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


TianaNaveen

“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.

THE END.

She’s Cool But…I’d Be Settling

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Asking someone to consider if their significant other is “Mr(s) Right-For-Now” can be taken offensively, but the question warrants serious reflection.

There I sat–happy, anxious, and shocked all at the same time.  In the driver seat to my left was my homeboy who I grew up with.

“You’re a GROWN ASS MAN now,” I joked. “You got the family-sized SUV, good-paying job, apartment with your girlfriend and a dog!  What’s next?”

He laughed, took a deep breath and said, “Honestly man, I’m saving up for a ring.”

Oh. F#ck No!

I would say I was surprised, but not really.  Since high school we all knew what Tyson needed in his life to be content.  Good food, good movies, relaxation and a few other adult requests I’d rather not mention.  Anyway, it was a short list.  And after my first visit to his new place and kickin’ it with him and his girlfriend, I can honestly say that Brotha is H-A-P-P-Y.

Naturally, I had to ask an important question (stolen from the movie, I Love You, Man), “So, is she the one, or just the next one?”  Asking someone to consider if their significant other is “Mr(s) Right-For-Now” can be taken offensively, but the question warrants serious reflection.

“She’s the one bro.  We have a great time together, our families like each other and she treats me right.  I’m good.” His voice carried an air of confidence. It was a wholesome “good.

Though he is the first of my tight friends to be that close to considering marriage, I must admit, it is kind of unsettling to know that we are at the age where weddings are no longer unrealistic.  In my daily conversations, I realize that plenty of people aren’t into “playing games” anymore.  They want serious relationships.  Understandable.  I agree.  I agree agree…

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I mean, what if I wake up next to her and think, “ehhh…she’s aiiiiiiiiiight?”

But how do I know if the girl I’m dating is right?  How do I know that I will be satisfied? How do I know that I’m not settling?  Help me understand!

Scenario #1

She would be a great wife…to someone else. I’m just not physically attracted to her, enough.  I mean, what if I wake up next to her and think, “ehhh…she’s aiiiiiiiiiight?” Am I Shallow Hal? What would I think if she felt that way about me?!?! I’d think she needs an eye exam! Our chemistry can be good, but to sustain a healthy relationship there needs to be a certain level of physical attraction. How do I know where the limit is in the looks department?

Scenario #2

She doesn’t motivate me to grow.  She’s happy to have me just the way I am.  Sounds nice, but I want a woman who inspires me to be a better man for her.  A King for his Queen. If she doesn’t expect more from me, will she ever get more from me?  A good friend once told me, “What you put up with, you end up with.”  Am I settling by dating a woman whom I know does not command my full potential?

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You got how many bodies?

Scenario #3

Her past is questionable.  We’ve all done things we don’t want to admit.  Well, she admitted it, and now, I can’t take it!  For us men, this could be a number of things, i.e: “You got how many bodies!?!?!”  or “You did that to your ‘best friend’?” or “Are you like that every time you get drunk?”  Yes, people can change, but their history of behavior can give some insight into their decision-making ability.  Let’s face it, if they cheated in all of their previous relationships, what makes you so sure it won’t happen to you? What does their record tell you?  Am I settling by moving forward even though her past has me skeptical?

Conclusion:

As always, you have to know what you like.  This comes from experiencing life by yourself and with different people.  Honest self-reflection is key.  Take time to understand what you like, don’t like, and why.  The more you study, the more ready you will be when Mr(s) Right does come along.  I’m still exploring.  But the more I look into the people around me, and not just at them, the more I understand who I need in my life to keep me H-A-P-P-Y.

An Intelligent Person Under 30’s Guide to Infidelity in the 21st Century


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All the things you hear, see, and digest about infidelity would have you believing that it is the single most worst relationship sin in the world. Listening to Michael Baisden’s radio show a few weeks ago, I found out many black  mothers teach their daughters to leave a man as soon as he cheats on you. Don’t ask him any questions. Don’t give him any second chances. Just leave! Then, watching Oprah Winfrey Network’s Unfaithful–a show dedicated to telling the painful realities of infidelities–taught me that 69% of marriages do not survive a case of infidelity. Apparently even God has a cheating clause in the Bible, siting adultery as an approved reason for divorce and public stoning. And I’m sure many of you have experienced firsthand the debilitating effects of extramarital affairs, whether with aunts and uncles, your own parents, or maybe your own marriage/relationship.

Now I do not want to undermine any life experiences or religious beliefs, but I am here today to challenge the most commonly held ideas on infidelity and present you with a new–maybe even radically revolutionary outlook on the issue. Dare say I, cheating is just an unhealthy byproduct of negative feelings and patterns in a relationship and a healthy couple can completely overcome a case of infidelity. For men and women under 30, the chances are pretty high that you’ll either cheat or be cheated on at some point in your dating/married life (See “Truth About Deception“). So it’s high time that we face these situations with a bit more modern knowledge and know-how, hence  An Intelligent Person Under 30’s Guide to Infidelity in the 21st Century. Let’s begin with some cold, hard facts.

Myths on Infidelity 

(1) All Men/Women Cheat

I hear this one spewed around a lot by both men and women and it’s simply not true. One report I read stated only about 20% of men actually cheat on their spouses. Another report claimed a whopping 50% of men violate their wedding vows. The naked truth is that any clinical studies or research polls on infidelity rely on self-reports of it which can vary greatly depending on something as simple as the time of day you asked the question. So researchers can only estimate anywhere from 30 to 60% of married individuals will go looking for sexual gratification elsewhere. But no matter how unreliable the numbers, we logically know that no one group–male or female–make up all those cheating cases. We also know that gender is not the best means for predicting cheating behaviors. In fact, female cheating has almost completely caught up to male cheating. A 2011 university study saw 23% of men admitting to cheating to 19% of women (See “Is Female Infidelity on the Rise?“) Making us ladies what we’ve always wanted to be, equals–at least in the cheating department.

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(2) Cheating Is/Isn’t a Big Deal

Interestingly enough, though 30 to 60% of the married population may engage in extramarital extracurriculars,  99% say their vows expecting full faithfulness from their spouses. And a significant majority 80% of Americans still believe adultery is wrong, a 10% increase from the 1970s (Check out “How Common Are Cheating Spouses?“). Wait wait wait, so what’s going on here exactly? More of us believe it’s wrong but at the same time more of us are doing it? So is cheating a big deal or isn’t it? It appears we haven’t decided. Alarmingly, that says we’ve become an increasingly hypocritical nation when it comes to this issue. For the 30 and under set, in particular, it seems we use our parents’ outdated rhetoric and beliefs to negatively judge behaviors we partake in more and more frequently. In short, infidelity expectations aren’t meeting infidelity realities. It might be time to modernize the expectation.

(3) Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’

At times, we are the get-over generation. On one hand, we often find innovative ways to do a task smarter and faster than generations that came before us. But on the other hand, we are always looking for a shortcut or loophole to something–like girls who technically remain virgins because they only have anal sex. -__- Infidelity proves no exception. Nowadays, every man and woman has a different definition of cheating and therefore ways to technically circumvent the whole thing so that technically you never did anything wrong (Peep “The Definition of Cheating In a Relationship“). I suggest adapting the simplest definition of cheating–behaviors and acts meant to mislead, fool, or deliberately break rules. That would expand cheating to include something as diminutive as chatting your ex-beau up on Facebook if you lied about it. But that definition simultaneously frees you from the burden of anything done in truth. So if your girlfriend allows you to have sex with another woman with her full knowledge and coherent consent (also known as a threesome), well, go for it!

(4) Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater

I don’t know who started this sack of lies and frankly I don’t care. This is almost as absurd as saying once fat, always fat or once a smoker, always a smoker. People make mistakes! All of us. And sometimes people learn from those mistakes and make changes for the better. Yes, cheating hurts for all parties involved but there are ALSO cases where couples work through the infidelity and find themselves closer and even more in Love than before. I can honestly say this is precisely what happened to me when Mr. Right-For-Now stepped outside. His cheating brought to light some issues we hadn’t yet been able to talk about. And when he expressed himself to me, I actually felt sympathy for him despite what he’d done. To go a step further, I even saw how my own actions contributed to the situation that drove him into someone else’s arms. That didn’t make him any less wrong or me any less hurt. But when those initial feelings dissolved, we made it out on the other end. So I can tell you firsthand some devastating affairs have extremely positive effects for couples who dare move beyond it (Not convinced? Also read “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?“). This is not to minimize the existence of serial cheaters, playas, and sex addicts. I’ve dated some of those too. But you have to be able to distinguish between a Lover who made a mistake and a Lover who lives to lie to you. One of the first signs you have something worth saving is when your partner admits their wrongdoing to you.

unfaithful-man-and-womanDo’s & Don’ts (Your Infidelity Takeaway)

(1) Don’t write a person off immediately for cheating. The first phase is disbelief, shock, hurt, and anger. Try hard not to make any irrational decisions while in this phase. Because when the smoke finally clears, you might see things a little differently than you did during your fit of rage.

(2) Do take the time to explore the person’s reason for cheating. When you’re ready, it’s worth it to ask why. One way to help prevent future cheating is to figure out the factors that caused the past cheating. If you know why you made a mistake, you’re less likely to make that same mistake again.

(3) Don’t think yourself above cheating. This applies to getting cheated on or doing the cheating. People with this haughty attitude often find themselves falling victim to it because they weren’t ready for the possibility of it. A person who cheats isn’t necessarily a certain type of person. Almost anyone under the right or wrong circumstances can cheat.

(4) Do forgive a cheater. Even when you don’t stay with the person, forgiveness is worth looking into. If you don’t take the time to heal and forgive, you’ll just carry those trust issues into the next relationship.

(5) Don’t belittle the damage cheating does. One of the worst things the cheating partner can do is play the blame game, continue to lie and keep secrets, or shrug off the feelings and emotions of the hurting party. Emotionally, cheating IS a big deal. But it doesn’t have to kill your relationship.

(6) Do take the time to heal yourself. A person could read this and think I’m fully advocating for excusing all cheating partners. And I’m not. I’m advocating a less emotional and more intelligent approach to dealing with infidelity. This calls for balance. Take the time you need to heal and go through all the emotional phases you will go through. But don’t let your pain, which shall pass, keep you from seeing light in a dark situation.

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?

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