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I have no proof of this, but I feel like I was one of those kids whose first word was “no.” I’m sure my rapidly developing mind fell in love with the power of it, the shock it induced, the autonomy it expressed. I know this because, to this day, no is still a word I’m particularly fond of. No to correct, no to scold no to decline. I’ll be the first to admit overuse of the word has proved problematic at times. It’s the type of word that erupts, sometimes unexpectedly, even when it’s inappropriate or not the most tactful way to express an idea. It’s a problem I’m working on. But you know where “no” has never–or rarely– failed me?

In the dating game.

“No” in the dating world is a weapon every woman needs in her arsenal. No to the sweaty, no-rhythm-having man in the club, no to the street hollerers, (particularly to the man who asked if he could play in my dreds), no to the guy friends who want something more and most of all, no to the crazies.

I’m overly cautious and slightly paranoid; but quirks aside, I’m always in awe of the number of fruits and nuts there are in this world. Truth be told, we all have our issues and could cross over into the land of mental instability at any given moment. But I’m not talking about us. And I’m not talking about the people who’ve been clinically diagnosed with some type of mental disorder and are able to acknowledge it. I mean the people who are feigning mental soundness, people who would swear on a stack of Bibles, the Qur’an the Torah and Buddha’s fat belly, that they are sane, more sane than you, in fact. They boldly assert their sanity all while hiding deep, dark unresolved issues. Issues that negatively impact every relationship they find themselves in.

The thing about these types of people is that, they’re crafty and sometimes even charismatic. They’ll swoop in and sweep you off your feet, convincing you, at least for a short period of time, that they’ve got just what you need. But it doesn’t take long before someone’s true character rises to the surface. Before you know it, bells, whistles and alarms will be blaring in your ears, warning you that “somethin’, somethin’ just ain’t right.”

This moment right here is crucial. As soon as the alarms sound, you’re left with a decision. Do you heed the warnings and get the hell out of dodge or do you cling to your original expectation or the fantasy of dude, ignoring the vitally important warning signs?

I’m here to tell you don’t ignore the crazy. It’ll get you in trouble every. single. time.

I have a friend who’s the queen of ignoring the crazy. She has a soft spot for broken men. A brotha with minimal education, mommy issues, two children and a dead end job is a brotha who’s been misunderstood in her book. It’s a blessing and a burden, really. She empathizes with the downtrodden. That’s admirable. She often spends exorbitant amounts of time and energy helping them to be better men. And that’s admirable too. It only becomes a problem when said men, in all of their brokenness, can’t appreciate, can’t reciprocate can’t fathom why someone would show them this much kindness. And you know what people do when they don’t understand something? They fear it and since they fear it, they seek to tear it down. Piss on it, as I like to say.

But if my friend is the queen of ignoring the crazy, I’ve got to be the princess. Even I, a woman who considers every potential suitor crazy until proven sane, got caught up and ended up pissed on…repeatedly, actually. Not pissed on in the R. Kelly sense but pissed on in that after spending exorbitant amounts of time and energy trying to help and be there for homeboy, my efforts went unappreciated. And all of this was after much research…much research. How did this happen? I know I didn’t ignore the crazy!?! Naw, I didn’t ignore the crazy. But I sure as hell rationalized the brokenness. Every issue that set off the alarms I mentioned earlier, I excused, pressed the snooze button, assumed they weren’t that big of a deal or that they’d get better with time. Some of them did but a lot of them did not and ultimately I ended up paying for it.

So if you’re reading this piece, squirming uncomfortably in your seat, you’ve probably already heard the alarms and seen the red flags. This article is another one. You can choose to ignore it but don’t be surprised if you end up pissy.

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