Masks Off: Disliked for Who You Are or Loved for Who You Are Not?

“Love takes off masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin

masks

Sadly, I believe that very few of us ever reach true intimacy. I believe most of us have enjoyed the temporary joys of dating and making out and other conventions of relationships. But so few of us will ever reach true intimacy. And the reason is simple. God has given each of us memories and emotions. And when those memories are painful and those emotions are hurt by people that we love, we make a decision – consciously or subconsciously – to never let anyone hurt us like that again. Unfortunately for us, making that decision does absolutely nothing to our stronger desire to connect with others.

After watching different movies about life in the penitentiary, I discovered that a man would rather be in general population where he is in danger of being shanked (stabbed) or violently sodomized against his will than to be locked up in solitary confinement. It is the worst punishment for even the most hardened criminal to be locked away from others – even though those others may have and may continue to hurt them. This goes to show that all humans were made for connection with other human beings despite how hurt they’ve been in times past.

So how do we cope with that cognitive dissonance? How do we love WITHOUT risking hurt? This post does not attempt to answer that question. The previous paragraph just goes to show that humans want connection in spite of pain. Yet despite our desperate need and desire to connect, why come so few of us achieve it?

I believe the reason we cannot achieve true intimacy is because our past hurts “force” us to put on masks. They don’t actually force us, but they terrify us enough to put them on because we fear what could happen if we do not don our masks. Our memories remind us how painful it was the last time we loved as we truly were. Maybe as a child, you reached out to Mommy for a hug and she pushed you away. Maybe you waited hours for Daddy to come home to show him a card you made just for him, only for him to wave you away and lock himself in his room without any greeting or acknowledgement. These simple examples represent profound experiences that shape us. They make us question ourselves as to why our parents don’t like or appreciate us as we are. So we try to alter our real, “unlovable” selves so as to prevent being rejected again for who we really are. We’d rather be loved for we are not than to face the pain of being rejected for who we are.

One thing about masks is that we continue to wear them because they work. If they didn’t work in getting us what we wanted, we would no longer wear them. So masks are effective in a sense. Another thing about masks is that they can be changed at any time – even several times in an hour. So if you meet four different people in an hour, you could act four different ways to make all of them pleased with them. If you felt your Mommy liked you smarter, skinnier, neater, and cuter, you worked on that mask and presented it to her. You saw it made her smile at, compliment, and hug you. If you felt that your Daddy liked you more accomplished, you worked on that mask and presented to your Dad a new you that was a star quarterback, a great tennis player, or a straight A student. And that made Daddy show you off and give you attention. While it is sad that some parents do not love their children unconditionally, it is a reality that must be accepted. And once you accept that you had demanding, perfectionistic parents, you have another choice to make.

You can choose to be disliked for who you are or loved for who you’re not.

And if you make the right decision, you will remove those masks and say, “HERE I AM! LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, BUT I WILL NOT HIDE ANYMORE!”

Now let me explain some things. I am not suggesting that you don’t change anything negative about yourself and command others to love you as you are if who you are is abusive, offensive, and criminal. Don’t molest children, beat up people on the street, and call people outside of their names and then say, “Love me for who I am because I refuse to hide under my mask anymore!” By no means! But what I am saying is that you have to understand that if you are not intentionally hurting anyone, you do not have to change to make people except you.

Another disclaimer is that you also have to understand that people have expectations of adults. A newborn baby is expected to do absolutely nothing but eat, sleep, and poop. No one is disappointed in them for not knowing the alphabet. No one is shaking their head in shame because they are not walking. No one is scolding them for not changing their own diaper. So you must know that when you are an adult – especially a male – people expect you to work a job. Also, as an adult, people expect you to obey laws. Don’t be a lazy slob using welfare when you are able to work and then say, “Take me as I am!I refuse to work, and I will continue to rob and steal!” (If this is your attitude about not wearing a mask, I personally don’t expect anyone to like you.) But if you are a person who does not hurt others deliberately, who works a job to pay bills and whatnot, and who does not intentionally break laws or biblical commands, then you should not have to put on a mask to make people like you. Just doing those things makes you enough.

So back to what I was saying about intimacy. One cannot be intimate with a mask. You cannot feel someone’s face who is wearing a mask. You cannot know someone who is constantly lying to you. You cannot be intimate with someone who refuses to get close to you. That is because INTIMACY IS THE REMOVAL OF DISTANCE.

Think of intercourse. Intercourse is considered intimate because it is the removal of space between two physical bodies. In fact, not only is space removed outside of the body, but with the woman, the space inside is also removed. There is no distance between two people engaging in intercourse. The same goes for tongue kissing. There is no space left there. So it is intimate.

Well, that was speaking physically. Now let’s think emotionally. When you are truly intimate with someone, you remove all distance between their emotions for you and your emotions for them. They know how you feel about them, and you know how they feel about you. But if you hide your true feelings behind a mask, they do not truly know your emotions. So there is still distance. So there is no true intimacy.

Again, the reason we do not tell them our true feelings is because we fear they will stop loving us. But think of children and their parents. Younger children will tell their parent that their breath stinks because kids are brutally honest. But it doesn’t mean that they will stop loving the parent. We have to stop equating truth with abandonment. And if you do, just understand that those you were honest with who abandoned you were simply unwilling to be close to you. Doubtless, they’ve heard worse things from others that they continued to be in relationship with because they WANTED to be in relationship with them. But don’t let their rejection of you make you redefine the lovability of you. Just take their rejection as redirection to someone who WANTS relationship and intimacy with you.

We want so badly to be loved for who we are, but we learn to hate who we really are because who we really are – flawed – resulted in someone rejecting us. So we hate ourselves so much so that we forget who we are and begin to truly think this mask is the real us. But we must do the thing we think we cannot do. We must remove these masks and dare to be loved for who we truly are. The people who God has for us, will love us without them.

However, if you so decide that life with a mask is preferable to being loved as you are, carry on as you were. But just know that you are not in a real relationship. You are in a dance, an arrangement between a person and a mask.

mask

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What NOT To Do When He Loves You Not

When he doesn't like you naturally, do you make him think he likes you mentally?

I decided to write this note when another friend of mine had purchased yet ANOTHER book on “how to get a man”. Selah! This one was called “Why Men Love B**ches”. This friend of mine was interested in a young man that she knows was not nearly as interested in her. So she tried to get tips on how to get and keep his attention. So this is a note to all the women (and I guess men too) who are looking for love or who have already found it, and who are doing anything other than simply being genuine in order to keep it going. Men can read this too because sometimes they are guilty of love manipulation or “man, I pull a sham/scam”!

How did you get your man? Through manipulation? Or was he just The One and you found each other at the right time?

The reason I ask this is because I know so many females who don’t wait until a decent guy comes along. They just pick the cool, jerk of a guy, and use all of these shams and scams to get him to commit. Or at least to stay as long as possible.

But, ladies, that is manipulation! ManIPullaSham. Man, I Pull A Sham/Scam!

My college buddies and I used to read a lot of Cosmopolitan and Redbook magazine back when we were in college. We loved to read the articles that taught us how to snag and keep a man. I also loved to spend a lot of time on iVillage, which is like Cosmopolitan online. We used it because if we pulled a man, I wanted to make him fall more in love with us so that he wouldn’t leave. And the times we couldn’t get the man we wanted, we would manipulate matters to get his attention. By manipulation, I mean when you see that someone’s free will has chosen not to be with you or stay with you, you employ underhanded strategies and techniques to change his free will.

The truth is that if a dude likes you, he will let you know sooner or later (and usually sooner than later). So why should we manipulate or pull a sham of a scam to hurry it if it will happen between us and the dudes that like us? Now there are some instances when a man that really likes you may not approach you.

1. If he’s very shy and fearful of rejection. Love phobia is very common.

2. If he’s dating someone else at the time, and he is a good, faithful dude who does not want to hurt her feelings by dumping her just to date someone else.

3. If he’s a good guy, who does not want to try to break up your relationship with another guy out of respect for the other young man.

4. Sometimes (and this is for the guy who is serious about you), a guy will scope you out for a few weeks to see if you are long-term/marriage material.

For #1, you can sometimes tell when a guy is shy. I know because I used to be VERY shy myself and don’t like rejection at all. For along time, I was a love-phobe. If I thought there was any chance I’d get rejected, I’d totally ignore the guy even if I thought I’d really like getting to know him. So if you know that the guy is shy, then you can let him know he has a good chance if he tries. But if you have to keep giving him hints, he’s probably not interested. So don’t manipulate.

For #2, if he’s dating someone else at the time, respect the other young lady. I’m sure he’s thinking of a plan to end his current relationship to look into starting one with you. Besides, who would want a guy who would cheat anyway? He’d see that you tolerate cheating, and he might do it to you too later.

For #3, if you’re dating someone else, you need to leave that person before you look at new dude out of respect for your current. Then the new dude will see the open door of opportunity for him to try. And he’d also respect and trust you more for being a trustworthy and faithful girlfriend (wifey material). So just know that some dudes will not try to date you if you’re already taken or seem to be taken.

For #4, be on your best behavior, and be you. I had a guy scope me out to see if he would like me. He even went so far as to ask people about me to see if I was his type and to see if he had a good chance with me. Fortunately, I had a good reputation, so he got good reports. It was funny, because when I asked him what people said about me, he said, “I was told that you did not play. I heard that whoever dated you better get his mind right because you don’t tolerate the foolishness.” (He got that right!) Now if I had been acting a fool in public, and had the people that he asked about me told him that, he would have never let me know he was interested, and I’ve have kept on sabotaging myself as a single by acting like a person that men don’t want to date.

But let’s be clear. I also believe that we should always be ourselves. For example, if you like a man who’s in UPC or an apostolic church, you shouldn’t start wearing long skirts because his church equates long dresses to holiness. And you shouldn’t start dressing in black and chains to get a gothic or emo person’s attention when you know you only have three black outfits and all else is pastel and polo style! You shouldn’t act hard to get a thuggish guy’s attention because he’ll soon find out you’re fake and soft.

Now as far as manipulation is concerned, there are many ways to do this. I’ll use some examples that I have known people to use:

Examples:

Physical attraction manipulation – If you were going for the attention of a shallow guy, you might wear hair extensions, colored contacts, fake nails, false lashes, and a stuffed bra. You’ll buy freak ‘um dresses to show off your shape.

Sexual manipulation – I hear some people use animal pheromones to attract the opposite sex! Tiger urine might catch him, but when you’re not wearing it, he or she will probably quickly lose interest. When you see the guy or girl losing interest, you might try to bed them and try any kinky thing or kama sutra position to regain their attention.

Emotional manipulation – “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me! After all I’ve done for you! *cry* I paid for your car to get fixed. I gave you my virginity! I let you meet my parents! *sob* Every man I’ve ever dated has played me. I guess you’re just like all the rest. I thought you were a good guy. Guess I was wrong about you.”

Threat manipulation – You also might threaten the guy or girl if they try to leave you. “I’ll sleep with your best friend if you leave! I know all your secrets. I’ll tell everyone! I won’t let you see our daughter or son anymore if you leave me for her! I want my car and all those clothes I bought you back! I think I might be pregnant with your baby.”

Role-reversal/mind game manipulation – If you know he’s distant, you’ll mimic his behavior to play mind games to make him call you. You’ll go out if he goes out even if you don’t want to, just to keep his mind wondering where you are. You’ll flirt with his friends to keep him at least a little jealous and worried about one of them dating you even though he doesn’t like you enough to date you. You’ll lie about things to make him insecure, “All the other women are just using you for your money. I’m the only women who loves you for who you are.”

Ego manipulation – You pretend that he is a big, strong man who is your knight-in-shining armor so that his ego will be stroked and so that he’ll stay around for more ego stroking. Flattery. “You’re the best (boyfriend) I’ve ever had!”

Friend and family manipulation – You try to get in his mom and sister’s good graces so that they can argue on your behalf when he dumps you or considers dumping you.

But do you really want a guy that you’ll have to keep pulling tricks out of your hat to keep? You live in constant fear that he will leave you. Because your problem and solution lies in him, he somewhat controls your emotions and thoughts and actions because all you think about is if or when he is going to leave you and how to keep him with you. You’ll spend so much time manipulating, that you’ll have little time to enjoy and build the relationship.

Now which of the following scenarios makes more sense?

1. Find a guy who has little to no interest in you. Read up on magazine and internet articles and books to find out how to get his interest. Once you get even a bit of his interest, read even more books and articles and ask your friends for ways to make him be with you for at least a while longer. When you get that far, read yet more books and articles and advice columns to get him not leave you yet.

OR

2. Handle your own business. Work on being the best you that you can be, and wait until a guy approaches you that actually likes you for your true and best you.

What is the purpose of prolonging the inevitable? If this guy or girl was never meant for you, then you’re wasting your life and the time you could be spending with someone better suited for and appreciative of the real you.

Here’s what I used to do when I was a teenager in college. I have no shame being transparent with the mistakes and choices that I made because they are not me anymore. Well, I had a boyfriend that I really liked. When I thought he was thinking of leaving me (and it was all in my mind), I would talk to my friends who didn’t even have a man and ask them what I should do. I’d buy “Freak ‘Um Dresses” to best compliment my shape, I’d go to a club where I know he’d be, and I’d try my best to make him notice. I’d flirt with his friends to make him jealous. Then his friends would comment to him how great I looked that night. Of course, men are visual beings, so he always let me know he liked what he saw. My freshman year of college, I wanted to eliminate most of the competition with the other freshmen, so I got long extensions, I got some green contact lenses, and I wore make up a lot.

I’m not saying that light colored eyes makes everyone look more attractive. I’m just saying what I used to do. And I’m also not saying that women can’t improve their looks; wearing eyeliner doesn’t make you a phony! But I’ve heard of women who go to the extreme with their outer appearance even with just make-up. I heard of a female MINISTER who admitted to sleeping in her make-up so that her husband won’t wake up to her raggedy face! Some women will go the extreme (Los Angeles ladies) and will get cheek implants, breast implants, butt implants, lip injections, rhinoplasty, facelift, liposuction, Botox, so forth and so on. There are some Indian and Black women who bleach their skin because fairer or lighter skin is more attractive to some men. (Michael Jackson thought he’d look better, but look what happened to him!)

Now what kind of men do you suppose that these women attract? They are probably shallow, superficial men who will leave them as soon as they gain five pounds or start to sag. I want a man who will be with me if (God forbid) I get terribly burned in a fire or become a paraplegic. Sickness and in health, nah mean?

I always believed that my hubby would find me when I was checking the mailbox with my sleeping clothes on (in my family, we don’t wear pajamas. We wear terry cloth or yoga pants and raggedy t-shirts that we call sleeping clothes lol). I’d have on my glasses (remember when Marilyn Monroe sang that song, “Men Don’t Make Passes at Girls that Wear Glasses”?). And I’d have on absolutely no make-up and my hair would be a hot mess. Then I’d know he’d be there for the long haul and for the REAL me. And if I gained a lot of unattractive weight, he’d still be there to say, “You’re beautiful.” When I’m in the delivery room in labor with sweat pouring down my face and I’m swollen and screaming, he’ll say, “You’re beautiful.” And when I’m 80 years old, saggy and wrinkled, smelly, in a Hover Round, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and unable to give him sex, he’ll still say, “You’re beautiful.”

Manipulation may work for a year, but sooner or later you’ll get tired of all that hard work, and you’ll just want a relationship that’s smooth. I know every worthwhile relationship and marriage has its struggles and trials, but I sure don’t want that mess before the relationship begins. I have never let my boyfriends see me in my glasses, for fear of looking geeky. I never leave the house without my hair looking decent. And maybe that’s part of being a woman with good self-respect making sure that she’s presentable in public. But at the same time, you have to accept yourself as you are and sell that.

There’s a book called Marriable that is written by a married couple. In one chapter, they talk about one’s “marriability factor”. Everyone has an idea of what they’re selling. For example, which of the following has a better chance at getting a good husband?

1. Latasha, who has a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering. She’s in shape. She has clear skin. She has a nice car and her own home. She has hobbies and talents. She has a good reputation, she has good hygiene, and has resolved most of her emotional issues. She also has good tastes in clothes.

2. Janet, who is a high school dropout. She’s known around town for being promiscuous and a cheater. She has bad acne, she rides a bike, and she lives with her parents. She’s 50 pounds overweight, she smells, and all her exes say she’s a basketcase and possessive. She wears either disgustingly tight or sloppily loose clothing.

Now if Janet and Latasha are looking to marry a man who has much to offer, he’d probably pick Latasha because she has more to offer which increases her marriability factor. It works the same way in high school. The quarterback dates the head cheerleader and not the shy recluse of a bookworm who cares less about her looks.

No, dude’s not shallow. He just knows that he’s getting more for his buck with the first girl. So I do believe women should work on their marriability instead of just saying, “a truly good guy will like me for me.” Even the most devout of Christian men would prefer an attractive, healthy woman to a rough-looking, sloppy woman. You need to be the BEST you. Be the best Janet, and he might go for you. You don’t have to be well-educated, but you should finish what you started in high school. You don’t have to starve yourself, but you shouldn’t remain obese to the point that you’re inactive and unhealthy. It’s not hard to have good hygeine. Soap, shampoo, deo, and toothpaste are the basics. I bet Janet wouldn’t settle for a man who lived with his grandparents and who didn’t have a car. So she can’t expect much of a chance from a man who does have his own place and his own ride.

So I think women should be the best them they can be. If God gave you brown eyes, dress them up if you please with make-up every once in a while, but think twice about wearing fake colored-lenses just because a certain dude might prefer light-colored eyes. Because when you get sick of being hazel or blue, he might get sick of you if he’s shallow enough. If you’re big-boned, get healthy, but don’t starve yourself to be Nicole Richie. Because if that weight comes back on, you want to make sure the relationship is still on. If you’re feisty and assertive, don’t be overly aggressive and rude, but you don’t have to be a milquetoast. Because when he gets around your family and friends, he’ll know you to be a fiesty fake. Be your best you, that way when the right guy comes along, you won’t have to change much or do much more or do nothing at all to keep him interested in YOU.

But if you want the wrong guy or a guy you will have to manipulate, here’s what you can continue to do for the duration of the relationship:

1. Stock up on a lot of MAC because you’re expecting to spend a lot of time with him with a flawless face.

2. Get a credit card to buy a whole lot of sexy clothes to keep him interested.

3. Save up a lot of money for weave and fake nails and padded bras to keep your sexy up.

4. Stock up on Redbook and Cosmopolitan for info on how to keep your man

5. Do a lot for him so that you can give him a guilt trip when he tells you it’s not working out.

6. Buy a kama sutra manual to learn awkward positions to keep him impressed

7. Flirt with all his friends to make him jealous

8. Prepare to compromise some of your beliefs and convictions to keep him happy

9. Spend many a sleepless night wondering if you’re wasting your time on this 90-10 relationship (he does 10 of the work keeping the relationship in existence, and you do 90%)

10. Spend the entire relationship waiting for the inevitable time when all your tricks run out and he gets bored with the girl that you are and that he never did like and leaves for someone he does.

“There is no disguise that can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not.” – La Rochefoucauld

Relationship Discontentment: Leaving An = to for > Than

Just leave well enough alone

Discontentment

After watching one of my favorite TV shows – “Say Yes To the Dress” – I feel God gave me an AMAZING truth or insight into contentment with who you are dating. Surprisingly, it came from the mouth of a male, homosexual wedding dress advisor. I figured, “What in the world can God teach me about heterosexual love from a gay man?” But the truth that he said was so beautiful to me!

There was a lady who was obviously a perfectionist. She had been to many wedding dress boutiques looking for the “Perfect Dress”. She knew this boutique had to be good because it had its own TV program, so she probably figured that would be her last stop. After trying on perhaps a dozen or so dresses at this particular store, she disappointedly realized that this would likely not be the case. So this is when the profound truth came in.

The gay guy told her something to the effect of, “Sweetie, there will ALWAYS be a better dress out there. But if you keep looking for this “Perfect Dress”, you’ll never be ready in time for your wedding. You have to stop looking at some point and be content with what you chose.”

WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!!

I loved that! And this is why. I notice that in America, we tend to want THE BEST. We want the best cellphones, the best laptops, the nicest shoes, a degree from the most prestigious university, the most “Coke-bottle-y” wife, the most sexually-gratifying husband, the most impressive and well-behaved kids, the nicest careers, the biggest homes, so forth and so on. In America, BIGGER IS BETTER! We stay in constant competition coveting our neighbors’ thises, thats, and those others. We are rarely – if ever – content with whatever we have at the present moment. So why is this?

Covetousness

The reason I feel that we are not satisfied with what we have is that we fear that we will be “locked in” with something below average or average when/if something above average were to come along. For example, many men are afraid to commit to an attractive 26-year old who’s in shape JUST IN CASE a drop-dead gorgeous 23-year old with an amazing body walks by who would give them the time of day. I mean, who wants to be “stuck” with someone “lesser than” when you can have someone “greater than or equal to”?

But this is a foolish way to live if you ask me. And I say it is foolish because you will never have ANYTHING if you have a mindset of waiting for something “greater than” to come along. For instance, suppose you really wanted the iPhone 3G, but then held off because you knew that in a year the 3GS would come out and you didn’t to be “behind” with the older model. So you wait until the 3GS comes out, but then you hold off yet longer because you knew that in a year the 4G would come out. You would miss two whole years of enjoying an AMAZING phone. (I have an iPhone 3G, and it is pretty amazing.) I wish I had had it sooner. But I’d have never gotten to enjoy it for all these months had I kept waiting for “the next best thing”.

The same thing happens with romantic relationships. We are perhaps ALL guilty of this. How many of you ladies have met a GREAT guy that you turned down for a silly reason? I’m not speaking great as in great looks, wealth, and charm, but just great in that he treats you right and loves the Lord and has a good heart? MOST WOMEN HAVE been approached by this type of guy whether they will admit it or not. Most (if not all) of the women reading this note have been approached by a great guy. So why are many of us still single? I’m glad you asked! Most of us are still single because we “rationalized” in our heads, “Well, if I can pull this nice guy, what’s to stop me from pulling that cuter guy over there?” So we don’t “settle” for a good guy because we say, “There’s someone better than him out there I can probably get too.” This is not the way to go about dating in my opinion because there will ALWAYS be a cuter, richer, more muscular, funnier, smarter guy out there! The world is filled with cute, rich, muscular, funny, and smart guys – and, oh yes, all those qualities can sometimes be found in the SAME person! So even if you did find a guy with all those qualities, I can guarantee you that if you live in a large city, you will find a guy “greater than” him! So will you just keep dumping the current for the next best thing?

Insatiability

I saw a very intriguing movie on Sci-Fi/Sy-Fy. I forgot most of the movie, but one scene has stuck with me for years. In the scene there were at least two men driving through a desert, and they saw this young woman walking on the side of the road. I guess they had pulled over to see if she needed a ride. She told them that she was on a search for the most sexually-gratifying guy in the WHOLE WORLD to be/sleep with. She had slept with MANY, MANY, MANY men because the truth was that she couldn’t know if they were good in bed until/unless she slept with them and found out for herself. So this lady was what we would call “run through”. She was DESPERATELY looking for the best lover, and she even asked the men in the car would they sleep with her so that she could see if they were the best. So this lady was willing to sleep with up to 2 billion men to see who was the best in bed! (Just imagine how many STDs she picked up and spread out!)

That was a fictional movie, but it reminds me of some of our mindsets in real life. We all know of a man who is of an age where he could be married. But because he’s waiting on the perfect woman, he will end up single at age 45. He’ll die an old bachelor because he’s waiting on THE BEST. Do you not know that THE BEST will eventually be OUTBESTED? Marilyn Monroe was a bad thang! She got unraveled and outdone. Elizabeth Taylor was gorgeous and vibrant. Now she’s old and outdone. Pam Grier b.k.a. “Foxy Brown” was a bad mama jama. Now she’s old and being forgotten by many. Halle Berry and Janet Jackson are still well-liked by many men. But as we all know, both of them are aging and the new generation of men are not even thinking of them in that way. Beyonce, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Rihanna – and the list goes on and on – will ALL be old and wrinkly and/or dead someday. They will not be fine or talented forever. In less than a decade (if the world lasts that much longer) they will be has-beens. So what sense does it make to hold out for the baddest thing when even she someday will be a has-been?

I said all that to say this to the men. Men, I’ve given a new meaning to this phrase, but you will need to just leave well enough ALONE. Stop trying to find the baddest thang. Just get someone GOOD ENOUGH. Just get you someone decent and ask God to teach you how to love her! I think that is partly the reason why divorce rates are so high. No, not because the men settled too soon. But because the men never learned to leave well enough alone or to be content with GOOD ENOUGH. If you have a girlfriend who loves the Lord, who is respectful and loving, and who respects her outward appearance, you should be happy with her! Once you have her, don’t keep your eye open looking for someone who has those qualities, but also with D-Cups or with “good hair” or with great skills in the bedroom. Don’t go out looking for a little more than what she has because she’s fine just the way that she is! If you were fine with her when you decided to make it official, then you should be happy with her for the rest of your days.

It’s NOT Settling

This post is not at all about settling. That is a very different concept. Settling is when you stay with someone who you know is not good enough for you. But let me explain myself first! I do not think that anyone is BETTER than another person. We are all equal. I am not more important than anyone on the face of this earth. So when I say “not good enough for you”, I’m talking about you are a doctor, but your boyfriend is a drug dealer. I’m talking about you are a evangelist missionary, and your boyfriend is an abusive crack addict. I’m talking about you are a sweetheart who works hard everyday, and your boyfriend is unfaithful and unemployed and asking you to pay ALL HIS bills.

So now that I’ve given you the clarification of my view of settling out of the way, when I say “be content with what you have,” you know that they are not the same thing to me. We all probably know of a pastor who left his totally decent wife for his younger church secretary JUST because she had a nicer body and a cuter, younger face. His wife was a GREAT wife and mother, but because she wasn’t as fun as the younger woman, he leaves her. Staying with his wife would not have been considered settling. Staying with his wife would have been him being content.

I used to wonder why 42% of black women have NEVER BEEN MARRIED compared to 21% of white women. That’s TWICE AS MUCH, and blacks are only 13% of America’s population! And of course, the usual answer is that, “All the black men are marrying white women.” That is a lie. Most married couples you see have a husband and wife of the same race. Some might say, “Well, it’s because all the black men are gay or in jail.” That is another lie. Most black men you know are neither in jail nor gay (at least not that we know of!). The reason I say that more of SOME black women are single than SOME white women is because we won’t be content with who approached us because SOME black women think that some black are not “cool” enough. Some black women I know who are single don’t think that some of the black men who approach them look, act, dress, or talk like the black men they are eyeing in the media. I know that even if every black man did pair up with a black woman, there would still be 1.8 million single black women because they say black women outnumber black men anywho. So that is why I would not say that all black of us black women could all be matched up with a person of the same race. But what I am saying is that MANY – IF NOT MOST – of my readers who are black women HAVE been approached by a very decent black guy that they labeled as “lame, corny, a square, a goody-two shoes, a church boy,” etc. If you had taken their offer when you got one, you could have been happily married right now. But NO! You wanted to hold out for that NFL player, NBA player, rapper that you MIGHT can get BUT MOST LIKELY WILL NOT. And then you have the audacity to cry, “FOUL!” when that same “lame, corny, square, goody-two shoe church boy” gets with a white woman.

IF YOU CAN’T SAY “AMEN”, SAY “OUCH!”.

Commitment

This is how I’ve decided to go about dating recently. Someday soon, I am going to be approached by a decent guy. Not a perfect guy. Not the BEST guy in the world. But just a decent guy. Of course, “decent” varies from person to person, but I know very well what MY idea of decent is. And if this decent guy has what I like and if I have what he likes and if God likes what we got together, then I will do what most people don’t really fool with nowadays – and that is COMMIT. If we hit it off and are compatible, we will COMMIT. That’s the thing we don’t think about nowadays. Well, let me give us SOME credit. We do commit actually. We COMMIT just so long as they are attractive. We COMMIT just as long as they have a charming personality. We COMMIT until someone else makes us happier. Well, guys, that is what COMMITTING is NOT. Committing is a very long-term concept. That means I’m STUCK with you like a mother is to her child. Like God is to us.

Lately, God has been teaching me about the words “faithful”, “committed”, “dedicated”, “devoted”, “loyal”, etc. He let me know that He is faithful to me even when I’ve been unfaithful to Him. He has never and will never cheat on me even when I cheat on Him by sinning. I want a relationship wherein me and my significant other will be faithful to one another. I mean, I’m only asking for a lifetime! Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven, so is 60 years of FAITHFUL, DEDICATION, DEVOTION, LOYALTY, AND COMMITMENT in a marriage too much to ask for in light of eternity? 🙂 Why look for perfection here on earth when the marriage will ONLY last a lifetime? Your husband/wife is only on loan until you or him/her die! So when you look at it that way, you don’t take it AS seriously. (Marriage is a VERY serious matter, don’t get me wrong. But when I say maybe we shouldn’t take it AS seriously, I mean that it’s not like we’re trying to find the BEST and PERFECT person to spend an ETERNITY with. Just a lifetime is all!)

So What Is “Good Enough” Comprised Of?

If you want to know what I think is a decent spouse, I would say someone who LOVES the Lord FIRST OF ALL because there is only SO MUCH HELL someone can put you through when they love the Lord like crazy. When you love the Lord like crazy, that should cut out emotional/mental/physical abuse, infidelity, unloving/hateful behavior, unforgiveness/bitterness, other sinful behaviors and attitudes, and therefore likely a higher risk of divorce. Keep in mind that I said loving the Lord like crazy – not that “I go to church on Sunday” mess; I’m talking about REALLY loves the Lord in their spirit and not just acting like they love the Lord through empty rituals.

After loving the Lord LIKE CRAZY, I say a decent person should just have respect for ALL humans. If your boyfriend talks crazy to the waitress on your date or talks crazy to his mom, he’ll likely not respect you either when you make him mad. Also, decency to me involves empathy – caring for your pain and sadness. If you cry and he just shrugs his shoulders and doesn’t make an attempt to see why you’re upset or doesn’t even try to console you, he might have an issue with emotional bonding or expression. Trust me, you do NOT want to spend 50+ years with someone who could care less if you’re going through chemo, a miscarriage, or some other emotionally-wrecking circumstance. A decent person will at least pray for or cry for you. Also, decency to me in a mate involves acceptance of who you really are. If your boyfriend treats you like a second-class citizen if you’re not wearing a full-face of make-up, false lashes, hair extensions, a push-up bra, and colored contacts, he does not, I repeat DOES NOT, accept YOU. (Rather, he is accepting of what you COULD have looked like had you been born with different DNA! He is merely accepting you had you been born DIFFERENTLY THAN HOW YOU REALLY WERE!)

This fifth quality that I think is a must-have in a relationship is one that doesn’t have much to do with one’s “decency”. Nevertheless, it is very important to me when it comes to relationships. You and the person ought to have something in common! Imagine a Satanic, drug-addicted, bisexual voodoo priestess who was raised in poverty, who is also a liberal Democrat, who is a very negative and mentally retarded who is dating a devout Christian pastor who was raised by millionaire parents who is a conservative Republican, who is very easy-going with a great sense of humor and an above average IQ, who went to Yale. Need I say more? Date someone you have at least the basics in common with. Of course, there are many other qualities to someone being decent, but these are the five most important ones to me right now. (I have more, but those are just the top five.)

So in short, guys. Get you somebody DECENT. Accept them as they are. APPRECIATE them for who God made them to be (and know that God creates pretty awesome people). Love them as we are to love our spouses. And BE CONTENT! Look no further. If you look any further, it will only lead to you looking a little MORE further, and then that will lead you to looking a LITTLE MORE further. Just stop it! Look no further! You are probably happy right where you are! Believe it or not, but you just might not be happier with “the greater than” or even “the equal to”. That “greater than” might leave you for a > or = to! I mean, if you thought that your chances were better with finding someone better, won’t this greater than think the same thing? S/he might leave you for someone they think is better than you. Please appreciate what you have IF it is good enough. Chances are that what you have is GOOD ENOUGH! So just leave well enough alone!

reAlationships: Settle for the Real? Or Hope for the Ideal?

Holding out for that Barbie & Ken love life? Don't hold your breath!

Do you want a story book romantic relationship? Or do you want a real relationship? A reAlationship?

Watching one of my favorite TV reality shows, Tough Love Miami, I was reminded of something my favorite author (Dr. Henry Cloud) taught in a book. There was a lady on the show who the host appropriately nicknamed Ms. Delusional. This young woman was having trouble securing a romantic relationship, and the host believed the reason was because she was delusional in thinking that if she made a vision board of all the lovely characteristics that she wanted in man, that the Law of Attraction would draw it to her. A vision board is a suggestion from Rhonda Byrne’s book called “The Secret”. Her book teaches of “The Law of Attraction”. The law of attraction teaches that whatever you think of constantly and consistently, it will be drawn to you from the universe. It’s a board that you glue all of your desires onto so that you can view it often and “draw” your desires to you. So Ms. Delusional would look through magazines and cut out words and pictures of what she wanted in a spouse so that in time, her dream guy would come.

The show showed a clip of her vision board, and one thing was certain, her vision was not real life. It was not reality. It was something fantasy. She was not sure that her dream guy actually existed, but because she had heard Rhonda Byrne put it in her book she decided to give it a try. But was she after a REALATIONSHIP? Or just a fake relationship?

I learned something a few weeks ago that was intriguing. It was this: “The truth is what will happen. Reality is what will happen to you. A lie will never happen.” The fake things we conjure up in our brains are not what will really happen to us. But what will happen to us is the TRUTH. But instead of expecting and wanting the truth to happen to her, Ms. Delusional would rather hope in a lie happening to her when it is common knowledge that no lie has ever occurred!

Someone asked me on my formspring.me web account if there was a difference between positive thinking and faith. I said there was absolutely a difference. Positive thinking is simply a human being telling themselves that something that is not reality, is true when it is not true. But faith is a human being believing that something they cannot see (right now) is true or real simply because God said it is real and because God does not lie.

That is what separates reAlationships from fantasy relationships. I used to seek after a fake relationship. Too much Lifetime Movie Network caused me to think that an ideal, perfect person was out there waiting for me. (But even if this ideal, perfect person was out there, why would he be interested in dating me of all people?!) But Dr. Henry Cloud helped me to see that the only person I can date is a real person. And the only worthwhile relationship is a REAL relationship (a reAlationship). Who would want a fake relationship? Would you want a fake job? A fantasy friendship?

Actually, even now there are couples that are comprised of two individuals who are feigning perfection. And I assure you that they are not happy. Even the best thespians and actors would be unhappy if they had to act on and off the set 100% of the time. At some point, you oughta want to be yourself and you oughta wanna be loved for being yourself. But you can’t be loved for being yourself if all your spouse is allowed to see is the fake, acting, “perfect” you.

I once dated a guy with whom I revealed one of my biggest fears at that time. That fear was that once people REALLY knew who I was, that they would not love me. And he said something SO sweet. He said, “Once people really get you know you, they won’t be able to help BUT to love you.” That meant so much to me. Here was this guy telling me that once people got to know the REAL me, there would be nothing but a lovable Mistye left. At the core of Mistye once you remove all the layers, is going to be a REAL person who you can’t help but to love. Isn’t that just awesome?

Dr. Henry Cloud said that real relationships are what are enjoyable in life. You can only date and love a real person. You cannot truly love something that does not exist. I cannot love Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny because neither of them exist. So as long as you want a non-existent perfect being that you fabricated in your delusional brain, you will never have someone to love. You can make your vision board all you want, but that does not mean the universe will present to you something that does not exist. You OUGHT to want someone real.

Take me for example. I’m 27 years old. I’ve prayed to God for a spouse with whom I can have a happy relationship. If I began to construct a vision board tonight with all his dreamy characteristics, it would be a waste of time. For starters, it would be in vain because I’d want the man to be around the same age I am. So that would mean that he’s already got 26+ years of stuff in him that is likely not on my vision board. 26+ years of imperfection and flaws that he’s been storing up before my vision board came to be. God can’t make a person who’s been alive for 25 years exactly what YOU want them to be! And why would He? Would it be fair if you heard that five men had been fixing a vision board with your photo on it and that they had also been praying for God to change who you were to make them happy? God will not do it. He makes people change for the BETTER, but He does not make people change for you!

So I’ve stopped all my lofty visions for a perfect man and a perfect relationship. And I’ve decided that if I ever plan on settling down permanently, then I need to settle for a REALationship and to stop dreaming of a fake one. Real love will only be found in a REALATIONSHIP.

Controlling, Backwards Connections: Defining People Before You Meet Them

Stop controlling people! God never gave that for you to do!

When you meet new people at work, church, school, and play, how do you get to know them? Do you ask questions over time to seek information about them to find out about their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and preferences? Do you spend more time with them to find out what they enjoy by what the information they volunteer or by what they choose to do? Do you ask others who know them about them? If that is how you get to know people, you are considered to have had a front connection.

But what if this is how you “connect” with or get to know people: You see a new person. You observe them for a few minutes and make assumptions on what you think they would or should like based on a few observations. For example, if someone attends a church of the Church of God in Christ denomination, someone who has a backwards connection would say, “She must only wear long skirts, speak in tongues, and only listen to gospel music.” Instead of approaching her and asking her what kind of music she likes, you just assume that because she is a member of a COGIC, that she MUST be like most other COGIC people that you think you know. So imagine your shock if you find out that she likes rock and roll music? The shock comes because you tried to define her before you learned the definition that she already had?

Another example is this. Let’s say you meet a young man that you’re interested in. And he happens to be a Kappa. Instead of just asking him what he likes to wear or instead of finding out what he likes to wear after going on a few dates with him, a person who has backwards connections would think to herself, “He’s a Kappa. And at the university I went to, all the Kappas dressed up in button-down dress shirts, khakis and slacks, and bow-ties.” So when on your first date you see him wearing a black t-shirt and some Levi jeans, you may be surprised. That is because you make a wrong assumption that all Kappas dress preppy.

A backwards connections is when you “connect” with someone from the wrong end. That means, instead of connecting or learning about someone through realizing that you know nothing about them and then proceeding the learn about them, you assume that you know everything about them from the front end. That’s backwards. Backwards connections are the wrong way to connect with people. And in a way, it is controlling when instead of accepting a person as they truly are, you get upset and try to change them to who you think they ought to be like. It is normal to make assumptions. It saves a lot of time. Instead of grilling every person you meet, it is actually wise to make certain assumptions. Like if someone is a vegetarian, you don’t have to ask them what all meat they do not eat and what all animal skins they do not wear. Just know that they don’t eat any meat or wear any animal fur. But don’t assume all Deltas or Catholics are the same.

When you make backwards connections with people, what you are essentially doing is defining them with a different definition than they already have. And not just a different definition, but a WRONG definition. You can know it is a wrong definition if it is not based on fact, but on unobserved assumptions. As a black female from Memphis, TN, it annoys me when people assume I have kids out of wedlock, that I am ghetto, and that I am on welfare. Some people assume that young black females are lazy, ghetto, and unlearned baby mamas. But it is equally wrong to assume that a woman who has a child out of wedlock can’t be a classy woman or a college-educated woman or a hardworking career woman. You are not supposed to define people before you know people. That is not only foolish and unfounded, but is somewhat crazy. Unless you are a prophet(ess) or a psychic, how on earth would you know about a person until you met them? God does not give every human the ability to know everything about a person before they know the person.

It is crazy, isn’t it? It’s like seeing a box and assuming you know every content of that box before you are told what is in it and before you open it up. It is like seeing a closed book with no title on it and no description on that back of it, and yet you proceeding to tell yourself and others what that book is about. That is crazy. And it’s scary when you do it regarding a human.

It’s even scarier when you get upset about the person telling you that you definition of them was faulty. Let’s say that you marry a man a week after you met him. And after you two move in together, you begin to find out about his “definition”. You find out that contrary to what you would have guessed, he likes watching hockey on TV, sleeping half the day away, and not cleaning up. But instead of adding that in his real definition, you confront him and say, “You’re supposed to be a neat man! I saw the inside of your car! It was spotless! And you’re not supposed to be sleeping all day! You never told me you were so inactive. And why do you like sports? I HATE sports! Especially hockey! What’s wrong with you?”

The appropriate question would be, “What is wrong with you, his wife?” You only knew the man for one week. And unless you spent all 162 hours of that entire week with that man, there’s no way you’d know EVERYTHING about him. Why should he NOT like sports? And just because his car is clean, why would that have to mean that his house is clean? And just because you and most of the people you know only sleep 5-8 hours a day, why would that have to mean that he can’t sleep for 12 hours a day? Something is wrong with you for you to define a person you’ve only known for a week. And then for you to get mad at him is even stranger. Who gets mad at someone for being who they are? Not being mad at them for something they’ve done wrong mind you, but being mad at someone for something they just are?

If you try to go about the work of changing them to your definition of them, then you go into the controlling category. Let me share with you a real-life account of someone I knew who was a controlling person because of backwards connections she made. She was a former coworker of mine, so I had two years, 7 hours a day of observing her. I knew something was off about her, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I had bought this book a few weeks before I left that job. And that book was titled, “Controlling People”. This book had to have been written ABOUT my coworker because it explained her strange actions almost perfectly.

Well this coworker of mine was a very angry, controlling person. She was always on edge and always yelling at some of my other coworkers. She would fly off the handle at the slightest provocations. And these provocations were not even things that most people would notice. But because she had backward connections to everyone at the office, she had already made up her mind about what we all should be like. She had already made her definition of us. And every time one of us deviated from her definition of what we should be like or operate like, she snapped or seethed.

For example, one of my coworkers might ask a question that didn’t fit her definition of him. The question he asked seemed like a dumb question to her. And the fake him that she constructed in her demented mind wasn’t matching the real him that she was hearing ask this “dumb” question. So she would fly off the handle and go off on him about how dumb the question was. The questions would be deemed as dumb because she knew the answer to it. And she felt that whatever she knew, he should have also known. For example, if he asked where the box of manila folders were being stored, she wouldn’t just say, “In the bottom drawer to the left in the closet.” That would be too easy. Instead, she would scream, “Why the hell don’t you know where they are?! You mean to tell me you didn’t remember me putting them in the closet last Friday?! What is wrong with you, you idiot! Are you sleep walking?” Needless to say, he didn’t ask her many questions.

The problem was not that my coworker hadn’t watched to see where she put the folders. The problem was that my controlling coworker assumed he should know where the folders were. She assumed he had been watching her store the folders away. The fake him that she had designed and therefore defined would have been proactive. He would have been interested in knowing where things were stored. The fake him that she constructed was omniscient. The fake him didn’t ask questions that annoyed her. And the purpose of her screaming and belittling him was to scare the real him into hiding so that the fake him that she preferred would come forth. And sadly to say, because her temper was so bad, many of the coworkers who had to work in her department would put their real selves into hiding so that they would not have to endure her wrath. She had actually gotten coworkers fired for being their real, imperfect selves. So if you wanted to keep your job, you would pretend to be just what she wanted so that she would not try to remove you too!

Also needless to say, she did not have ANY friends. Nope. Not even one. That is because you can’t be friends with a fake person. You can’t have a true, intimate friendship with someone you’ve never met, but only constructed through a fake backwards connections. She was so lonely and the sad part was that she had no idea why she could not make friends.

If you want true intimacy with people, you have to get to know people. You want reAlationships – relationships that are REAL. Stop assuming what people like and know when you can just as easily ask what they like and know. I attend a COGIC, but I don’t only wear skirts and dresses. I wear red nail polish and red lipstick. I don’t think people have to speak in tongues to be saved. I listen to some secular music. I don’t mind drinking wine in moderation from time to time. I don’t believe in the pretribulation rapture doctrine. I don’t believe people should pay tithes. But some people would assume the opposite about me because some COGIC people believe or do the opposite. But does that mean I no longer attend a COGIC? Reality and facts do not change just because you disagree with some aspect of them. People do not change just because you refuse to accept them as they are. In other words, just because you have connected with someone backwards, it does not change their definition. It just makes you look crazy. You can say ALL COGIC members believe the same thing, but does that make it so? No. So you might as well save yourself some time and embarrassment by receiving that truth. So if a COGIC guy wanted to date me, he’d have to accept that I am not like what he ASSUMES all COGIC women are like and what all COGIC women believe. He shouldn’t try to change me, but he’d do better to ask me why I believe what I believe and do what I do. And if it is wrong, I will try to change it. But if it’s just me, he can find someone else he can accept as is or try to change.

Next time you meet someone, or if you have recently met someone, please refrain from defining them. Do not connect with them backwards. Ask questions. Observe and then clarify any confusion. And decide whether or not you will accept them. And if you cannot, then move on. And if you should not, just accept them as is! God never ordained you as a Human Controller. He never gave you that responsibility. He never asked you to do that. You will never have true relationships until you began to relate to people’s true definitions which only God and them can make.