Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are relationships the new throwaway accessory?

Sitting in Starbuck's the other day, I overheard a group of guys talking. Apparently, over the weekend one of the fellas had brought his new girlfriend to a party for all his peeps to meet. From the tone of the conversation, apparently she was a dime and a nickel all rolled into one. He was congratulated heartily by all for "pulling that" and asked how the relationship was going.

He replied, "Oh, it's great. I'm going to act right with this one, I mean – did you see her?" I choked on my coffee and they all looked over.

I averted my eyes (while rolling them) and the one guy said, "What? I know you have an opinion." I shrugged and he pressed, "Come on, let me have it."

I raised my brows and said, "You're going to act right with this one because she's hot?"

He had the good sense to turn a little red, "Well it sounds bad when you say it like that."

"Like you haven't been fully committed in relationships before because the woman wasn't hot enough?"

His friend piped in, "Well you don't want to lose the really hot ones!"

I nodded, "Ya'll are 23, 24?"

"How did you know?"

I just smiled and kept sipping, "Good luck with the hot girl."

Youth! I thought and went about my day. But more recently, I was perusing a girlfriend of mine's Facebook page. And became annoyed. Her page was all about her new man. Starting with the announcement, "Have ya'll seen my new man?!" This was linked to picture after picture of the new dude along with his entire resume… look he's employed, look at him in front of his car, look at us on vacation, look he has a house. Sarcastically, I sent her a note: "But how are YOU?" She replied, "Good, have you seen my new man?!" Le Sigh. People, she's 36 – she knows better.

And then another friend of mine, an older male in his mid-forties who divorced his wife of 15 years about nine months ago. He is a vice-president at a Fortune 100 company, triple-degreed, and handsome. He just introduced me to his new girlfriend. Wow. I'm not mad that she's 25. Good for him. I'm not even mad that she's a size two with cosmetically enhanced cleavage. Channel your inner Barbie, boo-boo. I'm only slightly irked at her complete lack of melanin. But what REALLY gets me? This chick is dumb as a box of rocks. He asked me if I was still being split in too many directions and this heffa asked me if I made porn. [Read that again, that sh!t really happened] When I corrected her and gave him the laser beam side-eye; he said, "She's really sweet. I don't need a Michelle Obama. I want a Rihanna. I want someone 100% dedicated to me who just wants to look good on my arm. Does that make me shallow?" I threw up a little bit in my mouth and replied that yes, it surely did.

These instances got me to thinking, how many people are treating their relationships like trophies? Like the next acquisition on a checklist: Job ü Car ü House ü Hot Person on arm ü. Yes, yes – I know you cannot look across a room and be impressed by a person's brain or heart so I recognize where the physical comes into it. But really, at some point are people not realizing that money can go, boobs can sag and hairlines recede? Or when those things happen are we just onto the next? Are relationships the new throwaway accessory? (Get one, use it up, get another? Like Kleenex?)

Maybe (just maybe) this is part of the problem with the general state of relationships today. Are people more worried about who they love rather than how they love? Now before you think I'm all up on a high horse, let me admit to being guilty of this myself. I have definitely overlooked the heart of somebody because I was wrapped up in the packaging and/or the resume. I've definitely worried more about whether someone was GOP and GIB rather than JGP. (Translation: Good on Paper and Good in Bed rather than Just Good People) But I'm working on it. And really, I need to be a better lover (no, NOT like that – mind out of the gutter)… I need to work on (and yes, I read this somewhere) giving out the love I want to get the love I need back in. I've also been known to cut and run at the first sign of bullshiggity. Cause there's always at least one more relationship in the box, right?

A twitter pal of mine, Paul Brunson, is a matchmaker and life coach in the Washington DC area. He has a site called onedegreefrom.me and has a theory about getting the good love. He calls it investing rather than shopping. Here are some of the tips he has to share:

So what do you think? Are people more concerned with the superficial and giving less of a damn about what lies beneath? Comments, thoughts on Paul's video? Could you be happy with nothing more than a shiny trophy on your arm?

36 comments:

citizen ojo said...

I think one of my friends might suffer from this. I just thought he liked loose women but now I have a name for it. Thanks Dr. Cuz

Carlos said...

LOL..The good ol' days. When I was in the Air Force in the early ninties, I had these 2 girls I was playing hard - real hard because they were HOT!!! I tried to "act right" with my "main squeeze" but that sexy Latina on the side kept me straying.

Rob said...

Ouch! Guilty as charged. I'm always looking for the upgrade.

Page Bartlett said...

First of all - love the video. Second, yes - I'm guilty of checklisting the love life. Until my current SO - he had very few things on my list and though not movie star handsome, still looking good. He just won me over with his personality and followed it up with flat out "acting right"

Just Passing by said...

Okay - shots fired! I tend to bail at the first sign of b.s. myself feeling there's always another one right around the corner.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Young folks don't try hard enough, period. This is what I always hear ppl my parents age say. My folks have been married 39 years, my fiance's parents been married 33 years. Now they certainly don't condone abuse or infidelity by any means but they have been counseling us that you can't just cut and run at the first sign of conflict.

My own personal philosophy is this: There is always going to be the BBD: Bigger Better Deal. Someone is always going to be skinnier, hotter, smarter, younger etc. At what point are you satisfied with what you have??? And if you find yourself never satisfied, then there is a problem, but would you even recognize it??

Lena Kale said...

Love this post (you are doing your thing this week). I think when you aren't really looking to settle down and you are up front about it, it's fine to stay superficial. It's a whole other than when you are in your mid 30's and up and only one person in the relationship knows that this is just for kicks. No one wants to BE the Kleenex.

Devona said...

I think this statement says it all. I think people are more concern with the who, then anything else. I think that's what the lady who wrote that book Bitch is the New Black or some such crap. She can't find a SO because she's too concern with the who. I guess it is one of the sign of the times. Think about the supposedly love songs that are out today. There all about cheating, one-night stand, or trying to get someone pregnant (R.Kelly mess). Throwaway relationships have become a trend.

Blk King said...

That is the problem with society as a whole - we are too quick to toss out things thinking they have no value. We are all about the glittery bling. I overlooked someone of rare quality in my past. When I went back to rectify the mistake it was too late. Now I cannot shake the feeling that everyone else will just be a poor substitute for her.

OneChele said...

Not being catty, just curious - how will you know when you find it?

ASmith said...

These discussions keep leading me to the same idea.

Essentially, Chele, you're right. We treat relationships like an item on a checklist with sub-items to also check off. That is why so many people, I believe, are struggling.

I speak for black women, but I suspect we're not the only ones. We grow up being taught that there is a systematic way to go about success. Work hard in school, go to a good college, make good grades get into a good grad program, get your Doctorate or Master's and then voila, corner office, six-figure income. It's like a recipe that any idiot can follow.

We assume, as we're following this recipe, that at some point we throw in a little magic and *poof* a relationship appears. When we realize it doesn't, we sorta figure it can't be much harder than this whole job thing so we go about it the same way. Very systematically and that includes a check-list of ingredients. Equal or greater degree, equal or greater income, handsome; shake, bake and voila insta-husband. When it doesn't go quite so well, we get really confused and, ironically, stubborn.

You find love in the strangest of places, sometimes. You also have to re-define what a "good" mate would look like and I venture to say that more often than not, income and looks typically have little bearing on success in a relationship.

ASmith said...

It's that 80-20 thing. Grass is always greener thing. Don't covet your neighbor's wife thing. :)

You're absolutely right about it, though. At what point is what you have sufficient? And, why can't you work harder at making what you have be enough? Shoot, sometimes it really IS you and not the other person.

true2me said...

YES YES AND YES. I blogged about this topic not too long ago. Buppies ARE DEFINITELY more concerned with WHO is on their arm then how well they treat them. Remember Gabriel Union in Daddy's Girls...how her friends kept commenting that he was the limo driver, nevermind he treated her like a real man should treat a woman.

People are more concerned with how many degrees a man/woman has and what their job title is then how well they will love and treat them. REAL TALK!!!! And its sad that many people miss out on real love because they are more concerned with what people will think of them if they marry someone "beneath" them.

Remember, dont look down on ANYONE. Someone has to clean your office when you leave, someone has to pick up the garbage from your house, someone has to take your order at your favorite restaurant. RESPECT THEM...they deserve it.

*end rant*

Steve said...

Brother Paul is on point! Really, it's a decision everybody has to come to in their own time. Are you going to settle down or keep fishing. Contrary to cliche, there is NOT always another fish in the sea who can swim like the last one - if you take my reference.

Grace said...

*does backflips reading this* Folks need to know that there is something attractive in everybody. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. before you "upgrade" to that model-quality girl with little else to offer, have you thought about the pretty girl who will love your dirty drawers?

Not preaching, I've done it myself. Got my head twisted up with a chocolate Adonis who did nothing but sweat out my perm night after night. NTTAWWT but seriously, when we got outta bed there was nothing there but the anticipation of going back. We looked good together but we weren't good for each other. Looking back I feel I wasted a lot of time on what should have been a throwaway relationship.

I'm oversharing but your post hit the spot. Kudos to Paul too, I enjoyed it.

Jasmin said...

So true! I'm only 21 and I know plenty of women who see a relationship as another step on this "life checklist", right after graduation. I go to a predominantly White university, and a lot of my Black girlfriends complain about the "lack of good Black men", yet when I bring up the guys we know (everybody knows everybody in the BC here), they say they're "too nerdy", etc., and would rather wait around until senior year for the football players to get tired of running the streets.

Sarah said...

Interesting post and interesting comments. I'm on a 'man hiatus' as you put it so I can read this sort of thing without getting thoroughly depressed like I might if I wasn't. The depressing bit is that you might grow up and figure stuff out, but this doesn't mean those you meet have done the same even if they are older than you. And eventually you reach the point in life where you understand the meaning of time and how quickly it disappears. I've never been a casual dater or one with a checklist. The two important relationships in my life just sort of happened. And even though I knew I needed to go, leaving the last one was like tearing off a piece of my skin. I can't see how a person can keep going through this or at least I can't so I'm done. You sound like you have reached an understanding Chele and I hope this leads you to somebody. Is this matchmaker the one you had one the radio show? He sounds like he has a lot of sense.

ASmith said...

LOL. You can tell them that black athletes at PWIs who don't have the time of day for them now, won't when it comes time to graduate, either.

We all need to get real.

OneChele said...

Well said. I know I used to have a list of "must-haves" that had little to do with the essence of person. Yeah um - how'd that list work out? Ha! Lesson learned.

OneChele said...

Yes - Paul (@onedegreefromme on Twitter) is the matchmaker I had the radio show for our new year episode.

derek love said...

When I was younger I really didn't care how many hearts I broke because I knew I was moving on anyway. People, relationship karma is the truth and kicks squarely in the nuts. When I had the same thing done to me, I was broke the eff up. I wouldn't wish that for anybody. If we would all enter into our liaisons (even the casual ones) with respect and honesty, fewer folks would get hurt, turn bitter and try and take it out on someone else. Vicious cycle.

Long story short - can't we all just get along?

OneChele said...

***Public Service Announcement: Geeks rule the world. Ya'll young girls better snap up that coke bottle wearing nerd now. Get him some contacts, a gym membership and a new outfit. He's about to be CEO of the next Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! Don't sleep on the techies. Lock 'em up early. Trust and believe.

JaymeC said...

Oh you can't think like that. You have to assume that's what's for you is for you and the next one you are serious about will outshine all others. Don't carry that baggage with you. Unfair to you and everyone you meet.

diamond life said...

Love this video from @onedegreefromme! Love this post from @onechele. Sometimes truth just shines. In her earlier words: Just. Do. Better.
Shout out to my ex who thought getting someone younger and skinnier was going to bring him happiness. Um-hmm, you have to be happy with you first. No one (no matter how fine) is going to fix that for you. Diamond out.

Jasmin said...

Word! My boyfriend isn't Black, but he's an anime-watching, martial arts-trained dweeb. He told me no girl would touch him with a 10-foot pole for a long time (he was a little 5-foot pipsqueak for most of high school), then he got taller, gained some weight and now they won't stop flocking. Luckily I snatched him up first. :-P

LeonX said...

At least your friend with the Facebook page had actual pictures of her and her new man as opposed to having Photoshopped ones a la Musicorey.

Hidi said...

Cosign 100%; Great post

Jamar Hudson said...

Ok, I'm going to take the bait. To suggest that woman are not equally, if not more, concerned with appearance is laughable. Those black woman who are not in denial will tell you that they all secretly want the 6-2, 225 Boris-esque looking brother. Someone that their girls, aunts, etc. will swoon over. They often look over the "regular" guy because of this fact. When desperation hits (see your friend in the post) and they find Mr. Maxwell look alike, they act over giddy to the point of embarrassment to please them and showcase them to the world. So yes, men do like the cream of the crop, but so do women.

*ducks and runs away*

OneChele said...

Come on out, newbie. We're all love in BougieLand. Take a breath. Guess what - you are right. Which is why I admitted to having been guilty of this myself. We all do it. I am suggesting (to myself as well) that we stop and do better.

One point though, are you suggesting that only the best looking sisters are the cream of the crop or was that a turn of phrase? I ask this question to everyone - wouldn't you take someone a tad less shiny if they were on point in every other way? Just wondering. Discuss among yourselves...

BrownEyedPanther said...

These three examples are only a very small percentage of the entire relationship spectrum. While some use relationships like underclothing (must change daily) some people actually invest their all into a person who is just a good person. You may look good on paper ... you may be great in bed ... but if I can't picture myself spending the rest of my life with you then I'm just wasting my time (and yours). I'd rather spend my time and energy on something promising. To provide an analogy, I'm not going to put my money in the first savings or investment account I see. I'm going to do my research and put my money into an account that offers me more bang for my buck and more security.

OneChele said...

great point and I love the analogy!

Man's World said...

Point is, I don't have to settle for someone "less shiny" right now. If I can have the brains and the badunkadunk in one package, I'm taking it. Are you saying I should bypass the dime for the nickel with a good heart?

JaymeC said...

I think it's more of not overlooking a less "picture perfect" person who offers everything else you want.

Persephone said...

I feel like I was reading something that I had written. Everything you said.. every sentence.

Are you my mental doppelganger?

Eerie.

Jara said...

This post explains why I'm staying away from people right now. I'm tired of people treating dates like a job interview. Even when I try to "fail" the test I know I'm being given, I still somehow manage to pass the test. By now, I know what happens when I'm trophy material. It ain't pretty. The guy tries to ignore all of the things I do that annoys him while trying to buy my affection. All the while showing me off to his friends. Boo.

I miss the days when we sincerely liked the other person. The check yes or no if you like me days.

Love Paul's advice/demeanor. Wish he wasn't married. :)

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