All Articles Tagged "black dating advice"
Meeting your partner’s kid for the first time can be a very frightening experience. For one, there’s the pressure to get it right. You’re aware that the spotlight is on you and that your guy will be watching to see how you interact with one (or more) of the most important people in his life – his child. Then of course, there’s that natural desire to be liked and accepted by the child. However, you’ll quickly realize that there’s no way to control how an initial encounter will play out. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t certain tips and strategies that you can follow to assist in making that first encounter go as smoothly as possible.
First and foremost, you have got to get your mind right! At least, that’s what “Paternity Court’s Judge Lauren Lake says.
“Girl! Let me tell you, when it comes to dating a man with a child, you need to make sure you are mature enough to handle it,” Lake instructs. “You’re not competing with the child or replacing the child’s mother.”
Getting your mind right also includes realizing that it’s wrong to use your partner’s kids to validate your relationship, and of course, it includes making sure that they’re comfortable with you.
“You most certainly shouldn’t try to use the child as leverage to solidify your relationship with your boyfriend,” Judge Lake explains. “As the adult, you have to do everything to make that child as comfortable as possible. You have to respect that the child is figuring everything out right now and will need time and space to do that. Understand that he and his child/children are a package deal. You can’t just ‘deal with’ the child. You have to accept and love the child as an extension of him.”
Once your head is in the right place, Judge Lake has tips to help guide you through that first encounter with ease.
Do let the child take the lead
“You shouldn’t force yourself on him/her and try to create a relationship right away. Some children have to warm up to new people while others are open right away. Respect the child’s personality and let him/her guide the relationship.”
Don’t go into mommy mode immediately
“No matter what the situation is with the child and his/her mother, it’s not your job to replace her. Even if you and the boyfriend are playing house, that doesn’t automatically include his child.”
Do wait until all parties are ready
“Let your boyfriend introduce you to the child when he and his child are ready. Some women pressure their boyfriend to introduce them to his child because it represents taking that next step in your relationship. Yes, this is a sign that things are getting more serious because he is letting you into a sacred space in his life, but it’s not your job to force that to happen.”
Don’t compete with the child
“Don’t be jealous that his child is the apple of his eye. You can’t love him for being a good man and a good father on one hand then resent him for going to every game or recital.”
Don’t bash the child’s mother
“Don’t entertain or get into arguments with the child’s mother. If your boyfriend is upset and venting about a disagreement he may be having with her, it’s not your job to commiserate. Refrain from trash talking about the mother, even to your friends! It would better serve you to try to support and encourage him through it.”
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“That’s precisely why I have decided not to get involved with anyone romantically. You just never know where you’ll wind up and I don’t want that baggage,” a former classmate told me over a cup of coffee.
I confided in her that I’d just returned from interviewing for my dream job. The only problem is that the position was in another state. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve been waiting by the phone, checking my messages and email waiting to hear back from my potential new employer. Instead, I was avoiding my phone like the plague. I had to admit that while this was my dream position, somewhere deep down inside, I was silently praying that they didn’t pick me. I didn’t want to relocate anymore. Somewhere during the oddly long process of finding the job posting, building up the courage to apply and actually getting a callback for an interview, I’d somehow fallen in love. I felt as if I were a part of some God-orchestrated prank where I was given the two things I wanted the most and then forced to choose between the two.
“I need the flexibility and the freedom to do what I need to do to climb the career ladder,” my friend continued.
I stared back at her, uncomfortably. There was something that I wanted to say, I just couldn’t muster up the courage to admit it—at least not aloud. There we were, well-educated, 20-something women of color with multiple degrees and bright futures ahead. So how could I tell her that having a family slightly outweighed my desire to climb the corporate ladder? How could I tell her that as hard as it is out here for women like us, that I wasn’t 100% certain that I would want to accept my dream job in another city because I was in a relationship, that like all relationships, had no guarantees of happily ever after. I wasn’t ready to make that admission out loud, so I didn’t.
On the train ride home, I played her words in my mind over and over. It had me wondering whether being “open” to love at such a young age could be crippling to one’s career success. Would my undying faith in true love and dreams of raising a family in a cozy suburban home with a white picket fence and a couple of dogs eventually stifle my professional aspirations? Was my friend right? Should love be postponed until a person has reached their maximum career potential? Is it impossible to thrive in both areas simultaneously?
Career vs. love is a decision that professional women have been faced with for quite some time now. But I have to admit that for a long time, I was ashamed to admit that if ever faced with such a heart-gripping decision, I’d probably choose the latter. Thinking about the way that women had to (and continue to) fight for certain rights and liberties, in addition to the fact that our country’s alarming marriage failure rate means that I could very well end up divorced and possibly regretting my decision, is always enough to make me reconsider where my priorities lie. Yet somehow, some way, I always arrive back to the conclusion that love and family simply mean more to me.
Thankfully, I wasn’t forced to make the decision that weighed so heavily on me. The company went with a candidate who didn’t have to relocate to take the job and I can’t say that I was too distraught about their decision.
So, what do you think? Is it possible to have love and a thriving career or will one eventually trump the other?
My first encounter with the dysfunction that Valentine’s Day can bring out of women was in middle school. My friend and classmate, who for the sake of this article we will call “Tracy,” was dating an older guy who attended the high school across the street. Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and all of us middle school girls were totally in love with the fact that the high schoolers had the option of sending each other gifts through this cute little system set up by the Black Student Union—especially Tracy. She was sure to remind her boyfriend over and over that he had better not forget to bring her gift across the street. I must have listened to her remind him about that gift a zillion times. When the day actually arrived, he came through for her and we all marveled with envy, hoping for the day that we’d get a boyfriend mature enough to shower us with sweet gestures on Valentine’s Day. But there was another side to Tracy’s relationship. Not only was this guy running around with multiple girls from our neighborhood, but he disrespected her and violently lashed out at her more times than she would’ve cared to admit.
I’d love to blame Tracy’s unfortunate situation on the fact that we were all young, dumb, inexperienced and slightly oblivious to what love really is. But the sad truth is that not much has changed since middle school. The world is filled with grown women who sell themselves short by remaining in unhealthy relationships with men who consistently disrespect and mistreat them. Ironically, it always seems to be these very same women who place the greatest value on elaborate Valentine’s Day gestures. Sadly, the reason for it all may be that it’s the only day they feel comfortable “demanding” the love that they deserve all year long. Receiving gifts on special days like Valentine’s Day may very well be one of the ways a person shows their love and gratitude, but it certainly should not be the only way. A person who genuinely loves you will show you that love consistently throughout the year, not merely through words, but also through actions. They will demonstrate their love through the things they do (and the things they refrain from doing).
I almost got caught up in the Valentine’s Day whirlwind once. My first Valentine’s Day in a somewhat new relationship was swiftly approaching and it seemed like anticipatory questions from family and friends about our V-Day plans came pouring in before Super Bowl Sunday even concluded. The pressure was on and I all of a sudden felt the need to have this extravagant “Notebook” worthy story to tell on Feb. 15. About one week prior to the actual day, I was having the hardest time. Work was hectic, my home life was crazy and to top it off, I was experiencing what felt like the worst case of PMS. At several points during that week, I was sure I’d reached my breaking point. And all of the Valentine’s Day talk, for some reason, only added to my stress. Then, out of the blue, I received a delivery. It was a beautiful arrangement of flowers from my boyfriend. When I reached out to thank him for such a sweet gesture, he simply replied, “Everything is going to be okay.” He expressed that he realized that I was having such a rough week and that I could use a little pick-me-up. In that very moment, something clicked. This gesture meant so much more than any Valentine’s Day gift or outing ever could because it came from the heart and not because society says that this is the day you’re supposed to go above and beyond to prove your love. When the love is true, maybe any day can be Valentine’s Day.
“Don’t let anybody around here know about your relationship until things are official and you guys have set a wedding date,” a minister from my church told me several years ago. Though his words seemed a bit extreme, they resonated with me and I could tell that they came from a hurting place. The conversation came just months after he’d experienced the painful ending of a very public relationship. People naturally want to win. No one sits down to take a test hoping to fail. No one shows up to a race hoping to lose and no one begins a meaningful relationship hoping to break up. Having been in a situation similar to this particular minister’s, I could completely relate.
Never again would I want to be the subject of those sympathetic gazes or questioning stares. So I swore off things like social media when it came to my relationships and only informed a tiny circle of friends and family members that I was even seeing anyone. My logic: The less people that know about this relationship, the less people I’ll have to deal with looking at me and wondering what went wrong if things happen to go awry. Anything to not have to deal with the shame of a highly visible breakup again. But after closely examining my behavior in relation to other people and my relationships, I began to wonder exactly what kind of relationship I was trying to have.
We’re often advised that one of the best ways to increase the chances of a relationship’s success is to keep it private and keep your business out of the streets. However, with social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram making it possible for the average Joe to broadcast a message to hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of social media users with a few swift keystrokes, maintaining privacy in a relationship has become a rather challenging feat that requires a huge helping of self control. But just how private should a relationship be and what happens when people become too good at keeping their relationships private? What happens when a relationship becomes so private that it becomes a secret?
I suppose the best example of maintaining a private relationship would be Hip-Hop’s beloved couple, Jay Z and Beyoncé. Most didn’t even know the two were dating until several years into their relationship. The Carters are nearly 11 years strong, and there’s still not much that we know about their relationship besides the fact that they’re together and that they share a child. Though they initially played coy about their romance, after a few solid years of dating, establishing that strong foundation, and then jumping the broom, they eventually went public. To contrast, I couldn’t really have this discussion without mentioning Ashanti and Nelly and their attempt to carry on a secret relationship. Though they were together well over six years, they failed to publicly acknowledge one another until the relationship was almost over. I suppose this would be an example of a “secret” relationship. A poorly kept secret, but I suppose it was an attempt nonetheless.
From the outside looking in, it would seem that both of these couples started out with similar intent: Let’s protect our relationship by keeping it on the hush until we’re better established and know where we’re heading. Yet somehow, on the corner of “Let’s keep people out of our business” and “Maybe we shouldn’t acknowledge each other at all,” things appear to have gotten a little murky. A person in love wants to be many things, but in most situations, a secret is not one of them. Dr. Justin J. Lehmiller conducted a study in 2009 on secret relationships for his dissertation at Colorado State University and what he found isn’t a complete surprise. According to Dr. Lehmiller’s studies, keeping a relationship a secret was ultimately detrimental to the relationship.
“I think one of the most important findings from this research is that keeping your relationship secret can be detrimental not only to the relationship itself, but also to the health and well-being of the partners involved,” said Lehmiller. Specifically, my results indicated that keeping one’s relationship secret was linked to being less committed to one’s partner, reporting more symptoms of poor physical health, and having lower self-esteem (i.e., feeling worse about oneself). It appears that keeping one’s relationship secret from others is stressful, which puts wear and tear on both the relationship and on the partners’ physical and psychological health.”
Of course, some instances require that a relationship be kept a secret, at least for a while. But just how healthy can a relationship be if the couple is spending more time hiding their love than actually nurturing it?
Have you ever been in a “secret” relationship? How did things turn out?
By Ashley I. Pettway
We’ve all been out with somebody that we liked and wondered if it was considered a date or a just friends hanging out. Ambiguous invitations like “Want to get some coffee?” or “Going to happy hour?” can leave you grasping for clarity but afraid to ask. Some people call these “almost dates” — those in-between meetings that seem romantic, but you just can’t tell. This can be torture if you really like someone. But don’t fret! Look for the following eight clues that you’re on a REAL date — and not an “almost date.” If you can’t check off a few of these items, it’s not the real thing.
First dates are awkward. There is so much you want to know about the person across the table from you. They are an opportunity to show the best version of yourself and leave your bad day at work, or current fight with a friend, at the door. Although it’s a time to really get to know someone, it’s important to stay away from a few behaviors that will leave you dateless in the future, at least with this particular man. Here are some tips for what not to do on a first date.