Friendship

Are the friends you've had forever really still your friends?


I have a male friend from high school that I've kept in fairly close contact with over the years. I missed his wedding because of air traffic snarls after 9/11 but I've met his wife and daughter on a few occasions and it all seems lovely. He works overseas and usually we Skype every few months and get together once a year during his stateside visits to catch up. Until about four years ago.

That's when for various reasons, our phone calls and check-ins withered down to about once a year. And this one time a year check-in always (not coincidentally) occurred when he was in the midst of some sort of HR dilemma. Had a new job offer, needed advice on a co-worker, wanted to ask for a raise and most recently wanted help drafting an employment contract.

Now I'm a helpful sort of person. I really am. As many of you know, I don't mind giving advice in a few paragraphs or less. I'll spend a few moments on the Twittah and the Facebook messaging to walk someone through an issue. I'll take a look at a resume and give pointers. I don't mind that. It generally takes less than ten minutes and I'm onto the next.

But this dude has been about some deep multiple-conversation, several items of paperwork, emailing back and forth yada-yada that I generally charge quite a bit per hour for. I haven't mentioned it to him because as I said, we've been friends for over twenty years. But now that the friendship is merely his portal for free HR consulting services... I have to pump the brakes. So today, I sent him a note letting him know that if what he wanted in lieu of friendly conversation was for me to draft an executive expatriate employment contract including a multi-tiered benefits package, housing allowance and golden parachute clause? I was going to need him to drop $$$ into my PayPal account. And then we could schedule an appointment to talk.

I had another "old friend" that I haven't seen or heard from in over five years reach out (clearly it's time to change my cell phone number). She called to chat which was fine until I realized that what she really wanted to know was if I knew anything about her new boo (we were at UT at the same time) and barring that would I run a background check on him for her.... For real tho?

This has me reviewing who is in my current circle of close friends, used-to-be-close friends, acquaintances and wannabes and wondering - who do I really still have things in common with? Who am I still close to? In a Facebook room the other day, a bunch of us were talking about how we don't really talk to our friends as often as we used to... and it's okay. A true friend is one that you can pick up the phone and catch up with at anytime, no ulterior motive, no agenda, just chatter for chatter's sake.

I think friendships are like shoes, sometimes you have to try them on and see if they still fit. Some you swap out for new models, some fall out of style and some you refuse to give up, no matter how worn they get. What say you BougieLand, have you tried your friendships on for size lately?

Sunday Good News Story: Loving Someone Can Save your Life... literally

Do you have good friends and loved ones around that care for and about you? Prop you up and encourage you? They could be adding years to your life. A new Brigham Young University study adds our social relationships to the “short list” of factors that predict a person’s odds of living or dying.

In the journal PLoS Medicine, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report that social connections – friends, family, neighbors or colleagues – improve odds of survival by 50%. [FIFTY percent, that's something to consider!]

The benefit of healthy social relationships, the study says, is greater than from regular exercise and akin to quitting smoking (for those who puff 15 cigarettes a day). Professor Holt-Lunstad talks about the study here:

On the flip side, those with low and/or poor social interaction are putting themselves at risk. Here is how lack of a supportive social network compares to more well-known risk factors:
  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • More harmful than not exercising
  • Twice as harmful as obesity
So basically, if you don't have friends, family, or co-workers who care about you and you care back - you're as good as dead?! Le Damn!

Professor Smith said that modern conveniences and technology [read Facebook/ Twitter/ texting/ IMing] can lead some people to think that social networks aren’t necessary.
“We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water,” Smith said. “That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.”
For one, this proves my oft-made point about people who will contact you via technology and not in "real life." You texting people who cannot pick up a phone are literally killing me according to this study! Secondly, get off the blog and go hug somebody who will hug you back. Happy Sunday.

Are you ready to get real? (An Open Letter to an Idiot a Friend)

I had to take a pause for the cause (sort of). Today was going to be Are you Ready to Stand and Deliver? It was going to be a scathing commentary on Mike Steele, Tea Party Shenanigans and ReThugs. I was going to exhort you all to get involved on a local level to beat back propaganda, ignorance and hate. I was going to bitch at length about Confederate History Month in Virginia and whip you all up into an indignant fury over the latest trend of flaunting racism and camouflaging it as "conservative policies." It was going to be epic. But I got derailed by a series of phone calls.

Do we recall the story of my friend Sam? Long-time friend who invited me to a concert but had a whole sexpectation agenda going on? Yeah, him. Today he sent a text to say he had tickets to the Maxwell/Jill Scott concert on June 8th and would I be interested in going. Hmm. First of all, the concert is three months away… why ask so far in advance? Secondly, did he think I FORGOT what he really wanted the last time he asked me to a concert? No matter how much I covet the tickets (and I really do) what am I, stupid? I replied back that I'm going with somebody else (I'll work on it).

Sam decided to respond with a phone call. After a little internal debate, I let it go to voicemail. He called back… seven (7!) times… AND left messages each time. For my male readers out there – please cosign with me that one call and one voicemail is sufficient, two is overkill and seven indicates a bigger problem, does it not? ANY way, everyone who knows me well knows that if I talk to you, you're okay. But if I feel like I have to WRITE YOU A LETTER… it's so not good. Here's my letter to Sam…

Dear Sam,

I listened to the first four of your seven messages, I assumed that was enough to grasp the main idea. You implied that I've perpetrated some colossal fraud on you over the course of the past few years. Somehow toyed with your emotions and what was your phrase? "Dangled" myself in front of you. Like wow. I'm pretty sure I can honestly say I've never dangled myself in front of anybody. I'm not sure I'd know how. This also tells me you've paid NO attention to who I am and how I act. If I was dangle-inclined, I would have just said so. Life is too short for the game playing. But I suspect you don't know nothin' 'bout that. You also implied that I'm just mean. Well, I can be but I haven't been mean to you. Here's hoping you never see the mean side of Michele.

I've decided the best way to respond is to include you in my Are You Ready week on BnB. So let me ask you… are you ready to get real? I mean really real? You ready? Okay good…

What's real is that I've known you for close to four years and you have been unable to maintain a meaningful relationship with any woman for more than a two week time period. I gave keeping up with the names of the "ladies" you have been embroiled with. But have you ever wondered why you can't find someone to put up with you for more than two dates? I really haven't wanted to speculate but now I'm beginning to wonder.

What's real is that you don't seem to understand nuances. Sex vs. Love, Smile vs. Come On, Friend vs. Flirt, No thank you vs. I hate you. I turned down your invitation to this concert because your last invitation led to an uncomfortable situation. I was preserving what was left of our casual friendship. Read those last two words again: casual friendship.

What's real is that I never indicated that I wanted to be any more than friends after our initial "date" which was a disaster of epic proportions. So bad in fact that we had to laugh and decide to be friends just so that something positive could come out of that horrid an experience. But now I'm wondering if you are a different person when you date someone than when you are "just friends" because we have hung out and laughed and talked like human beings until you decided to turn it into something else altogether.

What's really real is that I did miss every clue you swear you gave about wanting to be more than friends. Which makes me wonder what the hell kind of clues you threw my way? This may be part of the problem. You don't know when to come direct and correct and when not to. For the record, a "Michele, I want out of the friend zone" would have been a great start. No it would not have netted the result you wanted but I would have known what you were thinking or feeling.

What's real is that I was insulted by your "sexpectations" and no, it's not because I'm a prude. It's because you came at me all sideways. Even if you "didn't realize" that I wouldn't appreciate your tactics, do you really not know women well enough to know better?

What's real is that I suspect something else is going on that I know nothing about because all of that seven-call drama seems over the top. Even for you.

What's real is that I'm going to give you all the space and time in the world to work it out. And I wish you luck with that.

Also what's real is that I hope you're not insulted that I sent you the link to this post instead of calling you back. It's not passive-aggressive, it's drama avoidance. Plus you make great blog fodder. Apologies but you do.

As long as you're reading, please jump back to the rest of this week's posts on being relationship ready and ready to grow up. Okay, that statement might have been a little passive-aggressive. My bad. You can feel free to leave your comment here (thought I suspect you won't) because I won't be answering that call or text any time soon. Hope this answers your questions.

Keeping it Real,

Michele

BougieLand – did you ever have someone that you had to get really real with? Does it really seem possible that a man would be interested in a woman for years and not make some sort of move? I mean, we're grown, this isn't high school. Le Sigh. Comments, thoughts and opinions always welcome. The floor is yours…

How Truth Killed a Friendship (and I’m okay with it)

I was "de-friended" by an actual friend of mine on Facebook last week. We'll call her Angela. Now truthfully, I don't follow my updates on Facebook but I decided to check on Angela's status updates because we had exchanged "words" with a few weeks ago. So it wasn't until I went to find her Facebook page I was told she was no longer my friend. Hmm. I felt some kinda way about that. I could have picked up the phone or fired off an email but in reality, I was okay with it. We have been friends for over ten years but talked to each other less and less in the past few.

Long story short, a few years ago Angela called to tell me she was worried that her young daughter was becoming sexually promiscuous. I bit my tongue (darn near in half) but she kept asking and asking my opinion. "Do you really want to know what I think?" I asked her. She assured me she did. I told her it was not going to be pleasant but she said she really wanted to know. Finally, I just said it. I told her that perhaps (just perhaps) moving random men in and out of the house as her sexual playthings during her daughter's most impressionable years had not helped.

It's hard to preach abstinence or restraint from a "do what I say, not what I do" position. When you daughter has a front row seat to your sexual escapades, that has to have an effect. In six years' time, she had no less than twelve much younger men that moved in with Angela and her daughter for various periods of time and then left. They always left with some drama. I mean drama like Police Interventions and Restraining Orders.

We had actually argued about it back then. I thought it was a terrible idea for her daughter to witness all of that and be exposed to a string of strange men. Needless to say, she didn't appreciate my viewpoint, told me I didn't have any kids and to mind my business. Maybe I should have but since I listened to her tales of woe day in and day out, I felt I had to say it. Bearing witness to the revolving soap opera that constantly swirled around her was too much for me. I started keeping my distance a little bit.

Fast forward to last spring, Angela had met a nice man. I met him. He was extremely nice. He was decent looking, mature, employed, and refused to move in with her. He had his own house, carried his own weight, stood up for himself yet doted on her. He was great with her daughter and her mother, had a great relationship with the child he had from a previous marriage and there was no baby mama drama. He was in fact – perfect for her. She said so, I thought so and all was good.

So when she called me a few weeks ago to tell me she was thinking of breaking up with him, I was dismayed. "But why?" I gasped in astonishment. "What did he do?" She went on to explain to me that he hadn't done anything; she just wasn't "excited" by him anymore. I was speechless for a second and then said, "Wait - what? Seriously, why are you breaking up with him?" She repeated that the sizzle was gone, she had met some younger guy and life was too short to stay with someone who bored you. I tried ya'll, I really did. "So by sizzle you mean you're not attracted to him anymore?" She said she was still attracted to him but she was MORE attracted to the new guy.

Before I could catch myself, I went off. Something along the lines of, "Are you kidding me? You have what everyone is looking for and you want to throw it away for more sizzle? At some point you need to grow the eff up and do the right thing. You're like a child at Christmas only excited by the new toy, once the novelty wears off you toss it to the side for the next new thing. I mean, come on. What do you really want me to say?" She said, "I expect you to not to judge me." I told her I wasn't passing judgment but pointing out a pattern that. Something she should think about for her own good. She snapped, "I expect you to just be my friend." She hung up and did not call back. I thought I was being a friend. Or is friendship only good when you blindly support each other regardless of behavior? Maybe I was preachy but I wasn't wrong.

A week after that I heard from a mutual friend of ours that she went ahead with the break-up only to have new dude get picked up on a parole violation THE VERY NEXT DAY while they were out on a date. That's SO not bougie. That's just tragic. To toss aside a good man for what? You know the next woman that good man dates is in for some blow back. Le Sigh.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she "de-friended" me – she probably thought I was going to berate her with an "I told you so" – I wouldn't have though I certainly thought about it.

BougieLand - Do you know women or men like Angela? (Never satisfied with what they have? Always thinking the grass is greener? Expecting you to go along with their decisions even when they stink?) Isn't it hard to hold your peace when you see a friend engaging in the same destructive behavior over and over again? Any "de-friending" "un-following" stories to share?

Beefs, frenemies and BFFs – the ever evolving challenges of friendship (guest post)

For the record (and in case I haven't mentioned it eleventy thousand times), I love smart people. People who can communicate, engage and be witty (without malice). This week you will get to meet some of those people. Yes indeed, it's Smart Guest Post Week on BnB. Because I want to hear other voices, I appreciate the brainpower and I have a deadline in nine days. Today, I bring the always vibrant and verbose A.Smith of Diamond Dust. Enjoy and show some comment love…

What's the old saying? "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." It's really a feel good statement. It helps us recognize that not everyone is supposed to be in our lives forever. It can keep us on the lookout for those people who, if we let them stick around for awhile, might drain us of all the goodness we can muster in a sometimes not so good world. I mean this is a really good saying, full of all kinds of...uhh... well... stuff that makes clichés good. The only problem with it is it doesn't do the best job of explaining how you know which person fits into which category.

I actually believe we had it right as kids. Do you remember when you were younger and another kid would walk up to you and ask to play with the toy you were playing with and ended their request (which, now that I think about it, was more often a demand) with "I'll be your friend..."? I do. I think we had it right back then. Simple. Very simple. You give me that toy, we'll be friends. You don't give me that toy and we won't be friends. As adults we can hear all the nuances in that. The manipulation, the suggested temporary time limit, etc... but as kids, it was straightforward. When the toy was done with, the friendship had run its course -- unless the two of you found something else you both liked -- then the friendship kept going and if you realized that you seemed to always like doing the same things, well, eureka! Lifelong friend. No muss, no fuss.

Sometime during middle and high school, though, we learned that there's nothing simple about friendships. Your BFF today might be your greatest enemy tomorrow. Your enemy from yesterday? Oh, we like her now. Makes me think of a time in high school...

My Senior year in high school my then BFF had some serious beef with another girl in our class, Amanda. The specific details are lost but it had something to do with the fact that rumor had it Amanda was trying to push up on the then-BFF's ex. One random afternoon I was at her house, as usual, lying across her bed. We'd played the "what will we do tonight?" game ad nauseum and I was about to give up and go home. Out of nowhere then-BFF whirls around in her chair and says, "do you have Amanda's number?" I scrunched up my face and slowly nodded yes. "Well, call her and see if she wants to hang out with us tonight."

Flabbergasted is not the word for what I was feeling. I just knew she had some sort of really bad plan in mind that involved humiliation on a level that only a high school girl can create. I asked, "why do you want to hang out with her? I thought you didn't like her." Then-BFF just laughed, like I'd told a really funny joke, and responded, "Oh. That was last year! We've moved on from that." That night was the first night of many that Amanda kicked it with the then-BFF and I, as if we'd all been lifelong buddies. There was never an explanation, never a conversation. Everything just kept trucking like it all made sense.

Of course, what I fail to mention is that Amanda joined our 3-musketeer routine in part because we had an opening. See, the then-BFF had just kicked the other BFF out of the group. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends and you have no idea why.

I remember being very excited about going to college because of all the mature adults I would meet. People who were ready to put aside childish things and be for real about creating and maintaining real and true friendships. Boy was I wrong. College seemed to be the perfect opportunity for everyone to practice all the manipulation skills they learned in high school. And this post-graduate life? Well, look no further than the desk one over from you, or the cubicle behind you. We don't do friendships anymore. Like I said -- we had it right on the playground in elementary school.

Through trial and error, I've come up with a few "rules of thumb" and a handful of questions one might ask themselves as they navigate the treacherous "friendship" waters.

First, keep it simple. Friendships don't have to be overly complicated and it's usually about the time they get complicated that it's a good sign that it might be time to let go.

Second, don't be afraid to cut ties. This is one I struggle with. I'm not a fan of burning bridges -- and that's not what I'm suggesting. Rather, don't be afraid to tell a person (as a friend told me once, about another person) "you may be a good person, you're just not good for my life." If it doesn't feel like a good fit, it probably isn't. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes that hurt your feet would you? Then why stick around in a friendship that's no longer working for you?

Third, don't be afraid to fight for a friendship. I know, I know -- this seems to fly in the face of what I just said, but all relationships hit rough patches. It's ok to want to fight for a friendship. Good friends, true friends don't come by all that often. If you have one, do your part, hold up your end of the deal and don't be afraid to fight for it.

Ok, ok, you're thinking, we know how to do friendships, but what about knowing what kind of friendship we're in?

Good question grasshopper. I'm glad you asked.

The reason that handy dandy cliché doesn't do much by way of explaining how you know who is who is because it's not cut and dry. You don't mix in a little baking soda and get your answer. But you can ask yourself a few questions...

Do you find yourself talking to this friend but really having nothing to say? Perhaps there was a period of time, typically before some major event, where you guys had all kinds of things to talk about but now, after this event, there's nothing to say at all. Lots of empty (and uncomfortable) dead space? More than likely this was a friend who was in your life for a reason. The tricky thing about "reasonal" (yes, I made that up) friends is sometimes they can grow to something more, if everyone puts in the effort. Be careful not to trick yourself into thinking that a friendship can be more than it is without any real work. All relationships take work.

Is this friendship on an even keel? Do you feel like you're giving more than you take (or, perhaps, taking more than you give)? If the friendship's not on an even keel and hasn't been for a while even though it used to be, it's probably a good sign that this is a seasonal friendship.

A lifetime friend is probably not someone you need a checklist for. They're the ones you struggle to imagine your life without. The ones you call first (or second, if you're lucky and have more than one) when something major happens. They've seen you cry, seen you happy. They're encouraging in times of doubt and honest when you're a bit too gassed up. They're far from perfect and they piss you off sometimes, but even then you appreciate what they bring to your life.

The biggest mistake we sometimes make is ignoring the signs. Wanting a seasonal friendship to be more than it is (without putting real work into it). Allowing people who are in our life for only one reason to stay around for more reasons until they've sucked us dry. We have to take stock of what's going on in our space because if we don't, we relinquish control.

To close, let me fill in some holes from the story I told earlier...

While we never had a conversation about why Amanda was suddenly cool (or why Lauren, the ousted friend, suddenly wasn't) I realized in the weeks before graduation that then-BFF had a master plan that involved a lot of trickery you'd never expect a high schooler to be capable of. Everything had been calculated. (This is a story for another time, but let's just say she managed to not only convince a girl her boyfriend was cheating on her, but get him to admit to it when he didn't actually cheat) When then-BFF realized Lauren was too much of a threat she put her on the outs and when she realized I wouldn't be a good fit for what she needed (someone to accept a lot of lies without asking questions) she called on an unsuspecting person -- Amanda.

Before we made it to our first year of college, then-BFF had stopped talking to me. She never told me why and I never got a chance to ask. In the years that followed I deduced that she had a much better handle on our friendship than I did. I was seasonal. I served my purpose, she let me go. I'd been following along, watching the way she dropped "old" and "trusted" friends like they were nothing, thinking our friendship was bigger and better than that. Truth was, it wasn't and if I'd spent more time paying attention and less time being self-assured, I probably would've seen the hammer before it knocked me out.

BougieLand -- how do you determine which of your friends are worth the effort? Any rules of thumb of your own to add? Any stories of mistaken friendship identities?

When the “Celebrity Freebie WishList” Conversation goes wrong… (I blame Maxwell)

Don't give me the side eye, you all know EXACTLY which list I am talking about. The hypothetical "if I met this celebrity and had an opportunity for a hot and steamy no strings attached horizontal mambo #9, I would jump in with both feet and ask forgiveness later" list. Come on now, I know you have one. Alright, now that we are all being honest with one and other… let's get into it. Here's how it started… I was on Twitter and someone was thanking Maxwell for his Copenhagen concert. Apparently this person's date was very enamored of Maxwell and felt compelled to fling her drawers towards the stage. Since Maxwell did not take her up on her skanky blatant offer, she turned her enthusiasm on the one who brung her. And she was already sans panties… you get the idea. So the guy thanked Maxwell and Maxwell replied that while he was happy to do warm up, next time, bring girlie to the hotel after party.

So in re-telling this story over the phone to a Potential Significant Other (PSO) last night, the following conversation went down:

He said, "Well if Maxwell did invite her to the after party, what was she going to do with her date?"

I jokingly said, "I guess it depends if Maxwell is on her freebie list." **crickets** So I quickly explained the concept of the freebie list which must go hand-in-hand with a pre-approved Get Out of Bed Free card stamped and notarized by your SO.

PSO said, "Oh, the Celebrity To Do List." [See, ev'body got a name for it.] So this led to rules discussions: Card is good for a one-time only romp per celeb, no more than five names on the list, you can do all five back to back (like that will EVER happen) or over time. Lists are pre-approved so that should your opportunity arise, you do not have to keep said celeb waiting while you double check your permission status.

Naturally, the conversation turned to who would be on the list. He said, "I bet I can guess your list."

I said, "Okay shoot."

He said, "Denzel Washington, Troy Aikman, Barack Obama, Maxwell and Gary Dourdan."

I told him he got one of five correct.

PSO asked, "Which one?

"Denzel." [Don't. Judge. Me. I'm trapped in the 90's and that means the 'Mo Betta makes it Mo Betta'.] So I explained, "As much as I love my Cowboys, no more athletes. As much as I love Barack, I couldn't disrespect a fellow Michelle like that. Maxwell is a maybe but probably a top 10 not top 5 position. And Gary ten years ago, yes. Now – no."

He replied, "I'm impressed by how much thought you are putting into this. Can you guess mine?"

I said sure, "Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek and Marisa Miller."

PSO said, "Huh – that's impressive all except Kerry Washington. I switch her for Gabrielle Union."

Curious I wondered, "Interesting, why?"

He answered, "Well this is supposed to be a list of unattainable, once in a lifetime shots. I think Gabrielle would be more of a challenge to me than Kerry."

And now **crickets** on my end. [I won't go into some of Ms. Union's All-Star/Pro Bowl/Super Bowl behaviors that lead me to believe that if your bank balance is tight and you have any kind of shine, she is more than "gettable."] Moving on. I asked, "So what you're saying is you think you have a shot with Kerry Washington right now?" I was side eying the phone like you wouldn't believe. My facial expression which he thankfully could not say was very "Seriously, ninja?"

"You think I couldn't pull Kerry?"

I'm not stupid. I knew how to answer, "I'm sure you can pull whoever you set your mind to."

"Let me understand the rules of the game. You and I are out somewhere together; Maxwell walks up and asks you to come with him no questions asked, what do you do?"

"Well Maxwell isn't on my list so I'd ask you if you were alright with it." [Shut it, BougieLand. I feel your virtual skepticism]

"Uh-huh, but Denzel comes up and says come with me to the Four Seasons Presidential Suite for the night and you're out?"

[Jeopardy music started playing in my head. What to say, what to say? Um, well, out of time…] "Come on, I'm a nice girl. List aside, I wouldn't even consider it." [Okay, yes I told a bald-faced lie. Denzel and the Four Seasons suite? I'm bouncing. Talking skidmarks, ya'll. One for the memoirs; got to be true to my craft and all that. Umm, hmm – that's the only reason I would go… for the artistic value. *blinking with the big eyes* Ya'll believe me, don't you?]

"And when Angelina wants me to be her chocolate treat for the night?"

So bloody likely, but I replied, "You work it on out. Try not to get cut. Or adopted. Or sent to Ethiopia to dig drainage ditches."

He laughed, "You're saying you would be fine with it."

"Sure."

"Because you don't think it would ever happen!" His tone had turned accusatory.

See, I should have just cut the conversation here and moved on but no… "You mean do I think we're going to be out to dinner when a Victoria's Secret model rolls up to you and says 'Take me I'm yours.' No, I can't see that one coming to fruition."

"So you're saying I'm not the kind of guy who can pull model quality women?"

"Are you saying I'm not model quality?"

The conversation took some hairpin turns for a little while before we got back on track. I may have used a feminine wile or two to smooth things over. The funny thing is, I have never been able to have this conversation with any large degree of success (yes, I know I should quit trying). With my high-rolling ex, we had a joking agreement about a few celebs. It was all jokes until we ran into to a woman from his list and old girl did make a play. My pleasing personality slipped and list be damned. I gave old girl the 'don't let the bougie fool ya' look and she sashayed her famous, pretty behinds on. Likewise six months later when we ran into someone on my list, he was quick to shoot me the 'try it and see what happens' side-eye along with the jaw of granite, vein pulsing in forehead, brow furrowed visage. I opted not to try it. Truthfully, it's like a parlor game. Something you talk about but would never act on (probably).

So with that in mind, dear readers… who's on your list? Would you partake of the "one night only – no one has to know" option? Would you give your SO a "Get Out of Bed Free" card?

Three Men and a Bougie Chick (part II)


After the reaction to Part One this week, I roll this out with much interest. Citizen Ojo, SBM, TMCY and I acutally answered three letters but since the last post was so long, I decided to split this one off. As a reminder, guest posting are:

Our last letter came from Darren of the DMV (This stands for DC/Maryland/Virginia for those lost in BougieLand – keep up!)

OneChele,

You seem to know more than the average girl of a "certain age" about relationships and what it takes to get and please a man. So I'm writing in to see if you can make sense of my current situation. I'm doing my thing, 28, great job, saving up for real estate, keeping myself together. I'm told I'm a catch and modesty aside, I think it's true. About four months ago, I met a girl (kinda siddity but pretty) at a restaurant by the Waterfront. We hit it off and started hanging out. It's all going as I expected until we were about ninety days in. She tells me that she's scared to get hurt, she needs to back off, we need to stop "being intimate" so she can get her head together. When I pressed her on it, she said maybe we should take a break. Is that woman code for she's done? My instinct is to press forward because I know she's feeling me. But then again, I don't want to come off insensitive to her feelings. And now, I admit to being a little angry and wondering if I'm being played. What do you think and why do women do this?

From Ojo: Darren from BougieLand: Are all the women in DC/Southern Maryland/Northern Virginia siddity? I digress……. I was with a woman one time that did the exact same thing. The Sex was AMAZING but the chick was crazier than Bat #$%@! Do yourself a favor and lose her number. If you pursue a relationship with her you are asking for trouble. Instead of being in a relationship you will spend your days playing a psychiatrist. You can't compete against a person's worst fears. No matter how hard you try you will always be fighting against the issues of the last relationship. Women like this have been hurt by guys throughout their whole dating lives. I believe in the concept that every bad relationship leaves some type of emotional baggage. The more relationships you have the more baggage you pick up. Sometimes when you meet a person they have a carry-on bag and other times it's a complete luggage set. Your lady friend is probably keeping her baggage in a U-Haul truck. Please remember that this is not your fault. It's the fault of the last dude that was with her.

From SBM: My man Darren, A brother from the DMV ... so refreshing. Anyway, it's either one of two things. She finally came to the conclusion "I can't be smashing off this guy and we aren't together". I mean ... after 90 days of sex, it's not really surprising that she might actually want more from you than dates and dick (the D&D combo). As a result of some personal reflection (read: talking to her homegirl) she had to pull back the good's because she is feeling you and you haven't made a commitment.

I don't think you should "back down" really. If she is serious about being scared to get hurt and whatnot, she is really testing you to step it up. She wants you to prove she has nothing to worry about and that you want more than to just break her back. But please please please don't turn into some type of stalker or guy who can't take a hint. The DMV is small.

If all that doesn't work ... hit me up ... we'll hit up "The Park" (a DC club).

From TMCY: Darren, Based off of what you've said, I think that there's something Waterfront Girl doesn't like about you or something she likes more about someone else. What that is, I'm not sure of. But based on what you said, I wouldn't be surprised if it has to do with what you're doing or not doing for her in the bedroom. She said she wanted to stop the intimacy thing before she wanted to "take a break, period" right? That's a sign. She just doesn't want to have to tell you what it is specifically. So she copped to ending things on her terms. That's something a lot of men and women do. If I were you, I'd lament the situation some, but not too much. If you're the kind of catch that you say you are, finding a good woman shouldn't be much of a problem for you.

Last but not least from OneChele: I'm conflicted about you calling me "of a certain age" but we'll move on. Darren, you are 90 days in but have you had the "history" conversation? Chances are you did something that triggered a memory of someone else not so good. (We call this a "U Remind Me" moment). Ask her about it. And then LISTEN. Is she trapped in her past, too hurt to move forward, sounding like she pulled a Jazmine Sullivan, mention being medicated? If she's that wounded and you're not in a Mr. Fix-it mode just walk away. But if she's just hesitant and waiting on you to show her that you're not THAT GUY, she'll probably be okay. This, Darren, is a MAN UP moment. By the way, when a woman tells you she needs to "stop being intimate so she can get her head together," you are doing something mighty right or mighty wrong in that department. That is girl code for "trying not to act whipped and need to catch my breath long enough to think with my head and not my hormones." Or "I can't stand it if he touches me again." If you think about your "encounters" you'll know which one it is.

So ultimately, my advice is this: Try and talk about it, then give it a little time and a little space. Trust, she won't let you go too far for too long. Patience, Darren. Women do this cause we have truckloads of thoughts and emotions and sometimes need to figure out what to do with them all. Now you have a choice, you can be the next guy she sits up drinking with her friends talking about what an insensitive S.O.B. you were or you can be that guy that she tells her friends, "I forgot it could be like this." Think on it.

P.S. If it doesn't work out with Siddity 'n Pretty, I'm passing out your email address to some of my DMV chicks in BougieLand, they'll appreciate ya.

What have you got for Darren? Are we reading his situation correctly? Comment as you will.

Breaking up is hard to do… but that doesn’t mean you can’t be classy about it!


OneChele loves the romance. I read it, write it, revel in it. Regardless of life experience, I still believe in some variation on two people trying to make happily ever after work. And all the mushy-gushy stuff along the way… aww. ©Lifetime movie of the week© (Wait a minute, not the ones where the woman gets beat down by her stalker ex-husband or goes crazy and sets his bed on fire, the other ones… ya'll know what I mean!)

At any rate, when love goes wrong (and Lord knows there are SO many ways for it to go wrong), sometimes the best thing to do is leave skid marks running as far away as you can just walk away. And how you walk away can be just as important as how you walked together for however long it lasted. I believe most of you will co-sign with me when I say that a bad break up can temporarily overshadow a good relationship. Like chasing a fine wine with a shot of vinegar; for a while all you can taste is the vinegar. It's not until you put something else in your mouth that the bad taste goes away. (okay, that sounds WAY dirtier than it should have. Keep it PG-13, people – I did not mean it like that).

ANYWAY, I gathered my notes, emails and tweets and can present to you… 10 of the worst break up scenarios EVER. (Yes, I've changed all the names to protect the guilty):

  • Ted and Gina were at a basketball game for their sixth date. At some point after half-time with no apparent provocation Gina looked at Teddy and started screaming, "I hate you! I never want to see you again!" He blinked a couple of times and said, "So do you not want to see the rest of the game?" This set her off again. Onlookers said Gina has quite an octave range. They left separately and never saw each other again. Note:I don't know, Ted. You might have dodged a bullet on that one.

  • Earline and Johnny had been married for 25 years. One night when Johnny came home from work, Earline had a big home-cooked dinner waiting for him. Pleased that after so many nights of take out and frozen entrees, Earline was hooking him up; Johnny sat down and dug in. "You're not gonna eat?" he asked. (red flag #1 dude) She shook her head, "No, I worked in the garden and snacked all day. I'm going to get into bed and wait for you." (red flag #2) Excited that not only was he getting fed but getting some, Johnny wolfed down his food and headed into the bedroom. The next thing he knew, Johnny was waking up in a hospital bed. The nurse handed him a note, "This is from your wife." The note read: "If you are reading this note I guess you survived, you cheating sack of sh**. Johnny, what we had was beautiful but you ruined it when you put your thing inside your secretary over and over again for the past six weeks. I put something beautiful inside of you, good luck and good bye." Turns out she put white oleander (super poisonous but very beautiful flower) along with some other herbs from her yard into the food she had cooked for him. The doctors never got the exact toxicology of what all she used on him. She disappeared with the money and to my knowledge has not been caught or prosecuted. Note: Earline! That's way extreme. It's not bougie to catch a case because of your cheating significant other. No, no – jail time is not bougenificent! NO one looks good in the orange jumpsuit.

  • Suzie and Ben were "sharing physical intimacy" when suddenly Ben stopped. "What's wrong?" Suzie asked. "Nothing, I just don't want to do this anymore." He responded. "This as in me or are you talking about something else?" "I just want out. Of you, the relationship, this apartment. I'm done." He um- dismounted and got dressed. Ben left and never returned, not one look back. Suzie never found out what prompted the interruptus and consequent leave-taking. Note: WTF, Ben? You broke up mid-stroke? ETIQUETTE FAIL.

  • Jason and Terry were in the Caribbean with their family and friends to get married. On the night before the wedding, they went their separate ways to have their bachelor/bachelorette parties. The next morning, Jason woke up to a 3" x 3" pink post-it note stuck on his hotel room door stating: "The wedding is off. You know what you did. Don't try and find me." Now since I heard this story from the groom's mother, I never found out what happened but I do know they did not reconcile. Note: Uh Jason, what DID you do at the bachelor party, son? Terry, post-it note is tacky. What if it fell off the door? At least leave a message at the front desk.

  • Shanice and Daquan had been kickin' it for six months (I don't know – it's what the kids say to indicate some sort of relationship). Anyway, one day Shanice gets an email saying Daquan has posted new photos to Facebook. She goes out to FB and sees Daquan all hugged up with a girl that is not her. He captioned the picture: Shanice, I'm upgrading. Peace! Note: No he DID NOT! See? And folks wonder how chicks go Jazmine Sullivan on their behinds.

  • Hector and Yvette had been dating for close to two years. One day for reasons he swears he does not know Yvette called him on his cell phone and said, "I want to break up." He asked why and she replied, "I just do." Note: Hector, something is rotten in the state of BougieDom. You had no clue? Nothing happened? Just out the blue she's done? Ooo-kay.

  • Dick and Jane had been married for 7 years. Somewhere around year six and a half, they stopped having meaningful conversation. Their style of communication became very passive-aggressive. They would send each other emails, texts and voicemails and then in the evening one would ask, "Did you have any questions about what I wrote?" The other would answer, "Nope, got it." Jane had suggested all manner of counseling which Dick refused. Finally one day, she sent him a text: "I quit, I want a divorce". He texted back: "Okay, sounds good". (Wow like, do you want Chinese for dinner? Okay, sounds good.) Later that night as she handed him a pillow and blanket for the guest room she asked, "Did you have any questions about what I wrote?" He looked at her and said, "Nope, got it." According the divorce records, those we the last words they spoke to each other without an attorney present. Note: Brrr. It's cold up in there. Now THAT is the coldest break up I've ever heard of.

  • Selena and Greg had been living together since her sophomore year of college. He was wrapping up his PhD and she was finishing her MBA. One day he asked her to read his dissertation. It was on post modern gender relations in a technology driven society. (I already see where this going) Anyway as she read she realized that he has used examples from their relationship. As she got closer to the end she noticed that he had started talking about them in the past tense. His last four paragraphs basically stated that he no longer believed monogamous relationships and life partners were necessary in the age we live in. She shrieked, "This is how you tell me it's over?" and apparently the situation disintegrated from there. Campus police were involved. Greg needed stitches. Note: Greg, you went way too cerebral on a girl who was willing to get physical. Know your audience.

  • Charlie and Beth had been dating for two years. Tonight, Charlie was taking Beth out for a fancy dinner. When they got to the restaurant, he ordered the best champagne, multiple courses, wine and dessert. Candles were flickering, soft music playing, the atmosphere was trés romantique. Beth was thrilled; he was finally going to pop the question! After dessert, the waiter brought the check. He also delivered a small box to the table. Beth opened the box expecting a ring and instead saw a bracelet. A bracelet she already owned. "Oh, I thought I lost this!" She looked confused. Charlie replied, "You did lose it along with your mind in David's bed the last two times I was out of town." He gets up, "You also lost me but you do get one thing." He shoves the bill of more than $300 across the table, "You get to pay the way and find a ride home." With that he walks out. David was his best friend. Note: High five Charlie. Boo to David for sleeping with your girl but thumbs up to David for fessing up before Charlie wifed up.

  • Lisa and Larry have been married for twelve years. To combat boredom, Larry has been "trying" new and different things in the bedroom. Apparently one night he went too far. The next night he came home and found all his positions packed into a Portable Storage Unit on the back of the truck. Taped across the unit was a banner that read, "Not with me, not up in here." Note: Wow Lisa – no second chances huh? Makes me really curious to find out what he wanted to do?!

To the guy who shared his story about finding his girl's sextape with another man and had it played at their engagement party… dude, I might have to do a post on that one alone. Thanks to all who contributed stories. I would say I'm sorry it didn't work out but in light of some of these circumstances… you may be better off?

I'm sure ya'll have some stories to rival these but truthfully, my romantic heart does not want to hear any more. As far as my break up strategy - I'm a believer in shooting straight but letting someone down gently (unless they force you to be harsh). But I'll put the question to you… is there really any GOOD way to break up?

What’s the statute of limitation on anger?

This is not a post on the overhyped stereotype of the Angry Black Woman. It's a tale about one angry (sort of) black woman (maybe two). Read on...

So I'm attending a Women of Faith discussion group not too long ago. The group consists of around fifteen women of all ages and colors, going through guided workshops from the book series by the same name. Now bear in mind, these are supposed to be Christian folks working on expanding their knowledge of the faith. Unfortunately in this setting, folks get bathed with the warm of acceptance and the promise of no judgment to the point where they over share. (TMI)

It was one such circumstance as we talked about small moments in time or brief encounters that changed our paths when a young lady spoke up. She spoke of having been somewhat of a wild child when she lived in California. She paused so I asked, "What part?" She replied, "Oakland." I smiled at her, "I used to live in Alameda." (They are right next to each other.) Feeling relaxed, she launched into a story about how she met a guy at a restaurant bar (she named one of favorites).

She went on to tell us how the evening progressed and shared their conversation. She described what the guy looked like and his profession. Now I was getting a little twitchy because it sure sounded like my ex she was describing. As in he's an ex now but at that time, he was most definitely a Significant Other. But, I reasoned, how many guys looked like that, sounded like that and had that particular profession? Not many but more than one or two. What were the odds? I thought to myself. Her story continued with him giving her a ride home. She described the car. Now I was REALLY interested in hearing the outcome of this story. She shared (in more detail than was necessary at a church function) the manner of foreplay they engaged in before he called a halt. Apparently he apologized, advised her against "hooking up" with strange men, wished her luck and left. And then she told us his name. Same guy. I couldn't even focus on the rest of story about how this experience turned her around. I just went through the motions until the meeting ended and bolted.

In discussing this with one of my girlfriends (who ADORED this guy) she said, "But he didn't really DO anything!" I cut my eyes at her, "You mean besides picking up women in restaurant bars, taking them home and feeling them up? I TOLD you he was a cheatin'-ass cheater!" She patted my hand, "Okay Chele but it was over five years ago. You all have been broken up for a long time. I don't think you still get to be mad about his behavior. What are you gonna do? Break up with him again?"

She had a point. This, however; did not stop me from letting the anger take me on a roller coaster ride for a while. I started thinking if he picked up one chick, he picked up five others. If he felt up one, goodness knows what he did with the others. And yes, I got angry all over again. Every negative thing I had ever assumed he'd done was suddenly real. And instead of being in the comfortable place where I stashed him as "that guy I used to date" he became the Villain (yes, with the capital "V"). It was like going through the break-up all over again. (sigh) I held myself back from angry-texting, turning him into Don'tdatehimgirl dot com and firing off a blistering two a.m email with my keyboard of FIYAH! (Yeah, the angry OneChele emails are legend). I eventually let it go... kinda, I mean I did write this post. But nicely, no?

On the flip side, I was working a contract assignment helping a company with their Human Resources. During a conference call, I overheard one of the other staff members talking about her son. Her son had an unusual name. He was named after his father and grandfather. Turns out I used to date the guy who is now her husband. Over the course of time as she and I talked, I started to put a timeline together in my head. There was a grey area of about five months where it appears he may have been "courting" the both of us at the same time… awkward. Especially when you consider that things ended so poorly between the two of us that I ended up blocking his calls and emails. So I wondered: if she found out about it- does she still have the right to be angry? Does it at all change the scope of their "married with two kids and a mortgage" relationship?

Which leads me to ask, what's the statute of limitation on anger? How long after the event that triggers your anger can you summon up that emotion, especially if you just found out about it? I'm told that at a certain point you just have to let it all go and I believe that to be true. You cannot walk around with your fist balled up mad at all the crap life has thrown at you. Again, that's easier said than done. So I'll ask you, BnB reader? What do you think?

Tuesday Reality Check – is your friend really your friend?


Editorial Vote: Don't start in on me about the picture. These two are the definition of "frenemy" if ever I saw one.

There was a time in third grade when Nanette Albaum yanked out my ponytail holders and watched in glee as my neat plaits turned into fly away afro puffs waving about in the scorching Texas humidity. She was sent to sit in the corner but I still had to walk around the rest of the day looking like Pippi Longstocking's beat down play cousin. When I asked BougieMom why she did that; she said simply, "She's not your friend."

Since those days, I've found that friendship (or lack thereof) has become a bit more complicated. I have learned the difference between acquaintances and friends. I have learned that people you were friends with at age 12 don't necessarily stay your friends through your 20s and 30s. And that's okay. People change and evolve (hopefully). Your evolution may take friends in and out of your orbit. As I've gotten older, I'm far more selective in my friendships but I'm able to make friends with people for different reasons. They don't all have to think like me, act like me, read what I read or talk like I talk… but they do have to embrace and respect friendship for the gift that it is.

Here are few OneChele ways to tell when a friend is really not a friend:

  • They call to talk but somehow the conversation never gets around to you. As a matter of fact, you never hear from this person unless she/he needs something they know you can provide. Once they have gotten what they wanted, the conversation ends abruptly. I have one "friend" who calls twice a year, talks for 40 minutes about herself, asks me to help her write/look up/cook something and then she's off. Last January when I talked to her; I actually ended the call with, "Talk to you around Labor Day!"

  • They are a little too interested in your SO (Significant Other). They have a lot of questions about the status of your relationship, they want to share intimate details you have no intention of sharing. When your SO is around, they seem to be more animated about it then you are. One former friend kept offering to pick up my SO from the airport for me. Said she would "entertain" him until I got home from work. I was born at night, but not last night, sweetie.

  • They are always "borrowing" things- jewelry, clothes, food, rent money… that you never see again. This means you L.A.T., where is my sequined Tahari bolero jacket and the "few dollars" to get your car fixed? It's been over 12 years. I'm trying to let it go, but that jacket was cute.

  • They never have anything positive to say. Have you met those all cloud-no silver lining people? The glass isn't even half empty; it's bone dry and kicked to the floor in broken pieces. You can't go anywhere with them without them pointing out the negative aspects. Had a male friend who could walk into a party and bring down the house (in a bad way) in five minutes flat. He had complaints about the food, the bar, the music, the caliber of women, the location and the dress code. Why did you come then? You did know it was a party, right?

  • Drama is attracted to them like tornados to trailer parks in Texas. You know the drama is coming; it's just a matter of time. Drama follows them everywhere. And when it doesn't follow them, they go looking for it. When someone starts a story with, "I was just minding my own business when…" No they weren't, they were looking to hop on the Drama-Train and take you along for the ride.

  • Something about them is just a wee bit crazier than you'd like. Sitting in a Sisters' Circle meeting, one sister that I was becoming good friends with regaled us with a story that started with her scaling her boyfriend's fence with her night-vision goggles on to break into his home and check his voicemail. By the time she got to the part of the story that involved smashing his windshield with a pumpkin, I was too through. There was so much wrong with her and her story, it's worthy of its own post on When Bougie Meets Crazy. Suffice it to say, I wasn't not sure I needed to be friends with someone who owned her own set of night-vision goggles.

  • They block your action. Guy meets girl, guy likes girl, guy's friend comes over and talks about (insert any random topic here) for twenty minutes until girl walks away regretfully. Or… girl meets guy, girl and guy flirt, girl's friend comes over and starts asking guy if her skirt is too tight, "do I look slutty in this?" Blocking, not pretty, not friendly.

  • Your achievements make them sad but their achievements must be celebrated… again and again. You call to tell them you just got a promotion and they say, "Oh well, did I tell you about the award I won?" You lose 25 pounds and they say, "I'm so glad I never have to worry about my weight." Cut them. Now. I mean it, stop reading, call them up and tell them you are out.

  • Anything you can do, they can do better. Someone once said, "Only one person can be Batman, someone else has to be Robin." Do you always play sidekick to their Superhero? Never get to wear the cape? Grab a chance to be the Leading Lady/Man in your own screenplay every once in a while. Review the balance of power in your friendships and see what can be done to even them out.

  • You have absolutely nothing in common anymore but the fact that you have been friends for sooooo long. If all your time spent together is based on things you USED to do and places you USED to go, your friendship may be stuck in the past. If a lot of your conversations involve, "Man, remember when we…" It's a sign. Look for things that you have in common besides the past.

Disclaimer: OneChele is not a degreed psychologist or socialist. Don't go running out there cutting folks off and blaming that stuff on me. I'm a student of life, sharing what little knowledge and observation I've garnered over the years. The decision to keep or cut someone is one that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Any other tell-tale signs that your friend is more like a frenemy? What are your thought on the who "friends close, enemies closer" rule?