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Category Archives: Secrets of Good Daters

‘When You Know, You Just Know’ & Other Love Lies

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“I always imagined this magical moment where the world stops, jazz music plays in the background, and I lock eyes with a beautiful stranger whom, somehow, I’ve known my whole life”

I always imagined this magical moment where the world stops, jazz music plays in the background, and I lock  eyes with a beautiful stranger whom, somehow, I’ve known my whole life. Neither of us needs to exchange any real words. We already mutually understand–instinctively of course–that this is the last relationship we will ever have. He asks for my number and 3 months later we’re married with 2.5 kids. There aren’t any arguments on marriage timelines or how we want to raise our kids. There aren’t any doubts and questionable habits that make you wonder if God seriously intends for a person to mate with just one other human being for life. And there certainly aren’t any intermediary break-ups where both people questioned their rightness for one another. Because, as they say, “when you know, you just know”.

But the day I met Mr. Right-For-Now looked absolutely nothing like what “they say”.

Princess-And-The-Frog-movie-705124 So I kept waiting for the magic “aha” moment when I would suddenly “just know”. It didn’t happen when he first professed his Love for me in a poem.It didn’t happen when I found myself crying gleefully in the shower, overwhelmed by my Love for him. It didn’t happen when he began to break down his emotional barriers just to be with me. It didn’t happen when I chose to put more trust and faith in him than I’ve put in anyone besides myself. It’s been exactly 2 years, 9 months, and 12 hours. And that moment has NEVER happened. I’ve never been completely-absolutely-without-a- shadow-of-a-doubt certain that Mr. Right-For-Now is the only soul on earth for me. So naturally, I began to think my uncertainty means he’s not the one. You know, like that awkward moment when you kiss the frog expecting a prince and he turns into a frog too?  I never got to the fairy-tale “when you know, you just know” moment like they said I would.

Then. Everything changed.

Recently, I had lunch with a married mentor of mine and he gave me the most practical bit of insider information. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, certainty is simply an emotion. Therefore, it changes with the wind. When something happens that we’re happy about, we’re sure that a person is for us. When things don’t go the way we thought they would go, then we start to doubt. He assured me that I would never be completely certain because knowing is just a feeling. Today, I may feel like Mr. Right-For-Now is the best decision I ever made. Other days, I might feel like I made a mistake. And that’s normal. But none of it truly matters because marriage requires you to Love another person in spite of how you may feel on a day-to-day basis.

TianaI sat there, mouth agape staring into the distance. At first, I just sat there blankly. Then something snapped inside and I became ANGRY–bloodthirsty almost. Who the fuck came up with that bullshit “when you know, you just know” then, I wondered. I’d waited my whole romantic life for a certainty that would never come!!! I felt bamboozled like a little kid waiting up for Santa only to discover mommy and daddy putting toys under the tree, drinking the milk, and eating the goddamned cookies. I mean next you’ll be telling me a couple can’t really have 2.5 kids!!! This was BY FAR the biggest Love lie of them all since happily ever after. And suddenly I hated every Disney movie and romantic comedy I’d ever seen (except Crazy, Stupid, Love. Completely unhateable movie). Especially the ones where the girl or guy leaves their current girl or guy to be with some other girl or guy that they JUST KNEW they were supposed to be with instead (think Maid in Manhattan or The Princess and the Frog). LIES! LIES! LIES!

When the anger dissipated, I realized how blessed I was to come into this piece of wisdom. My mentor pointed out a most convenient Frogandfrogtiananaveentruth to me. That as humans, we’re too fickle to really know anything. Even our facts are debatable and up to interpretation. Life, by definition, is too unpredictable to know. Mike Tyson once stated, “everyone has a plan ’til they get hit”. And suddenly all of my uncertainty made sense. I only felt unsure whenever he and I faced an issue that seemed unlikely to yield my desired outcome. Him and I, we aren’t perfect. We go THROUGH things. Yet Hollywood likes to paint this picture that Love is easy with the right person (another LIE). So why all this pressure on two romantic partners to know without a doubt that they’re meant to be together?

I decided after that lunch to take the unrealistic pressure off my boo and I. We don’t have to know. But  if you cannot know for certain, then what’s left? You can believe! And I believe, and have believed for a long time, that I am made for Mr. Right-For-Now. He believes he’s made for me. And that’s enough. In the end, I did have one of those Disney moments where I learned I already had what I’d been waiting for all along. Faith in Love is enough.


Another Letter from the Editor

To My Beautiful, Glorious, Empowered Readers:

Me in 2013

Me in 2013

Leading up to and in this new year, 2013, I have reflected, analyzed, and mulled over many things. And to some of your disdain, my posts have become a bit less frequent. I figured I at least owed you an explanation as to why. So please allow my transparency. Maybe it will help someone.

Over the last few months in my relationship with Mr. Right-For-Now, I have been obsessed with one thing and one thing only: the ring. Much of this blog has been about me learning how to Love and be Loved. I’ve dedicated myself to elevating higher than the you-can’t-find-a-man-and-keep-him-cuz-you’re-too-sassy-independent-and-unattractive rhetoric geared toward black women. All with the hope that if a regular, young black woman could do it, so could others! And as I’ve become a better and better girlfriend/woman/partner/lover/friend, through my self-exploration, relationship classes, and relationship research, my impatience with the dating game increased. Because if I’m honest, the goal of all this elevating was a ring–the ultimate pudding proof that I (and others like me) can do this Love thing in spite of everything. And although I’m smart enough to know everlasting Love doesn’t start nor end with a ring, I wanted what I wanted how I wanted it.

Sometimes, our own wants and desires blind us. We cannot hear or see God’s working or more importantly God’s timing. This may happen a bit more often in my life lol but maybe someone reading can relate. I feel like I do the work, I do what God asks me to do, and then I want my blessing. My own ego and entitled-ness does not permit me to hear God clearly shouting at me, your time is not now! Prior to this ring example, it took me five years to graduate college with two degrees. But in a last-minute effort to graduate on time, because I simply wasn’t the kind of girl who needed to do a fifth year, I took 18 credits, in addition to working an overnight job and acting as president of my collegiate honor society. As a result, I failed two courses–which severely lowered my GPA–and missed out on many hours of sleep. And still ended up doing a fifth year. It was a completely humbling experience. I remember crying to my sisterfriends, a bitter and angry spoiled brat because I hadn’t yet graduated. But who was I to think myself above having to do a fifth year? In the end, that extra year resulted in my meeting Mr. Right-For-Now. Had I graduated on time, I may not know him to this day and I certainly would not have dated him.

Mr. Right-For-Now & Ms. Not-Right-Now at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball 2013

Mr. Right-For-Now & Ms. Not-Right-Now at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball 2013

So when I realized my impatience for my ring put a dark cloud over my relationship, I pulled back on the reins. Whoa there. Easy girl. I must be here again because I did not completely learn my lesson the first time. And God will bring me back here again and again until I get it right. So I’ve thrown my hands up. And accepted the most simple of facts, if he hasn’t proposed, one of us or neither of us is ready. I could read a hundred more relationship articles today and that fact will remain. Now I’m not going to trick you and tell you that I’ve been some kind of happy camper since this realization. Actually, it’s been quite the opposite. I’ve been struggling and at a loss of words and advice for my other young sisters and brothers out there–hence the lack of posts. Because I do not have the answers. And I’m questioning the questions. I don’t know if we’ll work out and I don’t know if Mr. Right-For-Now will be Mr. Right-Forever. All I know is that there is a protocol for waiting that I haven’t been following. So I’m attempting to become a better waiter in 2013. And I don’t mean in the sense of waiting on my man or any person really. But because there will be lots of waiting in life. Especially for the finer things. And I figure I better get good at it now.

I love you all. And wish you LOVE in all shapes, sizes, and colors this year! There is no force greater than that of Love on this earth. Love connects us all.

Yours Truly,

Ms. Not-Right-Now

The Catch-20something

The Monica and Quincy characters from “Love & Basketball” serve as a classic example of a catch-20something.

“I wouldn’t come to Paris with you. I have a child.”

I looked at him perplexed and tried hard not to cry–though I doubt he’d even see the tears in the dim light. Opening my big mouth somehow turned an intimate conversation over a romantic dinner into the end of forever. It was just a hypothetical question. But yet his answer said everything. If I stayed with him, there’d come a time and a place when I’d have to choose between him or my dreams. I couldn’t, wouldn’t have both–at least not here with him where I wanted to be so badly. Maybe I should’ve recognized the warning signs–his dropping out of college and fighting for complete custody of his daughter–but until that night, I never suspected we weren’t walking in the same direction. We Loved one another more than anything it seemed. But that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to go and he needed to stay. So when I finally walked away, he did me a favor and let me leave.

Every day young 20 something adults find themselves in the ultimate life dilemma: Love or livelihood? Dream career or dream (w0)man? Whether it’s that new job that just called you across the country to start tomorrow or an acceptance to a medical school in the caribbean, success, ambition and the pursuit of happiness have a hefty pricetag for young Lovers. No one ever wants to watch a Lover walk right out of his life. But no one wants to be the reason someone gave up on his dream either. Though the details change from relationship to relationship, I hear these stories everyday. I call them Catch-20somethings. They may not be unique to our cohort but I hear them most frequently from young, less established individuals. And many of us, it seems, choose career. We put off buying rings and grab instead for briefcases. This would at least explain the drop in American marriage rates, the new tendency toward marrying later in life, and the alarming notion that “marriage is for white people” amongst young blacks. It might also explain the propensity my single peers have for these more casual arrangements–settling for less than their fair share in the name of companionship. I mean why go through all the hassle of a relationship, if I’m just going to move away soon anyway? I am not talking for anyone. In my senior year a Temple University, even after meeting Mr. Right-For-Now, I thought like this myself. I’d left a previous Love because we had two totally different 5-year plans. And I had no intentions on starting a new fire, now that I knew firsthand how hard it could be to extinguish. But I was also tired of spending my nights alone. When it seems that most young people don’t want to be tied down unless they have children and the working world doesn’t offer as much stability at the entry-level, what is a young romantic to do? What do you do when you’re getting it from both sides?

When it comes down to Love or Basketball, Monica initially chooses basketball.

While many would say drown yourself in accomplishments, I disagree wholeheartedly. In the coming months, I’ll be relocating to Atlanta to attend graduate school and Mr. Right-For-Now decided to come along with me. This time around, I didn’t have to give up one for the other. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I will get to have it all. Through my recent experiences with Mr. Right-For-Now, I figure I know a thing or two about navigating the Catch-20something. So I’ve come up with what I’d like to call The Stuck Between a Rock & a Hard Place Survival Guide.

Step 1: Determine The Big Picture of What You  REALLY Want

Is a life of Love without a great career okay for you? Will you wake up and hate yourself in 30 years? Or do you suppose all of your money and accomplishments will keep you warm at night? Most people want it all not either or. But if you concentrate solely on one aspect of your future and not the other, you will wake up with a life that is overdeveloped in one area and lacking in the other. Take 60 seconds and imagine your ideal life in 25 years down to the very last detail. If you have a great job AND a great Love, then that is what you really want. So no compromises!

Step 2: Be a Savvy Single

Savvy singles are the wave of the future. Acting as relationship moderates of a very bi-partisan dating agenda, savvy singles tend to get the best things out of life. They aren’t bitter, scorned relationship haters or anti-social workaholics. But they also don’t hop in every bed that opens to them. Savvy singles wait for Love but they wait vivaciously. They date themselves and do the things they Love to do while simultaneously believing that Mr. or Mrs. Right is out there. If you spend single time bettering yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically, Love will find you.

Step 3: Don’t Say No to a Good Thing Because It Seems Logical

When Mr. Right-For-Now first propositioned me, the most logical answer would’ve been no. He was graduating while I had a year left. That meant starting off our relationship long-distance. And even after I graduated, I planned to go anywhere but back home–where Mr. Right-For-Now resided. At least that was the plan. But where did life actually take me? I landed a job in my field back home with Mr. Right-For-Now no more than a 20-minute drive away.  The moral of the story is it’s good to have a plan. But sometimes Fate (God) will take you somewhere else that’s actually better for you. The same can go for a job opportunity. Don’t turn it down because you know your boyfriend won’t want to move. Let possibility do it’s thing first. Sometimes, things work themselves out in an illogical fashion.

But in the end, basketball feels empty without the Love of her life.

Step 4: Share Your Dreams Early

When dating, asking the heavy questions early prevents you from learning things about your partner after you’ve already fallen for him or her. Although it may seem weird at first, share your goals and dreams with any potential mates (which makes for great date conversation). And listen to the goals and dreams of the person sitting across from you–operative word being listen. People will tell you exactly who they are and what they want out of life if you just listen. The one that’s truly for you will have a life plan that doesn’t conflict with yours.

Step 5: Live Life Together

After you find that special someone, decide to completely share your lives prenuptially. Let him or her into your finances, your religion, your career, your family. Share EVERYTHING. So when she asks you to move to California with her for a job, you’re willing and able to do so because you always wanted to move to California anyway. When you’re not married, this doesn’t seem like something you need to do. But Mr. Right-For-Now and I almost broke up over the selfish decisions we’d made without consulting or including one another. What may be best for you is not necessarily what’s best for your relationship. It’s okay to sacrifice when sacrificing doesn’t mean giving up on your goals and dreams. If you want to be together in the end, you have to live life together now. Give him or her the chance to support you by including your partner in everything.

Have you experienced your own Catch-20something? How did it work out?

“20 Hot Dates Under $20”

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In the real world–and by real world I mean life post-college NOT the TV show–dating can hit a suitor’s pockets pretty quickly. When movie tickets range anywhere from $11-$17, your date better not even breathe the word popcorn. And while I in no way encourage women to “go dutch”, I don’t believe a slack wallet should completely prevent a good connection with a good person. But I also don’t believe lack of funds justifies dating laziness. So the broke dater has to get a tad more creative, yes? I present to you “20 Hot Dates Under $20” broken up by couple type. Sporty? Go bowling. Foodie? Farmer’s Market. Some of the dates might seem a little dry to you. That’s okay. You don’t have to like them all. Just find a few you’re willing to try out. And if you don’t like those, I have a few of my own that me and Mr. Right-For-Now have sort of accidentally indulged in.

(1) The Window Grocery Shopping Date

How do you window grocery shop? You go grocery shopping, only you don’t buy anything. You talk about the food you would’ve bought had you actually been grocery shopping. It’s a very good date for learning what he or she likes. From favorite cereal to favorite hot sauce brand, it’s important to know your grocery shopping compatibility before it’s too late. Although I warn you, this date isn’t for the hungry.

(2) The Library Study Date

One of my favorite (and cheapest!) recent dates with my honey bunny was going to the library to study together. Got a real estate exam? Theology classes? Papers to grade? The dim lighting, quiet atmosphere, and closeness of the study corrals, truly brought us together as well as any restaurant would–only we didn’t have to pay for anything AND we both got our work done. Now that’s a date no one feels guilty about keeping.

(3) The Classic Park Stroll

Walking and talking hand in hand never goes out of style. It works for the young couple and the aged couple, the new couple and the veteran couple, the active couple and the lounging couple. You exercise without realizing it, you set the atmosphere for excellent conversation, and you spend time with nature. This is an all around A+ date. You can up the ante to jogging or take it down a notch and set up camp with a blanket and a deck of cards.

(4) Car Shows

Ladies, want to impress that cutie in the next door cubicle? Take him to a car show. I’ve yet to pay more than $10 for a car show. I’ve even gone to free ones. But you get a lot of horsepower for your buck. And the guys go ape shit! Tis true what they say about boys and their toys.

(5) Faux Mattress Shopping

If you go to a customer service based mattress store, they’ll take the two of you on a sleep journey. In fact, the good mattress stores work kind of like a dating service. And as you hop from bed to bed finding out what you like and don’t like, feel no shame. You don’t have to take any of them home to meet Mom.  Have fun hunting for the bed you both agree on (you’d be surprised how hard that is)! At the end, simply explain to the clerks that you didn’t find one to suit both of your needs. Although it’s more work for the clerk (so this isn’t a good idea if the store is crowded), a woman never forgets the first guy that got her in bed.

The First Lady’s First Date

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President Barack and Michelle Obama recall their first date together. And they dish out tips for young suitors! It made me smile, so I’m passing it along.

(Ugh, SN am I the only person that thinks it’s extremely effing cool that their first date was to see a Spike Lee movie? I mean if I was Spike, I’d be super hype right now! He gave the Pres and his wife a lasting memory. And that’s dope beyond dope. I don’t think Tyler Perry can say that! lmao)

“How to Know He Loves You: Stress Him the Hell Out”

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I can’t be the only woman that has constantly had to get used to the way a man shows his Love. From mowing your lawn for you to picking you up from the airport late at night, the language of man Love can be a lot more walk than talk. Even though he may do for you, he’s not nearly as gifted with gab. And sometimes we women just want to hear his Love worded really nicely–like the guys do in the movies! Or as Mr. Right-For-Now might put it “now THAT’S a get back speech”. So if you’re still a little lost in translation, from the mouths of men I present to you How to Know He Loves You: Stress Him the Hell Out ( Fellas, do you agree that a woman can find out if her man truly Loves her by stressing him out? Do men only stress out over women they Love?

Wait Did He Just Say Temporary Boyfriend?

Wendy Williams hosts her unconventional dating game where women try to pick a serious suitor out of guys they've been seeing casually.

With the exception of that one guy who says black women should give up dating black men all together, when black men dish out dating wisdom–whether it’s Steve Harvey or Flavor Flav–I listen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No one knows black men better than other black men. And a wise woman studies her prey. If you want to find (and keep) a good black man, you have to listen to some of the things good black men say–even some of what the bad ones say, so you know what to avoid. Sometimes that means digging through testosterone-driven buffoonery and deep-rooted sexism to find anything meaningful. But there are also those moments when a man’s mind is simply brilliant. Is Your Coochie in High Demand? is one of those moments. From the creator of the hilariously real peek-into-a black-man’s-mind blog Black Girls Are Easy, Is Your Coochie in High Demand? urges black women to get temporary boyfriends. Start calling those men you would never take seriously back–because the women in “high demand” are the ones with boyfriends. Take a look at this man’s answer to a question I’ve asked myself for years.

“‘Why do guys want me when I have someone, but when I’m single no one hollas? Simple. When you were single you were walking around with an attitude, posting dumb a** love quotes on Facebook, and mean mugging every guy in the club because you thought you were above that scene. Once you find a man you begin to radiate with confidence and every man around you becomes drawn to that fire. When a woman is in a relationship her entire swagger changes, she’s glowing, her hair stays done, a** looks phatter, and she’s no longer using Carmex, she’s Mac’d up and those lips are popping!'”

While I’m not the biggest fan of casual sex, I am that dedicated football mom who cusses out the referee when it comes to casual dating. I go hard for it. In fact, I might have haphazardly invented it. What is casual dating? Casual dating is dating simply because you’re a woman and some man somewhere wants to take you somewhere with little to no (closer to no) cost to you. Every woman has a guy (or a girl) in her back pocket. That’s the beauty of having two X-chromosomes. And back pocket people have their uses. There were many a hungry broke night in college where one more bowl of oodles ‘n noodles would’ve left me barely conscious and passed out on the floor from a sodium overdose. On those nights, I simply reached into my back pocket and pulled out a date. I was hungry and I was bored. So why not? You don’t have to sleep with back pocket people. They usually don’t want anything more than you’re time. So why not give it to them? At least until someone more worth your time comes along. Think about how life works. Do people usually come right out of college and jump straight into their dream careers? No. They start out with some job they know they can get, make a little money, and look for another job in between ringing up double cheeseburgers. All cars come with an extra tire in the back. We even have a Vice President in case the first one gets shot. The universe thrives on Plan B’s.

Casual dating isn’t for everyone. But if you’re willing to try it, it works. As a teenaged girl, I remember accumulating up to 7 boyfriends at one time–all temporaries. I wasn’t having sex with any of them. I was just having fun. But when a serious contender came along, I dropped them all. The key is having fun with it without being manipulative. I encourage grown women to do it better than I did. Even be honest about it. They don’t have to be “boyfriends” they can just be men you’re dating. Consider them temps and develop a roster of them. Choose men that you’re still attracted to, interested in getting to know, but for one reason or another you know it won’t work out long-term. And hopefully they won’t be looking for anything long-term either. Some of us don’t mind sitting pretty while waiting for Mr. Right. Others of us have a damned good time by our lonesome. You don’t need a man to enjoy single life. But if you’ve got the single girl blues, maybe you should reach in your back pocket for a pick me up.

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