Checking the Expiration Date- It’s Time for You to Go

Have you ever went to your refrigerator for some milk and found the milk all chunky and almost in a solid form?  It seemed only a couple of days ago, it was fine and still drinkable.  Now the milk is expired, spoiled, and smelly. Absolutely grossed out, you wonder why you hadn’t noticed it earlier.  Like milk, relationships can go way past their expiration date.

When was the last time you smelled your relationship?

Women often prolong an expired relationship because they are fearful of being alone.  Men usually stay too long beacause of convenience or misplaced obligation.  A relationship can easily go months, or tragically years, before you are able to realize that it is way past its expiration date.  And like milk, the longer you hold on to something that is no longer good, the worst the clean-up becomes.  It is best to catch it early, cut your losses, and not continue to pour your resources into a spoiled, beyond-repair relationship.
Please understand there is a huge difference between normal and healthy disagreements versus toxic and dysfunctional relationships.  And sometimes it is hard to decipher between the two when you think you are in love and are still in the relationships.  From the outside looking in, or in hindsight, the lines are perfectly clear.  This list is for those still inside a spoiled relationship and blinded to the lines.
1)        Cheating. Cheating is really so commonplace nowadays that no one is ever shocked or disappointed by infidelity anymore.  Well, that is only true if you are not in that relationship.  When you are the one being cheated on, it is the worst.  And while men are often the ones most associated with cheating, women cheat as well and, well, much better.  However, cheating is a direction reflection of lack of maturity and focus on what you really want.  Even worse, and the reason why you might as well leave, is that it destroys trust.  Trust is the most critical ingredient in a relationship.  It is the thing that separates friends from foes.  And without trust, you end up treating the one supposedly love like a stranger.
2)        Fighting. There is a huge difference between arguing and fighting.  If you are no longer able to use your words to effectively communicate how you feel and thus have resorted to a physical expression of your disdain, then it is time to go.  Hitting is a huge tell-tell sign of an unhealthy relationship.  And let’s be clear, women hitting on men are just as wrong.   There are no passes because you are probably not injuring him.  If you can’t talk about it, keep it moving.  Additionally, verbal abuse is real as well.  If you are constantly feeling less than when you are around someone, then why be with that person?  Relationships are intended to build up each other, not destroy.
3)        Complete Dependency. You pay the bills, you cook, you clean, you have the only car, and you work.  They do nothing. They contribute nothing.  They have nothing.  If a person is a continuous source of complete depletion of everything you have worked for then that person needs to go.  With the exception of someone being in school,  there is no reason to be in a relationship with someone that leeches off your love and drains your resources.
Break-ups are hard but there is life beyond that man or woman.  Wasting valuable, nonrenewable time is tragic.  Every now and then, you must put your emotions aside, and look at your relationship as if your best friend was in your shoes.  Is it a relationship you would want them to leave?  If so, then you must make that critical step toward your own happiness.

What a Toxic Relationship Looks Like 101

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One Strike & You’re Out

Life is seldom perfect.  People very rarely meet all of your expectations, unless you have no expectations at all.  Nonetheless, we find a way to overcome challenges and find a way to keep smiling and enjoying life.  We know eventually the tears will stop and better days are ahead.  However, that tenacity to push through life doesn’t always translate into our relationships.  A reader recently reached out to vent about her boyfriend who every time a problem comes up his solution is to leave the relationship.  Sometimes there are valid reasons to leave, but most times men are just scared and lack emotional problem solving skills.
We, as people, have been trained to find the easiest route at all costs.  It is the American way.  It has translated into our education, careers, and our relationships.  And with so many failed marriages, unstable homes, and absent fathers there is no wonder that men often feel the best solution to a problem is to run.
The abundance of women willing to jump in and take a woman’s place doesn’t make it any easier to convince a man to work through an issue. Thus the result of asking for out anytime there is any type of disagreement in an otherwise normal and healthy relationship.   Little is publicized about the benefits of working through problems because very few nowadays get to the other side of their problems together. However, the bond and trust that evolves after facing obstacles, using your words to address them, and tackling the problems together is more than worthwhile and in essence becomes the foundation of a stable “we can work through anything” relationship!

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Recipe for Disaster

…you know, I was thinking more about Fantasia and how this entire situation could have been avoided.  Dude was married, separated, and claimed he was never going back to his wife.  Yet and still, Fantasia still ends up single, distraught, and facing a lawsuit from the wife…
Some men do put on guises and pretend to be all you need.  However, some men wave their caution tags loud and proud, and we women decide to ignore them or feel like you will be immune from heartache. Women are often in the kitchen preparing their own recipe for disaster.  I’ve been there.  Sometimes the signs are blurry and the lines are vague.  I’m here to help out.  Here are the men to avoid.
1) The married ones. The separated ones.  The ones that live with their girl whether they claim they are not together anymore.  The ones you can’t get in touch with after 10pm because they are with their main girl.  Sidelining is only cute for but so long.  You can’t be a sideline and want the main’s attention and respect.  You don’t want to be a sideline, then don’t participate in sideline activities.  Simple.
2) The ones that don’t care of their kids. There are some dudes (and women) that will tell you they have kids but they ALWAYS have time for you. You see the dude all the time but he doesn’t EVER have his kids- EVER??  I completely understand not wanting to introduce the kids to randoms but if you have been with a guy for months on end and he has never had the kid then that, my dear, is a red flag.  If he doesn’t take care of his responsibilities how is he going to commit to someone else?
3) The ones that can’t hold a job. It doesn’t matter as much what he does as much as how well he does it.  If he has a track record of getting fired or quitting a job every 2 months, he probably can’t commit to you either.  If he always runs away when he a challenge comes up at work he will do the same to you.
4) The ones that nothing is EVER their fault. We all know people that bad things continuously seem to happen to them but it is NEVER their fault. EVER??  Men that don’t accept responsibility for the things that they can control are weak.  Leave them alone.  And by doing so, you too take control of your actions and stop being the victim in every relationship.

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The Break-Up Survival Kit: The Fantasia Edition

I just read Fantasia’s sad story on People.com.  The singer, who tried and failed to commit suicide, was giving further insight to her situation saying she was tired of being hurt and done wrong over and over again.  Damn.  I mean we can all grasp that constant and repetitive heartache will take its toll on your spirit, but it is all about how you deal with the disappointment and pain. Fantasia in mind, I decided to create a Break Up Survival Kit, a little break-up cocktail if you will, to help you get over any man.  Hopefully that way you won’t feel the need to check out because of any dude that obviously was never worth your time from jump.  So here we go.
1) Ice Cream– It is so cliché but that is because it works.  Food brings comfort.  But it is a short temporary fix that you can’t over indulge in because you have to keep your figure to get the next man.
2) Beyonce- No one injects self-esteem, I don’t need a man-dom , and overall woman’s power more than Beyonce. Also dancing to all the songs is the perfect exercise to increase endorphins that will not only make you look better but feel better too!
3) Any Tyler Perry Movie– Nothing says ‘men ain’t bout nothing’ quite like a Tyler Perry movie. It is just always comforting to know no matter how bad you had it, a woman in a Tyler Perry movie had it 100 times worse. Plus there is always a “coming to Jesus” ending that renews faith that the feeling is only temporary.
4) New Dress- In a long term relationship it is easy to find yourself in a rut and no longer putting forth your best. A new dress, verses your comfortable sweats and tee, always has a way of making you feel fancy again.
5) New Shoes: Again cliché but it is a fact women walk much different in heels vs. flats.  Your head is up high, shoulders are back, a little more pep in that step.  All of which are ingredients to not only ‘faking it until you make it’ but to get the attention of the rebound guy.

Sending this one out to Fantasia!

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Prenups: Half of Nothing is Nothing

Last week, a friend of mine decided to start a twitter war on the topic of prenuptial agreements.  Most women were against the agreements.  Most men were for them.  There are no surprises there.  However, I think the women’s reasons against prenups hold little weight in reality.  The typical response was “I don’t want you planning for a divorce before we get married.”  Or “you can’t love me and not trust that I wouldn’t take all your money.”  But someone made a very profound statement, “The person you marry is not the person you divorce.”
I have never been married.  I’ve only been in a few long-term relationships, and even with a civil break up there is something as a woman that feels like I am owed something more than what I walked into the relationship.  In the uncivil break-up, I wanted everything- even the stuff I didn’t want.  I just wanted to ensure he had nothing.  I didn’t take everything, but I WANTED to.  We were no longer the same people that we were when we entered the relationship.  I can only imagine that the ending of a marriage would bring out the very worst in people.
The person who started this heated debated equated a prenup to getting insurance on a home.  No one in their right mind would buy a house without thorough and comprehensive home insurance.  However, a home is a financial investment while marriage is a spiritual and emotional investment that requires undeniable faith that it will work before hand.
I always think it is funny the people that are most adamant about prenups have little to no money.  In fact, prenuptial agreements with less than $250,000 in assets are rare.  Most can’t even afford to pay a lawyer to draw up the papers, yet alone have an accountant that can hand over a list of assets.  This eliminates 70% of the people out of the argument because most of the time when people get married, they both have very little to their name.  Financially, nothing is at stake.  What is going to be on the prenup?  I get the couch, you get the television??  My point is that most people will acquire things because of the support of their spouse and it is hard to put a value on that prior to having it established.
Reason and logic are not completely out of the window on this matter because there are cases where a prenuptial may be warranted, even advised.
1)       There is more than a $250,000 differential in annual income. If am pushing the upper 6-digit income and you are the most awesome 7th grade teacher, I am getting a prenup.  That is unless the administration passes a bill to pay teachers what they deserve, but until then- prenup!
2)       You’re marrying a recovering jump-off. People can change.  It might be true love.  But if you know that person is prone to cheating and or smashing the homie(s), then a prenup is strongly advised.
3)       Non-renewable income. Let’s say someone wins the lottery.  Since it is not a renewable source of revenue, I would want a prenup just in case you squander yours away while I hire an accountant and lawyer to protect my investments.
In conclusion, a prenup does not guarantee you will avoid getting taken for everything.  A golddigger WILL find a way.  If all else fails…there is always child support.  Kelis.

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Does Love Need Making?

Loving Organically

I’m pretty sure love just happens. And I completely grasp the need for a tangible concept that warrants love making. But as of late, I wonder if love can be made or manufactured if you will.
For men, it seems like making a woman love him is a plausible notion.  The socialized mindset appears to teach men that if they are persistent enough, then they can eventually win a lady regardless of her initial stance.  Thus, men will go to extreme lengths to win the heart of a woman, even if he knows she doesn’t love him.  I suppose in theory, the idea is noble to risk all in an attempt to have the woman of your dreams.  What about her dreams?  Do they matter to a man?  Does he care if he is her 28th choice as long as she eventually gives in?
For women, our pursuit of love is very different. Not only do we want to win the heart of the man of our dreams, but we want to be the woman of his dreams.  Anything less than him feeling as passionate about her as she feels about him, is not a win at all.  It is a crushing defeat, and thus most times a woman will retreat. Women don’t consider a forced love, really a love at all. But hey, what do we know?
Contrarily, pre-arranged marriages do have the lowest divorce rates.  But sticking it out doesn’t equate to love or compatibly.  I am sure a man thought of this idea.  However, I am sure some learned to love each other and found love within this arrangement.  Some may not have any other love in which to compare their feelings with an arranged spouse.  But to those that have had real, true, and tangible love knows when it is absent, even if a man makes the most valiant effort.  Some things just can’t be manufactured.  It is or it isn’t.  Be green and only accept the organic.

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I’m Still Cool: Men Stuck In An Era

An example of getting older done well. Still stylish but very age appropiate. This picture of him and his daugther makes fatherhood look great!

I know many men that age well.  These men have no problem embracing the new stages that come with getting older.  These men adapt elegantly to a changing physique and lifestyle to where instead of looking older they are getting better.

Other men get stuck in an era or particular age point where they peaked and have been on the decline ever since.  Some men get stuck at age 17 some get stuck at age 22 and can never seem to let go of the things that once made them cool.  As such, I find men doing the same things they were doing at 15.  It is sad.  It is sadder that I don’t believe these men realize they are stuck like the 65 year old that still wears velour warm-ups with their Kangol hat to the back and a good chain.  Well, I am here to help out because we only promote progress at the Café.

A classic case of a man stuck in 1982.

1) Earrings. If I see you with earrings past the age of 30, I am just going to assume you are either an entertainer or you are not gainfully employed.  Earrings were cool once upon a time in the 90s as hip-hop became mainstream.  It was also part of the rebellion and a mark of counterculture.  It was cool.  But I have no desire to accidentally pick up your earrings trying to find mine.
2) Cornrows. It only took a few decades for R. Kelly to let his cornrows go. Even “Mr. Mario Come & Braid My Hair” himself only had cornrows in his teen years and cut them off to market himself as a grown man.  Nothing is sadder than seeing a grow man still rocking cornrows with earrings in both ears.
3) Jerseys. Oversized Clothes. Jordans. And Air Forces Ones. While jerseys and men that still buy 3XL clothing when they really are a medium may be more obvious, I believe my generation of men is stuck in the sneaker stage where they feel like they need to have every color and every new release.  And it seems that these men know no other sneakers other than Jordans and Air Forces.  The fact is that neither shoe is flexible with a wide range of clothing style as let’s say, Converse for play or a causal loafer for an outing.
4) Car Stuntin’. You know the candy coated ride with 24” rims, yeah, that car only attracts girls that are still in high school or have a high school mentality.  Actually the girl attracted to that car may be the perfect match.
5) Photo Shoots of Money. I still see this and it makes my stomach cringe. I don’t understand if you say you don’t want a gold-digger yet take pictures with your stacks of money to attract women.  You are only attracting women that want your money, not to mention it is tacky and juvenile.  The only thing worse is money pictures in front of your candy-painted car.
6) Using Bitch Haphazardly. I understand that men begin to respect women at different ages depending on maturity and teachings.  But pass a certain age, a man should respect most women and phase out of referring to every woman as a bitch or hoe.  You know that old man that still is bitter about some girl breaking his heart in 6th grade and as such calls every woman everything but their name?  As a man gets older he should only use bitch when applicable to that specific person and/or set of actions.
7) Lack of Discretion. Some men still brag about doing everything moving.  They are still trying to have the highest count of women laid in their group.  But most men phase out of that and get to a point where they want more.  While most men wait it out for as long as possible before settling down, most men don’t want to be the last one still clubbing nightly trying to find the latest jump-off.

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7 Approaches I Hate: The Try and the Fail

When we were younger, it was easy to determine if a guy liked you through their actions.  The hitting, chasing, and pulling of ponytails were all clear signs of affection.  Most of these boys grew to men, and as such, their approach toward women matured.  However, sadly, some approaches have not matured and I am finding myself looking around in search for the monkey bars and jungle gym because surely you are not a grown man still using playground methods to get my attention.
The following accounts are true stories.
1)        Poking. No, not facebook poking or the grown folk poke, but a true-to-meaning poke. Why is your index finger assaulting my shoulder every 3 minutes as we are in this training session and you sat down next to me even after I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to be bothered?  And now, I have to pretend to really care about what this presenter is saying because you are annoying me and my shoulder.
2)        Baby- oiled pictures. Not only does my shoulder get harassed, but dudes now harass my phone by sending pictures of them rubbed in baby oil looking like an audition picture for Playgirl.  I am so confused as to why you feel like if I was on the fence about you from jump this would be the deciding factor.  Well, it did help me to decide- it is a firm “hell no” now.
3)        Checking-in for no reason. Why are you giving me a play- by- play of your day?  We are not/have not/ will not be together in no shape, form, or fashion.  So, I don’t care that you are leaving work for lunch, had Panera Bread, and now are off about to jog then showering.  I don’t need any details.  If I care I will ask the generic ”How was your day?” And all I expect to hear is any variation of “it was fine.”
4)        Penis infomercials. You know how you are in the middle of a nice date, talking about politics, Haiti, and going green then all of a sudden he starts talking about how flat he lays it down in the bed.  Then he starts quoting Trey Songz and Drake.  I have confused written all over my face because I completely missed the segue from my reusable grocery bags to his penis.
5)        Respond to every tweet/status. For some people it doesn’t matter how irrelevant or personal the tweet is they somehow find a way to respond in some way.  I see you because you are forcing me to, but you are about as annoying as the poker.
6)        Random confessions of love. This happens more than I’d like to admit, but you really don’t know me well enough to be professing your love for me. And, no, being a facebook/twitter friend does not mean you know me, it means you know of me.  Knowing me in real-life is much more intricate and challenging than knowing the virtual me.
7)        Volunteering to do completely ridiculous things. Why are you on the floor trying to massage my feet?  My feet don’t even hurt. Get up please.  People can see you.

I am sure you have your own real life accounts…

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Addicted to the Drama

I once believed it was only a girl thing to feed off chaos.  Girls are often stereotyped with instigating trouble to ignite a dramatic reaction.  I thought it was just a cry for attention and maybe that is how it starts.  However, when the cries worked and gave the attention lacked from sane behavior then these girls grow to women and their bad habits become bad addictions.
I would be remiss to say I didn’t know any women like this that are always the center of mess.  They cause mess in their homes, in their schools, in their churches, and in their organizations.  There was a point when I believed these girls would grow out of this stage whether on their own will or by force.  I say force because in my mind, no man would put up with those attitudes, temper tantrums, and always being the cause of discord.

The Dramatic Two

However, this is not the case.  Men feed off drama too.  There are a few men that feed off their own self-induced drama, but the men I am referring to are the men that feed off the drama caused by their girls within their relationships.  Most men claim they don’t like arguing but in all honesty a lot of men receive the same high from arguing as the girl.  As a matter of fact, some men don’t know how to function in a relationship free of drama.  These men, like their female counterparts, will go out of their way to stir up arguments for arguments’ sake.
The worst case scenario is when people gauge love by how much someone is willing to argue or how much they tolerate nonsense.  How intense the arguments translates to how much passion is in a relationship.  While this is both sad and tragic, it is a choice that both people in the relationship have made because you can’t argue by yourself.  It takes two.

Exhibit A-F:

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Why You Can’t Meet My Friends

Despite this blog, my very open personal twitter account, and my frequent facebook updates, I am a very private person, even with my friends…even with my best friends.  No one friend knows all, most know some, but only a few know most, and only GOD knows all.  There is no exception when it comes to men I date.
So it is always strange when men I date ask to kick it with my friends- the friends that have probably heard nothing about him…at all.  My response is usually, “Nah, you can’t meet my friends.”  He usually responds, “Why?”  I typically give some version of “I’m not there yet.”
Here are my reasons why I am totally against someone I’m dating meeting my friends.
1)   No commitment: We are just dating and on my end nothing serious as of now.  I have friends and family that every time you see them they are introducing to someone new.   Instead of enjoying the pleasantry of meeting this person, you don’t even hear the name because you are giving your friend/family the extreme side-eye.  Yeah, so I refuse to be that person with a constant rotation of new people.
2)   My Friends Are Cool As Hell: There is no question, my date will love my friends.  It only takes a few hours of kicking it with them to feel like you have truly bonded.  At the end of the night, he will probably be like “I’ve haven’t had that much fun in a while.”  Then my date is trying to exchange twitters or pins.  And well, I just can’t have that.  What if I decide you are no longer worth my time, are you still going to try to kick it with my friends?  Are your exchanges going to be on my timeline like ya’ll are cool?  It can become super annoying and harder to  move forward if you are now, without earning it, integrated into my social circle.
3)   My Friends are Like Family: I have no family here in D.C., at least biologically speaking.  My friends are like my family.  I believe the saying goes, “friends are the family you can pick.”  Well, I picked quite an extraordinary bunch.  So if I am not ready for you to meet my family, then I am not ready for you meet my friends.
I will let you know when we get there.

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