Finding Earth or Something Like It

Recently, a guy at a gas station tried to hit on me. He told me, at one point, that he was still looking for his Earth. When I asked him to explain, he rambled off something about it being comparable to a soul mate, but not quite. He said he didn't believe in soul mates because "you can make it be whatever with anybody..."

Now, I'm still not clear on the difference between his "Earth" and what most people refer to as soul mates, but he still has me thinking about the topic.

I spent my birthday with J's family -- which I did last year as well. After dinner the night before my b-day, as his mom and I waited for the car to be brought around, she remarked to me, "You two were soul mates..."

And then, a couple of a days ago I was watching Oprah and 2 of her guests were Fran Drescher and her ex husband Peter Marc Jacobson. They divorced after several years of marriage because Jacobson came out of the closet. One of the first things she said during the interview was that they were soul mates.

I have no idea what my definition of a soul mate is. I think there are some basic qualities that seem obvious: someone who cares for you deeply, someone who understands you, maybe even better than you understand yourself, someone who supports you, looks out for you... which sounds a lot like a good friend, but I think in the case of a soul mate, it's x1000 and it happens naturally, without a lot of prodding or work, as is sometimes necessary in run of the mill relationships.

I reeled just a tad when J's mom made that comment to me. She clearly understood his sexuality and accepted and supported it, so her comment clearly had nothing to do with our romantic relationship. When I heard Fran Drescher talking about it, though, it made a little more sense to me -- that is, things I had been thinking and working through.

A piece of me is uncomfortable with the finality of calling J my soul mate -- maybe because I have to admit then that my soul mate is gone and I really did lose him, or maybe because I'd have to admit that I'll never find anyone to get me the way I need to be understood -- but in any case, I can toy around with the idea of it.

But this guy -- he said that "you can make it be whatever with anybody..." I reeled a tad when he said that, too. It didn't feel right. Maybe you can fake it with anybody, but eventually that shows. Hard times come and if it's not real, it's easier to run. I think soul mates exist, I just wonder if (or maybe hope I haven't) met mine...


Pilgrim in Progress

I've declared 2011 to be the year I change my life. In several ways I really am changing the way I do things -- physically, emotionally and mentally. However, I'm beginning to realize that in some ways I'm going back to the way I used to do things. Undergrad for me was, like many others, a time for self discovery. However, I spent some really crucial years in an unhealthy relationship and it's taken me some time to work out all the leftover kinks from that.

I'm going to make a comparison that's going to sound a little crude and insensitive, but work with me for a second.

When Oprah did her 2 part show on men who had been molested, one man said, as Oprah has said before, that he is not who he could have been because of his molestation. I believe that I am not currently who I could have been because of several different things that have happened to me. None of those things are tantamount to being molested, especially as a child, but they are similar in that they changed the scope of who I am. The significant difference, however, is that I think that with a little effort and work, I can still be who I was "supposed" to be.

I mentioned a friend a few posts ago going through a serious break up. When I wrote that I didn't realize how serious the relationship had been for her -- but I do now. In a recent conversation she asked me how long it took me to get over my break up. I told her, "you really don't want me to answer that..." I literally just decided that the thought of going through the steps of getting to know someone didn't make me sick -- physically -- to my stomach. I'm making progress. A heck of a lot slower than I would've liked, but I won't say it's taken me "too long."

All of this rambling brings me to what is supposed to be the point of this post: sharing a new favorite poem with you. One of my professors shared it with my class on Monday and as we read through it, I felt it was so applicable to where I am in my life. Enjoy.

“Pilgrim in Process” (M. J. Mahoney)
It’s a season of transition and you’re on the move again on a path toward something you cannot disown;
Searching for your being in the labyrinths of heart
and sensing all the while you’re not alone

Yes, you seem to keep on changing for the better and the worse and you dream about the shrines you yet to find;
And you recognize your longing as a blessing and a curse while you puzzle at the prisons of your mind.

For as much as you seek freedom from your agonies and fears and as often as you’ve tried to see the light,
There is still a trembling terror that your liberation nears as you struggle with the edges of your night.

For your Reason is a skeptic and rejects what it desires, playing hard to get with miracles and signs;
Till a Witness gains momentum and emerges from within
To disclose the patterns well above the lines.

Then a window has been opened and you’ve let yourself observe how the fabric of your Being lies in wait;
And you want to scream in anger and you want to cry for joy
And you worry that it still may be too late.

For the roller coaster plummets with a force that drives you sane as you tightly grasp for truths that will abide;
Never fully understanding that your need to feel secure
Is the very thing that keeps you on the ride.

You survive the oscillations and begin to sense their role
In a process whose direction is more clear
And you marvel as your balance point becomes a frequent home, and your lifelong destination feels like “here.”

So with gentleness and wonder, with questions and with quests
You continue on the path that is your way;
Knowing now that you have touched upon the shores of inner life, and excursions deeper can’t be far away.

There will be so many moments when an old view seems so strong and you question whether you can really change;
And yet, from deep within you, there’s a sense of more to come and your old view is the one that now seems so strange.

Take good care, my friend, and listen to the whispers of your heart as it beats its precious rhythm through your days;
My warm thoughts and hopes are with you on your journeys through it all…
and the paths of life in process find their ways.

Do be gentle, Process Pilrgrim;
learn to trust that trust is dear, and the same is true of laughter and of rest;
Please remember
that the living is a loving in itself,
And the secret is to ever be in quest…


Conflicts of Interest

Knowing the right thing to do and wanting to do the right thing are not always given sides of the same coin. I'd venture to say that in most cases, they're actually mutually exclusive, especially in matters of the heart.

Typically we characterize it by saying our head wants us to do one thing but our heart just won't listen. We know a person is bad for our lives but we let them stay. My question is why?

I've been there before. In fact, I've gone back to doing a lot of thinking and processing of what it looks like to be a person waist deep in mess but unable to leave. Be in a relationship with someone who either doesn't care for you or the relationship or both and think that if you just stay a little longer, the sinking ship will unsink and right itself.

I'm thinking about that even more watching a friend struggle through a breakup. The last time I watched a friend do this, I wasn't as gracious as I maybe should have been. In my defense it was because I didn't know that what I thought on the matter had any bearing on her feelings, but nevertheless, I made a series of mistakes that I hope to not repeat.

There we are, in the stairwell of her apartment building. She's wiping eyes that won't get dry and she looks like a train hit her head on. We've been having this same conversation for weeks now. This whether or not she should end the relationship conversation. The conversation everyone has had at least once. Either with a friend or with themselves. And we've never come to the same conclusion (I say we, but I just defer to her conclusion, whether I'm in agreement or not). Being with him makes her sad more than it makes her happy, makes her feel inferior more than superior, makes her question both her sexuality (that's major) as well as her genuine good characteristics more than it affirms who she is as a great individual. As is usually the case in these situations, the answer seems obvious. I mean if you have to ask, that speaks volumes.

And yet, again, she looks up at me and asks if she's doing the right thing. The right thing being ending a less than 6 month relationship that isn't presently adding any value to her life. She doesn't ask for reaffirmation, she asks because she doesn't know and a little bit because she's hoping for a reprieve.

I feel growth in myself in this situation. I don't feel irritation as I've felt for friends before, and as I felt for myself when I grappled with this. I feel genuinely hurt for her because it is hard. When you love someone, you sometimes believe (or maybe just hope) that love is enough and friends, I'm here to tell you, it's not. I feel for her that on top of dealing with all the questions this otherwise innocuous relationship brings up for her, she's also got to accept what she perceives as defeat and walk away.

I start to answer her, but hesitate. Someone else answers for me. "Yes." There's a soft chuckle and she wipes her eyes. She looks at me again, her eyes are still not dry and she says, "but it's so hard." I hug her and say, "I know. If it were easy, fewer of us would have war wounds from love."

We leave her to return to him to have the final talk, and we wonder aloud if it really will be the final talk. I think it's over, but I don't think it's done. That's the other thing about these situations. It's hard not to spend the ensuing alone time doing a lot of revisionist history. that is to say, it's hard not to remember things a little bit better than they actually were and to then wonder whether or not you jumped the gun. Those of us who've been through this once, have been through it several times and with the same person.

It's hard work both knowing the right thing to do and wanting to do it. Especially when doing so means admitting defeat. But I think it becomes a little easier when you realize it's not defeat to get your life back and your joy back and your happiness. It's a total win. You may lose a person, but for many of us we get ourselves back and how can you lose when you get yourself back?

One thing I believe very much: Everything is about how you frame it.



When I was younger my friends and I would pinky swear not to tell secrets. As I got older, the pinky swear became a circle of trust and these days, my friends and I put things in the trust tree. All of these things are euphemisms for confidentiality. We tell our friends secrets, but some secrets need the added security of confidentiality.

In counseling, confidentiality is the most important part of the counselor/client relationship. Without the promise of "no telling" (except for in instances of potential of harm to self or others) the relationship cannot be helpful. In some ways, I think the same can be said of close relationships -- of the friend or intimate kind.

I've recently been made privy to a breach of confidentiality in several different situations. In a few, the breaches could have serious consequences for those who's secrets have been revealed and for those who have done the revealing. But in all the situations, no matter the individual outcomes, there are heavy consequences for the relationships.

Over the years, I've struggled with how readily people share their secrets with me. For one, the things I know about people are just... let's just say that there's more than a handful of people out there who should make it their business to never piss me off :). But for two, it's a heavy burden carrying people's secrets. In fact, what I've actually learned about secrets is that people share them because of their weight. Tonight, I spoke with 2 friends about the misuse and abuse of the "trust tree." I told them that people will use the trust tree to reveal things they shouldn't be revealing because the weight of those things have become to heavy for them and they want to dump the load off on someone else.

Once, a friend tried to explain to me what it is about me that makes sharing so easy and she couldn't quite articulate it, but she did tell me, "whatever it is, it's a God-given gift that you don't even control, so use it right." I've really taken those words to heart. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance, but that has meant I've had to learn other ways to deal with the burdens I feel because of the weight of the secrets.

Maybe the one thing that sticks with me as I work on my confidentiality skills (which, as I'm trying to point out, is larger than not telling people's secrets) is what it's been like to have my own secrets exposed. The sum experience is that I now don't really tell things about myself to anyone that I wouldn't mind getting out to everyone. On one hand, that's made me less self-conscious about some things, but super self-conscious about others and maybe the things that I don't talk about are the things I really need to be talking about. When I think about these situations in my own life the hurt and embarrassment hasn't always been in what was told, but the way it felt to know that I had shared something with someone in assumed (or explicit) confidence and that person disregarded my feelings to score a point or be funny or maybe even just to embarrass me.

Perhaps the most educational experiences have been when I knew my secret was told in an effort to help me. Knowing that there are conversations happening about me without my input and clarification can be stressful. I take from that feeling that when I feel like a secret needs to be told to someone else to help the individual, that individual needs to be told too. Thinking that in order to share I secret I must tell the secret's owner keeps me honest about why I want to talk about it. What I usually find out is that a simple conversation with the person alleviates a lot of concerns for me. It releases whatever burden I'm feeling.

All this comes up for me, right now, because I'm trying to figure out how to address a group of people who have become close friends about all of our misuses of understood confidentiality with each other. Coming this close to feeling like I have people who I can really share myself with and not worry about the consequences makes me eager to do my part to be sure I do have that and for as long as possible.

It's also making me be even more serious about being confidential.

In Case You Didn't Know

Sometimes when I'm not here, it's because I'm over here

2 fresh posts over there.

Hope everyone is having a great MLK Day!



A friend of mine recently got into a serious relationship with a man she met online. He seems to be really good to and for her. Prior to him were a string of less than wonderful guys. Some played games, some were immature, some were users. At every turn she kept her close friends updated on the turns and dips and ups and downs. When she met this guy, though, she didn't tell anyone. In fact, she had been visiting me the weekend of her first date with him and didn't mention that the real reason she was leaving earlier than planned was because of him. She called me after the date to spill the beans. She told me that she hadn't told anyone about him because she was afraid it would be another bust and she just couldn't deal with having to talk all her friends through another one of those. I completely understood. I've told her (and several other friends) "don't be surprised if the first time you find out I'm in a relationship is when you get an invite to a wedding..."

I've pretty much walked my friends through many my relationships, especially the one with J. It started because I was in high school and that's what you do in high school. You lay up on the phone late at night telling your girlfriends all the sordid details (funny how when you get older the only person you want to be on the phone with late like that is your booski...). Since my relationship with J started in high school as we moved to college, my friends still wanted to know everything and my new friends started to want to know all about the train wreck, too and because I needed to vent, I was more than happy to oblige.

Towards the end, I started to keep details to myself because I began to feel that some of my friends were using my life -- which as it related to J had gotten super hard and troubling -- as entertainment. I felt like some of them would call me just to hear the latest, as if I was their favorite weekly television show and it bothered me. But I still had that nagging need to get out what was going on and so while there were some details I kept to myself, I still continued to talk a lot about it.

In the years after the relationship ended, I thought a lot about my part in the implosion. Not talking to J about my feelings was my part. Even when he didn't want to, I should've tried instead of letting things build the way I did. I also needed the support of my friends through it all and unfortunately because the only thing they ever heard from me were negative things they were completely unsympathetic to him and as an extension, unsympathetic to the relationship. "Just leave" was all I ever heard and even though it was right, it wasn't what I was searching for.

I'm actually a pretty private person. I don't enjoy having a whole lot of folks in my business. Interestingly, the main reason I don't like it is because I hate for people to make assumptions or draw conclusions. This is ironic because the lack of information I give has actually caused assumptions and misinformation about my personal business to run rampant. This is a digression.

Since then, I've vowed to keep my cards closer and tighter. From time to time I've had slip ups -- sharing something with a friend about a new guy or an interest only to realize that was too much, but I note it and do better moving forward. I don't need my friends to meet new folks all quickly. I want a minute to get to know them myself before we jump into meeting friends. Plus, meeting my friends is akin to meeting my family (ftr: my family, God love 'em -- He knows I do, is quite the adventure. My fiancee, or the guy I wanted to be my fiancee would meet them. Other than my mom and maybe a cousin or two, that's it. Too much prep work is involved otherwise, and that's why my friends take that role) and there's no sense in bringing in someone who might not make it through the month.

All of this brings me back to here. This place. I've mentioned one or two guys offhandedly (well, except for this guy who got two posts, but that was just... that was a mess). How much is too much information on a blog? I used to blog about me and J on a site that maybe a handful of people knew about and he hated it. We had several fights as a result and so I didn't blog about us anymore, except for in the most cryptic of ways and of course that was when things were pretty much over.

I deal with things by talking them out. In argument style terms, I'm the aggressor. In an argument with a loved one, I want to keep fighting until we get it out. I seem to attract avoiders who just want to leave it alone until everyone cools off. In order to respect that, I go to my friends or Microsoft Word to process things. I've written (make that started) several short stories just because I needed to work out an entire situation surrounding one major event. So in the firestorm that can be a relationship, in all the life lessons you learn when you're trying to be with somebody while trying to still be your own body, how transparent is too transparent when being private is important to me?

Some of my favorite bloggers have the ability to take personal situations and put them into story form and share major life lessons through that. Recently on twitter a couple of those folks talked a little bit about the consequences in their private lives, of doing that. Including upsetting their significant others. I guess it's all in why you do what you do. I am big on intent, after all.

Ultimately, I'm probably just going to have to cross that bridge when I get to it. But I do know that I want to really know my significant other before I get to talking about anything beyond his first name with my friends and I want to be very cognizant of taking my concerns and problems about him to him first -- knowing that it won't always be easy (though, if he knows me the way I hope he will, he'll know that he should do his best to make that easy) but that it will be worth it.


Off Limits

A couple of months ago on a random road trip, a friend of mine and I got to talking about dating your friends' exes. I don't remember when I became aware of the unspoken but very real rule that you can't date your friends' exes, but I know that ever since I've known about it, I've not understood it. At least not in its' all encompassing and blanketed ways.

This is a hard question to ask my friends about because I can't help but wonder if they start thinking "ok, clearly I need to keep my man away from her..." when I'm really just having a conversation and wondering more and more about why we do the things we do and even moreso if we ever think about it.

For the record, I respect the rule. I've actually never been in a situation where I had to make a choice (though I came close -- get to that in a second). However, I'm cognizant that the main reason I respect the rule is because I respect my friendships, not necessarily because I see its usefulness. I mean, honestly, some of my friends really get around. I'd need to move if I wanted to be sure I wasn't messing with anyone they had already dated.

The friend that I did talk with this about a few months ago and I agreed that the only exes off limits were the serious ones and we both agreed that any friend close enough to hurt us or disrespect our friendship by dating him after us would know who was off limits based on that criteria.

I had a crush on a guy once who I'd known for about a year. I really really liked him and really hoped we could make something of it. I told him about my interest and... he quit talking to me all together. It was rather embarrassing because I found out later that he'd told several of our mutual friends. I still had that crush on him though. A few months later he and I along with several other folks went on a week long trip. There were a handful of us who, because of that trip, got to be really good friends. One of those girls in this faction and I had several mutual friends before the trip and so we knew each other, but thanks to the trip she and I became very close. She also got close with him and shortly after our return, they began dating seriously. I can't remember if I told her I liked him, but I think I did. I think I tried to do so in a "full disclosure, but don't worry about it" type of way. Hell, he may have told her about it once upon a time. Anyway, they broke up a few years later and have spent the time between then and now going back and forth on whether or not to get together. I think they probably were made for each other.

Now, once she and I became good friends, he was clearly off limits. That's a no brainer, but what if she and I had just remained acquaintances? What if he and I became close friends during their relationship, closer than she and I? Would I have been wrong to pursue him, knowing I'd liked him before she even knew him? Gray area -- I guess it's all about the specifics of the situation, but I wonder sometimes: do we know why we follow that rule? Does anyone think about it from anything other than a selfish standpoint? "I just don't want my friends messing with my exes..."

To be ultimately clear, my friendships are always more important to me than their exes. Period. I wouldn't risk a friendship on anything less than certainty and I couldn't be certain about a relationship with an ex of theirs where the relationship was serious and hearts really got involved. Those cursory dating relationships of convenience, though? Well... lemme thank on it. :)


Show and Prove

A recent gchat status:
It has come to my attention that individuals have drawn the erroneous conclusion that because I do not show emotion, I do not feel. This could not be further from the truth.
Over the last month I've had repeated situations where a friend said or did something me in my feelings... but they glossed over the situation as if it was inconsequential. Both were glaringly awkward situations. The kinds where both parties know there needs to be a reflection for a second. At least some time spent making sure everyone got out of the little trip up relatively unscathed. I was not extended that courtesy in either of those situations.

The conclusion I've drawn is that it's a direct result of my not showing emotion. In fact the only emotion I do seem to show with any sincerity is anger. Actually, I say the only one I show is irritation. There's only 2 people who have ever seen me actually angry and one is now dead. In any case because of this and the perception it causes, people assume I don't have feelings and many are very afraid of me getting angry (::shrug::)

In any case it's just not true. I have feelings and they get trampled on all the time. The thing is I don't express that part and I don't feel like I should have to (well, not so that people will stop trampling on them -- I should express emotion... says my inner counselor). There are just some things that happen and you know, without knowing, that it could potentially hurt someone.

You're watching the television on mute (I don't know why. Just go with me). You see a scene where a character in a movie gets hit by a bus. You don't have to hear him screaming in pain to know that getting hit by a bus probably hurt. Life experiences tells you that a 5 yr old can hit you hard enough to hurt, let alone a huge bus, right? Same with feelings. Forget something important about a friend or say something rude or brush them off or ditch them for someone else... life experiences tells you that stuff hurts. Do you have to see them cry to know it hurt?

I know people only deal with the icky stuff they have to. No one is going to go looking for an awkward situation to jump into, but there's no reason to avoid the obvious, right? Eh. I'm big on personal responsibility, anyway and I know my part in this is leading people into this sense that I'm emotionless because I literally don't feel. This is wrong and I need to do a better of job of letting people know when they have hurt me if I want them to address it.



Despite my interest in mental health and counseling, I'm not big into self-help books. I think too many of our current self-help popular books are absolute b.s. not founded in anything but one man's (coughSteveHarveycough) personal experiences and wants. Folks don't want researched based theories and advice anymore, they want the things that feel and sound good and in some cases continue to give them an excuse to do what they've been doing.

*steps of soapbox*

However, I have found one book that I love and talk about all the time that might fall under the self-help section. The Five Love Languages. I went to visit my cousin on a work trip out in Denver last year and she talked so much about the book that I had to get it. By the time I got back to DC a day or so later, I had finished the book and gained a new appreciation for self-examination.

The book is really worth the read so I won't go into to much of it, but the 5 Love Languages are Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Encouragement. My love language is QT. There is no better way to show me that you care about me than to just spend time with me.

One other thing I liked about the book is that the author talks about how people give love the way they receive it. I do that -- I spend time (or try to, anyway) with people I really care about. The author uses case studies to show that doesn't always mean a good and healthy relationship. If you want to communicate with a person, you have to do so in a language they understand. Same here, if you want your partner to know you care, you have to do so in the way they understand which means getting to know their love language. Ever since reading the book I've tried to figure out what my close friends (because this isn't just applicable to romantic relationships) receive love.

The one love language I just don't really see a part of me is gifts. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate gifts but I'm a bit particular. I've experienced situations where I was given a gift to make up for a lack. Maybe the person just couldn't say they were sorry for doing something wrong or they wanted to illicit some response from me that they thought the gift might bring out. In any case, it's manipulation with a gift. I love getting gifts from people who saw something and thought of me or just genuinely wanted me to have something. I'm not a fan of being manipulated by something that should be done from an earnest and genuine part of the heart.

I may be being a bit too much with that, but it's how I feel and in fact I've not kept gifts long that I felt like were given to me for any reason other than just genuinely wanting me to have it.

I think intent is everything. I think that there can be poor intent behind almost anything you do, including spending time with someone. Gifts, however, I think are the most prone to being misused.

I've had several recent instances that have me thinking about my feelings on this and where they come from. My inner counselor has some thoughts on the matter but either way, I'll take my love in the quality time variety sprinkled with some physical touch... ok, maybe not sprinkled. ;)


On Marriage

Not having ever been married and not having been in a relationship that was serious enough to talk about marriage in a number of years, the topic just doesn't come up on this blog -- but it came up on my twitter timeline recently.

I know a lot of people who don't want to get married. I also know several people who are downright scared of marriage and I know a handful who are petrified of marriage but pretend it has something to do with some larger philosophical issue about life.

The debate on gay marriage has really given a lot of commitment phobes a valid and seemingly righteous excuse. Never in my life have I heard so many people bullshit their reasons for not wanting to get married. There are some folks out there who really do identify, in some way, with the plight of the LGBT community and to show their solidarity refuse to get married. I applaud those folks, but most people saying they won't get married until gay people can get married are straight up bullshitting. They just don't want to get married.

As I said on Twitter, I believe we've created a culture that does not support people who are just genuinely disinterested in marriage. "I just don't want to get married" does not work in this society. People look at you like you just grew a green mole with hair on your forehead and wait, oftentimes not so patiently, to explain.

Many of my friends from undergrad would agree with this: if you, as a black student, are walking around campus with several of your fellow black students and a non-black student, especially white, speaks to you, there will be silence until you explain where you know them from.

Now there's no handbook on how to be a black student at my alma mater, but that was one part of the culture we all picked up on quickly. There was no shade, no issue, you just knew you needed to let everyone know that Tommy is in your group for your English class and conversation would resume. No muss, no fuss. We just accepted that.

In a similar fashion, we've accepted that if you don't want to get married, you had better have a damn good reason. Something, anything, other than "I just don't want to." So much so that it's folks out here who think touting the 50% divorce rate is really a good reason for not getting married. This is probably the one that irks me the most. You have just as good of a chance of staying together as not staying together. You have just as much reason to do one as the other. Let's not get ridiculous.

We've confused not wanting to get married for not wanting companionship. And let's face it, people who don't want companionship are just odd. We have personality disorders for them. Another is people take this stuff personally. You're going along with someone and you think marriage is on the horizon only to have them tell you that's not what they want. First thought? Something is wrong with me. So we press them for a reason and eventually they tell us this sob story about their uncle's best friend's cousin's son who went through this horrid divorce and they just don't want that. When really, they just don't want to be married, period but they know that reasoning won't get them anywhere.

Unfortunately on top of not supporting people's right to just not want to be married, we also make people think they should get to have their cake and eat it too. So homegirl knows marriage ain't in the cards, but she will play whatever game she has to to keep homeboy around. Even get engaged but always have a reason not to set a date. Or homeboy will promise that marriage is coming, as soon as he gets his finances right and can afford a ring. Because they want the companionship sans the long term (and very legal) commitment.

I'm respectful of people who just don't want marriage. What I struggle with, however, is respecting bullshit. If you just don't want to get married, you just don't. People who make you explain it past that need to move out of your way and let you find someone who will accept you just that way. And on the flip side, folks who are ready to get married today should be free to find someone else who feels that way. Holding on to someone who wants that level and type of commitment because you're comfortable and unwilling to step into the unknown is selfish as sh*t and I can't respect that either.


Your Friends' Relationships

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what's appropriate behavior for single individuals who are good friends with 2 folks in a relationship.

Back in high school, there weren't a lot of rules on this. For one, we were in high school. For two, it was a small school, even smaller black community. This meant there was a good chance that a friend of yours was dating one of your exes at any given time. This also meant there was an excellent chance that two good friends of yours were in a relationship at any given time. I can recall seeing and participating in inappropriate behaviors because I was young and dumb. In word we all acted like we were cool with seeing another girl sitting in our b/f's laps or watching our boyfriends hold the hand of another girl as they walked around campus. But in reality, I know no one was.

Anyway, that was high school. This is the real world. And as much as I say and believe that life is just high school on repeat, I also think we oughta be doing some things a little differently. So what is appropriate behavior? And more importantly, why is being cognizant of all this important? Some is obvious. I mean you shouldn't be groping folks who are in relationships. You should be mindful of their significant other's presence, whether you know said SO or not. But why do we do that?

Not too long ago I was at a party with some new friends of mine. Late into the evening as the party was winding down and I was splayed out on the couch, a friend walked up and sat down next to me. He actually practically sat right on top of me as he chose the end of the couch I was closest to as his seat. He put his arm around me as if to give me a quick side hug and I did the same. All was good until I realized he wasn't moving his arm and the longer I sat there the more I realized he was... well... holding me. A few moments later, I noticed his hand rubbing my shoulder. It was about that time his girlfriend, who I'm better friends with, walked up and just began staring at us.

It's important to note here that I was aware they were having some issues. I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but this whole being in the middle of 2 folks in a relationships with issues thing is not new to me, no matter what I do.

She didn't say anything for a bit, but I immediately began wrestling my arm out of the awkward hold it was in and I stood up. As I walked past her, she asked me if I was trying to steal him from her. She was drunk, and I knew it but I wasn't sure if she was joking. I guess I paused too long because she quickly asserted that she had been joking. I laughed it off and walked away.

The next night, she and I along with 2 other friends were hanging out when I brought that story up (she'd also asked me a few other odd questions, in her drunken stupor). I wanted to know that we really were good. As I filled the other girls in on what happened, she looked at us and said, "he never does that with me..."

"What?" I asked cautiously, thinking (though in hindsight, maybe hoping) she thought more was going on than it actually was.

"Cuddle with me like that. He doesn't like to do that."

Record scratch...

And in that moment, I added one more reason to be careful what you do with someone's boo, harmless or not, intentional or not: you never know what problems they're having and how your "innocent" actions might exacerbate the situation.


That Girl...

We all know that girl...

We all probably know several that girls...

And if we stop and think about it, none of them are exactly alike. Yet, they're still all "that" girl.

I've decided to keep a running tally of the different types of "that girl" and share them all with you. First up: "If I Wanted Your Man, I'd Have Your Man" Girl.

She's not an easy one to spot. She'll probably initially pop up as somebody's friend. She's real cool, very beautiful and always has at least 4 male friends (who she ALWAYS insists are just friends) on the roster at any given time. In fact, you probably met her through one of those guy friends and it's even worse if the guy is currently your man.

Everything starts off real easy like. Granted, you were a little skeptical of her, but she's super respectful of your relationship -- hell you probably feel like you and her are hitting it off. She gets all the things about your beau that were kinda cute, but are just annoying now. She lets you vent when things are messing up in the relationship and as far as you can tell she doesn't run her mouth about it. You notice she spends more time with you than your man and you feel safe about all this. You trust her so much that when you notice her laughing a little too hard at your man's not funny jokes or touching him a little too long, you brush it off real quick. It doesn't hurt that she will often apologize to you if it makes you feel uncomfortable, but there's 2 tricks she pulls here: 1)She doesn't stop it and 2)She makes sure to insinuate that whether you're comfortable with it or not, you should be cool cause you know what's really good: they're just friends.

It's typically not for a long while that it dawns on you who this girl is. The girl who doesn't want your man, but wants to know she could have your man. As is par for the course, your boyfriend is clueless. If he's honest, he'll admit he tried to holla back before he met you, but she was unresponsive. If he's astute, he'll realize that those same jokes that she's laughing at so hard now, she didn't even break a smile on before. But, despite his best efforts and most redeeming qualities, he's probably neither of those things in this particular situation.

It gets to the point that you know something is wrong but you can't put your finger on it. You're so embarrassed about it -- either being too sensitive, or having missed the game that just got run on you so badly -- that you don't tell anyone.

The thing about these girls is they toe the line. Most likely, they'll never sleep with your man. Truth is, they really don't want him; it's all (and only) about the power of knowing that in a way, they hold the strings to the puppet that is your relationship. The best ones of them are practically taking your place before you realize what's going on. Perhaps the worst thing about them is that it's hard to say what to do. You feel like you should be mad at your booski, but you know that's wrong and you want to be mad at her but what did she really do, you wonder to yourself. She did too much, that's what. So don't be angry at yourself, recognize that girl for who she is and ignore her ass. In the end, that's all she's looking for, anyway: attention.