Posts tagged ‘relationship’

What Works for Me

Seen on Twitter:

I want a relationship that works, or I don’t want one at all. The alternative is much too painful.

 A tiny Tweet, yet it speaks volumes. I’m pretty sure most of us not only concur, we can relate. It’s a simple concept; after all, who doesn’t want a relationship that works? Unfortunately, problems creep into our relationships because oftentimes we hold different ideas regarding what “works.”  A happy medium can be hard to achieve if one party in the relationship doesn’t understand that the best way to receive is to give. Having a relationship that “works” also doesn’t mean that we get to have our way at our partner’s expense. The goal of any compromise should be win-win, not win at all costs.

I’ve also found out the hard way that developing a relationship that works isn’t achieved simply because each person defined their boundaries and limitations, or established must-haves. It also isn’t achieved because we drew lines in the sand regarding those behaviors and situations we designated as deal breakers. For instance, what if one person decides (for whatever reason) to totally disregard everything you both spent time and energy to carefully create? It’s like using “time out” as a disciplinary tactic in child rearing: What happens if your kid decides he won’t go in time out?

Time out? Make me . . . .

I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to have a relationship that works, both persons have to be what they want in the relationship. Here’s a primer:

  • Be honest. That means be truthful – not only in what you say, but in who you are. My personal philosophy for entering a relationship is “what you see is what you get.” No pretending, no sugarcoating – I am who I am and it is what it is. I do this to assure you that you’re not meeting Dr. Jekyll, only to have Mr. Hyde show up later.
  • Be smart. In this instance, I’m not saying you have to be a Rhodes Scholar (though having a brain – and knowing how to use it – really helps. Just being honest). Being smart also means that even though you recognize and accept you imperfections, you’re smart enough to not use them as excuses for dumb behavior.
  • Be a team player. Even though that expression is tired and worn, the concept isn’t. Team players have enough sense to know what to do to get along with someone, namely, me. You + Me = Team Us. That means we both do what it takes to sink the basket, score the touchdown, make the goal, make the birdie or an eagle, roll a strike, and land a 20 pound bass. A striped one.
  • Be a lover. Wait, I’m not talking about that kind of lover  . . . (well, on second thought, I am; it’s just that I’m not talking about that right now. This page is rated PG-13, and I have to keep it on the level that my Mother can read it. Stop trying to confuse me. Ahem. Cough).
  • Be a lover. Be willing to love me the way I want to be loved. Please speak my love language,  because I promise I’ll speak yours. There’s no need to complain about our differences; instead, let’s make it a point to celebrate them. You being from Mars and me hailing from Venus is a good thing.     
  • Be fair. Don’t take my kindness for weakness, or try to use it to your advantage. I don’t know how to give less than 100%, so when I’m in, I’m in. Don’t allow me to keep giving 100% when you know you intend to only give 30%, or when you know my 100% is no longer what you want.                                                                                   Insert —–>Just man up and tell me<—— here.
  • Be a promise keeper. I cannot stress this one enough. If this seems like a no brainer, then let me introduce you to the scores of people who have found themselves on the receiving end of broken promises (sadly, ASwirlGirl would be included in that score). One of the best ways you can ensure you keep your promises is to be very judicious in making them. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed, strong armed, cajoled, or otherwise persuaded into making promises, and in like manner, don’t use these tactics to extract them. If you happen to learn that you will have to break a promise you made, then be big enough to say so. Articulate. Communicate. Talk, for goodness sakes.  In other words, Just man up and tell me.  Trust me, any disappointment you think I will feel will certainly be offset by your honesty.  

I’ve taken a lighthearted approach to this relationship business, but I dare not overlook the seriousness of the portion of the statement that said “the alternative is much too painful.” Yes. Being lied to is painful. Trying to deal with someone who refuses to push himself creatively or intellectually is painful.  Sustaining a relationship with someone who believes there is an “I” in TEAM is painful. Enduring willful, deliberate acts of unfairness is painful. Recovering from the hurt stemming from broken promises with no reason why IS. PAINFUL.   

I believe life is meant to be shared with family and friends. Being in a relationship with a special someone as you make life’s journey is even better. Most of us want to be with someone who agrees on, lives up to, and shares in the physical, spiritual, and emotional investment required for the journey. Someone who knows and understands that we each need to be that person to the best of our ability. Someone who doesn’t expect us to get it right every time yet appreciates the fact that we’re going to try. Someone who will give what they want to get. That’s what works for me.     


Join in the fray: Tell me, what “works” for you?   

June 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM 9 comments

The Hair Thing (Part 1)

I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong.

This isn’t about my hair; it’s about his. More specifically, his facial hair – or, in his case, the lack thereof.

It all started very early on during our “getting to know you” phase. One of my friends had sent one of those chain-letter-like e-mails where you read the sender’s responses to a series of questions about his/her tastes and preferences. After reading the responses you erase them, fill in your own, and then return to send and forward to another friend who, like you, gets a ton of these chain-letter-like e-mails and probably finds them as annoying as you do. (These e-mails annoy me but I vacillate between deleting them without even reading, or getting an evil pleasure out of filling ‘em out and clicking “forward” to my friends . . . .

Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to click forward . . . directly to SM. I put a spin on it: We’d answer them individually and then go over the responses together.

[Sidebar to the men: Was this a dorky thing to subject a guy to, an e-mail that probably made SM think “Shoot me – NOW!” when it landed in his inbox? Of course! Lucky for me, SM is an easy-going guy and finds humor in almost anything – including humoring me. Am I equally as easy-going and do I humor him? Of course! Do I know how blessed and fortunate I am to have him? Of course! I. Know. That. Did you even have to ask???]

Back to my original point: One of the questions was:

Rank in order of preference: (1) Beard. (2) Moustache. (3) Neither! Ewww!

My response:

(1)    Beard. (2) Moustache. (3) Neither! Ewww!

When we got to this question, SM said, “Really???”

“Of course! I think beards are sexy” I said. “Have you ever worn one?”

“Yeah – when I was in college. I think a lot of guys went through that experimental moustache/beard/facial hair stage. I even let my hair grow long.”

I tried to imagine my squeaky-clean-close-shaven SM with a beard and a pony tail. Couldn’t do it.

Instead, I asked, “What do you think about it now? A beard, I mean.”

“Oh, Sure! I’ll grow one so you can see what I look like.”

I grinned at the prospect. SM is already a hunky piece of eye candy, and with a beard?

Somebody better call God – ‘cause He’s missing an angel.

If being gorgeous was a crime, SM would be guilty as charged.

If SM were words on a page, he would be what they call The Fine Print.

If SM . . . No need for E.L.M.O. You get the point. (cheezin)

“Of course, if I have to meet with a client, then the beard comes off.”


“Huh? Wha?” I asked. “Why???”

“In my line of work it’s just not done. My clients are ultra-conservative so a beard is not a good look.”

I understood, but I was crushed.

I read an article that stated that well over 90% of African American and Hispanic men wear some form of facial hair, be it a moustache or beard. However, Caucasian men fall in the opposite end of the spectrum with less than 10% sporting facial hair – and Asian men even less.

I’m intrigued. Wearing facial hair (or not wearing it) is obviously a cultural thing – but why?

I had to look at the concept of culture a bit more closely.

Hallett states that culture is inclusive of “espoused beliefs, ideologies, stories, myths, rituals, ceremonies, and artifacts.” Nietzsche defines culture as “the unified artistic style in all of the life expressions of a people.”

Other aspects of the definition of culture may be applied to cultures such as those found in Africa. In his landmark book, Non-Western Educational Traditions: Indigenous Approaches to Educational Thought and Practice, Reagan states that culture is “an inextricable and essential component” of an individual’s identity, and the corresponding societal fabric.

So, if all these high-falutin’ definitions are accurate (and I believe they are – they definitely make sense) SM’s not wearing facial hair is just as integral to him as my two brothers’ moustaches are to them.

Realizing that something as small and innocuous as a beard or moustache made a huge statement about ethnic culture was revelatory to me, and I’m so glad it happened in the early stages of our relationship. It caused us to examine each other a bit more closely and not take even the most superficial things for granted, thus enabling us to appreciate each other so much more.

Yes, SM is uber-hawt in a beard (Is it hot in here, or is it just me looking at SM in his beard?). As a matter of fact, he’s uber-hawt with or without one – and I get to drown in all that hawtness either way.

And me? I just got another chain-letter-like e-mail, and I’m forwarding it to SM . . . .

Join in the fray:

(1) Beard. (2) Moustache. (3) Neither?

March 26, 2011 at 1:36 AM 7 comments

Do You Believe in Magic?

If you believe in magic, come along with me
We’ll dance until morning ’til there’s just you and me
And maybe, if the music is right
I’ll meet you tomorrow, sort of late at night
And we’ll go dancing, baby, then you’ll see
How the magic’s in the music and the music’s in me . . . .

~John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful

This past weekend I had the occasion to participate in a girl’s weekend with a couple of good friends (I’ll call them *Shay and *Rochelle). We commiserated on life, love, and relationships all within the context of growing older and wiser.

Our discussion of relationships was a big part of the conversation.

“Do you believe in soul mates?” Rochelle asked.

She and Shay had already discussed the concept but she wanted my take on the matter.

“Define ‘soul mate’” I said cautiously. “I just want to be sure we’re on the same page.”

Rochelle went on to ask, “Do you believe that in this entire world, with all the people in it, that there is one person who is totally and completely right for you? Not that you and he would have never not have any problems if you got together, because some things are just a part of life – but do you believe that out of all the people in the world, you’re supposed to be with him and he’s supposed to be with you – and that’s what makes him your soul mate?”

This definition was pretty much what I’d expected. Of course I’ve had this conversation dozens of times over the course of my life, and I marveled at the difference in what I believed when I was a mere girl in high school and college, and what I believed now as a widow with some major life drama and trauma under her belt.

“I have to say , no, I don’t believe there’s only one person for you in the whole wide world, and that if you don’t marry him or her then you haven’t married your soul mate “ I said. “I believe, of course, that some people make better marriage partners than others. Even so, given enough time, mutual willingness, and desire, I believe that two people can become soul mates.

I thought some more. “Maybe I’m too pragmatic but I see relationship building as more practical than magical.”

Rochelle gave me great food for thought. She stated that her concept of soul mates is predicated on a principle of “good, better, best.” In other words, a certain man would be good for you; another one would be better, and yet another would be best – and that the best was more than likely your soul mate.

Shay, Rochelle and I kicked around a variety of scenarios, swapped stories regarding people we knew who appeared to be soul mates, and also discussed potential what ifs. When the conversation was all said and done we pretty much agreed that love rests on choices – whether you feel a sense of “magic” or not.

The choice begins with whom you elect to date, and why. I dare say a woman who is unhappy with her present state of circumstances and driven by desperation will make different relationship choices than one who is content with her life and prepared to wait until she finds what she deems suitable companionship. “Suitable companionship” is subjective on a variety of levels; what is scorned by some is embraced by others. Some believe those who enter the realm of interracial dating fall into the “desperate” category while others classify swirlers as simply being people who are a bit more open-minded in the relationship department.

Whether desperate or content; open or closed-minded; idealistic or pessimistic, I believe that on some level we all believe in the magic of love. By “magic of love” I mean the belief that we will meet and find someone we will love and who will love us back; someone we will be true to and who will be true to us. We keep hope alive that we will find the person we are willing to be there for in good times and bad, healthy or otherwise; and who will be there for us in the same way. Regardless of the exterior package he or she is wrapped in, that person will be someone with whom we can build a lasting relationship, and with whom we can live our best life.

Yes, I believe in magic.

*Names changed to protect the guilty

Join in the fray:

Do you believe in magic?

March 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM 2 comments

Hitch Kiss

My friend Zee (the one who asked about baby knuckles) recently changed her dating status to “in a relationship,” and both of us are pretty sure he just may be the one. I won’t go into to all the reasons why both of us (including her BFF) think this guy is a keeper. Suffice it to say that he’s a perfect gentleman and has shown such consistency in all the major areas that Zee is pretty sure he’s the genuine article.

What she found particularly endearing very early on is the fact that he never tried to “force” a kiss on her. Not that she’s averse to a first or second-date kiss, mind you, but she LOVED the fact that Mr. Gentleman wasn’t pushy.

“Did you and SM kiss on the first date?” Zee asked.

Her question gave me pause – and made me blush.

“Ahh . . . well . . . .no, not the first date . . . ” I stumbled.

“All right, spill it!” she said triumphantly.

“Well, what had happened was . . . .”

Sidebar: [Whenever anyone says, “What had happened was . . .” then just know you’re in for a doozy].

I was living in Dallas at the time. SM had surprised me with a Friday night cooking class at Central Market. The class was for Louisiana cuisine (I know; thoughtful, right?) and attendees ate the meal they cooked. Afterward he escorted me to a co-worker’s 70’s birthday party waaaaay across town. We’d had a wonderful evening with a lot of conversation and laughs, and we felt comfortably at ease with each other. He’d been divorced for five years and hadn’t dated much; I’d been widowed for even longer than that and hadn’t dated much either.

He saw me to my door at the end of the date. Inside, my Shih Tzu Nibbles was going berserk, barking up a storm and pretty much embarrassing me. I saw my roommate peeping thorough a crack in the curtain with a grin so wide I could see all 32. And me? I stood there and tried to remember the scene from the movie Hitch, where Hitch tries to school his hapless client on the art of kissing after a date.

I closed my eyes. Was I supposed to lean in to him??? Was he supposed to lean in to me??? If he leaned first, was I supposed to follow – or was I supposed to meet him halfway? Was he supposed to lean first??? Wasn’t he supposed to follow my lead???? Or was I supposed to follow his lead???? Doesn’t the girl set the pace for a gentleman??? Was I supposed to pucker first, or was he??? It was our first date – was I even supposed to be puckering???? Nibbles, SHUT UP!!! I can’t think!!!! What did Hitch say the woman was supposed to do???

I finally decided to pucker and lean in first . . . and  . . . felt nothing but air. When I opened my eyes, SM had already bounded down the steps and was on the sidewalk – almost to his car. He looked stricken.

“G’nite . . . “he waved shyly. “I’ll stand here till you go in the house. And, uh, I’ll call you.”

I was floored. And mortified beyond belief.

“Good night!” I choked.

And dropped my keys. Picked them up – then dropped my purse.

Needless to say, I couldn’t get into the house fast enough. I stood there, waiting and hoping that the floor swallowed me up or I died from shame – I didn’t care which one came first.

I stood numbly as Nibbles jumped up and down on my skirt and registered on some level that he was ripping my brand new hose . . . but I was too embarrassed to care.

My roommate was on the floor, howling with laughter.

Zee was, too.

“You were literally standing there thinking about that movie Hitch???!!! Are you kidding me???”

Thankfully, SM did call me the next day, and he even showed up (we had already planned in advance to go out on both Friday and Saturday night).

We had a wonderful dinner and marveled at how much we liked each other.

“Man, I was wondering if you really liked me – the way our date ended last night was very weird” he said.

(The best defense is a good offense, right?)

“I know!” I exclaimed. “What in the world was wrong with you????”

He said I acted weird – and of course I said it was him. I had to tell him about Hitch, and I think that was the hardest I’d seen him laugh since we’d met. We came away with a great story to tell our grandkids-and my friend Zee appreciates her new beau even more.

And thankfully, we had our last first kiss.

Join in the fray:

Do you have an embarrassing date story? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

February 26, 2011 at 1:28 AM 9 comments

Well, I Never!

The Urban Dictionary defines swirl as “two people of different ethnicities hookin up.” Now, after a wonderful time in undergrad at a prestigious HBCU (historically Black college/university), marriage to a Pentecostal pastor (who passed away after 10 years of marriage), and dates with various brothers. I find myself in the unlikely state of being “a SWIRL girl.”

Yes, me.


The daughter of an Army officer Father who lived and traveled all over the US and abroad with her Mother and two brothers.  The first (along with my brothers) to integrate the schools in the small town in Louisiana where my Mother grew up.  Soul-Sista, feminist –  ME! Power-to-the-people – ME! Angela-Davis I-love-your-fro-and-I’m-rockin’-natural-hair-right-now – ME!

All-of-that and more describes me, the girl who I can honestly say never seriously entertained the idea of an interracial relationship and was never really down with swirling. In high school a couple of  White guys (very hesitantly) approached me , and in college a Puerto Rican classmate (I’ll call him Darren) had a bona fide crush on me. I dismissively laughed off the high schoolers (and was even somewhat insulted!). I really liked Darren as a person, but just could never wrap my head around actually dating him. I certainly never thought I would be the ME that I am today, “a SWIRL girl.”

Yes!  I’m now  “a SWIRL girl” – all booed up with a White guy.

In a word, WOW.  Mama always said, “Never say never” – and I guess she was right.

And so the journey begins! Please join me here each Friday when I share my views on life, love, and culture as I traverse through “the SWIRL world.”

Feel free to “like” The Swirl World on Facebook and join the discussions there. Talk to ya Friday!

January 14, 2011 at 1:01 AM 6 comments

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