl, then aren’t we hustling backwards here?

What do you all think?





Five More Great Fall Date Ideas

11 11 2014
Photo credit: Darby Baham

Photo credit: Darby Baham

Autumn is in the air. And despite the fact that it was 40 degrees this weekend in the District and snowing last week in Chicago, I’m determined to try to enjoy the fall season before it officially turns into winter.

It’s such a pretty season, really. The leaves start turning to these beautiful amber and golden colors, and they litter the ground everywhere, making folks (me) want to skip everywhere they go so they can kick up fallen crispy leaves along the way. The weather, when not being all wonky, is the 2nd perfect blend of seasons (spring is the 1st lol)… sunny but not hot, brisk but not cold. You might need a jacket but it can be one of those cute nonfunctional ones instead of the big bulky utility ones that you have to wear when the temp drops to 30 and below.

And you know what else autumn brings? Really cool opportunities for dates.

Such as?

Such as watching the sunset from a really cool outside setting. The great thing about the fall is that since the sun sets so early, you can make plans to watch it set about 5:30 on a Saturday and not have to worry about it getting to be too late. Bonus points if you can find a historical or beautifully landscaped spot to do so. Monuments in DC maybe? The Empire State building in NY? The observatory in LA? All really great options.

Attend a music festival – most people tend to think of these happening in the summer, but really your best bet is to find one in the spring or fall so the weather’s not too hot because you’ll be there all day. Voodoo Fest in New Orleans is a great suggestion – and if you get your tickets early enough, not that expensive to get down there.

Basketball game — Last time I talked about attending a football game, but how did I forget to mention the basketball options? Well there are plenty of pluses here. A: it’s indoors, which is great if it’s 40 degrees in your locale. B: you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to go. Now you probably won’t be courtside, but basketball games do have fairly reasonable options when it comes to pricing! And there’s nothing like adding a little competition into a date if you end up going to a game where your teams are playing each other.

Be a tourist in your city, but not just in any random way. You can do fun stuff like a city wide scavenger hunt or one of those double decker tours if you live in a big tourist city. But go all out! Maybe come up with accents and different names and play around like you have no idea of anything in the city. You’re bound to meet some interesting folks, maybe learn some things you didn’t know before, and get some good laughs in as well.

Go for hot cocoa and s’mores. Everyone always thinks of ice cream dates for the summer, but what’s the equivalent when the cooler temps start settling in. Hot cocoa! Google some of the best places in your city for hot cocoa, get a cup each, and just walk around getting to know each other. The hot cocoa will help keep you warm on your walk and maybe inspire some canoodling between the two of you as well.

Any other ideas you all have?

And what’s your favorite date you’ve gone on in the fall? What made it so nice?





Tips for My Future Husband — #20

6 11 2014
Photo: derrickjaxn.wordpress.com

Photo: derrickjaxn.wordpress.com

Get Silly with Me

Y’all remember that song, “Get Silly” from a few years ago? It was super catchy, had a fun dance, and we, of course, had no idea what they were talking about — but it was fun! So it was great.

Well, I heard it while out at a Halloween party last Friday night, and it gave me the perfect idea for my next tip for future hubby.

You see, I already talked about wanting him to laugh at my jokes, but I don’t want to just stop it there. I want us to have fun being silly with each other.

I actually found myself talking about this the other day with a bunch of girlfriends. We were out at a bar, and one of the girls wanted to know what we all thought was the most important thing in a relationship outside of trust (which is incidentally, my number 1). I said the ability to have fun with each other. But as I was describing it, and giving an example of what I meant, I realized that fun didn’t quite give the most clear description.

Why?

Well, I think you can have fun doing things like watching a movie or attending an art show or scrapbooking. But what I really meant is that I want the ability for me and my guy to enjoy those things, but also enjoy cutting the fool with each other while we’re doing them. I want that guy who’s going to be up laughing with me for hours and then when we try to figure out what the heck we were laughing about, we have no idea. I want that guy who I can lay in the bed with and just be goofy with without a care in the world. I want that guy that’s going to turn a music festival into a giggle festival. Who can keep me in stitches, not because he’s a class clown or something like that, but because we’ve cultivated a friendship that just oozes pure unadulterated fun.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times and places for serious conversations and serious occasions. No one is trying to be silly at a funeral or something like that, right? But even at the stuffiest gala, wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re sitting next to someone who can quickly make a silly face at you (that only you can see) and then go back to proper decorum afterward? I think it would be.

In fact, I think it’s one of the biggest keys to keeping a relationship alive and thriving — just how much fun you can have with each other. And so I hope future hubby takes that into account. This future wife (me lol) just wants to spend as much time possible laughing and enjoying life (preferably with him by my side).





From Vacation Passes to Pregnancy Ones?

23 10 2014

First there was the vacation pass — you know, the leeway some couples give each other to do as they please on vacation with friends without repercussions.

Then there was the celebrity pass — the game couples play where they list the 1 or 2 celebrities the significant other could get with without any repercussions.

And now there’s… the pregnancy pass?? The allowance some women give their husbands to have sex with other women while they are pregnant (without repercussions to the relationship).

What???

Does anyone find this as disturbing as I do?

Now I’m not going to lie, I’ve jokingly discussed the celebrity pass with a boyfriend or two. And I guess it seems a bit “safer” since the likelihood of your boo meeting his/her celebrity crush is a lot slimmer than them seeing a random cute girl in Brazil. But truthfully, even that’s dangerous in this day and age where everyone is a social media account away. And I would have been quite upset if it had actually happened.

This pregnancy pass thing, though? It just seems to me folks are trying to find any way possible to have open relationships without calling it that. And if that’s what you want, I’m saying — just own that ish. Don’t be carrying on like you’re in a monogamous relationship, but you just happen to be open to the idea of your husband having carte blanche for 10 months.

Naw.

Now I get that there are some factors in play here. Some women think they won’t be in the mood to have sex while pregnant. Some men think they won’t find ol’ girl attractive or that they’ll be too scared to hurt the baby and all that jazz. And to those concerns, I say to all parties — man up.

When you are in a relationship, especially a marriage, you make a commitment to fulfilling the needs of your partner (sexual and otherwise). That doesn’t mean you let someone else fulfill those needs while you’re on sabbatical for ten months, and it certainly doesn’t mean you drop your wife for almost a year because her belly is almost as big as her boobs. Besides, from the pregnant women I’ve talked to (and the ladies on The Real), pregnant women are typically “ret to go” any time, any place. So you might as well take advantage of the situation. No?

What do you all think, though? Did you have the same “naw” reaction as me upon hearing of the pregnancy pass? Or do you think it’s a legitimate suggestion? And have you heard of or participating in any other types of relationship passes? I promise — this will be a no judge zone.