The “Girlfriend Experience”

It’s officially the first day of winter and it’s cold outside so we are snuggling up with “bae” and it feels good and maybe even feels like you two are building something special but are you really? You might have met this guy a few months in the summer during dating season when we tend to be visible at cookouts, parties, mixing, mingling and meeting new people. The summer is the prime time to get stuck in the “Girlfriend Experience”. What is that ladies? It is the experience without the title.

You meet a guy and start hanging out pretty frequently and start to cut all other prospects because you really like this guy. You’re going to the park, having impromptu lunches, dinners, movies and hanging over each other’s houses pretty regularly. You’ll look around and a few months have passed by and you realize that you’ve really caught feelings for this guy. You have pictures of him on your phone, memorabilia from the amusement park trip you took together and then it hits you; YOU HAVE A BOYFRIEND. The next thing you know, the summer starts coming to an end and he is having a family gathering and he takes you to meet his family. While driving there you have butterflies in your stomach, you’re leaning over on the arm rest giving him the occasional kiss while listening to KEM on the radio stirring up all these feelings. The car pulls up and you hop out and the two of you begin walking towards the backyard where you smell the grill burning with good food and music playing in the background and you are thinking to yourself, “Today is a going to be a good day” and then it happens, he introduces you to his entire family as his FRIEND!!! Now you thought you were more to each other than friends but there’s one problem, he didn’t. It’s reality check time ladies.

What he did was give you the “Girlfriend Experience” because he wants to keep his options open. Remember, it is summer time and there are several ladies running around dressed scantily clad, so he’s not going to limit his options. He may actually like you and enjoy spending time with you pretty frequently, but, he’s not with you 24/7. He is possibly hanging out with other women on the days that he’s not hanging out with you or out with his friends meeting new women to hang out with. Men have an uncanny ability to date multiple women and compartmentalize their feelings for each of them. He will get what he wants from each of them because they are all different and unique to him. Each woman offers him a different experience and it’s not always about sex but most of the time it is a factor. If you catch him out with another woman while you’re seeing him, he wants to be able to say, “You’re not my girlfriend.” The problem for us, ladies, is that we never decided to address where we thought the relationship was going after all of these months. We pretty much decided that he was our boyfriend and started referring to him as such in our minds and to our friends. We just assumed that he felt the same way. Perhaps this was addressed and he gave you the standard, “I’m not ready for a commitment right now because I just got out of something, so let’s just take it slow”, response. Maybe he told you, he sees a future with you after you spend a little more time together getting to know each other, but it’s been like 6 months. That brings us to the winter, when you are less likely to go out and meet new people to take your mind off of your “imaginary boyfriend” and now you are sliding even further down the slippery slope of ambiguity because he’s spending more time with you but still no commitment. The question is, how long are you willing to continue being stuck in “girlfriend limbo” until you either move on completely or start dating other men in addition to him? There is no right or wrong answer to that because relationships can blossom quickly or take time. How much time you’re willing to put in to find out really depends on you knowing what you want and how fast you want it.

The worst thing that could happen is that you put all of your eggs into this basket and you call him one day and he says, “let me call you later because I’m watching a movie with my GIRLFRIEND.” Yes, he actually already has a girlfriend somewhere, which is why he hasn’t committed to you after all of this time. I’ve seen the “Girlfriend Experience” go really wrong over the years and in some cases go to the altar. When I say really wrong, I’m talking SERIOUSLY wrong to the point where children got involved and child support suits followed. These women allowed these men to string them along for YEARS with bogus promises of a future relationship and they ended up having children with them years later and these men still wouldn’t commit to a relationship with them and either married other people or were already married when they dated. In the good cases, I’ve seen women decide that they aren’t going to put up with the limbo status and confront the guy and tell him that she’ll give him some time to get himself together and make up his mind but she’ll be dating other people too and made herself less available. That tactic seems to only prompt a response in men who have actually caught real feelings for a woman and he realizes that he doesn’t really like the idea of her potentially sleeping with another man and if he really cares about her, he won’t want to see her gone completely either. Beware though, this could be a revolving door of emotions because he still might not commit but give you just a little more that before to keep you coming back and sucking you right back in for nothing.

What do you do if you think you might be a victim of the “Girlfriend Experience”? Take a long hard look at your budding relationship and how long you’ve dated. If it’s been longer than 6 months and he’s not making any moves and you’re becoming anxious, then it’s decision-making time for YOU. If you started catching feelings in the first couple of months, don’t just assume that he feels the same way because women tend to be more vulnerable to their feelings than men. Have a conversation that will prompt him to talk about his feelings for you. Let him know that you can see yourself with him but don’t put the full court press on him to commit right there on the spot because he might feel too pressured into the relationship and it won’t be genuine. Typically men hate ultimatums and they tend to run the other way when presented with one. Relationships should progress naturally and you should be sure not to give too much of yourself too fast. Don’t be so available all of the time and try not to wear your heart on your sleeve because some men will use that to easily manipulate you into doing what they want and if you’re too clingy he’ll figure that you’re not going anywhere no matter how long he takes. Relationships are pretty complex but they can be fun and easy-going if you don’t attach too many rules and expectations onto them too soon. If you don’t like the direction it’s going in or the speed at which it’s moving, don’t be afraid to address it and don’t be afraid to LEAVE IT. Don’t just assume that you’re in a relationship that you’re actually NOT in. That’s the quickest way to get your feelings hurt. There is a man out there willing to commit and not string you along so be patient and vigilant and protect your heart.

Good luck Girlfriends!

Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day was a fictitious day made up in 1937 from a character in the Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip.  Sadie Hawkins was a 35-year-old single woman with no prospects of a husband so all the single men in town were summoned to a foot race for her affection.  This spawned a real life movement of dances, women’s liberation celebrations and general dating role reversal.

The more I thought about Sadie Hawkins, I pondered the question, “Why are some women so afraid to ask men out in 2016?” Now I’m not saying that women should be chasing down every man that they see in desperation for a date but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there if you are interested in a man.  I believe wholeheartedly in the mantra that “closed mouths don’t get fed”.  If women keep sitting around waiting for men to come and ask them out all of the time, they may very well be single forever.  Women outnumber men in the world so quite naturally men have more of a selection in the dating pool and there are some women positioning themselves to be the chosen ones.

I know, I know, the scripture says in Proverbs 18:22, “HE who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”  I’m not saying that you ask him to MARRY you, but there is no harm in letting him know that you are AVAILABLE to get to know him.  Believe it or not ladies, men want to be pursued just as much as you do. You don’t even have to ask him out on a date, you could simply initiate a conversation that leads to the exchanging of numbers. Once you get the number, you don’t have to sit around and wait for him to call YOU first because you’re trying to play some sort of cat and mouse game or you’ve been reading and practicing “The Rules”.  We’re all grown here and you can make the first move and call him and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you asked him to lunch (the safe bet) after you’ve determined that he is even worth future phone conversations or a face-to-face meeting.  I know you’re probably thinking that if you ask HIM out, you’ll have to pay and that could cause you to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of paying for dates but that’s not always to case, hence the reason I said LUNCH in case he assumes you’ll pick up the check.  Lunch is usually inexpensive and non-threatening but keep your eye on him in case he’s cheap.

When I met my husband 15 years ago, I noticed him in a crowded room at a fraternity party and very quickly realized that he was somebody I HAD to meet.  I had two options: 1) Wait for him to approach me and ask for my number or 2) Approach him and strike up a conversation which would result in us exchanging numbers.  Had I gone with option 1, I think I could have been upstaged by some other party goer and missed my chance meeting.  Some things just can not be left up to fate LOL.  I happen to know that when women meet an interesting guy at a party or gathering, they tend to soak up all of his energy to keep him from being drawn to other women.  As it was, I went with option 2 and approached him, struck up a meaningless conversation to drop the subtle hint that I was interested enough for him to ask for my number.  He NEVER did but I could tell that he was interested and a few hours later, he made his move to get my number after he’d noticed that I was turning down all of the other guys who were approaching me that night.  See, the thing is, men who are used to getting attention from women are actually slightly insecure because they aren’t used to rejection.  They look for signs from us to give them the green light to approach us to avoid a possible rejection.

So ladies, the next time you are out at the grocery store, a party, the mall or just walking down the street and you see a guy that you just HAVE to meet (without a ring on of course), don’t catch a glimpse of him and turn away, channel your inner Sadie Hawkins.  Make sure you make DIRECT eye contact with him to be certain that he saw you and so that you can get a look at his reaction to your boldness to look him straight in the eye.  That is a subtle hint for him to walk directly up to you and strike up a conversation but if he doesn’t then walk up to him and say, “Don’t I know you from somewhere.” I GUARANTEE he’ll stand there and talk to you for 20 minutes combing through elementary schools you may have attended togethers to what gym you work out in and you’ll get that number, perhaps even a date and ULTIMATELY a husband. I’m declaring EVERYDAY Sadie Hawkins Day for women around the world! Take it from me and take a chance on your future!

 

Maintaining Your Dating Sanity in the Age of Social Media

Imagine turning on your computer and going to Facebook to update your status and read a few status updates from friends and THERE IT IS…the red “1” on top of the friend request icon.  You click on it only to discover that it is a request from an ex that you had a bad break up with over five years ago.  What do you do? For the moment you ignore it to make a decision on whether or not to accept the request and just start reading friend’s status’ and going about your normal Facebook routine.  At this point though, there are so many things going through your mind about that relationship and how it left a bad taste in your mouth.  Suddenly your eye is drawn to the inbox icon where there is another illuminated red “1”.  Now you start getting butterflies because you wonder whether it will be a message from your ex.  You click on the icon and see you your ex’s name and now you have a full on anxiety attack and begin pondering whether to click the name or not.  Of course you can’t resist because you really want to know what they want, so you take a deep breath and click on the inbox message that reads: “I hope all is well with you and your family.  I was just thinking about you and I hope you don’t hate me.”  How the hell are you supposed to respond to that?  You’ve been waiting for over 5 years to get a bunch of stuff off of your chest about the relationship if you ever had a chance to talk to them again but you’ve since moved on and don’t really want to give them the satisfaction and can’t believe how they set you up with this inbox because you would look crazy sending them hate mail back after such a cordial inquiry.  This is too much to handle right now, an innocent hello from an ex is ruining the rest of your day.

Social media has changed the dynamic on dating tremendously.  It is truly a gift and a curse because in one instance you can reconnect with people but in another you can lose some as well.  Social media can cause people to go insane when they are in relationships because people put too much stock into what is being posted on there.  There are times when people break-up over relationship status on Facebook.  You think you are in a solid relationship and then you go on Facebook and your significant other has changed their relationship status to “single” or “it’s complicated”.  Social Media makes your life accessible to the world and often there is too much disclosure, particularly around relationship discussions.  Social Media also makes finding you and uncovering your life very easy because these days, everyone has a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account.  Posting on these sites also makes it easy for people to take your comments and the comments of others out of context and get you accused of things that you aren’t really doing.  We will explore the three main reason that your sanity can get compromised when you are using Social Media.

Too Much Disclosure

How many times have you gone on Facebook or Twitter and read status updates or tweets about some extremely intimate details of someone’s relationship? I’m not talking about surface comments like, “Date night with my boo was fun”.  I’m talking about too much information like, “Last night was the best sex I’ve ever had and my man is hung like a horse.”  These types of comments open up a Pandora’s box.  If you are “friends” with hundreds or even thousands of people, you are giving that “thirsty” follower a reason to go after your man.  There are people who follow you or request you as friends just to find out what is going on in your relationship believe it or not.  Never talk about what is going on in your relationship publicly on social media because people tend to use that against you.  I’ve seen an instance where a woman’s friend was using Facebook to keep tabs on what she was doing with her recent ex-boyfriend because her friend started sleeping with him after they broke up.  The status updates allowed her friend to try to convince her to leave him alone because he was no good for her so that she could keep him for herself.

Another instance of too much disclosure is “relationship status” change.  This is becoming popular for people to play around with this feature going in and out of relationships and fake engagements.  Strangely, divorcing people over Facebook has become popular.  Changing of relationship status without forewarning your partner has become much like the scene in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, when Janet Jackson announced that she and Malik Yoba were divorcing but he was totally clueless.  It is very inappropriate to use social media to let your partner know that you want a divorce or to end the relationship.  Communication IN PRIVATE on this subject is the key because it is totally disrespectful to do it on Facebook, Twitter or by making a break-up video on YouTube.

Lastly, when you are single and looking for a mate, be careful of the things you say on social media.  No one will take you seriously if all of your postings are about how many people you slept with, how drunk you always are or how much you hate your child’s deadbeat parent.  Social media gives people a lot of insight on your life and they can put the pieces together to see what kind of person you really are.  If the things you are talking about on social media has no substance, your dating stocks can begin to plummet if you are the type to “friend” or “follow” everybody you meet.  Be strategic about accepting friend requests from people you just met and are interested in dating.  Are you really ready for them to see those scandalous pictures of you at the strip club, with your ex or you upside down over a keg at a frat party?  Clean all of that up before you go accepting them into your social media circle unless you just don’t care how much they know about your past.  There is much to be interpreted in a photo.

Doing the Research

Social media is an excellent way to research people who you meet.  It used to be a time when running a “background check” was hard to do without paying but now you can just “Google” people and you can find out if they have any social media accounts.  It is very easy to meet someone and want to know more about them so you go on Facebook to see if they have an account.  If they do, you pray that it is not private so that you can see at least their profile.  You can find out where people work, went to school, if they met are married, in relationships or have kids and even see pictures as proof just by checking social media sites.  There is nothing wrong with checking social media for a background check.  There IS something wrong when you are using social media to stalk people.  Social media stalkers are those people who get fixated on a person and like or comment on their every status update, comment on every picture posted and stalk their twitter timeline.  These people are trying to establish a dominant presence on your social media networks to create a suspicion amongst other followers or friends that you might be dating them by making hard to interpret comments.

It’s easy to get bored and start to Google ex’s.  We’ve all done it, including myself.  You don’t really care about them or what they’re doing but social media makes it easy to find out what has become of their life.  Something inside of you secretly hopes that they fell off in the looks department or married someone ugly and when this is the case, you feel a sense of satisfaction.  Be careful though, doing this can cause old feelings to resurface when you see their picture on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and they look amazing and you find out that they are single and still living in the area.  You could be motivated to send them a little note to say hello and ring a bell that can’t be stopped.  Now you’ve opened up a line of communication with someone in your past and if you’re in a relationship it can be unhealthy to start rehashing old memories with a lost love.  If you’re single, rejection could be a possibility if you reach out to them with a friendly hello.  They may not want to be bothered and still feel wounded or they could actually be in a relationship, in which case beware of their significant other sending you a “get lost” message.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with “friending” an ex but if one or both of you are in a relationship, your significant others may have an issue with the two of you communicating.  Consider this before you do it.

Taking Things Out of Context

It is very easy to take things out of context that are posted on social media sites.  You can’t really check somebody’s temperature (so to speak) through the words on the computer.  There was an instance when a woman posted something on my husband’s Facebook wall about how she couldn’t wait to see him.  Now if I was insecure or didn’t know what was going on with him, I might have snapped and commented on her post and accused him of cheating.  I just happened to know that his Homecoming weekend was approaching and he was selling shirts and tickets to a party that was in high demand.  There are only 140 characters possible on twitter so reading an abbreviated tweet can be misleading if you are the type to always jump to cheating conclusions.  Posting on Facebook walls are often brief and unassuming but can be taken out of context when outsiders who are not in the conversation reads the posting.  Be careful not to blow these things out of proportion because often times they are innocent.  Do recognize that sometimes there is a cause for concern when postings on YOUR man’s wall are clear and obvious violations like, “Last night was the best sex I’ve ever had and you are hung like a horse.”

Social media is great for connecting with people whom you would otherwise never talk to without it.  The one-on-one personal element of communication has been taken out of society with the invention of social media.  We now have more access to the private life of people than we ever had.  We know when celebrities are hooking up and breaking up just by reading their tweets.  We can find out who is “in a relationship” or “single” by status updates.  People have to start to learn to keep their private lives private and not give the public so much insight into their lives.  Just remember to use these sites responsibly, otherwise they will drive you insane!

Who Am I?

How many times have you taken a look at yourself in a figurative mirror while you were in a relationship or immediately after a break-up and asked yourself, “Who am I? or Who have I become?”  I ask this because a lot of people often get annoyed when friends and family tell them that since they’ve been in a relationship, they’ve changed.  Change for the better is good but change for the worse is bad!  When I say change for the worse, I mean that you’ve strayed so far away from who you were as the person that people knew and loved, into an ENTIRELY different person that people can’t stand to be around since you’ve been in that relationship.

Many times, people don’t even know that they are changing or have already changed.  It’s after others bring it to their attention and they start getting defensive, that they realize that it just might be true.  Some people are just chameleons, blending into the relationship and changing to fit every different situation that they get in.  Then there are the conformists who basically will conform to whatever their mate “expects” them to be.  Finally, there are those people who like to adopt an “alter ego” to keep evolving in the relationship to keep it spicy.  No matter the type, these people CHANGE for relationships!

Chameleons

Chameleons are beautiful lizards that are able to change colors to blend in with their surroundings for social purposes with other chameleons and for survival purposes to protect themselves in their environment against harm.  There are some people who will do these things when they get into a relationship.  I’ve seen women go out and meet a guy and once they get to know his likes and dislikes, they start to try to adapt their lifestyle to them because they think it will be pleasing to him.  In reality, it’s not who they really are and when the lights come on, they will be exposed.  You can only hide behind a farce for so long.  In one relationship, you’re “Holly Housewife”, cooking in the kitchen dressed like “June Cleaver” with an apron on presenting an apple pie to guests because your mate is a straight-laced, no-nonsense, dinner party type of guy.  The next relationship, you become “Hip Hop Harriet”, dressed like video vixen “Melyssa Ford” with nothing but a push-up bra on posing for pictures next to a Bentley because your new man is a gun-toting, drug dealing, pretend rapper who smokes weed all day.  This is very dangerous behavior, especially for the person who constantly changes for every new relationship.  You will become unrecognizable to your friends and family but most of all, YOURSELF!  If you are in a volatile relationship and have adapted for survival, it can be very hard for your family and friends to help you because you have blended in to the situation by making excuses for the abuser, masking bruises and going along with his abuse.

Conformists

The definition of conforming is to act in accord with the prevailing standards, attitudes or practices of society or a group of people.  When you meet someone who you really feel a connection to and can see a future with, you can easily start to conform to their expectations because you want a relationship with them.  How many people do you know that ended up in a unfulfilled relationship because they tried to conform to a lifestyle that their mate wanted to have?  One good example of this is a woman who meets a guy who CLEARLY states that HE DOESN’T WANT KIDS and she pretends that she can live with that and she marries him.  Ultimately, in the back of her mind, she resents herself for going along with this because she really wants a family and starts to “act out” her frustration by trying to change his mind, which causes problems in the relationship.  When someone gives you a clear understanding of the things that they value and their expectations in a relationship, they aren’t just saying it for the sake of conversation, they usually mean it.  Sometimes we hear things that we want to hear but we aren’t “listening” to what’s clearly being said and we think that we can change what we don’t like about them.  Most of the time, WE CAN’T change them as a person or their minds about something that they feel strongly about so we end up conforming to their ideals, ways of thinking and to the direction that they want the relationship to go in.  Sometimes, their thoughts become your thoughts and every response to a situation warrants the question, “What would he/she do or think?”  When you find yourself in this situation you must consider the question, “Have you lost who you are to be what they want you to be?”  If the answer is YES then you are not going to be happy in the long run with the relationship or yourself when you realize that you’ve given up your own beliefs, principles and practices.  The signs that you are a conformist is when your mate tells you to wear your hair a certain way, weigh a certain amount and cut off certain friends because they’re bringing you down and YOU DO IT.  Conforming for EVERY person that you date will only distort your TRUE self.

Alter Egos

It’s hard to uncover all of the layers of a person because people are multifaceted.  People show different sides of themselves around different people for obvious reasons because everything is NOT for everybody!  Men like to say that they want a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed.  The “freak” is essentially her alter ego, the one that she pulls out only with him.  There is nothing wrong with having an alter ego until your real personality and alter ego start interfering with one another and become indistinguishable.  This commonly happens, for instance, when cops go undercover and live a double-life, they can’t separate the two in reality and it becomes detrimental to their relationships.  Alter egos can make you start to believe your own lies.  I can recall an ex-boyfriend who started chatting online using an alter ego to get attention from women.  He made up a fake identity and biographical information.  I started getting weird phone calls to my house asking for a guy all of the time and I would tell them that they had the wrong number but I quickly realized that he was CRAZY enough to give out the REAL house number with his FAKE name.  After we broke up, I had a friend call his cellphone and ask for the fake name and HE TALKED to her.  People who claim to have an “alter ego”, tends to really have an IDENTITY CRISIS.  Get to know yourself and be who you really are and stop using the alter ego to portray who you WISH you were.

The bottom line is that you DON’T need to completely change who you are to be with a person.  If they can’t accept you for who you are, flaws and all, then they’re just not the one for you.  There is a HUGE difference between compromising and caving.  Compromising on some of your rigid ways may be necessary to balance the relationship but don’t cave in to all of the things that they request that you change about yourself just to be with them.  Take it from Mary J. Blige, she said it VERY succinct: “Take me as I am, or have nothing at all!”

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