When TOEs (Terms of Endearment) Stink

Single Independent SistahI’ve heard it said that more than any other word on the planet, a woman loves to hear the sound of her own name, but I won’t deny that hearing a tenderly uttered and perfectly timed “baby” or “honey” from the right person can sometimes send a little chill up the spine.

However, I’ve always found generic terms of endearment (TOEs) to be a bit insincere. If you’ve ever met a romantic interest who quickly started referring to you as “baby,” and then soon realized that he used the term for everyone and everything from the hair-net wearing grandmother at the interstate tollbooth to the voice that alerts him that his voicemail is full, then you likely feel the same way.

Finding out that a TOE you thought was reserved only for you rolls off his tongue like swag oozes from the pores of Barack Obama, is like realizing the birthday gift that your BFF gave you three years ago—the one you’ve placed in a special spot where you can gaze at it daily, the one that reminds you how close you two are, the one you consider priceless—came from the dollar store.

It’s not that it’s completely unappreciated now, but maybe it wasn’t quite as deep as you thought.

To be clear, I’m not completely against terms of endearment. My parents each had cute names for me when I was a child. One love interest used to refer to me as Miss Styles ‘cause he was a fan of my fashion sense. (That was before the recession hit.) I could appreciate these little nicknames that were bestowed upon me specifically by people who had picked out a particular characteristic or skill about me that was unique and therefore used to distinguish me from all others.

Most would likely find that sort of personalization preferable to being called “sweetheart,” “dear,” “baby” or some other generic moniker by a guy whose overuse of the terms makes one wonder, “Does he remember my name?” or “How many women did he just send this, ‘Good morning, babe’ text to?”

Of course, I know several stable, healthy couples who use those clichéd nicknames with genuine affection and respect, but he only uses the TOE for his wife, and she only uses it for her husband.

That could be the most important part of using a term of endearment. It works better when it’s reserved for one person. That’s what makes it special, and isn’t that the whole point?

When someone starts referring to you with a little pet name, the assumption is that there’s a level of intimacy. You two are so close that you’ve suspended the formality of government issued, birth certificate names. Instead, you express affection just when addressing one another. How cute!

That’s all lost when the TOEs are overused. That’s all lost when they’re used too soon.  Basically, that’s lost when they’re meaningless.


Don’t Ask For a Smile

I consider myself a pretty reasonable person. I try not to let little things irritate me, but I’m human and like many, I have a few pet peeves. They may not seem like huge deals to others, but when confronted with these things, it’s easy to find me slowly counting backwards from 100 or repeating the serenity prayer to myself like an enraged Bruce Banner trying not to change into the Hulk.

So, I understand that I may be the only woman in the world who feels this way, but I admit that I get completely irked when a strange man asks me to smile.

For clarity, let me offer an example. I’ve parked my car at the local town center and am on my way into the dollar store. My stream of consciousness is something like this: “I wonder if Oprah still goes to the dollar store. Even if you have $1 million, there are some things that are just not worth more than a dollar. Like, I’d never pay more than a buck for a fly swatter. Does Oprah have flies? I mean, just ‘cause you rich doesn’t mean you don’t have flies. They’re not like roaches. If she had roaches, that’d be a problem. Can you imagine little roaches climbing out of Oprah’s bag when she gets to Harpo Studios? That’s some mess. Oprah got roaches, and Stedman says she brings her roach-infested lunches to work. That’s just nasty. Wait. Why am I at the liquor store?….”

So after leaving there, returning to the task at hand, walking two doors down and reaching my intended destination, some random guy who’s coming up the street loudly says to me, “Smile. Why you look so mean? It’s not that bad.”

Pause… Say what?

It seems like a small thing, and I’m sure the nameless fellow didn’t mean to offend, but let me explain what I hear when this is said.

Your Face is Whack: So, he didn’t directly insult my face, but then again, didn’t he? Basically, what I’m being told is that my face looks so twisted, distorted and unappealing that something must be wrong with me. I must be angry, having a bad day or maybe even contemplating suicide. The reassurance that things aren’t as bad as my face suggests just isn’t a compliment.

You Care What I Think: I don’t make a habit of asking strangers on the street what they think of me. The truth is that whether they think I’m fly or funky, it really doesn’t matter much. It’s true that you never know when you might bump into someone who may become a great friend, future employer or an otherwise significant part of your life, but more often than not, people whose paths you cross when running errands aren’t going to end up in your cellphone contacts list. So, the comments strangers voice about others reeks a bit of self-importance. However, responding with a, “Your opinion is worth less to me than this fly swatter I’m about to buy,” probably wouldn’t help the matter.

I’ve Got You Figured Out: Every human being is different. I do have friends who walk down the street showing off their pearly whites. I smile at strangers at times, like when people stumble on their own feet and try to play it off like they tripped on an invisible crack in the sidewalk. I smile at them so they know, “It happens to the best of us.” However, the absence of a smile on my face does not necessary indicate that I’m depressed or in a foul mood. The fact that someone I’ve never met would assume to know me well enough to interpret my facial expressions is just a bit presumptuous. No? That would be like assuming every random guy who requests that I smile at him is in desperate need of attention and validation from anyone who’ll entertain him.

As insulting as the delivery can be, I do assume the request is meant to be a compliment. However, if the goal is to solicit a smile from someone, in my unsolicited opinion, a simple “hello” would work a lot better.


Do I Love You for All I Know About You?

Following in the footsteps of Hill Harper and Steve Harvey, Tyrese Gibson is the latest celebrity to write a book and offer his opinions on relationships.

I’m a bit skeptical about taking advice from a man whose tweets are notoriously ridiculous and misspelled, but I’d be lying if I denied that I came across some interesting tidbits while perusing his “How to Get Out of Your Own Way” effort.

To be honest, Tyrese’s hyping of his own penned thoughts makes me wonder if his is the only book he’s ever read. I mean, he honestly comes across as though he’s offering up some life secrets never revealed to man before as if “What Is Your Purpose?,” a chapter in his book, is the first time anyone’s ever contemplated the question. However, he did have one or two interesting ways of presenting the already widely shared and accepted information.

At a book signing recently, I found myself nodding my head in agreement as Tyrese discussed the chapter, “Do I Love You More Than I Know You?”

In the chapter, he writes about falling in love fast—with an idea of a person—before actually getting to know who that person really is.

“When you love somebody more than you know them, you set yourself up to be disappointed when you discover the things about their personality that drive you nuts. If you love your man or woman so much, once their negative characteristics or the truth about who they are is revealed, the reason you’re so hurt is because you created the idea in your mind as to who you thought they were.”

I can feel where Tyrese is coming from. However, when I read the passage I couldn’t necessarily relate to not knowing the few guys with whom I’ve been in serious relationships. I do feel like I knew those dudes pretty well before things heated up. What seemed like a similar scenario to me, to which I could relate, was arriving at a point within a relationship where I had to come to terms with the fact that the guy who’d written me love poems, consistently called me daily and otherwise swept me off my feet, had up and switched the relationship on me after I’d fallen for him.

(I know what you’re thinking, and, no. His change in behavior was not a result of getting the goods. LOL.)

By the time he’d decided he no longer had to lay his jacket over a puddle for me, I was already emotionally attached. So the guy I thought was a romantic at heart was really just a guy on the chase. That’s not to say I didn’t know him, but I had to learn the “relationship” him—the one who was comfortable enough in us to finally just be himself.

That’s not exactly what Tyrese was getting at in his chapter, but I think there are parallels. In both scenarios, you have to then decide whether the person you’re now emotionally attached to is someone you still want to be with.

Is the real guy someone worthy of your love and devotion?

That’s where things can often get tricky. Was his best foot forward so different from the real him that he’s now a stranger, or are those charming characteristics still there?

If you’re lucky and he’s really the guy you fell for even though he’s stopped sending flowers on a weekly basis, then an annoying trait or two is not a deal breaker or cause for major disappointment as Tyrese suggests. Nobody’s perfect. If you find a guy who never drives you nuts, then you probably don’t know him that well. If he irks you from time to time, and you’ve found a way to somehow understand and appreciate that aspect of his otherwise great personality, then you’re learning to love him in light of all you know about him, and that’s ideal.

Check out my Sister 2 Sister interview and story on Tyrese here.


What Do Dating Sites Offer?

Dating someone with whom you have common interests makes perfect sense. If you’re a sci-fi geek enthusiast, finding a mate who appreciates aliens and paranormal activities not only means you’ll likely enjoy the same movies and TV shows, but also that your significant other won’t ridicule you for suggesting the two of you attend the Star Trek convention.

However, after noticing the scores of different dating sites out there geared toward folks who share the same profession or hobbies, I wondered if singles who use these sites are being smart, by looking for someone who understands their passions, or ridiculous for putting so much emphasis on those things that have little to do with one’s character.

Is it self-centered to search for a guy on WeBothLikeSteak.com just to limit the chances that you’ll ever be pressured to eat a veggie burger?

Sure, it’s good to be on the same page about certain things, but isn’t it also good to expand your horizons, be challenged and grow?

Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe it is just about recreational activities and bonding over something that you both enjoy.

That beats the alternatives which are (1) your partner learning to tolerate love something in which he wasn’t initially interested or (2) you finding someone outside of your romantic relationship to hang with when you’re enjoying your favorite activity.

However, there’s also the possibility that it’s about acceptance.

If you’re a wine connoisseur who has endured criticism from a non-drinking potential suitor, you might decide to avoid that sting in the future by just dating people you know won’t judge you. If he’s just as into wine tastings and trips to the vineyard as you are, then you’ve eliminated that issue. He gets it.

In the end, isn’t that what most folks want out of a relationship: someone who accepts and understands their quarks and loves them anyway?


What Your Naked Pic Really Reveals

By now, you’ve probably seen the naked photo of R&B star Chris Brown that was allegedly “leaked” by one of his exes.

Whether or not the photo was released by an ex or Chris himself is still in question, but it’s obvious that he’s the one who snapped the cell phone shot.

Seemingly alone and somewhat aroused, Chris felt the moment needed to be immortalized digitally. So, he did what any Atlanta pastor with a Jheri-curl would do, and he went to the bathroom to admire himself – and thought, “Why keep this to myself?”

How selfless.

I’m not going to overanalyze the situation, but here are five reasons why this is whack (not just for superstars).

1. It’s vain: I hope that everyone out there likes something about his or her appearance. I hope you love your height, or your smooth skin or your smile. Love you, but know that there is a line, and when you are overcome with the desire to share your assets with others – who probably haven’t asked – you’ve crossed the line from a healthy self-perception to narcissism.

2. It’s distracting: I’m sure the image of Chris’ naked body was distracting to many people – male and female – in several different ways. However, it’s clear that Chris, whose new album is coming out later this month, was not in the studio, writing songs, practicing dance moves or even taking anger management courses when he took the photo. Instead of working on his craft or himself, he was – as one of my cousins always says – worrying about the wrong thing.

3. It’s average: I mean, if you’re going to take a photo of yourself buck naked and send it out into the viral world, it should be something outstanding, unprecedented, awe-inspiring and unforgettable, in my opinion. I’m no expert, but I didn’t see anything that warranted a snapshot. One could argue that Chris is just another guy. His mega-career doesn’t guarantee a mega-member. I agree, but that begs the question: Why? Why take a photo at all?

4. It’s desperate: Are you looking for approval? Validation? Sex? Get a grip. I guess hundreds of fans posting flattering comments about your physique is an ego booster, but if you’re in need of a boost that big, then there might be other issues at hand. Instead of simply revering your reflection, a Stuart Smalley mirror moment might be more beneficial.

5. It’s dangerous. It’s a slippery slope. Once you start snapping and distributing nude photos of yourself, how far away are you from an actual sex tape? Is it like a gateway activity that leads to more risqué public behavior? How long will it be before he’s making out with women on a VH1 reality show, displaying no shame or self-control at all? Wait. I think I slipped into a Ray J rant.

To be clear, I’m not discouraging physically fit men from posting their nude photos online or texting them to ex-girlfriends, but know that more than just the goodies are being revealed. Such actions can offer a peek into one’s psyche, and although you can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s head, putting yourself out there like that, suggests quite a bit.


Quit Hatin’ on Single People

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve no problem with married people. I hate to sound cliché, but some of my best friends are married!

However, it’d be easy for me to label all wed people as needy, dependent, insecure conformists who need marriage as a way to validate themselves as worthwhile human beings.

I could make assumptions about the character of husbands and wives based solely on their marital status, but that would be stupid. Right?

Guess what’s equally as stupid?

This recent article in The Huffington Post attacking single people, described us all as selfish, dishonest and shallow, among other things. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t some unattached people who fall into these categories, but I’m sure there are some married people for whom the shoe fits, too.

Fortunately for married people, society just assumes that they entered into the union because they fell in love.

Unfortunately for single people, it seems nearly impossible for the general public to believe that an unattached person could be perfectly pleasant and of good character. Instead, we must be majorily flawed.

Is it so hard to fathom that maybe a SIS just hasn’t met her match yet? Is it so difficult to wrap one’s mind around the fact that some folks don’t want to be married? Is it beyond the realm of reason that marriage might be an option for some and not a life requirement?

Is “you’re a bitch” really the only plausible explanation, as the article’s author suggests? I think not.

I have at least one friend who believes in aliens. From what I can tell, it’s easier for the masses to believe in Alf than it is for them to accept that it might take some single people a bit longer to fall in love.

However, instead of a little patience and acceptance from society, singles have to deal with prejudice. I’m obviously no MLK, but when people start targeting members of any specific group, it makes me wonder what exactly their problem is.

Other than the fact that maybe the author had a deadline to meet, what would motivate her to take the time and write about how damaged single people are? Obviously, there are some issues there.

Maybe the author is jealous of independent singles who aren’t desperate to wed. It’s possible she’s coming to terms with the fact that her third marriage has ended and is lashing out at the group her ex-husbands have chosen to join. There are endless explanations for her obvious hate.

I don’t know, but unlike her, I’ll refrain from making too many  judgments.


Does Chilli Have a Valentine?

Check out a few highlights from my interview with Chilli, and get the whole thing here, if you want. 🙂

Tracy: Do you find love on season two?
Chilli: I find some good things. (Laughter) Love takes a while. When you’re mature, it’s rare that you can find love quickly. When you’re young, you don’t really know. You’re just in love with the idea of being in love. So, you’re quick to say “I love you.” It’s too soon.

Tracy: I get it. We have to tune in to find out. So, you do have a Valentine?
Chilli: (Laughs) My favorite Valentine is my son, Tron. I kind of forgot about Valentine’s Day. I have really good ideas for Valentine’s Day. I’m just creative, and I’m a hopeless romantic anyway. It’s not always about buying the most expensive thing, but there are other great things you can do, too.

Tracy: So, you’re going to plan the evening and tell your Valentine where to take you?
Chilli: For me, what I’m doing for that person has nothing to do with what they’re doing for me. I’m the type of female, I don’t think Valentine’s Day is just for the girl. It’s for the guy, too. Women should do things for the person they care about, also. Unless you make a plan together to go on a weekend trip or something.

Tracy: What Valentine’s Day ideas do you have?
Chilli: I’m thinking… I’m thinking… (laughs)

Tracy: Since you mentioned expensive gifts, I have to bring up the Floyd Mayweather thing. Is it normal for him to buy you thousand-dollar items?
Chilli: That’s not an all-the-time thing. For Floyd, people have to understand one thing about him: He doesn’t have to be a significant other for him to splurge on you. Fourteen thousand dollars is like $400 to him.

Tracy: Doesn’t that confuse things?
Chilli: What could confuse things is if we made the mistake of sleeping together. Which, we’ve never done that. I tell chicks when it’s a platonic relationship, you don’t have sex. You don’t have sex with people you’re not going to have a committed relationship with. Sex should not be the thing to lead you to that commitment. It should be the quality of the person.

Read the entire interview here.


Noting the Lack of Love for Natural Locks


I was just a little irritated earlier this week after a video of Method Man disparaging black women’s natural hair surfaced. I grew up on ‘90’s rap and the love that the Native Tongues and others of that era showered on sistahs – and not just the ones with light skin and straight hair — was something that was appreciated.

Of course, Meth’s music was never quite that Afrocentric or enlightened, but in my opinion, he leaned more toward black love than misogyny. So, when he was recorded saying, “I don’t like peasy afros. Sorry. I don’t like dreds either. I like a woman to get her hair did,” I was a bit surprised.

It didn’t rock my world or anything, since brothers in the spotlight have made it clear that our natural hair is not their preference.

Forgive me, Lord, for quoting Lil Wayne, but this brown-skinned, dreded brother has no problem declaring, “I like a long hair red bone.”

Let’s be real. Afros don’t hang. Whenever a man says he likes long hair, we know he’s not talking about an afro. If he were, he’d use a word like “full” or “high.” Have you ever heard a guy say, “I like high hair”? I haven’t.

Anyway, I was a bit relieved when Meth cleared up his comments, which he said were jokes toward a friend of his whose hair was in an afro at the time. It’s easier for me to believe he was teasing a homegirl, than to believe this guy  – who brushes his hair about as often as he releases a gospel album  – has problems with locks.

When confronted about the remarks, Meth said: “Girl, if you want to come outside with your hair in an afro, so be it. Do what you do. If you wanna rock dreds, so be it. Do what you do. If you wanna take it back to Africa or take it back to where ever the hell you want to take it back to, you do that.”

Then, he threw a few compliments our way.

“I love my people. My people is the most beautiful people in the planet, and we got the best women in the MF-ing world… I love my black sisters, with or without afros, with or without dreds.” (Hear it all here.)

Honestly, after hearing his words, it just made me aware of how seldom brothers express sentiment like this. It’s not so much that they’re always dissing brown-skinned women with natural hair; it’s just that there’s rarely ever any love.

For instance, GlobalGrind.com recently listed its Most Desirable Women of Hip Pop. Beyonce and model Chanel Iman were the closest thing to dark skin included in the photo gallery. Of course, not a strand of natural hair was found.

One could argue that there aren’t many women in Hip-Pop who wear their hair natural, but if a model fits the criteria, then certainly an Esperanza Spalding – an actual musician — could have made the list.

However, men are entitled to their preferences, just as women are. I personally don’t find curly hair attractive on a man. Do I expect El DeBarge or Allen Payne to revolt because of it? No. So, that made me question why I cared at all about Meth’s comments. Although my hair is not relaxed, I do wear it straight the majority of the time. I tend to let it go natural in the summer when the humidity challenges me. So, why do comments hatin’ on natural hair hit a raw nerve?

Of course, the answer is because “natural hair” – afros in particular – is distinctly ours. To not have an afro, steps have to be taken. Although few of us rock the style on a regular basis, we know it’s what lies beneath, and it’d be wonderful to have brothers embrace it, learn to appreciate it and tell us it’s beautiful. Afterall, it’s their hair, too.


Steve Harvey: Thanks, but No Thanks

I don’t want to offend. I know he has a huge following of loyal fans, but the truth is that I feel some type of way about taking advice from Steve Harvey. It’s not really personal, but he is one of the few so-called relationship experts out there who has multiple divorces under his belt. Yes, he’s married now, but let’s be real. As a single woman, do I want his opinion on how I should go about building and sustaining a healthy, loving relationship? Maybe if he makes it to his golden anniversary this time around, I’ll change my tune.

One could argue that he’s speaking from experience. So, maybe his failed marriages have taught him how to make relationships work. However, from what I’ve read of his books and from what I’ve heard him preach, his shtick is more about telling single sistahs what to do to get a man than it is about instructing couples on how to maintain healthy relationships.

I know what you’re thinking. “Girl, you quote Hill Harper all the time, and he ain’t even got one marriage to his name!” True. However, there are at least two significant differences between Hill and Harvey: (1) Hill is the type of guy I might date. He’s attractive. He’s intelligent. He’s single. So, I care a little bit more about his POV; although, I still read his books with the side eye. (2) Hill’s book, “The Conversation,” included lots of other men’s opinions. He didn’t attempt to speak for every man.

However, let me get back to the point. When you’re single, you always have people offering unsolicited advice. Everyone who has somebody – and even those who don’t – think they have it figured out. They know why you’re single and what you can do to “fix” it. Few seem to just accept what you have: you haven’t met the right person yet.

So, you learn to decipher the good advice from the bad. For this SIS, the relationship status of the person and his or her romantic history help determine whether I bother listening. If you’re in what I consider a healthy, long-lasting relationship, I may take heed to what you’re saying. If you’re a man or woman who cheats on your significant other, constantly complains to me about your spouse or has only been with your partner for one or two years, then you fall into another category.

That’s where Harvey is. He’s in that category of counselors whose romantic situation makes me skeptical of what he has to say.

That’s not to suggest there are no tidbits of wisdom in his words; however, as a friend of mine put it, those things he writes that have you nodding in agreement are often just plain common sense.

Whether you’re on Team Harvey or not, I won’t judge. I have friends who’ve found his advice helpful, and he claims that many readers who took it to heart are now in happy relationships.

So, I won’t begrudge him that success (even though I question whether he’s exploiting the lonely black women out there by using their situations to line his pockets). If he’s helping women find happiness, then more power to him.

However, when I have questions about dating and relationships, I think I’ll turn to happily-married couples who’ve stood the test of time for advice.

The truth is that anyone can offer advice – and this blog is proof – but this SIS suggests we make sure to be a little selective about whose tips we follow.

Oh, and watch my interview with Steve. That’s me with the microphone!


Beware of the Faux Beau

There are a lot of different kinds of men from whom the SIS should shy away: playas, DL brothers, philanderers, abusers, etc… Most of us have developed some sort of radar for the fellas who fall into these categories.

If you’re not 100% sure he remembers your name ‘cause he’s been calling you “babe” since the day you met, he could be a playa. If he spends all day Saturday shopping for a sexy outfit to wear to his boy’s weekly poker night, there’s a chance he’s gay. Philanderers are the ring wearers who stop you in the Victoria Secret to tell you how unhappy they are at home, and abusers try to put you on a phone schedule and expect hourly text messages about your whereabouts.

Within a day or two of meeting these jokers, the flags are waving, and you’ve got one foot out the door. These undesirables are pretty easy to spot.

However, there’s another type of guy who can be just as lethal to your emotional well-being if left unchecked, but is much more subtle and less detectable.

That’s the faux beau.

He’s that friend in your life who keeps you interested enough and treats you well enough to distract you from other potential partners, but for whatever reason, he refuses to commit to you.

On weekends, when you should be out with the girls looking cute and eligible, you’re all fancy walking into the Macaroni Grill or Lucky Strike with him. He wouldn’t dream of forgetting your birthday and gave you the most thoughtful gift. He encourages you, supports you and may even throw around the L-word liberally. You’ve met his best friends and maybe a relative or two, and sometimes there are special “benefits” to the relationship.

Sometimes you wonder how the relationship got to this point, but you recognize that you’re holding out hope that something romantic might just spring forth. You’re carrying a torch ‘cause there are definitely feelings there. It stands to reason that two great friends could eventually become even greater lovers.

However, if he’s not feeling the same, then there’s nothing for that flame to do but die out.

If you’ve tuned into season two of “What Chilli Wants,” then you know that Floyd Mayweather is the singer’s faux beau. The boxer recently bought her a pair of $14,000 diamond encrusted earrings as a token of his affection. As her relationship coach, Tionna Smalls, said, “Floyd is trouble.” Then, Smalls vowed to keep Chilli away from him.

How do you to rid yourself of the faux beau? The truth is that the drama will probably drag on until he’s totally convinced you of his complete disinterest in a romantic relationship, and things might get ugly. His contradictions between actions and words will finally become more than you can stand, and you’ll likely come to a point where you’ll glady redefine things with the faux beau in hopes of meeting a sincere significant.

February 2023