All Articles Tagged "cheating"
Last summer I went on a pub crawl with a friend of a friend for his 30th birthday. The plan was to hit 30 spots (and have a drink at each one) but well before the 30th mark I knew someone had had too much — not because we were drunk and stumbling around, but because the conversation had turned from fun in the streets to broken homes and daddy issues. There, in the midst of my Saturday sangria, I was asked about my relationship with my father as my friend explained she hadn’t spoken to her own dad since she was in high school. The reason: He cheated on her mom and she never forgave him.
Though my friend’s sister had moved past the breakdown of her family unit as she knew it (the girls’ parents divorced), she couldn’t accept what her father had done to her mother and to her family. And so, a decade-and-a-half had gone by without a word spoken between the two.
I thought about that situation again this week as I read an article on Amy Schumer’s memoir, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, which was released Tuesday. In the collection of essays, Schumer discusses the breakdown of her relationship with her mother, sharing in this excerpt on PEOPLE how her mother revealed she was having an affair with Schumer’s best friend’s dad:
“One day after school I came home and saw my mother slumped on the couch. She’d clearly been crying hard.” Her mother was a teacher of the deaf, and signed what she was in no shape to say out loud. “I am leaving your father. Lou and I have fallen in love with each other.
“I was a child, new to my teens, and she was treating me like a seasoned psychiatrist,” she wrote.
Like my friend, Schumer was a teen at the time — 13 to be exact — and also similarly, her relationship with her cheating parent hasn’t been the same since. She told USA Today of where things stand with her mother now:
“We love each other and I’m really grateful to her and for her, but we’ll never be how we were. I wrote that family is a constant negotiation so it’s constantly evolving, but we’ll never be close again.”
Considering 22 years have passed since her mother’s revelation, it would reason Schumer is right about the outlook of her strained relationship with her mom. Often, when conversations of infidelity arise concerning parents, people forget the spouse isn’t the only one who was betrayed; children often feel cheated on as well. It’s not just the pain of divorce that brings about those feelings of abandonment and disloyalty, it’s the idea that your mother or father would sacrifice his or her relationship with you and your other parent in favor of this other person. And just as some husbands and wives never get over an ex-spouse cheating on them, neither do a number of kids who’ve witnessed their families torn apart (even if only for a brief time) as a result. What would you do?
Go into any bookstore, better yet, just look on Instagram or Facebook, and I can pretty much guarantee that you will come across information on how to act more like a lady, and what you need to do to find, get, and keep a man. As was pointed out yesterday, a lot of this sage wisdom typically comes from men. We are part of a generation where a good half of the relationship books are written by men. Hallowed manuals on how to be a great catch that become bestsellers. Why? Because we have a penchant for consuming the thoughts, ideas and directives of men.
Granted, one could argue that who better than a man to give us women some guidance as it pertains to dating men? But I happen to have a very big issue with this.
We live in a world where women are consistently being told what to do, how to be and live by men, and I for one am not a fan. In doing some research, I’ve been hard-pressed to find pointed books or advice columns on being a better man, written by men. I often ask my friends in relationships with good guys why their men don’t drop some knowledge for the rest of the guys out here. I truly don’t believe that men talk to one another and counsel one another unless one has found himself in a bad situation. So why is it that you’re able to watch your friend mistreat his partner and not say anything? Your friend could be engaged in an extramarital affair, yet you don’t admonish him? How do you sit back and comfortably watch someone hurt someone else?
I asked a few friends about this, some married, engaged, and single. Even a single father. The general consensus among most of them was that “You can’t tell another man what to do.” But my response was “Why not?” Who better than your fellow man to counsel you on how to behave better or carry yourself in a more positive way?
For instance, I asked my married friend about hypothetically calling out a friend who was having an affair. He felt that unless he was asked for advice, he should say nothing.
MN: Is this a man code thing?
Married Friend: “I guess, but then if you’re religious or something, you may say something. But most men would let that grown a– man make grown a– decisions.”
I deferred to two friends who are engaged and the response was pretty consistent. Something along the lines of the aforementioned “You can’t tell another adult man what to do.” Losing a bit of hope, I asked a single friend and his feelings on the matter were quite different. When asked about a hypothetical situation, say, another man crudely hollering at a woman in public, he said he’d step in, especially if it was overt harassment and he felt like the woman couldn’t handle herself.
MN: Even if she could handle herself, you wouldn’t step in?
Single Friend: “There is no bro code on a guy being crude. Courtesy matters most, for me. I can’t speak for other guys, but I know I see and handle things differently than most.”
MN: What about the argument that you cant tell a grown man how to act?
Single Friend: “No, you can. Honestly, to me its just an excuse guys use to avoid confrontation and also to shirk responsibility for bad behavior around them.”
I get it. I’m realistic about the fact that you cannot be Captain Valiant in every situation, more so with strangers. But I do question why men don’t counsel the friends they hold dear. Why is there this aversion to calling out bad behavior, not publicly, but even just privately? If at least every good guy counseled another on behaving and doing better, specifically when it comes to the things they put the women in their life through, it would probably go a long way.
But what do I know? I’m just a woman who needs to be told by men what I need to be doing to make my relationship last–like I’m the only person in it…
How do you guys feel? Should guys talk more to one another about being better for us? Are you a man who speaks honestly to your friends? If you don’t, why not?
It’s always nice when your significant other and your good friends get along well. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who talked badly about your girls while your girls thought the worst of your guy, you would definitely agree. But when is the friendship between your boyfriend and your friends a little too close for comfort?
That’s what I was wondering after watching an episode of a show recently called WAGs. It’s about the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes, and how they deal with their complicated relationships, as well a how they deal with one another. In the particular episode I saw, a character named Natalie is in the off stage of her on-again, off-again relationship with NFL player Shaun. Working to possibly patch things up with him, she invites him to her birthday festivities in Las Vegas with her girlfriends and a few of their partners. On the day they all arrive, Shaun is nowhere to be seen. When Natalie calls him to find out what the holdup is, he tells her that he’s not coming. As she breaks down in tears, one of Natalie’s close friends, Nicole, reaches out to Shaun to get him to show up.
As the day goes on and everyone prepares for dinner, Natalie tries to put on a brave face after being embarrassed. But what she doesn’t know is that Nicole was able to talk him into a change of heart and to make an appearance for her birthday festivities. When Natalie finds out that Nicole knew about Shaun’s surprise, she isn’t happy about it. And she only gets more bothered by their interactions when later, at the club, Nicole says she’s been texting Shaun to see what he’s up to and to get him to come hang out with all of them at the nightclub.
“I told you before that makes me uncomfortable so can you stop messaging him?” she said in an contentious confrontation in front of their friends. When Nicole tells her that she was just trying to help make her birthday special, Natalie says, “I don’t need your help” before storming off.
In this case, Nicole (who has a boyfriend) seemed to mean no harm. In fact, she appeared quite preoccupied with ensuring that Natalie’s birthday included the person she wanted to see the most: Shaun. But in some cases, a friend messaging another friend’s boyfriend doesn’t look or feel so harmless.
A good example is the woman I found online who said that she was feeling a way about her best friend initiating phone calls and text conversations with her boyfriend. And the friend in question was not just hitting him up every once in a blue moon.
“It does kinda bug me that my girl best friend is texting him on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m not tellin her though, I already told my BF & he said he’ll ignore her text msgs & that he feels uncomfortable texting her back but doesn’t wannna be mean by ignoring her.”
A woman responded to her inquiry for advice by sharing her own story of a boo and a BFF being too close for comfort.
“My best friend and my ex-boyfriend did the same, needless to say (EX-BOYFRIEND), and our friendship is very distant now. They say that nothing ever happened, and that most of the time the texts were conversations about me, but I asked to see his phone bill, and well the number of texts were too much, there was nothing that my boyfriend and my best friend needed to talk about so often with each other…”
You never know, a best friend and a boyfriend could be corresponding for a good reason. Maybe he gets her advice when there are relationship issues? (Okay, that was a reach). Or maybe he’s enlisting her help to find an engagement ring?! (That was a really big reach).
Or, something could really be going on.
I do think it depends on the friend and how long one has known them. What I mean by that is that as her best friend and someone who has possibly known her for years upon years, the offended party would know that person’s intentions best. If she hasn’t given reason to speculate and to think that her motives are less than pure, then there may not be reason to worry. Be irritated, yes, but worry? Maybe not. But if she’s had a less than pristine history of doing questionable things in the friendship, well, then there might be a problem.
But either way, a conversation is warranted, and with both parties. There needs to an understanding of why their conversations are seen as unseemly, as well as an understanding of why they’re taking place at all. If they were friends before the relationship came to be, then one can’t impede on that. But if she was the offended party’s friend and all of a sudden she wants to be his, that needs to be nipped in the bud. I’m not saying it’s about to be a Single White Female situation, but something inappropriate is definitely going on…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Is this a petty and harmless issue? Or is the regular communication between a boyfriend and best friend inappropriate?
For all the good that Akon is doing in the world, he’s made some really ignorant and misogynistic comments about women and relationships. I’m not talking about his stance on polygamy. (He’s been quoted as saying that one woman could never satisfy any man. And reportedly has several wives.) That’s likely cultural and even influenced by his religion. What I’m speaking about are his thoughts on women in general.
After the BET Awards, the super producer sat down with “Hollywood Today,” to explain his original 2013 comments about men being natural breeders.
Garcelle Beauvais asked Akon if he still believed that. Not only does he still believe it, he took his comments a step further.
“Just think of life, why is that every woman in the world is going through the exact same problem with a man. Just think about it. It’s not a coincidence. It’s who we are. I always believed that if women took the time to understand men, you literally would run the world. The only reason why we’re more dominant is because we know more about women than women know about men. Think about it, we’re outnumbered 15-1, they’re clearly smarter than we are. And you execute a lot quicker and faster than we do. So, how is that we run the world?
Garcelle: It has to do with our hearts though, we fall for you guys and then if you’re natural breeders, you’re breeding all over the place.
Akon: That’s my point. Think about any other species in the world. Let’s say a Lion, for instance. You have male lion, he goes out in the jungle, he does what he does and comes back. You think the female lion, *makes clawing, scratching noise* she can care less. Because she understands that’s the natural cause of what the male lion does. She’s going to sit there with the cubs, nurture them and protect their area. But of course society with these rules and how things work, we create rules without taking nature into account.
There’s so much to say here. First, while we human beings are animals, I do hope that Akon recognizes the difference between us and lions. There is a distinction between us, animals who can reason and empathize, whose existence is more than survival and finding our next meal, and other species.
But more than anything, it’s Akon’s claim that men know more about women than they know about us, that perturbed me the most. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact that it’s simply not true. Men, as the privileged dominant group in society, don’t have to know anything about women in order to be successful in this world. And from my experience with men, of all types, it’s very clear that there’s a lot they could learn. A whole lot, from the way we communicate to the way we interpret the world around us, to our daily experiences walking down the street, men don’t know what it’s like to experience this type of disenfranchisement in the world, so they have very limited access to our shared experiences.
And I also thought it was really cute how Akon ignored the religious and societal structures set in place, millennia ago, to keep women from running the world. It’s 2016 and we’re still fighting for equal pay. Women still have to worry about job security when they have to leave work to bring another human life into the world. We’re still debating whether or not there should be a charge or tax on feminine hygiene problems. To me, it’s the equivalent of saying based on the strength, the population and the resources of Africa, Black people should be running the world by now. Right. It sounds true in theory, until you consider the ways in which Europeans colonized the continent, stripped it of its resources and kidnapped and shipped millions of people to work as slaves in an entirely different part of the world. There’s levels to this sh-t. And only someone from a position of privilege would look down on women, dismiss all of the forces working against them, and say something as ignorant as ‘If only you understood us and our doggish ways, you’d be better off.’
You can watch Akon’s interview in the video below. His comments start around the 2:40 mark.
Some relationships are very, let’s just say progressive. Some people in a committed relationship have an understanding that while they are sharing their heart with one person, they can keep their eyes on others — or even go as far as to have sex with other people. Just ask Mo’Nique.
But some people just do questionable things because they think, or know, that they will get away with it. During a dinner with my sister and her friends recently, a few of her colleagues were scolding (in a light manner) a male friend who, while engaged, still does some reckless stuff here and there. For instance, in a past incident, after his partner went through his phone, out of spite, he reinstated his Tinder account. It is unclear if he has since removed the app from his phone.
But the real issue that was being debated was his habit of sometimes looking at other good-looking women while in the presence of his fiancée. While trying to be light and funny, during one incident, he even went as far as to say, “She got a fat a–” out loud. His fiancée? Well, she didn’t find that too funny, and neither did my sister and her friends, who proceeded to ask him something to the effect of “What the f–k is wrong with you?”
He admitted that it was probably not a good move, but said he was just joking. In his mind, everyone looks. He’s seen her look at other guys and didn’t get bent out of shape by it. It’s something that just happens.
Is it though? Is taking a look at what others have been endowed with really harmless?
I think most of the time it is. I know I look, but not as often when in the presence of my fiancé. Just the other day a married friend and I were giving quite the eye to a particularly muscular fella who stood over me on the train. But that was it. We got off at the 125th Street stop and went on about our business. No harm, no foul. And I know my fiancé looks, because I see him do it–or better yet, try not to do it. I can appreciate a pretty great backside on a woman or man, so when I’ve seen a woman pass who is curvaceous, I’ll sneak a glance at him as he waits, and waits, and then finally quickly peeks at the butt of the woman before she’s out of view. I can only smirk at his attempts not to do so in my presence. But, I do appreciate it.
Still, at the end of the day, I know the difference between a look and an inappropriate action. So in the case of my sister’s friend, glancing would have been one thing. But to stop and stare at a woman’s a– and then say she has a fat one while in the presence of his future wife is quite disrespectful. And to be honest, the more I listened to him talk that evening, the more I started to feel like he wasn’t so serious about getting married after all. With all the lines he continues to try and tiptoe around, it sounded more and more like he resents the idea of being a committed one-woman man, or is slowly but surely freaking out about the reality of his future, and in turn, acts out. Either way, it’s not a good excuse to treat a person you love like a doormat.
Again, a look is just that. We all notice beautiful people and their assets on a daily basis. But when it becomes a bit much (damn near ogling) and happens too often, especially in the presence of a partner, that partner has the right to let us know it’s not cool. And we have the obligation, as people in committed relationships, to do better…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. What do you say? Is this petty or is this guy being really disrespectful? How do you deal with your significant other looking at other women or men?
I don’t know how long the silence lasted, but I couldn’t take it anymore and said, “You could have told me that in a text or I could have seen it in a Facebook status,” I stood up. I had to get out of there. I wasn’t sure why Jackson telling me he was about to start a family hurt me so bad. Maybe it’s because I wanted and still want it to be me.
Jackson stood with me and followed me as I walked out. I wanted air.
“I owed it to you to tell you in person,” Jackson said pulling my wrist once we got outside.
“Owed it to me?” I laughed, mostly to keep from crying. “You’ve got a lot of nerve Jackson and I’ve got a lot of nerve being here.”
“I’m glad you’re here. Danielle, you’re my best friend.” Jackson refused to let me go. It’s something we both couldn’t do since that first day we met online.
I just looked at Jackson. Remembering all the years of friendship we built together, all the love we’d shared. It hurt knowing he wasn’t mine anymore. I wanted to hurt him so that he could feel a fraction of what I felt at that moment. “So are you going to open up your marriage after the baby?” I asked with venom in my tone snatching my wrist out of his electric grip. I know he could still feel the energy between us.
“Don’t nothing Jackson. You can’t control my reaction to this sh-tty news.”
“OK, so before we jump off the deep end, can we just take a second and remember what we have?”
Jackson had to be joking, Remember what we have? Up until today, we didn’t have anything anymore. I’d had a semi-clean breakup with Jackson. We both moved on and avoided each other. And then here he comes, back in my life, starting a family without me. I tried to calm myself down, but I was buzzing with the ache of all of it.
“What we have. I still want you in my life,” Jackson pleaded with me.
“Why Jackson? Because we’re best friends?” The sarcasm in my tone slapped him across the face.
He looked at me with disappointment. “We were. I want that back.”
“You want the cake and you want to eat it too?” I asked,
“No.” Jackson sighed, “I want to enter this new stage in my life with my best friend by my side. I’m not cheating on my fiance.”
“But aren’t you?” I asked Jackson, genuinely curious as to why he thought his sneaking around with me wasn’t the beginning stages of cheating. And then he got me all the way together.
“She knows I’m here with you Danielle. She knows how I feel about you.”
Well, isn’t that the ideal relationship? And I was there without my dude knowing, literally risking everything I was building with him because I was holding on to the hope of getting back together with Jackson–finally winning Jackson. I needed to get out of there.
“Well, congratulations Jackson,” I walked away from Jackson, choking on my own tears. I didn’t want him to see me crying.
“Danielle,” he followed me.
“What do you want from me Jackson?” The tears were clinging to the corner of my eye.
“You! Your friendship,” He grabbed me.
“Fine, you’ve got it! Can I go now, friend?”
Jackson pulled me to face him. The tears started rolling. And just like in some silly romantic comedy, he wiped them away and traced his thumb down the side of my face and onto my lips. And inevitably, we kissed. We kissed like old times. We kissed like Sunday mornings in bed. We kissed like we were each other’s somebody.
I recognized that important fact before he did and pulled away. “Jackson, what the hell?” I said it as if I didn’t lean my entire body into that liplock.
I couldn’t get Jackson’s kiss out of my head. I dreamed about it. I woke up wanting it again. I went to work with him on my mind. Abdul called me later that day, breaking my mind from its Jackson obsession. We made plans for later in the week. Abdul had less time to give me because of his school and work schedule.
Jackson and I continued to avoid each other. I didn’t even want to bring the situation up to any of my friends. I didn’t even know how to feel about it anymore. I thought for sure Jackson was the one, but it didn’t connect, yet the chemistry was still there. That was and is who Jackson is in my life. But he was starting a family without me. A wife, a kid and I’m pretty sure there’s a dog involved. Jackson would always tell me how much he would love to have a family with me. He would hint at wanting to propose.
It made me sick to my stomach and I was distracted by the details of Jackson’s new life. Abdul noticed, even in the little time we got to spend together.
“What’s up babe?” He asked one night after a gym date.
“Oh me? I’m sore,” at least I wasn’t lying.
“No, I mean what’s up?” He asked again.
I looked at Abdul, beautifully sculpted, looking down at me and searching my eyes. I smiled at his concern and he gave me the most sincere smile back, that said, “I got you,” but I couldn’t tell him that I was going through a range of emotions because the ex love of my life was starting a family without me and I couldn’t focus on anything but that. Oh, and that we kissed and I’m still in love with him even though I have someone as awesome as you. That smile of his would fade, he wouldn’t trust me anymore, or would he trust me more because I was being honest?
I kissed Abdul. I wanted to be in this with him, but I had to figure out how to let Jackson go and if I would tell Abdul what happened between us.
Find out on next week’s column if I let Jackson go and if I tell Abdul!
I’ve always played with fire. My mom will tell you I was the type of kid to touch a heated stove instead of taking her word for it being burning hot. As I became a young woman, I welcomed risky experiences, if only for the thrill of learning a hard lesson on my own accord. One thing I never tried to play with, however, is another woman’s man (word to Nivea). Thanks to girl code, a healthy fear of karma, and a pretty good sense of moral ethics, I steer pretty clear of unavailable men. But since God has the illest sense of humor when it comes to my dating life, I’m constantly approached by men in relationships.
Last year, I met a tall, brown piece of man (hey, #BigGuyTwitter), who I’d later find out was in a three-year relationship. Let me be honest. From the moment I met him, our vibes were more electric than Rihanna whining on Drake, but his relationship status obviously put a huge damper on our noticeable connection. My friends witnessed as I teetered the line with this guy, yet never fully pledging to the seedy sorority of Women Who Sleep With Other Women’s Men. And like the morally upright women they are, every chance they could, they warned that even if on the off chance he broke up with his girlfriend to be with me, he’d only pull the same move on me down the line.
Though I was raised on the belief that how you get a man is how you lose him, what I’ve learned about human behavior causes me to strongly disagree with this sentiment. At some point, most men or women gain relationship maturity, unlike Peter Gunz and his two favorite babymakers, Tara Wallace and Amina Buddafly. Maybe I’m looking at the glass a little too half full here, but I don’t think there’s a lifetime guarantee on someone’s cheating habits. In fact, I speak from experience when I say the sh-t you did to your high school sweetheart is probably not the same stress you would put on the one you bring home to mom and dad. At least, I would hope not.
Who are we to say former cheaters don’t evolve and learn from their past mistakes? Not everyone has to touch a hot stove more than once to understand it burns. No two relationships are alike, so it’s very possible that a person becomes a better version of themselves when paired with another personality.
In all fairness, I’m no saint, which is one of the main reasons I think being friends with my exes can get messy as hell. In the past, I’ve hated myself for crossing lines while in exclusive relationships and promised to never make the same mistake twice. Human nature draws us to things we can’t have, and bad things feel so good. But we also have the willpower and wherewithal to improve for ourselves and for our significant others. I would never be pretentious enough to say I can change a man because if he wants to cheat on me, he surely will. However, I will say a woman’s presence and soul-snatching love has been known to be adequate enough to make a man get some act right in his system.
In this case, my friends and my conscience kept me and Mr. Tall And Golden Brown from doing anything more than trading a few text messages. I’m not brave enough to find out if a guy would ditch the lady in his life and be the right man for me. I’m also just not willing to roll the relationship dice and toss my own morals to the side, to be honest. But I give all women and men who are the benefit of the doubt, seeing as how, despite instances in the past where they haven’t, people can change.
I can only hope that what didn’t go down in our DMs will help make him a better boyfriend to his significant other. What’s life without learning from our missteps and the mistakes we almost make anyway?
I imagine when a person is completely satisfied in his or her relationship, there’s no need to test the waters with someone else. Call me naive, but I believe that once you find your match made in heaven, you won’t want to cheat your way into hell.
Do husbands need to step up their Mother’s Day game next year?
Mother’s Day is the day where everyone puts in a little extra effort to make mothers feel appreciated for all that they do. But sometimes, families get lazy and get gifts they obviously bought last minute, or they don’t have any real plans for the day.
It’s infuriating! These women spend most of their days being a good wife and mother, so hurt feelings are completely understandable if others don’t take the holiday seriously.
So, what do wives and mothers do when it’s obvious their families don’t care that much? They cheat the next day.
According to Ashley Madison’s reports, last year, their numbers of sign-ups spiked by 442 percent after the holiday, all thanks to women searching online to have an affair. They expect their numbers to spike again by 500 percent this year.
How should men avoid disappointing the hard-working mother of their children? Give them what they want.
Ashley Madison conducted a survey with 10,817 moms and found that 58 percent want to have a romantic evening with their husband, 33 percent want to get away and relax at the spa in the afternoon, and only 9 percent want time alone to relax.
However, their special day looks nothing like this. Instead, they are still stuck with mommy duty!
The survey found 66 percent of moms end up taking care of kids with a planned activity, 21 percent get a card and flowers, and 13 percent get breakfast in bed from their kids … but have to clean afterwards.
Husbands, take notes if you don’t want her stray!
What do you think of these statistics?
When you hear the words “trap” and “manipulation” regarding relationships, it’s often people stating the ways in which some women put men in a tight corner by getting pregnant and having a child to hold over a man’s head for years to come. Maybe even the ways in which sex can be used to get money and other things out of a guy. But rarely do people talk about the ways in which men “trap” and “manipulate.” Especially not the ways that men emotionally trap women in relationships. This is done through lies by omission, also known as, exclusionary detailing.
It’s the idea that someone misrepresents themselves in order to bring about a mistaken belief. Lying to paint the prettiest portrait of one’s self–a false portrait. A man who wants you to think he’s an upstanding guy, that he’s on the level of the kind of man you are seeking, and that he has his stuff together, might deceive you into believing that all is well (and clean) in his life. He’ll prey upon your vulnerability (you seeking Mr. Right via a dating app or being upfront about wanting a serious commitment) and try to get in where he can fit in. He’s a fraud, and sadly, many of us don’t realize we’ve encountered this kind of man until it’s way too late.
Like one of my best friends. As awesome as she is and despite having so much to offer as a partner in a relationship, she has consistently been approached by married men. All of whom failed to disclose the fact that they were, by law, taken. I remember one guy who tried to approach her at a party thrown by a mutual friend, only for that mutual friend to come through at the end of the night and tell my BFF, “Um, he’s actually married.” When my girlfriend approached the man about his lies, he tried to explain that his wife was actually still living in Nigeria, and it was a marriage he was trying to get out of. He wanted sympathy and an open mind from my friend, but she wasn’t offering it because he lied from the moment he met her.
Then there was the most recent love interest whom she dated for months. He seemed like a good guy with a big heart, but that’s probably because he was sharing it with another woman. Like the Nigerian fellow at our friend’s housewarming party, this new guy actually waited until the relationship was over to divulge that he was married. Yes, he is married to a woman who lives abroad and also claims that he doesn’t want to be married to her anymore. (He married her to help her stay in America, but she went back to Grenada with their son.) He would go on to claim that she wouldn’t sign divorce papers. He disclosed this information after requesting my friend’s help with a legal matter. That so-called “baby momma,” was actually a wife now coming after him for child support since he wanted her to sign divorce papers.
And I’ve known plenty other women who’ve encountered guys who had a wife and two children waiting for them in Guyana while they tried to play bachelor. Another who introduced a girl to his father only to have a serious long-term girlfriend he hid in the background. And another whose angry ex called a friend of mine to say that she was pregnant and that there were many secrets her prospective romantic interest had failed to tell her. In all cases but the latter, these women were heavily in like, sometimes on their way to being in love with men who thought it would be easier to lie and create a fake facade than to be honest and upfront about who they were and what they had to offer. So these women were left in more pain than usual when they cut things off because they thought they’d found a good catch. And sometimes they were left second-guessing whether or not they should leave their relationships because they were so attached, despite having fallen for a lie.
And this is more common than you think. Even famous women like Tasha Smith and Tichina Arnold have both married and split from men who painted themselves as one thing, only to waste years trying to hide the truth that eventually came out: They were liars. Such bad liars, that in the case of Smith, her marriage was annulled after five years together because her husband had been married five times, had scores of children, and hadn’t paid his taxes in 10 years. All things he failed to divulge to her before asking for her hand.
I tried to relay these stories to my fiancé, specifically the one about the married men who had lied to my BFF, and he seemed confused.
“But if he’s trying to get out of the marriage, it’s not really that bad, right?” he asked. “He’s making an effort and the wife won’t move on.”
“No, because he never told her during their relationship that he was married,” I responded.
“Ooooooh, I didn’t know that. Well…that’s not good,” he said.
And he’s right. It’s not “good.”
I was left sad for my friends, and for women in general, who often get the worst rap in this dating game (we’re angry, bossy, too independent, blah, blah, blah) while the fake facades put on by some men are ignored. Sad that men who want to draw them in lead them on to believe that they genuinely care and are available when they’re really out here living a lie. Sad that when you try to do a background check on a man, people look at you like you’re crazy–and then these things happen. Sad that instead of just being honest about the fact that their personal lives are not in the best place and giving women they’re interested in a choice to decide whether or not they can hang, they deceive them into falling head over heels.
In case you were wondering, I don’t have a resolution for all this. I’m just as boggled and upset about it as anyone else, and wonder how we as women can guard ourselves while attempting to be “open,” as people tell us we should be when it comes to “letting love in.” How do we balance healthy skepticism with going into a situation trying to be trusting? How do we take a man’s word as the truth when it seems so many lie in the attempt to have their cake and eat it too?
In reality, dating is exhausting. The movies and TV shows would have you believe that folks are supposed to sweep you off your feet, and sh-t is supposed to be happily ever after. But no one talks about how much of a risk it is to put yourself out there in the quest for finding love. Especially when there are master manipulators out here willing to prey upon your search.
Have you ever found yourself emotionally trapped in a relationship? Has a guy made you believe a lie about him only for it to come out in the messiest of ways?
Behind closed doors, women whisper to each other about intuition. We say that we have the power to feel the molecules change in a room, and we know when our children are somewhere they shouldn’t be. Our hearts have ears attuned to the dishonesties of silence. This intuition, which I believe rises from somewhere ancient and divine, keeps us safe. Maybe it’s our direct communication with God.
The problem is, however, we misuse it.
Abusing our intuition manifests in two ways. First, we sometimes ignore the still small voice that beckons us toward something better. Secondly, and more often overlooked, we mistake our personal fears and biases as intuition. We use our judgments about things we don’t understand and pretend our “gut” told us to steer clear.
When talking to my best friend over drinks, she confessed feeling a deep level of calm at the pace of her new relationship. She was going super slow, but her new boyfriend worried that she was holding back. The thing was, he wasn’t exactly a new man in her life. She was in a new relationship with an old lover.
“I don’t know if I’m being guarded or trusting my gut,” she says. “I hope I’m not closed off to love.”
The friend in me wanted to shake her. I wanted to tell her that she needed to trust herself. I knew their history, and I wanted to tell her that her pacing was fine, but deep down inside, I realized that I had my own questions about my intuition. In an effort to be a bit wiser than I was the day before, I find myself slower to act, and I frequently wonder if my discretion is good sense or if I’m not open to new possibilities. I couldn’t give her advice that I couldn’t stand behind, so I just listened. But I was left wondering, how can we tell the difference between our intuition and our caution? It’s an ongoing experiment for me, but here are a few ways I try to keep myself honest:
I journal. A friend of mine is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for many years. When rereading his old journals, he discovered that he’d written that he was an alcoholic almost a year before he found himself in recovery. “My journal was the only place I could be honest,” he’d said. I find this is true for myself as well. Our minds are so chaotic that honest thoughts get mixed in with the noise. If we can find ways to get our thoughts out, we’re more able to see the difference.
I ask friends to listen. Sometimes, when I’m confused, I ask a friend to listen to me and repeat back what she’s hearing. Now, this doesn’t mean your friend is going to give you advice or tell you what she would do. That’s not what you need. He or she is simply meant to listen to you while you rant, and then report back what they’ve heard you say. Often, our words in someone else’s mouth can bring us clarity. “Oh sh*t,” we think as our friends tell us what they’ve heard. “Did I really say that?”
I pray on it. I’m not an overwhelmingly religious person, but I cannot think of a single time when I’ve asked God for guidance and didn’t receive some insight. I am able to live more openly than most because I truly believe that life won’t let me go too far down a path that is ultimately not for me. Granted, this is a two-way street. I try to live my life righteously and do the best for everyone I meet, but ultimately, I can live a little more openly because I know that I don’t walk through this life alone.
Only my friend knows if she’s holding back out of fear or intuition, but when I find myself holding back in the name of emotional danger, I like to remember that I am the descendant of those who survived. I come from a lineage of strong and powerful people, and carry the genes of the strongest of the strong. So often, our caution does a disservice to this strength. We protect ourselves as if we’re more fragile than we are. In the end, only you can decide when something is safe, but my hope is that we can all get closer to our intuition and further away from guardedness so we can love and live more freely every day.
Patia Braithwaite is a New York City-based relationship writer. You can follow her ridiculous tales of love, life, and travel on her personal blog, Men, Myself, and God. She also tweets and ‘grams whenever the mood strikes her @pdotbrathw8.