Standards: How Many of Us Have Them?

My mom and I talk a lot about love and relationships. She and my dad were married for 26 years, literally half of her life. At 28, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be with someone for quite frankly my entire existence. I have changed so much over the years, so it is easy for me to understand how people can grow apart. That is essentially what happened with my parents. No one is the same at 25 as they are at 50. Even if your personal growth is minimal, the trials and tribulations of life will leave their mark on you, nonetheless, forcing growth. I’ve yet to settle down, and despite the external pressure women feel to walk down the aisle and start procreating, I am glad life did not put me on the immediate path of matrimony. At this big age, I’ve had time to figure myself out, little by little. I am confident in who I am; I am not who someone else has decided I should be. Being comfortable in my own skin has granted me the clarity to discern who is for me and who isn’t. While my mom and I were on the topic, I actually opened my Notes app and showed her a sizable list of what I am looking for. A few of the qualities I included were family oriented, in good mental/physical health, has integrity, and does not have anger/jealousy issues. I can’t lie, my list boasts a total of 42 different traits/qualities, but to me, they are realistic. I added a few superficial things, like someone I find attractive, good in bed, etc., but my main focus was on personality traits and other qualities that I need to feel safe and secure. Of course I would be naive to expect one man to meet every single item on my list, but I feel like if I am as specific as possible, the universe will deliver. All that being said, I want other women to take a mental inventory of what they want in a partner. Standards are more than just a few things on a list. They are necessary to determine what type of life you are willing to be comfortable living when you commit to someone.

Learn From The Past

Human beings are creatures of habit. If it’s familiar, it feels safe. This is why we tend to pick the same types over and over. Deciding you are no longer dating light skinned men will not save you from infidelity, immaturity, and inconsistency. How do you know you’re not signing back up for the same old show again? You have to take your time and dive deeper than outward appearance. If you state that you are no longer dating men who do not bring in a consistent income, why would you spend your time getting to know a struggling SoundCloud rapper who can’t hold down a day job? Sure, TNT LilYoungboy may be your type physically, but think back to your mental inventory of what you want in a partner. If he isn’t in line with your most important needs, you shouldn’t be entertaining him. This gets especially hard when your hormones start raging and you start imagining what your future kids will look like. Just like with managing money and calories, you have to be disciplined enough to not just go after what makes you feel good, but with what adds value. I try not to judge myself too harshly when I was spending my time with men who oozed sex appeal, but lacked character. I was constantly preaching about what I would and would not stand for, until Mr. Fine came stepping through.

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All of that strong woman talk was forgotten about and I soon ended up right back where I started. When you make your list, really put some thought into what is most important to YOU. Depending on where you are in your self-development journey, this may or not may be a difficult exercise. If you find that you’ve hit a block, think back to your most recent adult relationships. What worked well and what didn’t? Did you hate how he would blow off date nights so that he could pretend to be Kobe Bryant at L.A. Fitness with his friends? Perhaps “a man who makes me a priority” is a good place to start. Was his social life non-existent and he was content being underfoot all the time? Add “a man with his own circle of friends and hobbies” to your list. Past relationships give us the ability to determine what we are looking for simply through the process of elimination. Sure, you may not know what you want, but by deciding what you don’t want, you’re off to a great start.

Slow Your Roll

So you’ve made your list and left no room for inconsistent, game playing, and ugly (just kidding on the ugly, haha) men to creep into your life. Good for you! You’ve taken control and set your intentions for your love life. When I finally decided I was done with situationships and other messy, half-ass relationships, I felt powerful. It was so easy to blame the men I was dealing with for hurting my feelings and stringing me along, when in reality I was the one who allowed it. Luckily, I am not one of those people who never learn. Did I turn ruthless over night? Of course not. It took a level of awareness that I gained over several months. Oftentimes when we are in the middle of something, we fail to see it as it really is. Family members and friends will be the first to tell you that you’re wasting your time, but we often can’t see the forest for the trees. This is what makes sticking to your standards so difficult. We meet people who check off all the boxes on a surface level and the blinders come on. These shallow interactions distract you from the fact that this person may be abusive, controlling, self-absorbed, etc. By the time the lust wears off and you remove the blinders, you get down in the dumps because it hit you that you’ve wasted a significant amount of time on someone who had no business in your life. Here’s the good news: this is a problem that you can conquer easily with patience. It is impossible to know if your new love interest is up to your specifications if you rush every encounter. Sure, physical chemistry can be hard to deny, but be an adult and have some discipline. Get out of the house and take full advantage of the chance to see how he acts outside his comfort zone. Stop texting and have meaningful conversations over the phone and face to face. Do you want someone who is family-oriented? Pay close attention to how he speaks of his family and the efforts he makes to be a present, reliable family member. You will not know if someone is made for you after a couple of dates and a few cupcaking sessions on the phone, but you can take comfort in the fact that you’re putting in the necessary effort to make that determination.

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Ultimately, it boils down to compatibility. Once you’ve uncovered all the layers, you may very well still like this person, but if you’re incompatible, please do not force it. After all, it doesn’t take a lot to simply like a person. However, not everyone we like is suited for us. Not everyone we like is relationship material. Whether you want it to work because you two have chemistry but nothing else, or because you lack chemistry but he checks off 80% of your needs, realize that nothing forced will stand the test of time. When you are ready to get serious about who you invite into your life, seeking someone you can grow with is of the utmost importance. Stay true to yourself and what you require and the rest will fall in line.

 

The Other Side of Self-Care

Being the best version of ourselves is a movement that has been gaining popularity over the past few years. Everywhere I look there are articles and advertisements for Yoga and Meditation, reducing your screen time, and Keto diets. I’m sure you can think of a few more examples. Therapy is also becoming normalized, and I am thrilled to see my generation is breaking down this taboo in the Black community. You are not crazy because you go and talk to an unbiased professional every few weeks. In fact, we could all benefit from it. Adulthood is busy and stressful, and we all would be happier if we’d take more time to do things we enjoy. I personally love sitting down on the couch in my Snuggie with a glass of wine and tuning in to one of my favorite shows or grabbing a book. I am trying to stay away from Retail Therapy as a form of relaxation, but this is a process, don’t judge me. I’ve also been wanting to get outside more to enjoy nature. Apparently enjoying the outdoors improves short-term memory, relieves stress and eliminates fatigue, among other things. The great outdoors may not be your jam, but no matter how you choose to indulge yourself, it is important to remember that self-care also involves tough love. I mean how can you possibly take care of yourself if you also are not protecting your peace of mind? Sure, bubble baths are lit, but you can’t neglect what’s happening on the inside of you and how you are allowing yourself to be treated by the people in your life. I didn’t realize that this was a form of self love until I started to look at my life objectively. I love my family dearly, and if I saw them accepting less than they deserve, whether it be from outsiders or of their own accord, I would encourage them to do better. So why not apply this mentality to myself? I have been thinking about this a lot lately, hence this post. I wanted to throw out a few self-care tactics that are not always as carefree as a massage or Paint & Sip, but necessary and beneficial to your life over the long-term.

Dead End Friendships

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Sometimes, “friends” just gotta go. Do they have to do something wrong or hurt you? Not necessarily, but they should add value to your life and not just be there hanging around. We humans tend to hold on to people and things just out of habit and comfort, not taking the time to consider whether or not these people deserve to be in our space. As we get older, I think it’s important to take the time to analyze our friendships. This is especially important to consider when you have friends you’ve known since your teens or college years. I am not the same person I was at 17, 20 or 24. Your friends may have evolved as well or remained the same, the latter being problematic. You are now more self-aware, mature and ambitious while your best friend from high school is still in the mindset you had at 21. Everyone is different and has their own journey to make in life, but you may find you just don’t relate anymore. You’re shaking the table and making moves while your bestie is still living a drama filled life with no direction. What do you even have to talk about at this point? I love laughing about Reality TV as much as the next person, but after the show is over, what’s the next topic? I want friends who posses similar interests and values as me, not just people to club and go shopping with. Do your friends hold themselves accountable, or place blame on the Big Bad World for why their life isn’t going as planned? That is probably my #1 Pet Peeve when it comes to friends. No matter where you are in life, good, bad or in-between, you are there because of YOU and YOU ALONE. This is a concept that can take awhile to sink into a lot of people’s minds. I’ve had this talk with one prior friend who constantly complained about where she is in life. As a fully grown woman, you eventually have to stop blaming your parents and that one teacher in 6th grade who told you that you would never amount to anything. The cycle continued with her:

Express desire to change —> Make more senseless decisions —> Complain about how her life sucks—> Repeat

I eventually had to distance myself. I didn’t want to because she is a good person, but I couldn’t use history as an excuse to keep someone in my life who was only using me as a sounding board and life coach. I realized the friendship was more one-sided than I wanted to admit. The majority of our conversations consisted of me listening to her recount stories of her acting a fool, followed by pep talks a few days later when she realized she was just doing the same things over again but with different people and places. There wasn’t much substance to our interactions, and we rarely spoke about what was going on in my life. Don’t become the Iyanla Vanzant in your friendships. If you want someone to help you fix your life, seek therapy. It’s not fair and friendships should be based on reciprocity, mutual support and integrity. The Bible mentions cutting off branches that bear no fruit, and that same logic applies to friendships. You’ve gotta go if you’re here serving no purpose.

Being Grateful For The Little Things

No matter how good or bad your life is, always be thankful. You would be surprised at how expressing gratitude for the little things in your life can make you happy. We tend to focus on where we wish we were or the things we wish we had and take for granted what we currently do have. I’ve read so many snippets of things that say no matter what you’re doing, take just a moment to name what you are grateful for. I did this and reminded myself that I may not own a home, have a fancy car or a loaded bank account, but I do have a strong support system, a place to call home, a comfortable bed to sleep in, even toothpaste to brush my teeth. Remembering that there are people out there who would love to drive what you call a hoopty is humbling. I complain about waking up early for work when I should be happy I am awake to see another day with a great job to go to. I noticed when I started listing what I am grateful for, one thing started branching out to another. After I said I was happy to have an apartment, it snowballed into having a great roommate in my little sister, to having electricity and running water, to a comfortable couch and a refrigerator full of food. I could have gone on and on. By the end of this exercise, I realized how unappreciative and entitled I act.

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It may sound cliche to mention how there are people starving in the world and cold every night, but it really does put things in perspective. Having a bad day? Refuse to allow yourself to wallow in it. Negative thoughts beget more negative thoughts, and before you know it, you’re feeling worse. Choose differently next time. It isn’t second nature, but with effort you can train your brain to see the good in even the worst days or situations. Your life may not be where you want it to be, you may have failed countless times or are just generally unhappy, and being told to “be grateful” may sound insensitive and devoid of empathy. This isn’t an attempt to be dismissive, but instead a reminder that if you cannot appreciate the small but positive things in your life, chances are that you may be unable to appreciate the big ones as well. If you’re living in a negative state of mind, take just a few minutes each day to write down the things you are grateful for. I guarantee you will see a change.

Say ‘NO’ More Often

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No‘ may be the most important word in the English language. It is a word of power. The ability to choose what is right for us gives us autonomy, yet people everyday compromise their own wants and needs to appease others. As social creatures, we don’t want to risk breaking bonds by being displeasing and denying people what they ask of us. We all have numerous stories of times we would have rather eaten glass than attended that work function or get together, but trudged along anyway. Or better yet, we say ‘Yes’ in the moment, knowing fully well we want to say absolutely not, then flake later. Why do we make life harder for ourselves? One of my goals for 2019 is to cut out this toxic behavior. I deserve better. When it comes to work, friends, and acquaintances, if my spirit isn’t feeling it, I will be declining. All this boils down to is creating boundaries for yourself. Sure, I can make a few allowances for family and whomever else I feel deserves it, but I am no longer being a slave to my fear of letting people down. The world won’t stop spinning because you said no to that baby shower invitation. You don’t have to be rude or even give a reason, it’s none of their business why you said you can’t make it. People may get pushy, but you have to stand your ground. I used to be that person who was afraid of hurting people’s feelings, so I would usually cave in to their pleads. Who ended up being the one mentally suffering? Me. Life is stressful enough due to the things outside our control, so why add to your already overflowing plate? Take your power back. Choosing what is right for you is arguably the most important form of self care. You can’t neglect your happiness to please others. Just find the fine line between being a selfish jerk and doing what is right for you in the moment. By being honest about what you will and will not do or tolerate, you teach people what they can expect from you. If you are unsure how you want to proceed when first asked, tell the individual you need time to consider and will get back to them. It is equally important to follow up when saying no as it is when saying yes. Now you’ve acted with integrity and made the choice that is right for you. The first time I was honest and direct about saying no, I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and I felt absolutely zero guilt. I was invited to a birthday gathering for a co-worker. It was one of those situations where you feel like you’re low key expected to be there, but it wasn’t a requirement. I personally hate these types of situations, but in the past I would grin and bear it or fake some type of emergency the day of, my anxiety building as the event got closer and closer. That’s just silly. It’s my life, and I can spend my time any way I choose to. No more flaking and no more faking. Take care of yourself. If you don’t want to attend, participate, allow yourself to be overworked, etc., say No! Your mind and body will thank you for it later.

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Two 1st Date Questions Every Woman Must Ask

I don’t know if you watch or have read Harry Potter, but when Professor Slughorn exclaimed to Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince,These are mad times we live in, mad!,” I felt that. Every time I open my Twitter timeline, go on Facebook, or turn to the news, there is a new tragedy: a mass shooting, rape allegations, the killing of an unarmed Black person and/or Trump having us on the brink of nuclear war. Perilous times have been plaguing us for awhile now, and everyone has their unique set of views and opinions. Several people I knew from my high school and college days have been deleted or blocked because as platforms such as Black Lives Matter emerged, our racist counterparts also emerged with their true racist colors shining valiantly. I wasn’t too shocked to see that many of the White people I went to school with were so callous in the unnecessary killings of unarmed Black people, thus failing to shock me when they started showing their support for Trump as a presidential candidate. They say politics is a topic you should shy away from if you are not looking for an argument, but I say f*ck that. I need to hear your views. I need to hear that you are not an All Lives Mattering, Victim Blaming, Homophobic ignorant creep. When you’re on a first date or are just getting to know someone, you run through the same old questions to try and uncover who you are really dealing with: “What’s your favorite color?” “Where do you see yourself in three years?” “What would you do differently in your last relationship if you could go back?” Those questions are all fine and dandy, but in this economy and political climate, it’s time we ask some questions that will rock the boat. It will save you from getting roped up with an Uncle Tom or a crazy misogynist. If you’re not very Pro-Black or too into women’s rights, perhaps any old Joe won’t bother you. I personally would rather die alone with 14 cats than force myself to be with someone who isn’t down for the cause, but hey, that’s just me. These thoughts made me realize there are two imperative questions a woman must ask a potential suitor before allowing him access to her life.

Question One: “How Do You Feel About The Murders of Unarmed Black People By Police?”

Do All Black Lives Matter to you? They definitely matter to me. When asked, if your response even starts off with “Well, I really think All Liv…” I am getting my purse and walking out the door, word to Viola Davis. The date is cancelled and you can delete my number, beloved. Thanks for the appetizers. I really do not have the time or the energy to explain to another Black person why he should be concerned about the perpetual issue we have in this country when it comes to the lives of our own people. When a White person says they do not think we have a problem with racism in America and acts totally oblivious, it’s irritating but more understandable. Until someone opens your eyes, it is simple to walk through life completely unaware because the issues that affect others do not touch you. My mind is boggled at a Black man who thinks that because we don’t have to drink from the Colored water fountain anymore that everything is all hunky-dory. Sure, segregation is over, but Black people are STILL getting the police called on them for simply existing. All of the Permit Patty’s out here wildin’ with the 911 calls are not a coincidence. It’s racism in real time. You being able to lay up with Becky With The Good Hair and not wake up to a burning cross in your yard literally means nothing, and interracial relationships no longer being illegal did not solve 400 years of oppression. That being said, I need to know that you are not in a deep coma, unconscious to the plight of our people. 

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I am not interested in hearing that you are entitled to your opinion, because your opinion is wrong. The facts present themselves everyday on the news, and we all know Google is free. Books are not that expensive. Your parents and grandparents obviously have stories, and they don’t matter any less just because decades have elapsed. Research aside, I don’t know one Black person who doesn’t have at least one story about an experience they’ve had with a racist person or establishment. If you say you have not, you’re either lying or more lost than I thought. I am only in my 20’s but I have quite a few experiences I can share during story time when it comes to racism and microaggression, and I CANNOT STAND another Black person telling me Susie Salesgirl isn’t following me around the store because I’m Black. I can accept different views on everyday things, like music (although I can’t trust you if you don’t like Drake and Beyonce), Lebron vs. Jordan, sugar vs. salt in grits, etc. People often conflate what is fact with their personal opinions/preferences. Believing that Lebron is better than Jordan is not harmful to anyone, but turning your back on the woes of your own people definitely is. No one is saying you have to go ghost on your White friends; obviously not every White person is a stone cold racist but it’s still essential that we are cognizant of the disadvantages we face. A man willfully being Ray Charles to the Black struggle is no man for me. If I wanted to take on the job of arguing race relations with someone, I would have opted to date any other race but my own. I may end up with a man named Tom, but he certainly won’t be an Uncle Tom.

Question 2: “What Do You Think About Bill Cosby Going To Prison?”

This Bill Cosby question will cue me in to your views regarding rape culture as a whole. If you say he was trying to buy NBC so they framed him, I will once again grab my purse and exit stage left. Do I think it’s odd that in several rape allegations, victims have waited years, even decades, to come forward? Yes and no. Yes, because if I’m violated, trust and believe I’m telling. I will make it my life’s mission to see you pay. However, I am not everyone, and so many women come forward time and time again and are not taken seriously. I suppose it is easy to say what you will do until it actually happens. Women who tell are blamed, slut shamed, failed, and silenced. It makes a woman wonder, why even bother? Even if charges are brought forth, the punishment is usually mild and unfitting for the crime. It matters not whether she reports her assailant right now or 10 years from now, it does not make her any less of a victim. The main rebuttal I see men use when it comes to rape allegations are “well, a lot of these women are liars. They make these false accusations and ruin lives.” Is there truth to that? Absolutely.  False accusations are deadly and many men have had their lives robbed of them because of these untruths. It also slows down the progress of real victims receiving justice. The only issue I find in that logic is this: if your mother, sister, daughter, etc., confided in you that they were sexually violated, how are you going to respond? Are you going to tell her, “hold up, sis, I need his side of the story. You could be lying.

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You may think this is macabre dinner conversation, but their answers will speak volumes in regards to their character. If you could fix your mouth to tell your female loved one that you need to corroborate her story before showering her with love and sympathy, stay far away from me because you are a sociopath. If you don’t want to have the rape and consent talk over calamari and white wine, I wouldn’t put it off for very long. Nothing sucks more than deciding you like someone and finding out later that they support Rape Culture. Bill Cosby’s case was not an Illuminati conspiracy to stop him from buying NBC, it was just an example of how we really never get away with our transgressions. Pretty much every woman knows a woman who has been sexually violated, and if you can’t stand on the side of the victim, I can’t stand with you. Men are audacious enough to say it’s a scary time to be a man in America. I guess if you are a predator, it is a scary time. For all the men who are wrongfully accused, there are probably 5x as many who are rightfully accused and are going to Happy Hour right now without a care in the world.

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Educate yourselves, fellas. Learn to look at life from the viewpoint of someone who is not in your shoes. If you are a Black man oblivious to the racism that occurs everyday in this country, pick up a newspaper and read all about it. Realize and accept that you were not blessed with immunity to oppression. Do not be deliberately obtuse. Put yourself in the shoes of a woman who has to say a silent prayer every time she has to walk past a hoard of men. You may ask, why don’t you take the time to school the guy on what’s going on, why just throw him in the discard pile? My answer is because my name is not Ms. Wikipedia, especially when it comes to my people and race. You are living it everyday; if your own life experiences can’t wake you up out of your denial, then I don’t know what you expect me to do. As for sexual assault, I can’t teach you empathy. You will have to have your own epiphany, and you won’t have me pulling my hair out trying to force a simple concept into your head. I have made it a point to find a man’s stance on these sensitive subjects as early as possible. There is no point in either of us wasting time when it comes to my non-negotiable viewpoints. Good looks or money can’t make up for ignorance, especially in the Information Age. You don’t have to be in the streets marching for freedom and equality, but at least have an awareness of what is going on in this country. As a Black woman living through my experiences of intersectionality, I can’t be with someone uncommitted to understanding my walk in life.

I Used To Be a “Pick Me”

Before I get started on my little Ted Talk, you may have read the title and asked, “what is a Pick Me?” Social media (Twitter, to be specific) has officially coined a term for the type of female who goes out of her way to broadcast her amazing qualities and achievements. If she is single, you will often see complaints about how men love hoes and ratchets and overlook good women like her. If she is in a relationship, she will give lectures on how to get and keep a man, and if you can do neither, it’s because you’re lacking something in regards to your looks, character, and/or bedroom skills. There is a male version of this as well, I like to call it the Nice Guys Finish Last Syndrome. You know those guys who are constantly complaining about how they would treat a woman like a queen but we only want jailbirds and cheaters? I can’t wait to expound on that topic. Anyway, I went to Urban Dictionary to read the colorful definition of this term I knew they were sure to give, and I was not disappointed:

Exhibit A
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This intrigued me because look at the differing definitions. This has been the foundation of the debate. Are the Pick Me’s just begging for attention and acceptance from our male counterparts by broadcasting how well they will treat a man, or do they genuinely find fulfillment in catering to a man’s every need? Does it go beyond begging for acceptance into a more complex issue?
Exhibit B
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In my past, I used to think that because I am college educated, articulate, childless and attractive that I was more desirable and deserving of a good man than a woman who did not possess those exact same qualities. I was not a “hoe”, but a good girl who had morals and values. With all of my goody-goody attributes and University of Washington degree, I was still single. If I wasn’t single, I may as well have been because the men I was entertaining were the exact opposite of everything I felt I was and they played more games than Lebron. Life quickly taught me that no one gives a d*mn about how good I look on paper. A man will cheat on Michelle Obama just as quickly as Cardi B. Now that I’m “woke,” I realize that my mentality was a classic case of internalized misogyny. We are socialized to believe that women are to be modest and that no good man wants a “hussy.”
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Are You a Good Partner or a Pick Me?

Most of us enjoy doing nice things for the ones we love. I am a gift giver. I absolutely love giving gifts. I have some great people in my life, and to show my appreciation, I tend to put a lot of thought into the things I do for them. I don’t expect anything in return except that they continue to put a smile on my face and bring me joy. I’m quite shocked I’m more of Quality Time/Words of Affirmation Love Language than Receiving/Giving Gifts. If you’re a Pick Me, your Love Language is an antiquated 1950’s version of Acts of Service. You’re still socialized to believe that in order to keep a man, you must be Martha Stewart with the sex appeal of Rihanna, but only in the house, because if you show your body off to outsiders, you’re a hoe. I read something once where some poor soul admitted to doing her boyfriend’s homework, made his lunch each day, washed all of his clothes, and you know what he did? He went out and cheated. The girl was so perplexed. Why would he cheat? After all, she did everything a good woman was supposed to do. He was well taken care of, so he should have been content, right? WRONG. giphySelf-imposed slavery is not the key to faithfulness. I see women brag about being Holly Homemaker all the time, then you see their Instagram 6 months later and all those pictures of bae have magically disappeared. I guess all those Thanksgiving sized plates she was making every night weren’t fulfilling enough to hold the relationship together. Why are you basing what you can bring to the table off of how well you can bake a cookie or fold a shirt? Most of these men can barely boil water, yet you feel pressured to have a PowerPoint presentation showcasing all of your top tier wifey material traits. I remember thinking that I needed to amp up my culinary skills because no man wants a woman who can’t cook. I’m decent in the kitchen, but if you’re looking for Paula Deen, you might want to keep searching. I eventually stopped caring because if a man is really into you, he’ll sit at the table and eat Hot Pockets by candlelight. It’s best to do things in a relationship because you enjoy them, not out of some sense of domestic obligation. You don’t want to put on airs in the beginning in regards to how you operate because you will burn out. The other shoe will drop and he will see you have been living a lie. Just bring your true self to the table. If he doesn’t like what you’re serving, he can go eat somewhere else. We all have strengths and unique qualities that we should be proud of, so take some time to find out what you like and what you are good at. Develop yourself. Pretending to be someone you’re not is a surefire way to failure, so stop the false advertising.

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One of the most underrated scenes in Bridesmaids is at Lilian’s engagement party when one of the other bridesmaids kept reminding Annie that she didn’t have a husband. This is so common. Getting a man to walk down the aisle is seen as an accomplishment for a woman, because oh joy, a man finally picked you out of all the others. Marriage is a beautiful thing, no doubt. Committing yourself to one person and embarking on a life journey together is lovely, but so many women act like they’ve won Miss Universe because of it. For men, settling down is often seen as a punishment. No more late nights with the boys, no more one night stands, no more juggling as many chicks as your hands could handle. How funny. Either way, I blame society. We’ve been force fed for centuries the idea that all decent girls get married before they hit middle age, and if you can’t keep a man, something is clearly wrong with you. Until you had a ring on your finger, you were supposed to keep your legs closed and be a “good” young lady, otherwise risk being called a street woman or a hussy. This was much more of an issue back in the day, but many of these sentiments are still prevalent. Let a married  woman or even a woman with a boyfriend have a disagreement with a single lady, and I would be willing to bet my last dollar that somewhere in the argument, “you don’t even have a man” will come up. Internalized misogyny everywhere! Too much of your identity is tied to your relationship status if you think you can make assumptions on another woman’s character simply based off if she has a significant other. It’s always “you don’t have a man,” “maybe if you did x, y, and z he would still be around,” or “that’s why you’re still single.” If you do this, please stop. People are here today, gone tomorrow in this life, so you never know when you’ll be buying a new home in Singleville. The perceived embarrassment that comes with being perpetually single is what drives so many women to settle for men they wouldn’t have looked twice at in the past. You had all these extravagant standards for what you wanted in a man, but you settled for 2/10 things on your list because being able to say you have a man is better than saying you don’t. After all, how can you taunt other women with “where your ring at, sis?” if you keep waiting on Mr. Right to fall into your lap? Mr. Right Now will just have to do. Don’t fall for that logic. If you’re single, embrace it. Not every woman is dying to have a man strapped to her hip, but most people do want companionship. Love will come, and the more time you spend exploring your own hobbies and growing into the woman you’re meant to be, the less likely you are to settle. As a person who has been single for awhile, I sometimes find myself thinking about when I will find that one person who will make me give up the single life, but it’s not because I feel the pressures of society weighing on my shoulders, and certainly not because I feel like I have to compete with other women. I just know what I’m looking for, and want to take my time to find it.

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As I matured into a more well-rounded young woman, I stopped seeing relationships as a prize and realized I am the prize here. I want my fellow ladies to realize that their worth is not tied to being picked by a man. Life is not The Bachelor, we are not here to audition for the honor of being crowned a girlfriend or a wife. I believe that marriage should not be a shallow goal, but a desire to find that person that makes you feel happy and cherished. I hate to see women weaponize their love life against other women. Who knows if sexism will ever cease to exist, but let’s not perpetuate it by judging the lifestyles of other women because they are more sexually liberated, dress a certain way, or don’t have the most luck at love. It’s just not a good look. Men have started wars over us, but here we are acting like they are the ones who belong on a pedestal. I often poke fun at Pick Me’s, but then I realized it was important for me to acknowledge that I used to be one as well. I didn’t pop out the womb with this mindset. Like many women, I believed that if I did well in life, was nice to people and wasn’t loose that I would be wifed up by 25 with a picket fence. Funny how life works out. Be who you want to be, not who you think a man wants you to be.

 

 

 

Dating Secrets Every Woman Should Know

Nobody enjoys dating. The process of meeting new people. Do you wait for someone to approach you in public? Do you jump on a dating app? Do you take things into your own hands and shoot your shot by flirting with that guy at the gym or by sliding in the DMs of that cute guy who always likes your pictures? Even after you meet someone, then you have to actually “date” which means going out and getting to know them. Are they a texter or a talker? Do they want to go out on a proper date or are they trying to Netflix and chill you? How many dates before it’s official? How many dates before sex? Should you or shouldn’t you date more than one person at a time? The life of a single person is full of anxiety because they overthink everything listed above. I wrote BlackGirlsAreEasy.com as well as numerous books on how to date step by step, yet so many women have yet to Spartan Up and apply these rules to their lives. They either sit on the bench and wait for some guy to fall in their lap or they keep recycling the same penis they’ve known for years because the devil they know can’t truly break their heart. Let’s cut to the root of the problem—TRUST. Men are sneaky, flaky, and filled with contradictory behavior, so you never know who wants you or wants to use you. I tell men to be more honest, I’ve even written a book for them, but let’s keep it real, preaching to men won’t save you. The solution isn’t to fix the broken males, it’s to hop over the trash men so you can attract and secure a quality one. The first step in that is knowing the game as played by my fellow men…

Common Sense Secrets:

All Men Prioritize Sex First, Money Second, Love Third.

When A Man Says, “I’m Not Looking For Anything Serious” He’s Leaving Off “With You”.

Men Are Competitive So They Run Back When You Find Someone, But They Don’t Actually Want You Back.

There’s No Such Thing As Too Busy.

Older Guys Settle For Women They Dogged When Younger Because They Know They’re Push Overs.

Men Will Use You As A Placeholder Until They Come Across the Trophy They Really Want.

A Woman Can’t Change A Man. He Either Changes On His Own Or Not At All.

The Majority of Men Think Women Aren’t Very Smart…

You all know this I would hope, but you still fall for game because by nature you’re nice and give people the benefit of the doubt. Nice doesn’t win in this world. I hate seeing smart women get played by guys who come with the most transparent tactics. I’ve done a lot of these things personally, and as I matured I felt it a duty to put women up on game, not as Karmatic repayment, but because this world is dependent on strong women. Relationships and how to maneuver this world remains the biggest challenge for even the most book smart or successful women. So today I’m going to show you how any woman can rise up and get the type of love she deserves, not the kind of love she’s offered.

PROLOUGE: No More Excuses

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Where you live. How You Look. Men Are Trash. These three things are the crutches that many women prop up as to why they’re just going to focus on self and be content with their vibrator. I hear it all the time: GL, only ugly guys approach me, and the cute ones are either broke, taken, or have a reputation. GL, guys go for my friends over me because I’m not as pretty. GL, I live in a wack city where everyone knows each other, all the men are hoes, there’s no hope for me. The first step in righting the wrongs of your love life is to stop making excuses as to why you haven’t been successful. I’ve literally talked with women from every state in the union and those from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Not once has the city, their looks, or the lack of quality men stood in the way of those women finding love, it was their methods. I could fly to your city tomorrow, be your wingman, and find a hot spot where you would be introduced to someone new and interesting who you would have never ran into on your own. How? Because you don’t go anywhere but the same old tired spots with the same old tired friends because you’re not creative in your approach to being social. It’s not about the clubs, the parties, or the concerts nor is it about swiping on Tinder until you come across a cute guy. Connections can only be made when you step out of your comfort zone long enough to be friendly.

PART 1: Baiting A Man

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The Odds Are Set To 80%: Every woman breathing has an 80% chance of pulling any man she encounters. Are you going to dwell on the 20% chance that you’ll run into someone that isn’t impressed or has something else on his plate? Most of you will. That slim chance that someone will take your number but won’t call you or someone who your inbox won’t take it further than a casual “hey” scares the piss out of you. Fear keeps you in a box where the only men you will come across are the extra-friendly ones that come at you first, and trust the same way they’re being extra-friendly with you is being repeated with multiple women because quantity > quality. So here you are, stuck in the same old basic chick cycle of dealing with a man you didn’t even like but who was there. Months pass and it ends, and you realize that you wasted all that energy on someone that wasn’t even up to the standards you have in your head. Why? Because you don’t risk rejection—ever!

Dating, meeting men, it all becomes a lot more fun when you realize that your vagina is literally an Infinity Gauntlet. 80% is high, and it ticks up depending on how pretty you are. Let’s say that the average man would rate you a 7, maybe an 8 with makeup on. You’re already above that 80% and close to 95% odds that you won’t miss any shot you shoot. How do I know this? I’ve seen it all my life. I’ve coached girls to swing for the fences. And the statistics all line up with what I’m telling you. For example, I became friends with this girl from Atlanta who’s far from skinny, and really worked on her self-esteem. She went on to date one of the biggest rappers in the world, someone most women openly lust for, and she had him blowing up her phone. She wasn’t built like Draya, but she understood her strengths and played up to them. The secret that will lay the foundation going forward is to know that it’s a very slim chance that you will get rejected. It could happen, but guess what? There are more men out there, and the more you repeat it, the less scary it feels. It’s always worth going for what you want. Ask the girl’s that’s smashing your favorite rapper who was in your same place a year ago.

GO OUT BY YOURSELF: Where do you go to meet men? Most likely the internet, work, or you meet them through a friend. You’re boring, all you do is nap, work, and online shop so of course your options for guys are thinner than Anne Hathaway in Yoga Pants. Here’s a secret for those of you that embraced the confidence of the 80% rule—you’re a magnet. Let’s talk about attraction on a real level. You are a pretty woman that has a vagina that half of the population would dive into if given an opportunity. The problem for men is how do they get to you? Girls are like wolves, they usually move in packs with their friends, their sisters, their cousins, even other men. These people are walls. An aggressive man will run up on you because, again men take advantage of opportunity, but there are legions of other males that will keep walking by because they don’t want to interrupt in a group.

Your excuse will sound like this, “I need a man with the heart to approach me no matter where I’m at, that’s telling me he really wants me.” Okay, Basica, go back over there and have quiet time. Logic and your track record with men has proven that just because a man tries to holla at you, doesn’t mean he’s “the one”. It just means he’s bold. Here’s something to test out. The next time you’re hungry or bored, go out by yourself. It could be Starbucks to order coffee and sit at a table and read a book. It could be the mall food court to sit and just eat a damn pretzel. The longer you’re out, the more eyes are on you. We as men don’t think, “look at this werido by herself.” That’s what your negative mind thinks because you’ve been programmed to be under people or a part of a group. Men will look, some will speak, some will even walk over to you. As a single person, you should want this. Of course, there will be some lames that you brush off, but there will also be guys that are your type that catch your eye. The most successful tip I’ve seen played out is women who sit at the bar counter when eating or having a drink. Two years ago, I had a girl meet her now husband at the Buffalo Wild Wings bar when she sat next to him and asked to see a menu. Just last week, my lesbian friend met some girl at a brunch by sitting next to her and complimenting her purse. Finding someone is no longer about waiting, it’s about putting yourself out there.

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MEN LOVE AGGRESSIVE WOMEN: Let’s recap. You have the confidence of Thanos because you know you can have virtually any man you set your sights on. You aren’t afraid to go out in public to create an opportunity for an off-line connection. How do you turn that into actual GAME? A lot of women don’t know how to flirt. They know how to be sassy, how to tease, and how to give attitude when they secretly like a guy, but they don’t know how to say without words, “hey I like you.” Here’s the secret—you must become Sasha Fierce. Every woman, even Beyoncé, has an alter ego character she stores in her head. That bad ass chick who speaks her mind with no filter. You must let the other side of you loose around men. It was cool to giggle around men and say corny stuff like, “stop playing,” when you were 19. A grown woman doesn’t giggle, she smiles with her eyes. A grown woman doesn’t turn her glance away, she stares through a man like she would eat him alive. A grown woman doesn’t have awkward silences, she questions—how are you? That’s a nice shirt, where did you get it? Your girlfriend let you out of the house? Does that sound scary? Is talking to a strange man you think is cute too nerve wrecking for you to be that free with your words? Then you failed the first part! Your confidence has to be on Floyd Mayweather anytime you’re in the room with the opposite sex. I’m not saying that shy girls don’t get men, I’m saying that an aggressive woman steals a man’s soul.

What makes men talk to you and walk away without getting your number? It’s probably not your breath. It’s the lack of impression. Guys mastered this for the most part. They make jokes, they compliment, they use sexual undertones, all to make you smile or react. Why? Because he knows when you go home you’re going to still be thinking about how cool and fun he was. That’s an impression. The size of your butt in those jeans shouldn’t be the only impression you leave on a man. Personality is the most important weapon in any woman’s armory. When you’re on Snap or IG it’s easy to get your personality through because you’re performing for the camera or captioning a pretty picture with something witty. That stuff goes out of the window when you must speak face to face. The light switch in your head should be like a Power Ranger morphing. He’s sitting next to you or asking you your name, you can’t just grin and look like a deer in the headlights. In your head, you morph. “Watch me eat this mother***ker alive!” From there it’s not about what you say or reading a script, it’s being yourself but turned up to 10.

PART 2: Hooking A Man

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VERBAL CONVERSATIONS: Women who email me usually run into a problem most of you can relate to—my text got taken the wrong way. We live in a world where texting has replaced the phone call. The problem with that is the first week that you’re talking to someone, there is a huge margin for error tone wise. You can’t read sarcasm that well through text. It’s hard to get to know a person just typing in that format. What ends up happening is a bunch of chit-chat, some sexual flirtation, and him asking to see you soon. By the time you do meet up, he’s being overly sexual because he mistook you for a thotty from your text conversation. You’re into him, but you’re not an object, you want to go out and talk and actually get to see how this guy thinks and share your own life story. This is no exaggeration, I’m talked to over a thousand women who have slept with men who they didn’t even know basic things about like his last name or what he did at work. When I question these ladies, it all comes back to, “we didn’t really talk, we texted all day.” Stop being so dense! Texting is to supplement verbal conversations not a replacement for them.

Once you get past the meet and greet stage and are about to go on that first date, you must talk to him with your actual mouth. I don’t care if it’s telling him to call you after work or you doing a FaceTime session. Listening to how someone talks and what they talk about even before you sit down for a dinner date or go out to do some activity is crucial in establishing a bond and weeding out obvious red flags. I have friends who are the biggest dogs in the world, and they get away with a lot of it because all they do is text various girls BS that soothes their egos, set up night time chill sessions, and keep it moving. Who is this man? Where does he live? What was his last relationship? What does he do for a living? If you text this, you get cut and dry answers. If you ask it with your damn mouth, you hear the lies in his tone. You can sniff out hesitation. Talking allows you to poke holes in a man’s story in ways texting never could. Stop being afraid to talk, and if he doesn’t want to call you or pick up, that red flags dictates that he gets thrown back in the sea with the rest of these clown fish because he’s up to something.

TALK PRESENT NOT PAST: Just as important as hearing a man’s story out is sharing your own life. The secret to initial conversation is keep your cards close to the vest. Why are you on a first date talking about your ex-boyfriend and all the ways he did you dirty? Because he asked? Who is he to know that? We as men know that women over-talk about things they’re affected by. Work beefs, friend drama, exes… they will run off at the mouth venting. Through that venting you learn her weaknesses. Think about a first phone call or a first date. You tell him your ex cheated on you. He’s going to want to know how you found out, how long it was going on, if you knew the girl. He’s doing research to see how dumb you are. This is lost on you because you’re tied up in telling a story that’s been pissing you off for a long time. In the end he’ll tell you that your ex was trash and he would never do you like that. He won’t because he’ll do it better now knowing how that other dude messed up.

This isn’t just with exes, it’s with any past failure. You didn’t finish school, or you couldn’t get a job in your major, your family issues, it all creates a character profile to be exploited. So, what should you talk about besides him in order to give insight into your bomb personality? You share your strengths like it’s a job interview. It’s not about where you work now, it’s how you’re rising the ranks or how good you are at your job. It’s not about your ex, he had issues, but he taught you valuable lessons. That’s all you need to say about that man. It’s not about how your Dad did your Mom or how he treated you. Give an anecdote about growing up but this isn’t the time for a therapy session. The point is, you’re a strong woman who was forged by that hard knock past, show her passion not her pain.

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FUNNY X NASTY: Every man thinks he’s Kevin Hart when he’s on a date because women love two things: Laughing and eating. Being a good time is mandatory for a man to win you over, he knows that. As a woman you’re most likely clueless who how to win a guy over from lust to genuine affection. Let’s drop the ego for a second. When I say “win a man over” it’s not saying you need to bend over backwards and give him head on the first date or buy the dude an Apple Watch. The same way a guy is trying to either entertain you or spoil you to get brownie points, you have to think about how you can show him you’re truly different from the other girls he dated in the prior months. The secret that most women don’t know is that as men we see the same exact personality patterns. I went on a date with a girl who lived in Santa Monica who acted the same way as a girl from South Philly. Talked about the same things, laughed the same way, played shy at the same moments, and even gave up the panties in the same manner. It’s all parody because women are taught to dumb down their personalities around guys they like instead of being that fun person they are when with friends or family.

ARE YOU FUNNY? I’m not talking Tiffany Haddish, perform a damn stand up funny. Can you verbally spar with a man? Do you have wit? Can you recall a funny story? Are you able to point to something in the vicinity and make a funny observation? If the answer is “yes” then congratulations because not many women do that. Are you nasty? Yeah, you can recite rap lyrics about getting your ass ate and if this date goes well you might send him a nude, but 9 out of 10 women do that. In my book Ho Tactics, I broke down the psychology of what turns a man on because so many females are way too conservative to tread into that realm. You don’t want to come off like a hoe or a freak. Common sense dictates that a man will assume he’s going to hit by the end of the night regardless of what you say. You could read Bible verses and he’ll still try to get your bra off the moment you’re alone. Don’t let opinions curve your seduction techniques. When I say get nasty, I’m talking about promoting the idea of you as a sexual being. The way you dress. The way you yawn. The way you touch his hand or shoulder when he makes you laugh. It should all spell out S-E-X. When you’re talking, there is always an opportunity to say something slightly filthy. “Work has been killing me this week.” Smile, and grin, “See, I was hoping you had stamina.” That kind of daring retort will have a man in the palm of your hand. The more you bait him with lines like that or accidental touching, the more he wants you. By the time you give him a goodnight hug, there won’t be a doubt that he’s going to do whatever he can to see you again because you inspired lust and you left an impression with your personality. You’re the kind of Unicorn other girls only pretend to be.

PART 3: Securing the Right Man

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FOOL’S GOLD: “GL, I did everything in your book and I ended up with a guy, but he turned out to be trash just like the rest of them.” Is a real email I received. This woman and I corresponded for about a month and she laid out the entire relationships and without me saying anything she realized why she ended up with a trash ass man—she ignored the red flags because she really wanted him to work. We’re all in a rush. It’s an A.D.D generation where we want to stop dating and get into a relationship. Ladies, everything I write has been proven to work. Not because of me, but because you all are capable of Bossing up and taking what you want—men, job opportunities, anything. The warning label on life reads that not everything you want or attain will be right for you. You can make a list, do a vision board, manifest what you put your mind to, and then realize it wasn’t at all what you imagined. Know that you will have to let go of people, that you will misjudge character, and that some masks don’t come off at first pull. Fool’s Gold shines like the real thing, but it doesn’t hold up to constant inspection.

When dating you can’t afford to put all of your eggs in one basket. No matter how sincere someone seems, you take your time, you pick up those red flags, and you never build them up as irreplaceable. He’s just a friend. You like him, but you don’t love him. He’s building with you, not a permanent fixture. Most of you are only single because the last man broke your heart

DATE MULTIPLE MEN: Date multiple men. This doesn’t men sleep with, spend the night with, or even kiss multiple men. Dating means dating. You allow each man you come across with your new aggressive personality and confidence, and deem worthy, to take you out. You meet Robert this week and yet met Jake last week. You don’t choose one or the other, you let them both take you out and see who is the most impressive. When men compete—YOU WIN. No excuse about how you can’t juggle that many guys. If you can have ten tabs open on your phone and switch through four social media apps like it’s nothing, you can set up a date for Saturday and a date for Sunday. It’s not that hard. What you’re doing is trying to play nice. You want to seem like a loyal woman. LMAO! You’re loyal to an actual boyfriend not a guy who’s taking you out to AMC for popcorn and a movie. By dating multiple men, you level the playing field and keep yourself from being desperate. A woman with no options is more likely to settle than a woman with a roster.

A not so secret is that the more jealous you can make a man, the better. I’m not talking about flirting with guys in front of him or telling him he’s the third date of the week. Be smart and strategic. If he asks if you’re dating other people, tell him you’ve been testing the waters like any single woman should then flip it back on him. If he wants to know more details about other men, be aggressive and stern by telling him to focus on the two of you because he currently has your attention. Basicas never do this because they are scared to death about turning a man off. Spartans do it all the time because they understand that a man who knows he’s not your only option will work harder. Inside every grown man is a little boy that still has to be first. Use this knowledge!  

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SAY WHAT YOU WANT: Today’s men no longer have to play along as if they want to be your man. “I’m not looking for anything serious,” or “I’m cool with being friends,” works in terms of getting sex. There are women that will actually go along as if they don’t have feelings for a guy. Get sucked into his world. Start to really like him and allow him to get girlfriend benefits as—just friends. Are you crazy or stupid? Pussy runs this world! You don’t have to compromise with a man to keep him around. If you want to build to a relationship not a situationship, tell him. If you know that “Friend” is a code word, object and tell him you’re not looking for a friend, you’re looking for someone that can potentially grow into a man. It doesn’t matter if a man is claiming he’s too busy, that his heart is still healing from the last girl, or that he’s just not sure, you are the master and commander of who you give your time to. Stop holding your tongue and going with the flow. “I’m not dating anyone else, no harm in just having a friend.” Yes there is, because you’re leading yourself on with a man who is going to end up choosing someone else in the end. She’ll get an easy lane to his heart and you’ll feel like a sucker for believing the excuses that he gave to you that suddenly don’t apply to her. You’re a grown ass woman, the moment you feel that a man has potential open your mouth. Don’t text it. Don’t beat around the bush. Say what you want. And if he doesn’t feel the same way—GOOD! You just saved yourself months of playing house to some one that was looking to lease not buy.

Epilogue: Prioritize Yourself

 She comes before he. Your plans shouldn’t be compromised for his. Being a partner is a two-way street, just like he can reschedule, move you around, and cancel, you should never feel guilty if things pop up that will benefit your life. He will complain, suck his teeth, and get in his feelings. But the woman that does her, despite a man’s objections will always train her mate to respect her time, not waste it.

I’ve gone deeper on a lot of these topics in my books and on my site, but for those of you lost in the sauce, let this be a smack in the face to take the next step on the road to Spartanhood.

-G.L. Lambert

 

 

 

Maybe It’s You

I am sure we are all acquainted with the Golden Rule: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” Our good friend Jesus spoke often on doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. Whether you are spiritual, religious, or neither, no one wants to be treated badly. You could be the guy who cuts people off on the highway, fails to use turn signals and drives recklessly, but as soon as someone rides your bumper, you’re furious. Humans have a tendency to be hypocritical when it comes to how we expect to be treated vs. how we treat others. For years now, I have been watching Kirk do Rasheeda wrong on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (one of my guilty pleasures, don’t judge me), yet now he wants to fix his lips to be butthurt at the thought of her even considering entertaining another man. Why is it that we can never stomach the taste of our own medicine? So many of us subject others to pain that we would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing. To put it lightly, people suck. We use, abuse and manipulate those we claim to love and care for. This world would be all rainbows and butterflies if we could just abide by the simple logic of not being an a**hole. I remember in elementary we did a lengthy lesson on the Golden Rule, but if I could go back in time, I would have my teacher revise the lesson: “People are not going to treat you the way you would treat them.” It is unrealistic to expect everyone to have the same heart and moral compass as you. After all, we can’t control others; we are only in control of ourselves. When you allow yourself to be continually stepped on by trash people, you become at fault. Eventually, you have to stop complaining about people being mean to you and doing you wrong if you are going to keep giving them a free pass to do so. You’re not killing them with kindness, you’re just killing yourself.

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How About Some Accountability?

One of the easiest things to do is point the finger at other people when we need to be holding a mirror up to ourselves. We have already established that people are trash, but once you figure out that a new person in your life did not enter with good intentions, why do you keep them around? Are you waiting to see what lengths they will go to to make you miserable? Most people aren’t sadistic. They don’t purposely seek out weaklings to enact their evil plan upon. After all, most of the hurtful things people do to you do not have anything to do with you. People are selfish, and they do things that will bring them pleasure; you being hurt in the mix of it all is just emotional collateral damage. That doesn’t make the wound they’ve inflicted upon you hurt any less, that’s just the way it is. When people show you who they are, you have to believe tumblr_mqi3bjhmeb1qezwmho1_500them the first time. Sayings like that become cliche because they prove themselves to be true time and time again. If you choose to be Helen Keller to the b.s., you can’t get mad when your “best friend” keeps throwing shade at you behind your back or the new guy you’ve been dating pokes fun at your insecurities under the guise of a joke. Character flaws like that aren’t isolated incidents. They will only get worse, but your “good heart” always wants to see the best in people. When I was in college, I dated a guy who had two children. Much to my dislike, he brought them over to my apartment with him one evening and left them there while he went on a “food run.” I was 19; spending my night with two young kids was not my idea of a good time. He stayed gone a good 3-4 hours. What did I say upon his return? Nothing! I’m sure you can guess what followed: this happened again and again until I put my foot down. We eventually broke up due to other reasons, but this is just an example of how if you let somebody slide once, they’ll start figure skating. I was getting mad at him when I should have been mentally slapping myself. Nothing will continue unless YOU allow it to. He took advantage of me because I would often just ignore things that would bother me or make empty threats. He knew I was all bark and no bite. Was it right for him to use me as a babysitter while he was running through the 206 with his woes? Absolutely not, but it was my responsibility to advocate for myself. You can’t hope for the best with people, then just shrug your shoulders when they don’t act how you had envisaged. If you remove yourself from the situations that cause you strife, guess what will happen? Life will improve! It isn’t magic, it’s common sense.

Check Your Energy

There is no harder pill to swallow than admitting you are the problem when it comes to the negative experiences that plague your life. It does not mean there is something wrong with you or that you need to change who you are. Everyone has flaws and we are all damaged in some way. Childhood traumas, adult traumas and unhealthy coping skills have an insidious way of clouding our positive energy. If you are not aware of your thinking, these traumatic experiences manifest into negative self-talk and negative views of ourselves. It is incredibly easy to put yourself down without even realizing you are doing it. A couple of years ago, I downloaded a book called “The Untethered Soul” (I highly recommend this piece of work). Until I picked up this godsend of a book, I did not realize how often I put myself down. I would call myself names, judge myself and dwell on negative thoughts. If I would go against my instincts and suffer the consequences because of it, I would think to myself “duh dummy” or “well that’s what you get for being stupid.” We truly are our own toughest critics. I finally realized I kept attracting and entertaining toxic people because I was marinating in my own toxic thoughts. giphy3
Science teaches us that like attracts like. If you are vibrating at a low frequency, you are going to attract others who are on a similar level. Everything is energy. It is not a coincidence that when you are happy, everyone else seems happier as well. It’s simple, really. Why would a man who is happy, secure and confident be attracted to someone who emits bad vibes? I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find anyone of quality. I was independent, college educated, attractive and doing quite well for my age. I looked good on paper, but inside I was a mess. Too much time was spent going into my outward appearance but I was neglecting my insides. Awareness is the only way out of a miserable mindset. The interesting thing was at the time, I did not feel totally miserable, but looking back, I was full of self-doubt. It is now in hindsight that I realize I was not all that happy. Like most people, I have had an array of bad experiences steal my joy. I am naturally a private person, so I just kept all my feelings to myself and went on with life. Avoidance is definitely not a healthy coping technique Pretending a problem does not exist will not make it go away, and not dealing with your issues jut causes them to fester, not diminish. Happiness is out there for you, but you can’t claim to want a joyous life yet spend all day ruminating in your self-inflicted sunken place. You’re confusing the universe. If you want to grow as a person, it is so important to take the time to become aware of how you view yourself.

Level Up

When people think of self-care, they think of massages, solo vacations and treating themselves to new clothes or other things to decorate the outer self. The harder part of self-care that people don’t often mention is having the discipline to do what’s best for yourself, even when it’s hard. You are specially made, and only those who appreciate your value deserve a place in your life. Once you tap into your reserve of inner power, it will become second nature to toss people to the curb who don’t live up to your expectations. What is most important is believing you are worthy. Whenever you catch yourself putting yourself down, pretend you have a little Viola Davis from The Help on your shoulder reminding you that you are kind, smart and important. Tell yourself this everyday. Look in the mirror and repeat that you love yourself 15x a day if that’s what you need to do. You will eventually start to believe it and you will begin to wonder why you allowed people to A-Town Stomp all over you for so long. Don’t be afraid to say no. giphy4Don’t be afraid to tell people to Beat It. Why are you scared to be without people you have only known for a small fraction of your life? In the wise words of Drake, you gotta be nice for what? I promise you the sun will rise tomorrow and you will continue to breathe. There have been men I really liked and I hated to show them the door, but I knew it was for the best. Those yellow flags would have quickly turned red, and it is much harder to cut ties from people once you’ve allowed dick and time to have you more invested than you should have ever been. People are going to be mean. They are going to be inconsiderate and a multitude of other undesirable things, but it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from their nastiness. You can’t protect yourself if you are not solid in who you are. If you keep getting mixed up in bad friendships and relationships, take some time alone to figure out who is the common denominator in all of the chaos. You can’t grow if you are never taking time to be with you and only you. Growth comes from self-reflection and taking accountability for your decisions, good and bad. Treating other people well is great, but don’t let it come at such a price that you fail to treat yourself how you deserve to be treated, and a large part of self-care is being selective with who you grant a seat at your table.

What’s In a Title?

Nowadays, everyone hates labels. I guess it’s some Millennial thing. Labels have a tendency to box people into categories, and sometimes it can be impossible to rid yourself of a label that has basically become a part of your reputation. A label can minimize a person to a one-dimensional being, robbing him/her of all complexity. My peers from school and I are fully grown adults, yet some of us still bare the labels that were bestowed upon us in high school, particularly the more unsavory ones (hoe, slut, player, weirdo, etc). The negative perceptions of a person always tend to overshadow the positive ones. Science has shown that our brains have a way of planting the bad things in our brains more firmly than the pleasant ones because processing negative experiences requires more mental effort. We use stronger language to describe our negative 6e23daa7794130a4e612bd2bac7525bc-mean-girls-bulliesencounters and tend to stew over them for longer periods of time. Like with everything, though, there is always another side to consider. Humans need labels. Pointing to things and naming them are one of the first stages of language development. It is how we categorize and reference things, how we can separate what’s good for us from what isn’t. Language is our most powerful tool, and by labeling people, we give them a role in our lives. Mother, sister, husband, friend, co-worker and so on and so forth are just a few titles most of us are familiar with, and if you have any of these people in your life, you have certain expectations of them. Where it tends to get murky is when it comes to romantic relationships. A situation in which two people have a romantic interest in one another and are not entertaining others is typically labeled a relationship. For the price of that title you are usually compensated with commitment, monogamy and companionship, and for someone who is not 100% invested in you, giving up the thrill of the single life to sleep with the same person every night is too high of a price to pay. So what do some people *cough cough* (men), tend to do? They hit you with a bunch of semantics to tip toe around committing to you in an effort to have their cake and eat it too. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in a Situationship.

“You Ain’t Even My Girl”

Being an adult is tiring. I feel like adulthood is a scam. As a child, all I longed for was the freedom that came with being “grown.” The ability to make my own decisions seemed like heaven. The beauty of childhood is the naivete. My inexperienced mind did not realize the amount of responsibility that came along with the freedom to do trivial things like stay out as late as I wanted or eat ice cream for dinner. As I became an older teenager, I was able to get a taste of the adult life without having to purchase the whole entree. Back when I was a young and dumb 19/20 year old, I was allowing my love interest at the time to get all the benefits of a relationship from me without requiring him to complete the package. I was brainwashed with all the “we don’t need a title” rhetoric and just went along with it because in my mind we were practically in a relationship, anyway. He was in my apartment majority of the time, didn’t want me dating others, and led me to believe he wasn’t seeing anyone else either. To put it simply, I was an idiot. During that time in my life, I didn’t know how to put my foot down and require more. I knew that I ultimately was not going to get the commitment I wanted, so tumblr_ntxt9tjvuq1uab7s4o1_1280I just decided to leave things alone. After all, he was around consistently, so that must be a sign that he was really into me, right? WRONG. I was dead wrong, because every time I would complain I would get the reminder that we are not even a relationship so I have no right to air any grievances towards him. No matter how close you may think you two are, if there is no verbal agreement that you two are exclusive, you are single. I allowed this man to have all of the benefits of a boyfriend, without him taking on any of the responsibilities that come along with that title. I was nothing more than a temp-agency girlfriend. At a temp agency, they send you to a company to work there for a varied length of time and while you give that company the benefits of your employment, when all is said and done, you gotta get up outta there. They may like you, but you’re not what they’re looking for long term. You work there, but they offer you no benefits and you ultimately leave with nothing until you’re sent somewhere else. The old me would ask him why aren’t we together, or when are we going to make it official, and I would get those cliche responses typical of someone who isn’t interested in you long term. “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.” “You know I have feelings for you, why complicate things with a title?” “I’m not good enough financially right now to have a girlfriend.” Deep down I knew this was a crock of b.s., yet I continued on anyway like the poor fool I was. If a man is truly enamored with you, you will know because he will tell you and take you off the market. If at any time during the early stages of dating you have to ask yourself “what are we doing?” just know he’s doing him, beloved. You should go do you, too.

Bonds > Title

I think my favorite excuse people use to sidestep a relationship is the notion that a “bond is better than a title.” This is just silly, to put it mildly. It saddens me that women are buying into this propaganda. A bond is cute, but how many others does he have a “bond” with? A title is not a bulletproof vest for your relationship against cheating and other detrimental actions, but there needs to be some type of foundation there. When you neglect to specify what type of bond you have, the doors to a world of ambiguity burst wide open. Are we bonded as friends? Temporary companions? F*ck buddies? Which is it? An old friend of mine was navigating the foggy waters of Bond-land when she texted me crushed one day. The man she thought she was so connected to introduced her to his best friend as “this is my friend…”. This was after months of dates, humpin’, Netflix & chillin, learning all about each others’ pasts and him telling her how close he felt to her. giphy1They spent so much time together, she was sure he saw her as much more than a friend. Sis didn’t know that a bond without a title to go along with it is just a Situationship. So much time and energy was invested into this bond, yet it was worthless when it was time to cash it in. It is so important to be honest with yourself and your potential bae when you begin to communicate what it is you are looking for. If you are 100% sure that you just want companionship without the strings and stress that can accompany commitment, open your mouth and say that. If you realize down the road that you were misguided about your wants and now you want something more serious, be clear about your needs. If you’re dealing with a man, you have to be upfront. It’s key. They don’t pick up on hints and passive aggressive moves to try and signal what you want will end with your texts saying Read 9:57PM. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for rejection. He may not want what you want, and that’s fine. He’s not the only man left with a sausage dangling between his legs. Nurse your ego back to health and keep it pushing, but don’t become a thirstbucket who is content with being a half-ass girlfriend. Life is too short.

He Just Doesn’t Like You Sis

There are levels to liking someone. I’ve liked a lot of guys who I didn’t want a relationship with. Frank Ocean said it best “No, I don’t like you I just thought you were cool enough to kick it.” Lust easily blinds us to the real ins and outs of someone’s personality because we are led on a string by physical attraction. Liking someone physically and/or sexually does not equate to liking who they are as a person. When you’re just riding around having a jolly good time and neglect to learn anything about his habits, goals, dark past or 325 credit score, you can’t say you like him because you don’t know him. Knowing that he taught his little brother how to throw a football does not mean he would be good with kids. His conspiracy theory about Earth being flat does not mean he’s deep and doesn’t conform. Now think a little harder about this; if you barely know him, you can guarantee he knows beans about you. If the sex is good and the stress is low, a man who isn’t already captivated by your dazzling personality isn’t going out of his way to learn more about you than what you’re offering up as free information. During the dark days of me selling myself short, I thirstily asked Situationship Boo what he thought of me. He said, “you’re cool.” I was flabbergasted. tenorCompletely bewildered. My ego took about 27 hits at once. I’m COOL?!? Just cool? Where was all that sweet talk in the beginning where I was told I wasn’t like other girls and I was so great to be around? I thought because I was going to a major university, didn’t live at home with my parents, received my Associate’s Degree and high school diploma at the same time, read a bunch of books and didn’t have a baby daddy that I was wifey material through and through. All that education I had and I couldn’t see past my own ego. He just didn’t like me like that. It doesn’t matter how good you look on paper or in person, if you two aren’t vibing on more that a physical level, you will remain just someone who is convenient for the moment. Instead of being basic AF and asking him what he thought of me months down the road, I should have spent those early days seeing if our connection was something worth building on instead of going with the flow that ended up flowing absolutely nowhere. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you have the personality of Tiffany Haddish, talent of Beyonce and sex appeal of Rihanna, if he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t like you, beloved. Someone being present in the moment and giving you a few hours of their time here and there does not mean he wants a relationship with you. He can shower you with compliments, take you out for your birthday and snatch your soul every night, but if he hasn’t told you he wants you just for him, move on. Him beating around the bush when you mention a relationship isn’t because Mercury in Retrograde is putting a damper on his communication skills. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be someone’s. Remember that when you see him on Snapchat a few months later with a girlfriend.