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At what point do you listen to a girlfriend’s stories about her trifling man, or trifling ex man, and stop caring?

Okay, okay, let me rephrase. Maybe you’re not necessarily indifferent to the pain she’s going through, but you realize that this is the umpteenth conversation you both have had about this worthless brotha and the sympathetic feelings you used to share with her are running on “E.” This happens to many women, and it actually put a rift in the friendship between my mother and an old friend. Probably because she told her what she didn’t want to hear: the truth. My mom has a way of being blunt like that, but every now and then, I realize that we need these type of people in our lives…

My mother’s friend had been going through divorce proceedings with the man she had spent more than 20 years married to, and bore two children with. Single in her 50s, she had recently started to try her hand at dating again and got herself a new place and a new attitude. Or so my mother thought, that was until she started bringing up old ish again. During a conversation about this woman’s old life and new life, she spoke about her ex-husband, a serial cheater with girlfriends all over the place, including in other countries. Somehow, during the discussion, while she was ranting about what she had to deal with when it came to her ex, the woman for some reason felt it necessary to tell my mother she couldn’t have handled her ex, as he was some different kind of beast.

He’s not, folks. He might have been mean, but he’s just a simple fella who likes women too much.

The comment was also not cool seeing as my mother wasn’t dealing with the softest brotha in the world. My parents’ marriage, which brought about four children, and lasted through the death of one,  job loss and more, has not been a cake walk. As much as I love my daddy, I know he’s put my mother through some ish, and as much as I love my mom, I know she can be a lot to deal with from time to time. So when my mother’s friend implied that my mom wouldn’t have lasted with my mother as if she had never been through anything at all, she gave her the real: “You’re right, I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have allowed myself to go through all that.”

Post that conversation, they haven’t talked since.

Good intentions, but it was a bad idea to tell ‘ol girl. She took my mother’s comment as disrespect, but it was the truth. That kind of truth that’s a wake up call. After listening for years to her friend talk about the rare ups and many downs of her marriage, my mother knew exactly what her friend had went through, and she told her that after noticing it was the same ish happening repeatedly, she allowed it. He had been cheating for years, and even joked about it when my mother’s friend was around! Their kids were grown and out of the house, so there was no reason to stick around for them–she had stayed put for too much bulls**t, so she allowed a lot of the crap she dealt with to happen.

I think the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, and I’m cutting your a**.” Okay, so the last part I added on, but I’m sure you’ve heard that first bit before. It means, when something bad happens in a relationship like a man cheating on you, and you find out, it makes you very aware of the state of your relationship and the kind of person you’re dealing with. If you stick around and it keeps happening, then it might be safe to say that you’re setting yourself up for failure, and allowing yourself to deal with such a shoddy man and situation. This is why people were confused at the idea that Mimi Faust of “Love and Hip Hop ATL,” a beautiful, intelligent woman, could stick with Stevie J on and off for 15 years after his philandering ways (which she said included an array of women, and multiple baby mommas), or the same reason you get the sad face at a friend who goes back to a man who is no good and berates her and her self-esteem on the regular, or get disappointed with the homie who is happy about getting pregnant to her husband who she knows, as does everyone else, can’t keep his ding dong in his pants, ring on his finger or not. They’re all examples of people watching the sky, waiting for it to green when it’s proven that it won’t.

Love is a powerful thing, and all the paragraphs above are not to say that people don’t change, because some can. Sometimes folks can realize the pain they put their loved ones through and make things right: they stop the yelling, or the cheating, and all the blatant disrespect. But when they don’t, sometimes it’s time to stop patting your friend’s back and start shaking her. If the latter is too much (I was sort of kidding), stick to letting her know that her worth is more than what her man is treating her like and that by allowing herself to go through such pain, she’s only hurting herself. Hell, if this situation is your and not your girfriend’s, shake yourself and do better. You deserve it.

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