Monday, November 14, 2011

Lessons Learned - Real relationships are not a fairy tale


Welcome back to a brand new Lessons Learned week! Where I share magical tidbits from the ever-evolving tapestry of my life and try to share what I've learned from it. 

I grew up on Disney, Puccini operas, classic musicals and romance novels. (Okay there was some other stuff mixed in as well) But those four things plus my inherent nature, skewed me towards being a die-hard romantic. Of both head and heart. Even when I saw real relationships struggle in real life, I assumed it was because they stopped believing in the power of their love.

Due to BougieDad's unrelenting high standards, I had very few dates in junior high or high school unless I snuck out. Left up to him, I would have gone to Homecoming, Winter Formal and Prom and called it a wrap. Of course, we employed a lot of "group dates" and I did (on occasion) sneak out. Those poor dudes I dated in my teens. There they were just trying to put smooth sentences together and I was waiting on music to play in the background. 

My poor prom date trying to cop a feel and me lecturing him on the virtues of waiting for your one true love... classic. Especially since I now know dude was a professional street pharmaceutical salesman who had chicks lined up across the county? No wonder he looked at me like "They still make you?" Bless his heart, he's still in jail. [Can't tell you how proud I am that my prom date is incarcerated! Oooh wait, does that give me street cred?]

Moving on. It wasn't until my sophomore year of college when the guy I thought I was getting engaged to married someone else over Thanksgiving break that relationships lost their Disneyesque bright shininess. Talk about Icarus flying to close to the sun with wax wings and falling to earth? That was me. To go from thinking love was a sun-drenched Swiss Alps adventure to thinking men weren't bout shiggity was quite a reversal.

It took years (years I say) before I found any sort of solid footing in the relationship game. My twenties were shot. And it wasn't until my early thirties that I figured out that even though I no longer believed in the fairy tale, I was waiting for it and judging men against that standard in my head. Like a child who no longer believes in Santa Claus but can't help checking out the chimney? Yep, that was me. 

It wasn't until my mid-thirties that I even understood how to disagree in relationships without it turning catastrophic. I learned how to communicate in a way that wasn't either overly conciliatory or retaliatory. I understand that for a relationship to work, you actually have to work. And no magical being is going to wave a wand and make it all better. And most importantly, not every relationship is meant to be.

Bless my heart, I'm still such a believer in signs and destiny. I think people come into your life for a reason. It didn't occur to me until a few years ago that that reason is not always the one you think it is. Anywho before I get maudlin let me shout out MGM studios, Harlequin and Disney for the excellent imagery of happy, dancing Caucasian folks forever etched into my brain. 

BougieLand, do we all carry preconceived notions about relationships from childhood into adulthood? Good, bad and ugly? What were yours? What have you learned? And what would you tell someone just starting to date about what to expect? Do share. The floor is yours...

132 comments:

Veronica Miller said...

Oof. I'll maintain that not only do fairy tales have girls effed up in the game, but our girlfriends are just as complicit in gassing us up... if not more.

I look back now on the inanity of my best friend asking me if my crush was "The One" ... when we were sophomores in high school. Luckily, I had a sense that I'd be leaving Pittsburgh (and the boys there) behind, so I didn't get caught up on "forever" with any of the guys I'd entertained.

College tho? Whoo boy. Talk about your opportunity to get all kinds of mixed and bullshiggity messages. The worst culprit was wondering if your boyfriend could adequately show his affection for you in a manner that would match up to your friends' standards. By that time, we're all indoctrinated with all sorts of ridiculousness, and so too many conversations revolved around "If he does this/doesn't do this, he loves you/doesn't love you/is gonna propose at graduation." =__= Yeah. Okay.

I think the biggest lesson tho was learning that we couldn't shape our boyfriends into the Prince Charmings we thought they should be. I had a friend that constantly berated her man to "step up, be real, be a man," (read: Buy me things, don't speak to other girls, and buy me more things) and that ended... yeah. I eventually woke up and realized the guy I was dating (well after graduation) was, in actuality, the great nephew of Satan. (Okay, he wasn't THAT bad...but some days, we was pretty effing rude.) I dropped him. Praise Oprah.

In the time since (with one short, but fun and recalibrating relationship in the middle), the biggest lessons I've learned are that 1) not EVERYONE is open to love and empathy to others and 2) the ones that are can express it in very different ways. I'm learning that sweeping gestures of romance aren't that common, (and sometimes, not even that genuine), so I've gotten into the habit of paying attention to the different ways men have shown their care for me, and showing appreciation for that. And after shutting down after my last break-up (which was amicable, but it still roughed me over a bit anyway), I'm coming back around to learn how to open up to people without being all swoony and Cinderella with them. Because that's just creepy.

TypeALady said...

'Praise Oprah'??!  #iDied

JoyGrooves said...

Let me raise both hands and leap into a praise dance for this one. All this relationship advice the so-called experts are dishing out to 30 - 40 year olds needs to be chopped up and fed in bite size pieces to teens and twenty year olds. I had no idea what I was doing and it wasn't something that my mom and I talked about. I took advice from my friends who were just as effin' clueless as I was.

My lesson learned was not telling everybody I loved them when I didn't really even know what it was. Let me save it until I really mean it and it means something.

*praise dances over to the bleachers to watch the comments come it*

ClayJones said...

And on the flip, I would add that men have virtually NO relationship role models in the media, movies or sometimes in their real lives to tell them how to act either. Back in my day (yes, way back then) - the coolest dude was Shaft. Be is he a relationship role model? Not hardly.

My lesson was that quality isn't quantity and material goods can never replace emotional nurturing.

Veronica Miller said...

"My lesson was that quality isn't quantity and material goods can never replace emotional nurturing."

MMMPH! C'mon somebody!

SingLikeSassy said...

"Not every relationship is meant to be. I think people come into your life for a reason. It didn't occur to me until a few years ago that that reason is not always the one you think it is."

Those two have been the hardest lessons for me.

And I laugh at this post because I read so much and watched so many old movies as a kid (plus looking at my parents' old pics) that I went to high school thinking it would be all dates and dances like in the 50s and 60s. Some dude would pin me, I would wear his letter jacket and he would walk me to class while carrying my books. Um, no. LOL!

And in college.... actually, let's just move on.

I do believe in love though. Gosh I do. I probably should be more cynical or at least more skeptical about it at this point given all my experiences and disappointments but, that's not me. I believe. Cause mixed up in the bad times are a whole lot of good ones.

maureen said...

Can I just say word up! Woosahhh.... This post has me  over emotional  doe. Let get myself together, will be right back.

thinklikeRiley said...

I don't believe you know ish about relationships until you have one blow the eff up in yo face.

And Chele- yo prom date being locked up gives him street cred, not you BougiePrincess. My prom date has 6 kids now, that don't make me daddy.

rozb said...

All it takes is that one crucial event where you contemplate doing some Jazmin Sullivan ish after the heartbreak to make your rose-colored fairytale sunglasses to melt right off your face.

Then you put on your big-girl panties and join the real world and conduct yourself accordingly. By accordingly, I mean you start treating folks and potential SOs like humans and actually having conversations that are not coated in glitter and being hauled by unicorns. This is when the fun really begins...

Leon X said...

A number of my good friends are on their second marriages. If real relationships are a fairy tale I guess they have sequels.

TrulyPC said...

My fairy tales weren't the Disney variety.  The culprits for me were the romantic movies and musicals.  Although I must say that real life played a part in it as well because I knew that I wanted something very different from what my parents had.  It has always been extremely important for me to know that no matter what I could count on that person.  I had terrible heartbreaks because I believed that if I were honest and above board with everything in the relationship then that person would also do the same.  Talk about naive!

The last heartbreak really did a number but I am still committed to the idea that relationships should be about honesty and trust.  Whenever I get to the point of wanting to try again I'm still expecting those two principles to be intricately woven into the relationship but I have dropped the fairytale of believing that they are automatically reciprocated.  That's progress, right?

CaliGirlED said...

Two things, a little off topic, but since you mentioned it. "Talk about Icarus flying to close to the sun with wax wings and falling to earth?"...When Mya asked, "Why in the world do I need to know about Greek mythology?", I explained to her that for me it was interesting and also would come up sometimes in conversations.

"[Can't tell you how proud I am that my prom date is incarcerated! Oooh wait, does that give me street cred?]...LMAO!!!

rozb said...

Just like standing in a garage don't make you a car! Ha!

motown_skater said...

 sequels...LOLOL...

my good laugh for the day, thanks!

blackprofessor said...

Lol at great nephew of Satan!!

Brneyed1 said...

"All it takes is that one crucial event where you contemplate doing some Jazmin Sullivan ish after the heartbreak to make your rose-colored fairytale sunglasses to melt right off your face."  <--*flashbacks of carrying a brick, a box of matches, and a can of charcoal lighter across the parking lot to his Monte Carlo...*

Brneyed1 said...

I fell head over heels for the first dude that sang to me.  If that ain't some Disney ish I don't know what is.  But unlike Disney, there was no happy ending there.  

Cue Anita Baker's "Fairy Tales":

My story ends, as stories doReality steps into viewNo longer living life in paradise
No more fairy tales...

http://youtu.be/2i984JkXmlY

Marioned said...

 I like a lot young girls was looking for my price charming.  It helped and hindered that my Dad was such a great man and I was truly a Daddy's girl. The bar was high!    But  I like where I am in terms of my perspective on relationships and love.  I am not bitter or jaded  and I  am not delusional.    

I would tell a young lady  just starting to date  to: love yourself, trust your instincts, have a full and rewarding single life, put the energy you want to receive out to others,  seek to understand in order to be understood, realize that chemistry is not enough to sustain a relationship,  realize that actions speak louder then words, and enjoy!

MsJamie14 said...

I do still believe that fairy tales can happen. I'm an optimist and I know real life couples whose stories make me swoon. Do I believe they will happen to everyone tho? No.

I am grateful to my parents tho for giving me a "real" example of a couple. They are not the most romantic people. Their engagement story is boring. However, they have shown me how to work together as a couple and how to respect your vows, even during times you may not even LIKE the person you're married too.

I know I've said this before on here, but you can NOT make it to 50-60 years of marriage if you bail just because you're going thru a rough patch. So that's the one constant thing that also plays in my mind when I get all weepy when watching "Hitch" on TV. (For some reason, I have a real love/hate relationship with that movie. lol)

Grace said...

Girl - you better PREACH!
Singing dudes have long killed the game. Sexy no good mofos.

Ms_Toni said...

Nah, don't believe in fairy tale romances. By definition it's a bunch of make believe anyway. But I do believe you can have people in relationships/marriages that seem to just fit together nicely.  Not everything is picture perfect, and it never will be, but it's wonderful compromise.

I think I personally held on to a little of the "a man will complete me" type thing from my childhood, but I didn't really see it until hindsight. I thought not having my father around didn't affect me, but I did in a way.  But now that I'm aware of that and how I was, I understand that I'm already complete. And what I should look for is someone who compliments me, someone who'll work with me. It's like going on a long road trip. I know where I'm going. I even have directions. But I'd much rather have someone come along with me than to drive alone for hours.

That's kind of a sappy ass image, but you get my drift.

Grace said...

Seriously contemplating your alibi for uh - various and sundry reasons. Yes, that's when you know things have taken a turn.

Miz JJ said...

I've learned thatI don't always have to say whatever (snarky thing) I am thinking. I don't always have to have the last word. I can just smile & nod sometimes.

Also, I would say always try to take time for yourself. After spending the long weekend exclusively with my guy I sent him home Sunday ear;u evening with leftovers from the dinner I made for his lunch today. I needed some "me time" on Sunday night to take a bath, read a book and watch 'The Good Wife'. Nothing wrong with making yourself a priority. I need to be good to me so I can be good to him.

CaliGirlED said...

After my high school sweetheart demolished my heart, the fairy tales became straight bullshigitty to me.  To the point that one of my best friends said that he felt sorry for the dudes I dated. Can we say "ice box where my heart used to be"? It melted  about a decade and half later when I fell in love with a "ain't sh*t ______". His fault? Nope all mine! Then a few years later fell in love with an "ain't sh*t mama's boy". His fault? Nope all mine!

What did I learn? Stop falling in love with "ain't sh*t" men! And to that I'll say, to the men I've met who had potential to be a good man, but displayed a few "ain't sh*t" characteristics, you received a dismissal because of this, "Potential just means you're not doing anything right now"!

But even with all that I do believe in love and the wonderfulness of it and one day I will share that with someone who has it to share back with me. (He will definitely need a sense of humor though, cause I'm still working on the sarcasm!)

Pure Choco said...

Yes. I blame Jerry Maguire for that "you complete me" shiggity. I limped around half assed for more than a minute looking for my other half.

Not good. I need to be whole. I need him to be whole. 1 + 1= 2. The end.

GrownAzzMan said...

So true. I would add that in most cases we are not raised to put a priority on relationships.

GrownAzzMan said...

The scary part is while many women are hoping their relationships model fairy tales many men are hoping to model theirs after the biggest player on the block. Any surprise there is a disconnect?

BTW Street cred is not transferable Chele. Dude in C block has the cred. You uh not so much...LOL

GrownAzzMan said...

So you just straight reading from the book of Katt Williams huh? Ohk...

CaliGirlED said...

Dayum!!!

CaliGirlED said...

 You are such a fool! Keep up the good work!...LMAO @ sequels!!!

GrownAzzMan said...

So you just straight reading from the book of Katt Williams huh? Ohk...

bashowell said...

I think I've always had a pretty realistic (overly realistic) view of relationships even from childhood.  I'm, by nature, an observer and a thinker and a cynic.  Even as a child.  My parents were pretty open about their relationship and times were not easy, so I was able to see how different things affected their relationship.  I saw the give and take and the ups and downs and how there's no such thing as 50-50.  I also saw the different...options...one could take when things didn't work out so well.  My grandfather left my grandmother and she raised 7 kids by herself as a black woman in a rural area in the 50s/60s.  In contrast to her, I saw other family members fall apart in similar circumstances. I wasn't influenced by peers because I was always an outsider because of my inherent nerd tendencies and growing up in a cult-like church.  So I've always formed my own opinions about people and relationships.  

I would tell someone just starting to date to always listen to their intuition.  It's there for a reason and serves you well - if you listen to it.

BklynBajan said...

Well said!

BklynBajan said...

Or taking notes when (re)watching Law & Order Criminal Minds or Snapped....

CaliGirlED said...

"I had terrible heartbreaks because I believed that if I were honest and
above board with everything in the relationship then that person would
also do the same.  Talk about naive! "...Well color me an idiot because I'm still expecting this! But I do realize that it's hard to come by.

CaliGirlED said...

LOL!!!

CaliGirlED said...

Watched that movie last night. Very interesting how he could tell men how to win over their intended loves, but did not know how to maintain his once he had her within his grasps.

GuessImJay said...

My dad's sage advice?
"Young dogs will chase cats."
"You'll know her when you see her."
"Ain't no fool like an old fool."

Thanks, Pop. Very helpful.

Reecie said...

I think I may be too emotional today to contribute but I will say great post and I'll be lurking in the comments. I'm still learning/figuring out the lessons...

CaliGirlED said...

"It wasn't until my sophomore year of college when the guy I thought I
was getting engaged to married someone else over Thanksgiving break that
relationships lost their Disneyesque bright shininess."...Le Super Ouch...Chele was she pregnant? Not that would make it any better, but goodness!

Andrea M said...

Horatio Caine and those CSI dudes killed my criminal plan before I got started. DNA and voice prints? Never mind, I'm too cute for jail.

Andrea M said...

Laying on the floor don't make you a rug?

BklynBajan said...

Add to your list the few television shows I was allowed to watch and their inherently unrealistic expectations set and I was a goner for real. I never learned that just being a good person means that you will be treated well. Pouring your love into a broken unreceptive vessel leaves you empty and thirsty. And what is the real meaning of love? What did it meant to say it? Holding on to expectations that someone is incapable of giving leaves you both bitter. When someone shows you who they are BELIEVE THEM & do not let your gaggle of friends or church folks encourage you to do something (or stay with someone) that is causing your inner spirit to scream in pain.

These days I just want honesty. Say what you mean and mean what you say. I maintain a zero tolerance policy and I don't trust openly like I used to. I still believe the relationship that I desire will come  in time but right now there are too many wanna be game players out here and I have no interest in that game.

Andrea M said...

This post kinda slapped me about the head and neck region today. I'm still learning and asking "Are we there yet?"

Andrea M said...

^5

SingLikeSassy said...

"you can NOT make it to 50-60 years of marriage if you bail just because you're going thru a rough patch." <--I believeeeeeeeee this right here. I said it SO MANY TIMES last year before just throwing up my hands and accepting it was over.

SingLikeSassy said...

Yes, the way I look in corn rows and the lack of a likka license is enough to make me just let that ish go. LOL!

Jubi The Great said...

Man...I think I was the opposite of you Chele. I didn't really get into the Disney, happily-ever-after fairytale view of relationships. I grew up with 2 passionate parents who never should have gotten married, so my home was full of dysfunction & drama. When it was good, it was good, but when it was bad, it was BAD. Add to that my extended family, where there were ZERO examples of healthy adult relationships as well. When I did begin dating, I thought that conflict, arguments, drama was the norm. I had decide purposely to not follow in my parents footsteps & to learn how to have healthy adult relationships. My aversion to relationship drama now is still rooted in that.

For someone just starting out in dating, I'd tell them to throw out everything they've heard or been taught about relationships. Its not a fairy-tale, but its not horrible either. It requires WORK & self-sacrifice but can be a beautiful thing when both parties are committed to each other & the relationship.

CaliGirlED said...

Died at likka license!!!

Jubi The Great said...

Plenty of ppl give great advice to others but are unable to apply it in their own lives. I'm guilty of that myself.

BklynBajan said...

I think there is an unspoken problem with too many people sticking it out in relationships that never should have been formed in the first place. Growing up with parents that were only together for the kids/society led me to form an ever growing list of "what I'll never deal with when I'm grown". With no true role models to know what is a rough patch vs. what should never be acceptable in the first place I was left to looking at movies/tv/books for examples of romance that while not realistic was a reprieve from the fear that "this" (their version of marriage) was all there was to look forward to. 

I know people mean well when they talk/encourage counsel to others to stick it out but sometimes that word becomes a guilt trip that does more harm than good. Unless you KNOW its just a rough patch and not a pebble waiting to become a boulder sometimes silence and a shoulder is all that should be offered.

ShawnSoze said...

Better than mine "Don't bring no baby mamas home and don't catch nothing."

ShawnSoze said...

And most of us just do what we think we should be doing until someone shows us a better way. #NoJimiIsrael

CaliGirlED said...

"I would tell someone just starting to date to always listen to their
intuition.  It's there for a reason and serves you well - if you listen
to it."...And by "listen" that means not debate it, like I used to do! SMH

rhenewal said...

My pre-conceived notions were very confused. From my parents' example, I believed that all men cheat, all women cry, and happiness in a relationship was impossible. Luckily, there were a few other older couples around who showed me that my parents' relationship was simply highly dysfunctional, and gave me hope that I'd eventually be able to forge a beautiful marriage with my future husband.

The idea of said beautiful marriage, however, was formed from romance novels. Mostly Avon romances set in the 1800s. Can we say unrealistic? I fully expected to be swept off my feet by a handsome Scottish laird (who would somehow be a chocolate-skinned black man) and transported to a castle wherein we'd live happily ever after. 

Didn't happen. 

LOL at myself. Currently, I'm at the point where I have realized that a relationship is WORK. That both people have to be willing to put in the work, time, energy and effort in order to reap the benefits. And I've realized that the majority of men that I am attracted to are arrogant player-esque dudes who are not ready or willing to work. I realized that the definition of insanity (Doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result) applies to dating, and I'm therefore trying to become a little more sane and broadening my horizons.

For the moment, that is all :D

michaeldavis said...

*cancels singing lessons*

MsJamie14 said...

Amen. And please don't think that I mean you should put up with just anything. You should NOT! I think there are times where you have done all you can do and running real far away is the best result.

OneChele said...

Oh my God.. the Scottish lairds and demure English misses. And there was always a devastatingly handsome duke with piercing eyes. Those damn books!! :-) Great escapism, not so great for real life comparatives.

MsJamie14 said...

I think there is an unspoken problem with too many people sticking it out in relationships that never should have been formed in the first place.

This right here! The ironic thing about my "work through it" mentality is that I will run in a heartbeat in a relationship. The difference is, I cut my losses when I see character flaws that would never work with mine long term. The fear of being alone or starting over is not enough to make me stick around.

So much truth in your response! Especially the lack of relationship role models.

CaliGirlED said...

Me too! That's why it was very interesting to me. Now I try to analyze situations (read: relationships of all kinds) as if someone were telling it to me and I was giving them my .2 cents.

MsJamie14 said...

Boy do I have beef with Jerry Maguire! LOL. But mainly because his first chick Avery was a fighter and had his back more than he thought she did. She just used the wrong words to motivate, and ended up getting dumped. She was way more gangsta that that doormat Dorothy Boyd! LOL

Jeannette said...

I guess my pre-conceived notions were more on a financial level.  I thought there would be no problem finding a dude that was on my financial level, especially in my 20's. Actually during that age i had no problem finding dudes on my financial level, but then again I didn't have my mind and heart in a "serious relationship" mode.  When i got into my early & mid  thirties I found that I had to compromise a bit on the earning requirement.  NOW.. I'm standing my ground on those requirements.  I can't deal anymore with the inequity.

rozb said...

You all better now? Woo Woo...

GrownAzzMan said...

Did your dad know my dad? They must have been boys...SMH

Page Bartlett said...

But Chele - I have a bone to pick. You talk about romance novels setting us up for disappointment but you have done the same thing by creating a character like Steven in Sweet Little Lies - ain't nobody gonna find a man like that!

The_A said...

Ok I've heard of the Practice Wife. The Sequel is a new one.

Done.

OneChele said...

Ha! Well, first of all - thank you. 
Second of all, I'm not saying blame in on romance novels. I'm saying we need to recognition fiction and separate it from reality.And lastly, Steven had some flaws. They weren't as glaring because Christina has such issues but he wasn't perfect. None of us are going to find perfect. But if you find someone you don't feel like stabbing over cereal in the morning who has your back and can stir the cocoa now and then - you're good. ;-)

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Yea, me too. My relationship life-lessons growing up? Don't be too trusting, and don't depend on a man. That last one was drilled into my head both explicitly and implicitly on an almost daily basis. While I know that not all men are crud, just as how not all women are innocent angels, I also know enough that I can't have a relationship while a major part of me would be watching/waiting for the other shoe to drop. =(

That wouldn't be good.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

"I'm, by nature, an observer and a thinker and a cynic." - KINFOLK! *hug*

The_A said...

Boys & books don't match

Oh & the ever present 'You can do bad all by yourself' sage advice.

Guess where Mom falls on the happily ever after debate.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

"If real relationships are a fairy tale I guess they have sequels." *cough* Disney *cough*

blackprofessor said...

I died at "Stop falling in love with "ain't sh*t" men!"

blackprofessor said...

These days I just want honesty. Say what you mean and mean what you say - This right here!

TrulyPC said...

"But even with all that I do believe in love and the wonderfulness of it
and one day I will share that with someone who has it to share back with
me
."

This right here!!!

rozb said...

"None of us are going to find perfect. But if you find someone you don't
feel like stabbing over cereal in the morning who has your back and can
stir the cocoa now and then - you're good. ;-)
"

YEAH! This right here...everything!

blackprofessor said...

Great post!  I grew up with brothers and a healthy love for Jane Austen so I have always approached relationships with a certain amount of realism.  That being said, the main thing I have learned is that no one has relationships all figured out.  Each relationships is as different as the people in it. 

What would I impart?  1) Some people are really trying to figure relationships out and give their all, 2) Some folks have no interest in figuring relationships out, want to give nothing and take everything, 3) Our job is to figure out who's who, give the first group a chance and stay the hell away from the second group. 

blackprofessor said...

It requires WORK & self-sacrifice but can be a beautiful thing when
both parties are committed to each other & the relationship. - This needs to be on a billboard!

SingLikeSassy said...

I had old boyfriend who measured our relationship by that movie. That
was "love" to him. He also loved "Titanic." Mkay. Whatever dude. O_o

SingLikeSassy said...

Yeah Dorothy made my ass itch.

Sasha Iman said...

I wore the hell out of my Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and my Beauty and the Beast tapes growing up, but the exposure was too limited to shape my thoughts on romance.

My preconceived notions about relationships come from what I saw as someone who spent a lot of time with a variety of married couples. As a result, I feel as though my expectations are realistic however, I am finding that what I took to be the norm is not so normal. It's actually to the point where it makes me very hesitant to share my thoughts on relationships and what I expect since I've been called everything from idealistic (I am utterly perplexed by people who think raised voices and heated arguments are a relationship staple), to pessimistic (EVERY couple has a rough patch or more if they've been together for years, and it takes more than just love to see it through), to a gold digger (I fully expect to be a SAHM, and to still have a housekeeper and family assistant during that time).

I'm not sure what to make of this yet, as those who have called me names because of my POV aren't women I'd take advice from or men I'd consider having a serious relationship with but, at the same time, the men I would consider are not only far and few between, but typically 30+. And while I have no problem dating men who are 30+, I can't help but wonder if I should go back to the drawing board. I mean, men my age being by and large not what I'm looking for, even short term, might be a sign.

Le Sigh, off to read answers to what BL residents have learned or would tell someone.

Mykeia said...

I have some young cousins that are just determined to learn things the hard way but I have one that is still influential so this is the list that I have been making for her and my son:
Love does not pay the bills--money does, find someone that loves you enough to make money so that they bills can be paid.
Don't marry before 25 or 27--speaking from my own experience.
Disney is a brand--brands are meant to make money.
Define love for yourself--love looks different for everyone.
Lastly--Even with good intentions sometimes things just don't work out.

Happy Monday all!

Mykeia said...

Girl they have, agreed!

maureen said...

I blame my pre-conceived notions on Mills  & Boon. Mom and dad marriage did not work, somewhere a long the line I decided my mine has to work through thick and thin.  Epic mistake, because I stayed in some relationship longer than I needed to. Shortly before my gamma died, I asked her how she did it  for over 60 years. In her words "babe, it takes work, and make decisions that will help you sleep at night."

I would tell my someone getting  into a relationship, do not override you intuition system. It is there to protect you. There are more grays areas than there are black and white.

La said...

I think I had the opposite problem of you, Chele...
My mama is thrice-divorced. I went thru all 3 marriages and divorces with her at different, important stages of life; 1st as a child, then as a preteen, then again as an adult. As a kid, without the capacity to really understand what all was going on, I couldn’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out why people continued to get married. It didn’t work 50% of the time. I saw the way you could come to hate people you once loved just as passionately, and how that soured love could change you. And divorce itself? Jesus. I venture to say the people who flippantly throw out, “we can just get divorced if it doesn’t work out,” are people who have never been thru one or witnessed one. Divorce is BRUTAL. Even the amicable ones are just awful. And the ugly ones? They are the type of emotional violence some people never recover from.
I had no rose colored glasses. I had no concept of fairy tales or happily ever afters or riding off into the sunsets. Younger and unable to process, I was cold and nonchalant about love. Hard to get to know, stringent about being in control, stingy with showing emotion. But then I developed a complex about the fact that people kept asking wtf was wrong with me and swung the other way. Hard. Fell in love with someone I had NO business being with. And when it fell apart spectacularly and painfully, I retreated right back to the safety of being the emotionally unavailable person I was.
A bit removed from all that and somewhat older, tho I would venture to guess much younger than most bougielanders, I think I have found balance. I still have little to no patience for fairy tales. I know next to nothing about weddings still, but I can likely run down your basic divorce statutes in a handful of states, despite not being a lawyer. But at the same time, I have come to allow for the possibility of sharing my life with someone, with respect paid to the fact that it will be both good and bad, sometimes in equal measure, often times with one outweighing the other. My idea of relationships and marriage is clear and objective; I’m not interested in a big white dress, but I am very keen on the idea of waking up each day committed to putting in the work it takes to share yourself with another person who is committed to the same.
For people just starting to date, I would tell them not to look for love. I would tell them to enjoy it all, to have fun, to laugh and cry and get frustrated and shake your head and date around and keep careful tab on what your dating choices say about you. I would tell them that love will find them when it is supposed to… and then after that falls all to hell and you learn from that spectacular heartbreak most people in their 20s have, then love will find you again. And again, and again, until maybe it’s forever. Or, maybe not. But at the very least make sure that you are living such a life that makes you feel abundantly happy and content; that plays out in such a way that is healthy for you and the people you encounter. Make it a life that is fit for someone to come into it, and one that, if they leave, is not a world that will fall down around you after their exit. Create a life so that, when you reach the end of it, and have the good fortune of hindsight, you can look back over it and say, “I did good,” even if you don’t have a ring on your finger. THAT, to me, is what love is.

I'm so sorry for blogging all up and thru your comments. lol

nylse said...

i would say if you find the right person at any age (above the age of consent), marry them.  that's what i did and it has worked out for me. i don't think you have to be a certain age to get married. I mean just because you're young doesn't mean you're stupid - some folks acquire maturity/wisdom way beyond their years.
i'm for young love, old love and anything in between as long as its the real thing.  
i guess i'm somewhat of a romantic, but not because of cinderella, etc but because i know it can happen.

bashowell said...

Amen.  I could talk myself out of anything.  I learned...

JohnKinPDX said...

For some reason a lot of dads feel like "Wear a jimmy and stay outta jail" is relationship advice. I was 30 before my father ever had a "real talk" about relationships and marriage with me.

JohnKinPDX said...

For some reason a lot of dads feel like "Wear a jimmy and stay outta jail" is relationship advice. I was 30 before my father ever had a "real talk" about relationships and marriage with me.

maureen said...

Sheesh, there goes my dreams of marrying Maxwell.

maureen said...

likka license though. #Icant.

C Nelson said...

This was me. My parents' marriage taught me that "staying together for the children" is torturing the children and yourselves; I swear I was the only kid I knew who prayed every night for my parents to divorce each other and have done. Especially since every noticeable honeymoon phase (after the cold wars, the passive-aggressiveness, the "tell your father--" and "you tell your mother--", and yes, sometimes the beatings, the outright fights, the drinking, and the burning of our possessions!) brought another little sibling I got stuck looking after. I truly didn't know which was worse.

And then I went and let myself get pressured into getting married "for the baby's sake" and that just confirmed it. I exited stage left as soon as it became clear that marriage was going to be my parents' all over again, and I wised up. I stayed married on paper for years because it gave me a handy escape clause while I was figuring out how to have relationships that didn't suck, and I didn't get divorced until I was ready to consider being married again.

Brenda Kay said...

I'm a life long scifi fan and there is little to no romance in the harsh realities of surviving an all out alien attack, life on a space ship or resettling on another planet. LoL!

But life experience has taught me, that it's not the *good or wonderful* things about a man that will determine if I can make a relationship with him work. It's the *real* side of his personality, such as, can I put up with his annoying habit of leaving his socks and dirty undies on the floor instead of walking three steps to the laundry hamper, or him having to have a TV on in order to go to sleep at night, or he squeezes a dollar so hard you can hear George Washington screaming, or he insists on having the last word in every discussion, or his driving skills are more suited to a NASCAR track than the local interstate ~ these are the things that I'm paying attention to. 

Romance is wonderful, but reality is what we have to work with.  

OneChele said...

Nope. Just trifling az hell. Not that I'm still bitter. (But she betta not see me in da skreetz)

SingLikeSassy said...

(I am utterly perplexed by people who think raised voices and heated
arguments are a relationship staple), to pessimistic (EVERY couple has a
rough patch or three if they've been together for years, and it takes
more than just love to see it through), to a gold digger (I fully expect
to be a SAHM, and to still have a housekeeper and family assistant
during that time).

we are here >.< with all that. I was on SAHM track but the babies didn't come. I don't think there is anything unrealistic about those expectations.

Jubi The Great said...

I swear we grew up in the same house! My parents did the staying together for the kids thing as well, even tho we begged & pleaded for them to divorce. When the nest started to empty, they finally realized that being stuck with each other was NOT the business, and they finally divorced.

I always tell people, divorce can scar a child but staying together strictly for the kids can scar them just as much.

Brneyed1 said...

 "I'm too cute for jail." <--This, and my best girl friend who convinced me that he was not worth it were the only reasons I did not torch the MC that night...

Brneyed1 said...

Yes, much better now, thank you!

Brneyed1 said...

And he didn't even sing that well!  It was just that he did it--in front of my friends, mind you--bended knee, looking me in the eyes, holding my hand and errthang!!  iMelted.  Done.  

Brneyed1 said...

Me three....

CaliGirlED said...

What can I say, I believe in accountability! LOL

GrownAzzMan said...

I tried to reply earlier but discus was tripping. I see you are on a Katt Williams tip today...LOL

CaliGirlED said...

A good beat down, now that would get you some street cred! LOL!!! (HOWEVER, I know better!)

CaliGirlED said...

"I always tell people, divorce can scar a child but staying together strictly for the kids can scar them just as much."...Me too

And my prayers at night would include, "God please make my mama divorce my daddy".

rozb said...

Did you say in da SKREETS?!?!? LMAO!!!

If anything, she would exude bitterness and hate; you seem to be doing so much better than the rube you would have chosen back in the day!

CaliGirlED said...

Girl I fell in love with me some Steven!!! But like Chele said below, he had some flaws.

The problem, IMHO, is that he was more perfect than a lot of women have ever experienced; AND some women are more like Christina.

rozb said...

Girls are told to keep their legs shut and welded together at the knees, and the ever-present "He ain't gonna buy the cow if he got the milk for free."

Oh yeah - always have on your clean, good underwear. You never know if you're gonna be in an accident. (BTW - if you have an accident, aren't clean underwear moot anyway?)

Singlelif said...

As a jaded CityKid, I have never believed in fairytales and/or cartoons.  I have only ever watched two cartoons in my life, The Flintstones as a kid,  and The Boondocks as an adult.  Having been engaged to three different men in my lifetime, I have accepted that I will play my position as a runaway bride.  I know I have issues.  At this point I say yes, I carry preconceived ideas about relationships,  and for this reason, I will probably never marry, as I have learned and come to realize that I may not want to be "expected" to be anywhere or do anything, and the only person I want to see EVERYDAY...is myself in the mirror. Having someone steady and committed to share "naked, grownup fun" with, and to hangout and share activities with on a regular basis is enough for me.  

Real life happened, and there is much more at stake now than as a youngster of 25....for both of us.  Real estate  and stock portfolios have been built,  401K's have been stacked, life insurance policies have been purchased.  It would just be complicated.  

BTW, my parents have been married for 51 years, and I swear I don't know how.  So yeah,  I'm good.

CaliGirlED said...

 I started reading this comment, picking out what I wanted to quote and laugh at. Hell the whole damn comment is hilarious!!! And also SO TRUE, soooo many arguments start and blossom over the pet peeves. And the less you like a person, the more you will abhor those pet peeves.

Romance is wonderful...I will add...and you have to like the person you're with.

CaliGirlED said...

 Ok La, I'm going to have to read this when I get home! LOL

Man's World said...

This is kind of fascinating to me. I think women have a whole different set of preconceived notions about relationships. Guys are very nebulous like - I'll met a nice girl, we'll get married, have some kids. But the longer you wait, the more you start tweaking the prerequisities. And then it doesn't occur to you to work out what happens between the get married and the have kids part.

Deb B said...

My parents did this thing where they never argued in front of us. The didn't raise their voices and they didn't discuss certain topics in front of us. I'm sure they thought they were protecting us but it really made for a very sterile existence that couldn't be replicated. So of course when I got married and dude and I are trying not to knock each other out, I'm thinking what the hell is this? Why can't we be calm?

As you say, Le Sigh. Now I just take relationships as they come. I'm on 4th date with a new guy, so far so good.

Nicole said...

Preach!

Mykeia said...

I agree with your comment, I am just speaking from my experience.  I got married at 20 and there are some things that I wished I would have known and done before marriage.  My relationship has worked for me me also, some things though I wish I would have done before this commitment.  I wouldn't trade my journey or partner for anything in this world.   

rozb said...

Is it me, or does Riley look like Chele's description of Steve in her book? Umm...paperback edition, pg. 15. Very descriptive of the man candy that is Steve from this point.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, relationships are a tricky bunch. I have never seen a healthy relationship, and the only person I trust is Jesus. Am I bitter? Maybe. But still a part of me longs for romance. I have a boyfriend, but for how long is anyone's guess. Seeing & experiencing things things that no child/or adult should ever have to...Sorry to be Gloomy Gloria but I've been going through depression mode with this round of circumstances (is that the correct phrase?), I just feel like a wet blanket...

OneChele said...

Ooo, lastworditis. It's a killer.

invectiva said...

Hi. Medium-length lurker here... love the blog and the books, thanks for the hours of entertainment!

I grew up with the fairy-tales but I just never saw myself with a Perfect Someone, and was never sure why. Now that I'm grown, though, I think I just have too many requirements. I've been in love a few times (engaged once and close another couple of times), but I am generally attracted to people who have emotional control (count me as another who can not and will not put up with the fighting/relationship drama 'cause of home life Issues). Unfortunately, emotionally unavailable can look a lot like "got it together" and for awhile I probably picked unavailable just to be safe and have calm in the romantic sphere.

Advice I'd give the kids of my besties, and the stuff I tell my girlfriends who are younger?

#1 Love isn't enough. Passion isn't enough. Does s/he treat you right? Do you like enough of the same things to enjoy time spent not stirring the cocoa? Are you stable together? Can you be apart without it threatening your relationship? Are you happy? Not in love... HAPPY. You need that, and there are a lot of things that matter and contribute to happiness, parity not being the least. The pure emotional response is Not That. All the love in the world doesn't make the day go smoother. A lot of things have to match up between you and your significant other. (That might be 10 things. Sorry.)

#2 Be happy and complete alone before getting romantic. If you're trying to fill an empty space in your life/heart, it shouldn't be with another person. Not fair to you, not fair to your partner.

#3 Your partner should not be valued/pursued as your ticket to money, security, or status. If you're picking based on that alone, then you are not viewing him or her as a human being. Deal with the human in the relationship first. I'm not saying choose a deadbeat over a high-roller (see #1), but the match should be personal before it's anything else.

#4 For real, I've said this *before* this post... "Don't let media tell you how your relationships should look."  Y'all have expounded upon that in detail. Enough said.

#5 If you're thinking, "OMG I can't live without him!" then you probably should.

CaliGirlED said...

LOL! You know the best comedians talk about real stuff.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Brenda Kay, I'd say you are batting one thousand trillion as these are all things I had to learn and am still learning in my very young marriage.

tiffanyinhouston said...

*standing ovation*

CaliGirlED said...

Yep he sure does.

CaliGirlED said...

Hey now, 4th date huh? Wasn't too long ago you mentioned about going on the first date. *hopes Cupid has struck for you*

Jesse said...

Okay, I broke down and bought Sweet Little Lies on my Kindle. I expected a total chick book (uh, no offense?) but you told the story from both the guy and the girls POV which I liked. My question is - who did you base his character on?

tiffanyinhouston said...

What I have learned the hard way: no recycled dudes, no moving cross country without a ring and a date.
What I am learning as we speak: I design my relationship. What works for me and him is what goes. Other people's opinions are like assholes, they all have one. And if they ain't got 5 on it, it goes in one ear and out the other.

OneChele said...

Thanks for the purchase and the kind words. Steven is a combination of a few different guys I know plus a lot(a lot) of imagination. 

OneChele said...

Ha! I hadn't thought about it ;-)

nylse said...

I'm curious - what do you wish you would have known or done?  

CaliGirlED said...

And there it is there!

rozb said...

Tif -

Off-topic here. I love your blog! That is all.

Mykeia said...

It's not a long list...I have never lived by myself/on my own; when the hubby leaves the country it's a whole new world for me.  Education and school choices, there will always be a big what if...got degrees while being married, we did the school thing at the same time but it didn't turn out like I planned, so there's a big what if.  Also some personal family stuff that should have been worked out.  Some other things too but those are the major ones.  However, please note that I have gotten to do some amazing things with the spouse that I am forever grateful for and the kiddo is the greatest thing ever.  Not the ideal marrying situation but the kiddo has made everything worth it

nylse said...

thanks for responding.  I got married at 22 but by that  time I was already done with college and working. I didnt get to live on my own - but in hindsight that's overrated.  marriage was the next logical step for me (unromantic), and when i wasn't even looking, he showed up (totally romantic).  We've learned and grown together over the years.

Jennifer said...

right there with both ya'll.... thought I was the only one

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