Is it wrong?

Thoughts from #Scandal - Good people do bad things, do they deserve second chances?

A few weeks ago on Da Twittahs, we were discussing how long someone has to wear a scarlet letter. In other words, if you are someone who once did a bad thing, how long should that really be held over your head? My answer? It depends on how bad it was and how long it's been. Biblically sin is sin but to me, I can let slide a lie or two as opposed to a dead body or two buried in the basement. I'm just saying. If you stole a snickers in 6th grade, we're cool. If you're still robbing folks fifteen years later, we have issues. 

I do believe that people should be allowed to evolve past youthful transgression. Even not so youthful transgressions. I believe that unless you've shown a willful disregard for any measure of "do-right" you have a chance at redemption though not necessarily with the person you've wronged.

This popped back into my mind as I watched #Scandal Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with wide eyes and slack jaw last night.[Again, my warning for those of you that haven't seen it. Stop reading. Hie thee to a DVR and then come on back] The list of transgressors on this show is quite lengthy but I'll deal specifically with the men in Liv's life.

Fitz is a cheater and a murderer but for some reason (perhaps the hotness helps or the fact that he's married to a raging sociopath monster and Verna needed killing was dying anyway) we tend to forgive him. Huck is a scary super-sleuthy killer but he has a heart of gold so even though he almost choked Olivia to death on the side of a car, we were left saying "Poor Huck" and kept it moving. Daddy Pope is Lucifer above ground. I can't find his redeeming qualities except that he provided the sperm to bring Olivia Pope into the world. The fact that he does bad things in the name of freedom doesn't really help his cause when he's too happy to blow up his daughter's life, have Cyrus thrown into trunks and chucks grown men into dark holes all before breakfast. Mostly because he can. 

My real issue comes with Jake. We don't know what the hell his motivation is. We know that he's a stalker but he appeared to be under orders? We know that he's kinda pervy and a sore loser but when you see a woman you slept with welcoming her married lover (who happens to be leader of the free world) into her apartment, you might be a wee bit bitter. He did save her life though. Yet when Jake appeared all frazzled and in great need of a shower outside Liv's front door, my first thought was "Girl, watch your back." Is that fair? Probably not.

I have an ex-boyfriend who is genetically incapable of doing right by me. Ever. Like if he tried, he would self-destruct. I spent years assuming that because he asked for a second (15th) chance and apologized for the shiggity he did before, he should get to take off the scarlet letter and start fresh. No. He shouldn't. The scarlet letter is who he is. With me anyway. So having been burned by that fire,  I tend to veer on the side of "sure I'll forgive but I'll never forget cuz mama didn't raise no fools."

What say you, BnB? In the bigger scheme of things, are you able to forgive and give second chances to the good people in your life who just happen to do bad things? Why or why not? And do we believe in #GoodJake or #BadJake? Do share...

Weight gain, tragic bed game and communication for grown-ups

I was at my hairdresser's the other day and as per usual in the beauty shop, the conversation turned to relationships. One of the ladies indicated that her boyfriend of about one year told her that he was concerned about her recent weight gain. Immediately, one of the ladies gasped and exclaimed, "He shouldn't have said that."

My first reaction was, "How did he say it?" Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Okay, I know (believe me, I know) that weight is a touchy subject. Unless the comment is, "Wow, you're really looking great." Or "I'll love you at any size." It's hard to have a discourse that doesn't trample someone's feelings. But the truth of the matter is, if this is an issue that impacts your relationship, wouldn't it be better to address it early? 

We all know there are so many wrong ways to have this conversation. Buying your woman a treadmill for Christmas. Laying out the workout gear on the bed after she gets up in the morning. Sending a copy of the Atkins' Diet to her Nook. Snatching a bag of snacks out of her hand as she watches TV. When the waiter comes by to ask if you would like dessert announcing, "She doesn't need any." O__o (All of these stories happened to people I know.) 

For the most part, women know when they are gaining weight. But what we don't know is how much weight our significant other is "fine" with and when we've crossed a line in his head that changes his perception of us. Yes, yes - I know. We are supposed to be loved for the total package. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, yes this is true. But if your original packaging was a size 2 and now you're in a 22, you've changed the rules of the game without getting your s/o's buy in. Like it or not, part of what attracted him was the packaging. Men feel betrayed when you take away their shiny, pretty toys. It sucks but it's true.

Think this is touchy terrain? Try telling a man that he is terrible (not just slightly uninventive) but terrible in bed. This is the dilemma that another friend of mind is dealing with. Her man of close to two years has started taking the cocoa for granted. The bed game is now lazy. Where before he took the time to prep and stir the cocoa before bringing it to full boil adding everything including sprinkles, now he's just opening the package of instant, microwaving and stirring twice. (Stay with the metaphor people)

Again, there are bad ways to communicate this. Lying there after the 30-second cocoa and hissing, "Dude, is that it?!" Downloading a copy of "Sex for Dummies" onto his Kindle. Waiting until he complains about something so she can counter attack: Him: "We're out of milk, did you not have time to go the store?" Her: "I was too busy giving myself orgasms since you're no longer able." [Welp!] Again, all true instances.

Men may or may not know they suck in bed. Women may or may not know that their men are fine if she gains 5 pounds but 15 is going to be an issue. If you can't talk about these issues with each other, you've created a bigger problem. It's not just what you say but how you say it, when you say it and how often you repeat it. {Nagging is never winning behavior  Never not ever.] Also, are you enabling the behavior? Are you bitching about your girl's weight and swinging by with red velvet cupcakes? Are you complaining about the cocoa prowess but getting an Oscar for your fake orgasms? This things don't help, they hinder. And most importantly, is it coming from a place of true compassion and concern or is it coming from petty selfishness. 

The best way a guy can talk to a woman about her weight is by removing any sort of accusatory blame from the conversation. In the instance of the woman at the hairdresser, the man mentioned that because of his family history he was adopting a more healthy lifestyle and asked if she wanted to start going to the gym with him. Something in his tone alerted her and she asked him, "Have I put on a few pounds?" And he replied yes.  I didn't see anything wrong with that. The women in the shop felt that he should accept her no matter what. Yes, that's true but is it realistic?

So I put the questions to you, BougieLand. Are there certain touchy subjects that you can't discuss without drama? Is there a good way to tell someone a super-sensitive critical thing? What's the best way? Is it wrong to tell a woman she's gained weight? What if the man had gained weight and/or the woman was suddenly lazy in bed? What to do, how to discuss? Do share...

Ask a Bougie Chick - But he said it was okay!

[Disclaimer - Le Dude is out of the country for the next six weeks. We have no such agreement or drama as the one described below nor do we plan to. Nobody need come at me sideways.]

We're just going to dive in today. Our letter comes from Janae. She's twenty-seven and she's been in a committed relationship with thirty year old Kendrick for three years. They live together in Kenner, Louisiana. Here we go:
Hey Chele and all the bougie dwellers:
The whole point of this letter is to ask if I'm right or wrong or does is just not make a difference? 
Kendrick and I have been together for three years, it's been a great relationship and I hope we get married someday. Right before Thanksgiving, Kendrick left to spend a year in Africa. I spent ten days with him and then came back for my job plus my family and friends are here. Before I got on the plane to come back, Kendrick and I had this long talk about our expectations for the upcoming year.  
He said he had no plans to be unfaithful but a year was a long time. He suggested that we make our relationship an open one until he returns. I went from zero to mad right then and there. He was putting me on a plane and basically saying whatever happened in Africa stayed in Africa? After everything we've been through? (Let's just say we've worked very hard to be together and stay together) 
But he explained that he was really saying this for me. I know, I know, Chele - I can feel your side-eye already but really, truly I believed that he was not looking for a Get Out Of Jail Free Card and thought a more open relationship would keep us from stressing out about what the other was doing. A year is a long time. So I agreed.  
Fast forward to a week ago, he and I are on Skype and he sees a friend of mine walking through the apartment in the background. He asked me who it was and I told him it was a friend of mine, Vaughn. He got really upset and asked who the hell Vaughn was and why was he in the apartment that late at night. After I asked Vaughn to leave, I tried to explain that Vaughn was just a friend. He asked me if I was sleeping with Vaughn and I answered truthfully it had only happened once. 
Kendrick asked me how I could do this to him and now he couldn't trust me and then he hung up. He won't take my calls or answer my emails. I'm confused - he's the one who said it was okay to be with other people? I didn't do anything wrong? What should I do now? - Janae
Well... I'm shaking my head reading this. First of all, Janae - thanks for reading BnB and writing in. Even though you've shared a lot of backstory, I find I'm still wondering - did Kendrick ask you to go with him? How did you define the scope of your relationship prior to him leaving? Have you all had any issues with infidelity in the past? 

Now that that is out the way - you cannot honestly tell me that you didn't know that when Kendrick said it was okay to sleep around he meant that is was okay for him and him alone? He was getting absolution in advance sweetie, that was never meant for you.

Even on the slimmest, tiniest, most minuscule off chance that he meant "sure, my woman of 3+ years, have a ball while I'm on another continent" - do you really think it was wise to have your cut buddy all up in screen range while Skypeing your boo-thang? Really? S.No.B. girlie. You never dangle your daisy in front of your rose, dig?

While talking about your daisy and your rose - I thought you were upset at the thought of either of you cheating? Though I'm not judging, it does not seem like it took you too long to find another plant for your secret garden. <~~Yes, that's the written equivalent of a non-judgy but quite perplexed side-eye.

Lastly, call him out. Kendrick bluffed and you called him on it, he has to acknowledge his part in this whole shebacle (that's shiggity + debacle). If he's not willing to stand behind what he said, you two don't have much of a relationship as it is.

These are just my two cents. Let me turn it over to BougieLand and see what they have for you. What say you all? Who is wrong? Kendrick? Janae? Both? Who's is "wronger" in this scenario and where (if anywhere) do the go from here? What are your thoughts on a "temporarily open relationship" - does that ever work? How long is too long to expect the other party to be faithful? Please respond...

Is it wrong to just be in it for the "cocoa"?

[Author's note: BougieLand regulars know that I try not to discuss the cocoa. Yes, it's a euphemism for adult naked aerobic activity. Just bringing up the hot chocolate tends to send the comments section into well... heat. So let's keep it bougie out there today, shall we?]

I recall having a discussion with a male friend of mine. It actually started out as a discussion about Ecclesiastes 3:1. You know the one, it begins: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Somehow, he took this as Jesus' okay for him to spend some time slangin' cocoa freely amongst willing females. I'm fairly positive Jesus is not cosigning heaux-shenanigans but I was reminded of that conversation when these cases came up. Let's take a look.

Case 1) Lance (aptly named) is upfront with all the women he sees... and he sees quite a few. He tells them straight up that he's just in it to hit it. The women agree and enjoy themselves but (in his words) "someone always catches feelings" and then he gets "cussed out and called a dog." His question to us was - if he's being upfront, he's single, healthy, responsible, doesn't poach - why is he a dog? Why can't a young man enjoy "the ladies" without being hated on? 

Case 2) Andrea is three months out of a bad relationship. Actually, she's out of a string of bad relationships. She is officially exhausted with the whole "significant other chess match" (her words but I'll be stealing them). She's decided that for now, she only wants "no strings" cocoa. But wouldn't you know, the first man she, uh - stirred the cocoa with decided that he wants more.  He knew going in [pause] that she wanted to keep it casual. But now he's angry that she is not willing to take it there. He said she shouldn't be "hoeing around" when she could have "something real." Her question to us, "Why I gotta be "hoeing around"? Can't I just have a little light-hearted fun for a minute?"

What do you think? Are we (as a society) still too judgmental about other people's slap~n~tickle business? Are we hatin' on the Lances of the world? Or is there a line (number?) after which we start to think of Lance as a male slut? What about Andrea? Why can't she take a wild on the side for a hot minute without being called a ho? Thoughts, comments, insights? (Try and keep it PG-13, people)

Is it wrong not to share certain things about your past with your S.O.?

Let's just agree that there's a certain amount of disclosure needed when you cross from the casual to the serious zone of a relationship. [Both parties must agree that the relationship is serious prior to all the sharing] We can also agree that oversharing is no bueno. So ladies, if you were spread over more athletes than Icy Hot rub back in your college days - keep it to yourself. Fellas, if your nickname on the yard was Daddy Longstroke... hold onto that.

We can all agree that the "health" discussion needs to happen [cover it up anyway!]. But when it comes to things like finances and previous relationships, how much disclosure is necessary? And is there any good reason NOT to disclose major portions of your life to your S.O.? Let's look at today's cases...

Case 1) Kerry just found out that her husband (Mason) has an entire family she knew nothing about. They've been married for seven years, together for eight. When she asked him about it, he said he had a horrible childhood and wanted to leave that entire part of his past behind. When she pressed him for more information, he shut down and said he did not want to discuss it... ever.

Case 2) Tracey was married for 47 days after her 21st birthday [drunken Vegas weekend gone really, really wrong]. That was fourteen years ago. She had pretty much forgotten about it. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until filling out a premarital counseling quiz with her fiancĂ© that she mentioned it. Her guy was not amused and has postponed the wedding.

Case 3) Carter has a drunken Vegas story too. But his ended with a talented but trashy double-D stripper stealing his wallet in the dead of night and giving her "boyfriend" Carter's identity. Three years later, he's still trying to repair his credit. He didn't mention this to the woman he just married. So imagine her surprise when the mortgage application came back with all manner of nonsense.

Okay, am I the only one who thinks Kerry's story sounds like the intro to Who the (bleep) did I marry on the new Discovery Channel?

What do you think? Are Kerry, Tracey and Carter's omissions excusable? Do you want to know if your intended slept with a stripper four years ago? Married someone while drunk fifteen years ago? Where do you draw the "reasonable disclosure" line in the sand? Do share...

Is it wrong to let finance ruin romance?

We've all heard the sayings: No romance without finance, you gotta have a J-O-B if you want to be with me, I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger... you get the idea. And let's all acknowledge that a person is more than their job title, bank balance or credit score. But then again... check out these cases from two folks in their late twenties...

Case 1) Jeff just started dating [two months in] a beautiful girl (Charla) in Los Angeles. They are both degreed, come from small towns originally, have similar family backgrounds, a mutual love of sports and extra sizzly chemistry. They are both employed in the same industry and earn similar salaries. But Jeff is concerned and thinking about getting out of the relationship. Jeff drives an Accord, Charla drives drove a Lexus. I could go into all the detail he provided but long story short, Charla stays broke. Her car was repo'd and she has moved in with a cousin to save money. She shops a lot. She stays flawlessly groomed and attired. Creditors are calling her all the time. He is wary of moving the relationship forward. In his words, "It's not that she's ruining her credit but what does this tell me about her priorities?"

Case 2) Page's two and a half year relationship with Ben is strained. When she met Ben, he was an ambitious marketing professional on his way up in a Fortune 100 company. He owned a condo, drove a nice SUV and enjoyed travel and fine dining. Then...He was laid off from his job over a year ago, moved in with her six months ago and quit looking for a job altogether ninety days ago. He said he doesn't want to accept a lower paying or lower level job. His unemployment runs out in four weeks. She is currently carrying all the bills with the exception of his car note. When she talked to him about what they were going to do next, he said, "Let's worry about tomorrow tomorrow." He now enjoys Xbox and whatever Page brings home for dinner.  In Page's words, "There's standing by your man through a rough patch and then there's this right here."

Broke isn't sexy. But neither is gold-digging. Certainly, we want to give folks a break in tough economic times. These two situations are something else entirely. BougieLand - what do you do if you're Jeff? Page? How much financial drama do you allow in your romantic entanglements? Thoughts, comments, insights?

Is it wrong to have a (relationship) back-up plan?

So, the saying "A bird in the hand beats two in the bush" is right along the lines of "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't" - basically meaning stick with what you've got, who knows what's out there. But what if it's not that black and white? Take a look at today's cases.

Case 1) Holly has been married for six years to Daniel. They dated for two years before that. Her relationship has been... rocky. Holly believes that she is a good person and her husband is a good person. But together they are a powderkeg of drama, escalating fights, declining cocoa stirring, piss-poor communication. Over a year ago, she separated from her husband. During the separation, she met Lawrence. It was light a whole new world for her. No drama, all light and laughter, bubbly cocoa. And then Daniel came back with promises and pleas. She felt she owed it to him to give it another chance. She sorta broke it off with Lawrence asking for time and distance while she sees what's up with Daniel. 

Case 2) Ken is dating a lovely girl named Kim. He's in love with Kim but she's not ready to commit. He's proposed twice but Kim says she needs "just a little more time" before she takes the next step. Ken has a good friend named Leena. Lately, there's been a vibe between them. Neither of them have acted on it though they've acknowledged that the vibe is there.

So... what to do?

Personally, I don't like confusion. I need clarity and consistency in my relationships. That whole "torn between two lovers" vibe has never been for me. Then again, I'm very much a "dance with the one who brung ya" kinda girl. 

What do you think, BougieLand? Should Holly ride it out with Daniel? Should Ken give Kim all the time and space in the world to figure out whatever she's figuring? What would you do in these situations? Do tell...

Is it wrong to only date black (or white) women?

Happy Monday, y'all! Dr. Jayme and I have been (in all our spare time) conducting some feedback sessions with people that write in with questions to BougieLand. Not counseling just discussions where we figure out where their head was when they sent in the question. Today's three gents chatted with us for about an hour before things got heated. I decided to bring the discussion to BnB. I already know some people are going to act a pure "D" fool over this topic. But let's get the stories. 

Case 1) Wil, our resident resident in Phoenix has been besieged on his Facebook page by friendship requests from ladies of the Caucasian persuasion. Though Dr. Martin is biracial, he has a strong preference for the Nubian Queens. A particularly persistent girl asked him why he wouldn't return her emails and he said he was really only interested in dating black women. She called him a racist. 

Case 2) Jake, our resident sister-loving white guy in Tampa catches wreck on the regular from friends, family and people who don't know him. He has only dated black girls since the age of 14. (He's 29 now) He actually gets irritated when he is asked why he dates black women. His response is always the same "I just like what I like."

Case 3) Gerald K, a professional brother 32 years of age living in Atlanta who has stated emphatically (on this blog even) that sisters are simply "not worth the trouble" and only dates white women. Not Asian or Latina or any other flavor. He calls it "a lifestyle preference." But did say that if there was a sister who acted "less black" he would give her a shot.

I'll admit that on a personal level (I am a Black woman after all), Gerald irritated me. He argued that it wasn't a knock against black women, he just chooses not to "be bothered" with us anymore. He wanted to know what the difference was between him, Wil and Jake. [This is when the conversation got heated.] 

I may or may not have told Gerald that he wasn't going to be missed by any of the sisters. Gerald said Jake only dated black women because they were "low-hanging fruit." Jake may have called him an unrepeatable name. Jayme had to tell all of us to play nice. Wil said his issue with Gerald was that he assumed that all Black women were the same due to packaging (skin color). Wil said he simply preferred to have a cultural commonality with a woman he was in a relationship with. Jake, on the other hand, had grown up around black girls and that's really all he ever knew and felt comfortable with until college. And by then, (as he said) he was hooked.

But when Jayme asked them to describe the characteristics of their perfect woman (without race and appearance) and then asked them what would happen if they found that perfect woman in a different flavored (or sized) package, the whole conversation was stymied. This had not occurred to them.

So is it racist to only consider one particular race in your dating pool? What's the difference between a preference and prejudice? Who's right? Who's wrong? Who's rolling with Wil, Jake or Gerald? And what would you do if your perfect mate came in an unexpected package? Play nice in the comments, the floor is yours...

This week on BnB: Is it wrong to (fill in the blank)?

It has long been my philosophy that if you start a question with "Is it wrong to..." chances are good 1) yes, it's wrong or 2) it may not be wrong but you think it is and you're asking for validation. HOWEVER. I've received some really interesting "Is it wrong?" questions that are discussion worthy. So this week, bring your open minds and flowing commentary while we get into it. By the way, is it wrong that I'm cackling gleefully while typing up this week's posts? Stay tuned...