Archive for November, 2009


Unloading Relationship Baggage

Let’s be real. Everybody has baggage. Anyone who’s been single for a while has probably been burned by the dating game at least once, and sometimes the wounds leave a scar or two.

Normally, a little baggage doesn’t do much harm. You just have to recognize it and be sensitive to those issues that result. For instance, if your last man’s addiction to porn causes you to be a little paranoid when your new man is flipping through the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, that’s baggage. My advice would be to let the new dude know why that’s a bit of a touchy area for you. Hopefully, he’ll say the right words to reassure you, so you two can keep it movin’.

When it comes to meeting new people, part of the screening process is figuring out whether their baggage is stuff you can live with or stuff you can’t. Do you two have compatible baggage? If he’s been burned by gold diggers and now wants you to pay your half on every date, that might not be a suitcase you can carry. If his former fiancée threw the engagement ring in his face when she called it off, and now he doesn’t want to marry, that’s probably not going to match your luggage.

On the other hand, if his baggage is that his last woman was emasculating, and now he must treat every woman like a queen to prove he is indeed the man in the relationship, that might work.

I, for one, try to be very upfront about those sensitive issues that I’ve recognized in myself. I also try not to project the past into the future. Just like I wouldn’t want to have to prove I’m not a gold digger before a guy will take me out on a date, I try not to assume the anybody new I meet will behave like dudes I’ve met in the past.

That’s not to say baggage should be ignored. When dealt with in a healthy way, it helps you determine what you want and don’t want in a partner.

So, whether it’s a duffel bag or a full set of Louis Vuitton luggage with a matching trunk, own it, and be upfront about it. That way, you two can either decide to continue on your separate journeys with all your stuff in tow, or you may find the right person to help lighten your load.

Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist 🙂


Disowning a Homeowner Double Standard

Recently, a colleague of mine walked into the office fuming. On that particular morning, she’d been listening to the radio during her drive in, and she was disturbed when a fellow SIS called in to the station and was given a hard time by one of the radio personalities.

The young woman called in for home improvement advice, but instead of answers, she got questions: “Why don’t you have a man?” Then, the male DJ asked about her weight and cooking skills, suggesting that too much of one and not enough of the other could be the reason she’s in the home alone.

As my co-worker and I discussed how inappropriate the DJs comments were, I wondered: If you’re a single woman, what message does your home ownership send to others?

Because the caller that morning was single and owned her own house, the DJ assumed she was undesirable.

I’m not exactly sure how he made that connection, but the majority of the single women I know own the place where they reside because it makes sense, not because of any relationship issues. We’re all passed the point where living with our parents is acceptable, and while renting is an option, for a lot of us, the benefits of owning far exceed that arrangement.

…but why do I feel the need to justify this?

I’m thinking that if a single man with a house had called in that morning, he wouldn’t have been asked about his weight or about how well he changes the oil in his car. So, why did that DJ think it was acceptable to ask a SIS about her cooking skills when she was inquiring about knobs for cabinets?

I sense a double standard.

I’m not sure what type of underlying message people receive when they learn a SIS owns her own home. Maybe it is indicative of relationship issues for some women, but that seems like a stretch. What is more likely is that people, who make assumptions about others based on whether they rent or own, may have some serious issues of their own.


Does Uncoupled Mean Unsuccessful?

climbingOf course after speaking to Hill Harper a few weeks ago, I had to read his book, “The Conversation.” Although it didn’t reveal anything too earth shattering, there were some interesting concepts within. Not the least of which was Hill’s proclamation that to be his best, he needs to find a suitable partner.

He pointed to Barack and Michelle Obama as an example of what can result in a healthy relationship. According to Hill, it’s unlikely Obama would be where he is today without the support of the now First Lady. Hill suggested that the majority of the great black men throughout time have been married.

If it takes a committed, romantic partnership for individuals to reach their full potential, where does that leave the single person?

Accepting that I may not be able to become the best me unless I’m wed, is a bitter pill for this SIS to swallow.

I’m sure there are many singles who’ve changed the world and left positive imprints in society, but for argument’s sake, let’s assume Hill’s revelation is truth.

What is a partner providing that enables his or her better half to excel?

I think “accountability” is one answer. When someone is alongside you to remind you of your goals, make sure you pursue them and actively help you, it’s a good chance you’ll go far.

Honestly, if there was someone living in my house nudging me to get on my grind everyday and reminding me of all that rides on my success, I’d probably hit that snooze button a little less.

However, I do have people in my life to fill that role. I have family and friends who help make sure I become the best me. I’ve shared my dreams with them, and I know what they’re trying to achieve. We support and help each other, whether that means just lending an ear or whether it means rolling up the sleeves and getting dirty.

Would we all go even further with spouses egging us on? Who knows? I may never know, but I do know I plan to go as far as possible, even without one.


Exposing Single Discrimination


I think there’s such a thing as single discrimination. That’s right. I’m referring to discrimination against those of us who are single. I experience it when I go to the grocery store and can only find a family size package of Oreo cookies. (Even if I could eat them all, I sure don’t want to.) It’s evident in women’s magazines filled with articles about keeping your spouse happy.

I feel I was even discriminated against at church. After sitting through a weeks-long series of sermons on marriage, the pastor offered up one sermon to the singles in the congregation and suggested we join the Singles Ministry if we wanted more.

I don’t think it’s always deliberate, but that doesn’t change the end result. You end up feeling like you’re on the sidelines, somewhat of an afterthought for the rest of society.

Is it any wonder that some single people seem to be so focused on getting married? Then, and only then, can you really be a full part of society with all its two-for-one promotions and his-and-her bathroom sinks.

I respect the institution of marriage. I’m sure it’s more difficult than I can possibly imagine, and I have lots of admiration for those who make it work. However, I wonder whether society has that same reverence for single people who have to handle a lot of the same things couples do, only alone.

It’s true. Most of the time single life isn’t anything too extraordinary. I’m not suggesting trophies be handed out to independent women who are out their taking care of business. However, an acknowledgement that we do have our own unique struggles and problems would be appreciated … and a snack pack of Oreos in the cookie aisle wouldn’t hurt.


Confessions of an Online Dater


Quiet as it’s kept, I have more than a handful of friends who have tried online dating. They’ve all sworn me to secrecy, and the reason is obvious. Online dating is often perceived as the last hope of the desperate, the one unexplored frontier that a SIS resorts to when all else has failed.

I’m not sure why online dating has such a stigma. I’m constantly asked whether I’ve “found” a man, as if I should be out searching under rocks with a magnifying glass, so why would an online service, such as e-Harmony, be a stone left unturned?

Online dating is a rational option, but still one that a lot of black women approach apprehensively.

I think maybe pop culture’s fascination with romance has something to do with the reluctance. When women dream about telling their children how they met daddy, they don’t fantasize “online” as the response.

If given a choice, most women would prefer to meet their mates on a college campus like Dwayne and Whitley, at a spoken word event a la “Love Jones” or on the job like Barack and Michelle.

There’s something about that initial attraction — that “Godfather” thunderbolt – that causes the spine to tingle, the heart to skip a beat and launches the whole romantic courtship. Who wouldn’t want that?

We want to be able to tell stories about eye contact across a crowded room and love at first sight. However, the truth is that the thunderbolt is rare, and even when it does occur, it doesn’t always lead to anything substantial. In this day and age, it’s more likely to meet that perfect guy on a social networking or dating site, and that hardly seems as desperate as, let’s say, sitting at a bar hoping Mr. Right buys you a drink.

You might also be surprised to find out how many happy relationships started online. When that’s the result, people are a little more prone to fess up. However, even without the success stories, there are a few of us who don’t mind admitting we tried the online thing. For this SIS, it resulted in one date, but I wouldn’t rule out trying it again. It’s just another way to meet eligible singles, and if nothing else, I can assure my inquisitive pals that I have looked, magnifying glass and all.

November 2009
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