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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Can I Buy You A Drink?

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

In 2007 auto-tune extraordinaire, T-Pain, had the clubs, radios and bars rocking to his commercial smash hit, “Buy You A Drink”.  It was an extremely catchy title and beat but if you listen to the lyrics and get the premise of the song, you’ll understand just WHY I’m about to tell you that it’s NOT a good idea to let him BUY YOU A DRINK!  In case you are not familiar with the song, at the end of this post will be a clip of the song along with the lyrics.

Initial Meeting

How many times have you been out somewhere and you had a “chance encounter” with a seemingly nice guy? He stops you and strikes up a conversation and you seem interested so you decide to exchange numbers.  You get home sort of excited to hear from him and debate the age-old question, “Should I call him or should I wait for him to call me?”  Either way, a first conversation takes place between the two of you.  During the first conversation, after you get all of the particulars out of the way regarding careers, cars, relationship status and general time-wasting rhetoric, he suggests that you two get together for a date and his first suggestion is, “LET’S GET TOGETHER FOR DRINKS”.  Well since he seems so interesting and just talking to him gives you butterflies, you quickly accept his offer without hesitation.  But WAIT, why did he just suggest drinks and not dinner or a movie?  Here is where you have to be careful about his motives and the potential disastrous effect that this could have on your first “date” with him.

Having drinks on a first date can be innocent fun but it also has the potential to go very wrong.  Believe it or not, men like to test their limits with women to see how far we will let them go and to see what type of woman they are dealing with.  BEWARE, if on this first date, he seems too comfortable with you drinking shot after shot, multiple glasses of wine or hard liquor or he keeps pushing you to do so.  He may be offering you drinks so that you will release your inhibitions (as most people do when they drink) and he can get you to be more flirtatious with him, more forthcoming with information, more ambitious and even open to sleeping with him on the first date.  Some women might ask, “What’s wrong with that, we’re both consenting adults?”  Well I can tell you that most men, when asked, will tell you that contrary to what you might think, they really don’t respect you in the morning after sex on the first date.  I know you THINK they do, but they DON’T, even if they’ve lied to you and said they did!  They will most likely place you in what my husband often refers to as “Category C”, which is no room for upgrading to a girlfriend or eventual wife status (Category B and A respectively) but they WILL call you for sex again.  Also, if you are a “heavy drinker” or someone who likes to drink to get wasted, THE FIRST DATE is NOT the time for that.  If his motives were purely innocent and he just thought that you two could go somewhere to talk and get to know each other better over a FEW drinks, then you will RUIN a good night by getting tipsy and becoming too talkative or throwing up!  He will most likely think you have a drinking problem, consider you unattractive and will NEVER call you again.  Getting wasted on a first date is NOT COOL!

In The Club

When women go to the club, we all pretty much have the same rituals.  The first thing we do when we walk in is survey the room to see whose in there and then we hit the bar.  The bar is usually crowded with men ordering multiple drinks; one for them and one for a lady standing by the bar or sitting on the bar stool waiting patiently for that free drink.  Ladies usually stay close to the bar at a club for two reasons: 1)that’s where the seats are because we can’t stand too long in our 2-hour shoes and 2)we know free drinks will be coming.  The problem is that these FREE DRINKS come with a PRICE!  Now that you’ve accepted that FREE drink from the dude with the gold tooth, tight shirt and the gold rope chain with the Mercedes-Benz medallion on it, you are almost obligated to PAY attention to him for as long as you can stomach his conversation or until someone saves you.  He will most likely follow you around the club all night and ask for dance after dance until your run out of excuses or show him a bleeding toenail to prove that your feet don’t work.  The other “hot guy” who bought you a drink and that you don’t mind talking to and dancing with all night, will inevitably make references to “hooking up” before the night is over.  He has it somewhere in the back of his mind that you OWE him what’s under your tight-fitting dress for that cheap liquor that he just bought.  Men don’t buy drinks in the club for sport, they buy drinks to see whose coming home with them at the end of the night.

If you find yourself going home with the “hot guy” at the end of the night from the club because you are a little tipsy and he whispered something really appealing in your ear, BEWARE! He might just bring friends with him (rape, HIV, danger, etc.)! Women at clubs are prime targets for kidnapping, rape and murder because when you are intoxicated, you don’t have all of your faculties to make good decisions.  Hopefully you have friends who will not allow you to leave the club with a virtual stranger in that state (See Natalie Holloway).  Even going to a strange man’s house as a group is not even safe because men can easily overpower women and you all don’t know what you are getting yourselves into.  Even if nothing dangerous happens to you by going home with the “hot guy” from the club, you don’t even KNOW him and you don’t EVER want to wake up looking over and thinking, “Who the BLEEP is this, where am I and what happened?” Now you have to take that walk of shame to your car trying to piece together the events of the night feeling hung over and used!

When making the decision to accept a drink invitation whether or not it’s a first date or at the club, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Don’t drink BEYOND your tolerance level.  If you have one drink and begin feeling buzzed or tipsy, STOP HERE! You want to make a good impression and not turn him off before he’s even gotten to know you.
  2. Don’t make any MAJOR life decisions that you’ll regret later while you are drinking.
  3. At the club, when accepting a drink from a stranger, GO WITH HIM to the bar and let the bartender put the drink in YOUR hand because date rape drugs are REAL ladies.

When it’s all said and done, ladies, PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

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