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What About Your Friends?

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Queenie K is new to the revolutionary concept of Love. As she grows and matures in the revolution, she looks to strengthen and refine her expressions, acceptance, and demands of Love. She hopes to apply the Love lessons learned not just to her dating habits but also to her interactions with family and friends in hopes of starting a cycle of healthy relationships for herself and those around her. Follow her on twitter @CocoaQueenK

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tlc-what_about_your_friends(1)“So, she told you about what happened.”

Those were the words said, in the drunk and teasing voice of one my close girl friends, to my boyfriend.  Those were the words that pretty much ended his birthday kickback.  My friend didn’t realize the effect her words had.  When she noticed he wasn’t amused, she apologized and walked back into the kitchen with everyone else.

I, however, stayed in the living room to try to sort things out with him.

She didn’t need to explain the “what”.  Him and I had already discussed it before.  My past.  An evening with another guy. At another kickback she had attended with me.  Over a year ago.  And yet, to my boyfriend it could have been yesterday.

martin_tv_show_20_years

In the sitcom Martin, the young couple was able to pull their friends together despite the bickering between Martin and Pam.

I had laid my past out on the table to him once we became serious.  Laid it out in preparation for situations just like this one.  I would never want to find out something about him from someone else.  So, I provided him the same courtesy, offering up a brief account of my encounters. Except, he couldn’t seem to get over it.  And it didn’t help that my friends, after a few too many drinks, loved to reminiscence.  It also didn’t help that my boyfriend and I had already argued two other times in the week and were beginning to reach a consensus that we didn’t care much for each others’ friends. The words of the current argument, which began with him demanding to know why my friend would ever bring something like that up to him but especially tonight, spiraled into an alcohol-induced turbulent funnel.  At the eye of the storm was one recurrent theme: Our Friends.

For him, my friends were my past personified.  For me, his were often too uncouth.  At times, our friends seemed to be on two extremes on a scale of Ratchet–with the two of us meeting each other in the middle.

The party ended early, with each of us retreating to our own spaces.  It was the first time that we didn’t make up before going to bed.

How important is the relationship between your friends and your significant other?  Pam and Martin never got along and yet, they were both still there for Gina.  But, of course, that’s scripted.  How likely is that in the real world?

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1st Love: The Ugly Truth No One Ever Told Me (Pt. 1)

1st Love: The Ugly Truth No One Ever Told Me (Pt. 1)

It’s funny how you can date and cry over somebody for three whole years and never truly see them for who they are. I know that’s why they say Love is blind. But what they mean to say is First Love is blind. Because you look in your First Love’s eyes and see a hologram projection of what you think Love is–a projection born from your early childhood experiences and messages, the media, and the people around you. You see almost everything BUT the person in front of you. How could you possibly see them? You are navigating a new sea of emotions, feelings, and chemical imbalances, a new relationship dynamic featuring a strange dependency, and a new awareness of self. Where exactly does the actual person you’re dealing with fit into that myriad of mess? I’m here today to tell you what no one told me. First Love isn’t meant to last because First Love is all about you.

I understand that I may have already lost many of you. Because life has taught us that First Love is this wonderfully great thing. Love  in and of itself is enough to carry a relationship through anything. And that oftentimes, you’re first Love is your only true Love. Many of us, despite moving on and dealing with new people, stay stuck in First Love one way or another. Sometimes, we physically go back to the person. Sometimes, we never really give up hoping that our first Love comes back into our lives so we don’t give new prospects a solid chance. Sometimes, we fall in Love again but we keep tabs on that First one. And many more of us haven’t even left our First Love yet despite that nabbing feeling that it’s over. I’ve been in all four of these predicaments. This post was born out of my personal grapple with First Love. And when I realized Mr. Right-For-Now had a similar debacle, I figured we can’t be the only two that have experienced this. So I wanted to make an argument that First Love is a very necessary experience because you learn so much about yourself. But there’s more to Love than First Love.

Before we go any further, let’s define the undefinable. What is First Love? It is not to be mistaken with Puppy Love or childhood Love, first longterm relationship, or the first sexual encounter. Although all of these states of being can produce similar mind-numbing effects, First Love, for our purposes, is decidedly a bit more adult and independent. It has more to do with who you are when you feel it than what you actually feel. First Love is the first time you really get serious about another person and are mature enough to know what that means. Parents aren’t really involved. You go out on dates. You may have even lived together or seriously contemplated marriage. It is the first time you say “I love you” and have an actual concept for Love in your head. I’d like to argue that many of us experience this Love within the ages of 17 to 25. And that the mindset of someone in First Love is that Love is all you need. People in First Love put up with a lot from their partner. But always end up back together. It is a resilient Love, a committed Love (lasting 12 months or longer), and a passionate Love. It is an intimate Love–I remember feeling like my First Love knew me better than anyone on the planet. He knew me in ways I didn’t yet know myself. We all know the expression “fall in Love”. I think that when it comes to First Love, that is precisely what happens to most of us. You are walking down the street, taking an unfamiliar route, when suddenly your tire slips into a deep pothole. You are jolted and startled–no prior knowledge of this pothole or what to do when you hit one. I mean sure you’d heard of potholes, even seen them before, might’ve known a few people–your parents for instance–who’d fallen into them while you were in the car. But this is your first time being in the driver’s seat and running into one. You get to make all the decisions about this situation for yourself. It isn’t driven by sex. It isn’t driven by rebellion and teenage hormones. It isn’t even driven by a mutual agreement to parent a child together. First Love runs on pure Love power. I do not want to put First Love in a box. I know women who haven’t experienced First Love until after they’ve already been married once. But I do want to present cases in which I’ve seen it frequently arise. It’s euphoric. It’s exciting. But it’s selfish.

First Love is selfish. It is all about me, myself, and I. This Love is not about the actual person that we fall in Love with. It’s more so about what that person does for us and how they make us feel. Why does First Love have to be selfish? Because it usually finds us in a very selfish stage of our development. As I mentioned before, it comes in the time frame where we have to start making decisions about our futures on our own. Am I going to go to college? Am I going to get a job? Am I going to continue living with my parents? Should I buy a car? There is a newfound independence that we experience as we age and wean ourselves from the support of our caretakers. We have just developed a new power to think and do for ourselves. And we try to exercise this power within the confines of a relationship as well. The relationship itself exists to ensure fulfillment of our personal needs–the need for consistent sex, companionship, and adventure. And our problems all have to do with how the other person isn’t meeting those needs. He doesn’t take me out enough. She’s always mad at me. He’s all up in my face, can he go home! She doesn’t do it how I like it. First Love is also selfish because oftentimes, it’s born out of selfish motives. I remember I was seeing several guys on and off Temple’s campus flaunting my ability to be with whomever I pleased whenever I pleased, when I realized that I cared for Mr. Lies-About-Everything more than I thought. We’d been hanging out and talking as friends. He’d made it clear he wanted more than a friendship. But it wasn’t until I realized he’d been talking to another girl I knew that I figured I should have him all to myself. I didn’t decide to be his girlfriend because I wanted to take things to the next level and commit myself to someone I cared about. I decided to be his girlfriend because I wanted to have the right to be upset about who he dealt with. I needed to validate my own feelings toward him. Finally, First Love is selfish because more than it teaching us about the other person, it teaches us about ourselves. You begin to learn what turns you on, what turns you off, what traits complement you, what traits you can’t stand. That first person usually becomes the template for your future mate. They teach you all about your likes and dislikes. First Love also reveals your true identity. Before First Love, you didn’t know that you were the slitting tires kind of person. Before First Love, you didn’t notice that you really have a problem being emotional and vulnerable. It took me three years to really see Mr. Lies-About-Everything for who he was because I was so busy projecting onto him who I thought he was–who I wanted him to be. Oh I knew things about him. A lot. I’d stood close by his side for many a day and night. So I noticed when he lied to me and acted unfaithfully. But I didn’t intervene. Because my interpretation of Love was that even when the two people in Love do unLoving things to one another, the Love itself would get them through. I didn’t put my foot down. I didn’t make any demands on him. Because I figured things would work themselves out. That’s what I thought I’d always seen. My Love for him simply reflected what I thought I knew about Love. I never accepted him and I never accepted us for what we really were. My eyes were wide shut as they say. And I wouldn’t have known who I was in a relationship if we hadn’t ever fell in Love.

No one ever told me that First Love wasn’t meant to last. And that Second Love could be so much better…

“The Reappearing Man: Why Men Always Come Back”


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The Case of the Ex


I stood over him in quiet agony. Though the car door separated us, my slight height advantage allowed me to see easily into his lap. My eyes scanned the piece of paper lingering in his grasp. And I quickly deduced what I had feared: It was a letter—from her.

“Hey it looks like I’m going to be at least forty minutes,” I stammered over my words, though I doubt he noticed. And if he did notice, he couldn’t know why. “Ugh, the lady is giving another test. That’ll be twenty minutes and then my test will take 20 minutes. So you can go home.” The words took it upon themselves to form and make sense.  My mental energy was elsewhere.  I thought he told me he was over her?

 

Walking back to my class, I suddenly felt tension in my shoulders—the natural anxiety roused by a pending bartending exam, replaced by the first test of my freshly rolled off the press relationship. As early as our first date, Mr. Right-For-Now and I found it necessary to discuss our various pasts (see “Commitment Issues? Me? But Women Don’t Have Those” http://tinyurl.com/3ydpzy8). The then comical conversation turned into a much more serious one. Since (whether you want to admit it or not) the past shapes us, I’m always curious to know what ex-lovers have molded the person now before me. So he told me. His rundown of their life together finished with many assurances that he was over her. And I believed him up until I found him in the car re-reading a love letter—from her.

So the questions started. Why did he even still have this letter? And why was it in his car? What could he possibly be reading it for? Why would he be going back down memory lane? Did he want her back? And when he came to pick me up, it never occurred to me that maybe those were the wrong questions to ask. What I really wanted to know, what I really needed to know, was why her life and their relationship had any bearing on my life and our relationship?

In comparison with men, American society tends to assume women act far less competitively. According to psychologist Anne Campbell, author of “Female Competition”, since the 1980s, more psychologists have taken a real interest in female competition. Using an evolutionary perspective, they found that although women do not have to compete for short-term sexual partners, they do compete for the best long-term mates. And men compete for the same thing. When vying for Mr. Rights (or Ms. Rights), women compete on the basis of physical appearance (no surprise there), sexual reputation, and intelligence or competency. (For more information on female competition please read Anne Campbell‘s “Female Competition” http://tinyurl.com/2an67wl)

Suddenly, I understood why I knew exactly what Mr. Right-For-Now’s ex-mate looked like before I even knew her name; why I’d spent countless hours of conversation and Facebook searches digging up information on her—on them; and why it was even important for me to know in the first place. One word—competition. In essence, the case of the ex becomes good old-fashioned survival of the fittest. I had to know I was more attractive, less whore-ish, and more intelligent. And if I happen to fall short in any of those areas, I must face the question of doom: why is he with me?

I concluded that competing with her and making comparisons could only turn out one of two ways. She’d be crowned the better woman or I would. Only thing is, even if I won the title, it wouldn’t change the way he’d once felt about her. And her winning wouldn’t change the way he  felt about me. Winning “Best Girlfriend Ever” also didn’t exempt me from undergoing the next woman’s scrutiny. So in the grand scheme of things, did exes really matter?

My friend Confidence once told me the hardest part about dealing with her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend was that she “…might have seen her [the ex] as a lesser woman who didn’t deserve his love. But at the same time he still loved her and who am I to say who deserves one of the greatest things on earth?” And in that same respect, who was I to deem her unattractive? Or a slut? Or worthy of a dunce cap? At the end of the day, no substantial degree of idiocy or any insurmountable amount of slut behavior would ever make his ex-mate less deserving of love. And none of her inadequacy would ever make me more right for him.

After feigning happiness for most of the day, I finally rounded up enough balls to ask him about the letter.

“At the job fair we went to last week, I was cleaning out a notebook for [my brother] Thomas, the letter was in there so I ripped it out and threw it in the glove compartment real quick,” he’d responded, “and when you came out to the car I was preparing to throw it away.” Just like that, he solved the mystery. Case of the ex closed. My own thoughts had filled in the blanks, placed feelings where they no longer existed.

***Please enjoy the song that I named this piece after!

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