Awareness of Self: The Death of My Ego

mind-sticky-notesMost of the time my brain feels like it’s a room covered in thousands of post-it notes filled with my thoughts. I’ve started to increase my awareness of the words written on those sticky notes and how they negatively impact my daily thoughts.

Okay, that sounded very philosophical. Let me break it down for you….

How It Started:

So there was this guy (yeah matters of the heart can always enlighten you) who I dated briefly. Having a keen sense of the type of guy that fits my personality and vision of life, I realized fairly quickly that he wasn’t my type. Nevertheless, I carried on ignoring the voice in my head that told me he wasn’t the one. The voice in my head told me that he checked all of my boxes and I was simply being my typical selective self. Despite the rational side of me trying to convince myself that he was a perfectly suitable guy, I just couldn’t feel the chemistry. Needless to say, my interactions with said guy unraveled and I was left feeling somewhat saddened, while my friends looked at me in complete confusion knowing what I failed to acknowledge until that point—I never liked the guy in the first place. but, how was I unable to see in myself what my friends were easily able to recognize? If you ask some of my friends, I just need to start smoking weed and be more chill.  Since that isn’t happening I searched for a more lasting solution, which I’ll expound on in a second. But first, let me explain further how my mind works.

The rational and academic side of my brain recognizes how blessed I am and how “accomplished” I appear to be by most standards. Yet, oftentimes I silently struggle with knowing what I think I need to feel happy, worthwhile and fulfilled. Sometimes, I think it’s having a successful career that feeds my passion, and other times I think it’s acquiring more wealth. Then there are moments when the need manifests itself in believing that my happiness and fulfillment will be achieved once I am married with children—until I speak to my friends who are married with kids. Although logically, I know that these desires will likely not cause me to reach the apex of happiness, it doesn’t stop the needs from creeping into my mind and lodging itself onto a permanent sticky note. This misperception was what precluded me from accepting that this guy was simply neither what I needed nor wanted.

So I decided to dig a little deeper. What was causing my unsettling feelings of dissatisfaction and uncertainty? I took the time to go into my head and consciously observe my daily thoughts. I focused on the sentences that replay in my mind while feeding my consciousness about who I am, what I want and how I approach the world. These were the subliminal reflections that penetrated my mind but were oftentimes not verbalized. I quickly realized that these thoughts were distinct from who I outwardly believed myself to be.

I perceive myself as a confident, self-assured woman; a person who not only knows what she wants out of life, but is well on her way to accomplishing it. I am smart, talented and sociable…I am blessed. So what is the problem? Why were my subconscious thoughts not always reflecting the Superwoman I felt I projected to the world? How could I rewire my mind to align itself with my outward beliefs?

The Realization:

I was determined to find the root of the problem. And after some reflection, I landed on three distinct letters that summed it up: E-G-O.

Our ego doesn’t only cause us to have an inflated sense of self. It can also cause us to create positive and negative mental distortions. Our emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, anxiety impatience and frustrations stem from our egos (I’m not that brilliant, this fact came from an Eckhart Tolle book I read).  I started to notice that my Ego (it’s capitalize because it has a life of its own) manifested itself in almost all of my thoughts. For example, sometimes I think exclusively about my shortcomings and overlook my positive qualities; this is a negative distortion caused by my Ego. Other times I disregard positive facts when they don’t align with my negative thought. For instance, when someone pays me a compliment—while I thank the person, I think to myself that he is only saying it to spit game. Or when I blame myself for something going wrong and ruminate on what I could have done better, while never fully recognizing that the real shortcoming was in the other person–like the guy I mentioned above.

So I finally recognize what needed to be done. It was time to rewrite some of those sticky notes in my head! But first I had to learn to separate my Ego from my true self.

Goodbye Ego:

I’m not going to profess that I have overcome the challenge of clearing the negative sticky notes from my mind, but at the very least, I am learning the importance of standing in my truth. I am becoming more cognizant of my feelings because most of them stem from my Ego, which is the driving force behind most of my perceptions.  It’s still a work in progress, and I haven’t conquered it, but I know that I am in complete control of my thoughts. Therefore, I am now able to decipher when my Ego is playing a role in how I am feeling at any given moment. 

So the feeling of sadness for said guy lasted very briefly when I thought about why I was sad.  It wasn’t because I actually liked him; my sadness was really driven by a deeper fear of being alone.  When I acknowledged that truth, I was able to rewire that distorted sticky note in my head and momentarily kill the Ego.  I am not alone. I have an amazing support system of special people in my life.  Therefore, the notion of loneliness was merely a negative distortion and not my reality. 

My Ego also tried to emerge one day while teaching a law school class. During the beginning of my lecture, the 30 blank faces staring at me caused my mind to start racing.  It was as if I was speaking to them in Arabic or some other foreign language they didn’t understand.  My (Ego’s) immediate thought was, this is my fault, I made this lecture too complicated for them.  I quickly retracted the distorted thought, took a deep breath and asked, “why am I seeing blank faces?”  A student quickly responded that the syllabus had stated that I was covering a different topic that day.  Crisis averted and Ego eliminated—my lecture wasn’t the problem! 

Lesson:

What I’ve learned from killing my Ego is your thoughts are way more powerful than what we verbalize.  They are like post-it notes permanently stuck to your mind.  When we allow our ego to manipulate and distort our thoughts, we give life to things unnecessarily.  Saying farewell to my Ego has been difficult–it was such an integral part of who I was.  It initially left me wondering how to fill its void.  But as I’ve cleared some of the distorted post-it notes from my mind, I’ve  acquired a sense of peace and comfort in learning who I really am and I’ve learned to stop taking myself and life so seriously. 

 

 

 

Who Do You Meet In the Club?

Last week my girlfriends dragged me to a popular club in the area so that we could catch up over drinks.  I hate going to this particular establishment because I think it’s the most high-end thirst trap venue in D.C.  Despite trying to get out of having to go, I showed up and immediately regretted simply not standing my friends up.  As we sipped our drinks and rocked to the DJ’s 90s set, I decided to make the best of it and ended up having a great time catching up with them.   But as I people watched, I made an unscientific observation of the following crowd of characters in the room:

The Undistinguished Gentleman: He walks through the door wearing his semi-tailored suit. He presupposes that every woman likes a man in a suit.  But he wasn’t expecting that so many guys would have the same approach as he did–most of the men are wearing suits.  The color of his pocket square is the only distinguishable feature he possess from the other suit-wearing men in the crowd.   He now wishes he wore his bow tie instead.  Disappointed at this realization, but undeterred, he remembers that his sock game is always on point.  So he finds and leans against the nearest chair causing a slight elevation in the foot of his pants, enabling him to show off his well-coordinated socks.  He hopes his look says that he is a classy man with a decent job and style.  As he leans against the chair surveying the crowd, his power suit gives him confidence to find a lady to strike up conversation and buy a drink.  He gets lucky with the first woman he approaches; she engages him in conversation and he is hoping to get her entire life story.  He doesn’t hesitate to give his usual elevator speech of his background.  She doesn’t hesitate to give him her number.  Tonight will be a great night for him.

The Groupies: Unlike men, women oftentimes don’t go to a club/bar by themselves (I do it and I think women should do it more often).  They tend to arrive in a group of 4 or more.  Each of them is hoping to draw some attention to herself but with such a large group, a guy doesn’t feel like he has an in. Walking into the group would be like offering himself up to a firing squad while hoping no one will shoot him down.  The women talk and dance amongst themselves never creating an aperture sufficient enough for a man to approach any of them.  They dance and laugh seemingly having a great time, but each of them is secretly hoping that one of the men in the club will take notice and ask her to dance or strike up a conversation.  She thinks, if he’s really a gentleman, he’ll offer to buy drinks for her friends as well. And as they prepare to leave for the night, a guy stops one of them on their way out.  Her friends, annoyed that they received no attention tonight hurry her to leave because they have spotted a cab waiting outside.  She leaves with her friends never exchanging numbers with her new friend.

Mr. Rabble Rouser: As soon as he steps through the door of the establishment, you know he has arrived.  His voice is one octave higher than the music that is blaring through the speakers.  He waves and kisses the waitresses as they pass by, he gives a handshake to the bouncers and bartender as he strolls to his usual spot—a table behind the makeshift velvet rope.  The table, which contains a bucket of ice and a carafe of orange juice and cranberry juice, is perched 3 feet higher than where most of the crowd is standing.  He sits down alone at his table, wishing they would convert the establishment into a cigar bar so that he can smoke the Cuban in his jacket pocket.  A few minutes later his 8 friends arrive making their way behind the velvet rope.  Their two waitresses make their way toward their table holding bottles of Moet, Belvedere and D’usse with sparklers around them.  The Rabble Rouser leads his boys as they scream “turn up” in unison.  Using the shackle grab, they begin pulling ladies up from the dance floor to join them at their overly crowded table.  Most of the ladies happily oblige and within minutes, they have a drink in their hand.  They are now all ready to turn up for the night.

Ms. Spotlight Grabber: It’s happy hour and most people are arriving directly from work, yet she is dressed as if her day job is working at a gentleman’s club.  Her sequenced dress reaches about mid-thigh; but with the 5 inch platform heels, the dress fits like she last wore it when she was eight-years-old.  Whenever the DJ plays a song, she goes wild as if it’s her favorite. Until the next song is played and she gets hype all over again. With each song and each drink, she gyrates her back and waist with extreme emphasis and bends over slightly in hopes that one of the men will come over and match her rhythm. It will be a disappointing night for her if her attention-grabbing outfit and Kama Sutra dance movements don’t grab a man’s attention.  The men smile awaiting the right opportunity to approach her while the women stare at her with disdain.  She’s used to smiles and stares—nothing can ruin her night.

The Pusher Man: Like every other weekend, he has his game plan down.  He buys drinks for himself and every beautiful lady that he meets.  Most of the time, he walks away once he hands her the drink.  He doesn’t want to come across as the guy purchasing drinks to get a woman’s attention–even though that is exactly his intent.  He surveys the crowd and finds the ones who look like his type.  He hands drinks to three different women throughout the night and none of them seem to have taken the bait–the second woman refused the drink. When he brings a glass of wine over to the fourth woman, he adds, “I hate to see a beautiful woman standing around with an empty glass.”  He gets a smile.  As he walks back over to where he was standing she’s well on his heels.  She taps his shoulder and says, “thanks for the drink, are you from here?” With a smile that says, ‘time to reel her in’, he responds, while thinking, “fourth time is always the charm.”

Ms. Cold Shoulder: She walks into the room prepared to break every man’s ego.  She constantly gives men eye contact and flashes her beautiful smile to lure them into her web. Men misread her stares as “come hither.”  And before they know it, they are met with her scornful reproach as they attempt to strike up a conversation with her.  None of them are ever good enough to be worth her time. But the reality is, to avoid future disappointments, she convinces herself that none of her suitors are nice enough to date.  Idris Elba could walk through the door and he wouldn’t make her cut.  She has dealt with a few fade away types so she tries to ensure her attitude is a turnoff.  As one man walks over, she prepares her screw face which causes him to divert his path and walk past her.  As the next man strikes up a conversation with her, she implements the belly button rule (when a person speaks to you, notice where their belly button is facing.  If it isn’t facing you, he/she’s not interested).  She has no doubt in her mind that the men who didn’t pay her any attention must be gay.  She leaves the club always disappointed that she never meets anyone that she likes.  Nevertheless, she’ll be back next week to try again.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “be your [best] self, everyone else is already taken.”  I am sure these crowd of characters that I oftentimes notice in the club are beautiful people who have a lot to offer.  However, when they walk into the matrix, that is the club, all bets are off and they lose the essence of who they truly are.  Wait!  Who am I kidding?  Sadly, these people are probably just as self-centered, insecure and rude in their daily lives.  Let’s just say, next time I go out with my girlfriends, I’ll be choosing the location.

Our South Africa Adventures Day 1

We’re still not over the jet lag (we’re 7 hours ahead of EST) so we had a slow start to the day.  Since our flight arrived after most stores were closed, we had a few errands to run in the morning. Ace had to decide which one of her glamorous outfits she would wear today.  After much contemplation she settled on purple jeans as she was disappointed that the temperature was merely 62 degrees (it later rose to a high of 75).

imageWe had an itinerary with various activities on tap, but of course nothing ever goes as planned. Our first stop was to the V&A Waterfront.  It is somewhat of a tourist hub with stores, restaurants and a great view of the mountains. We needed to visit a foreign exchange bureau and purchase adapter plugs that enabled us to charge our phones.   The waterfront was crowded with tourists and other visitors walking around on the beautiful summer day.  We also stopped at Woolworth’s (similar to a Target/Walmart on a much smaller scale) to pick up a few snacks for the flat we’re staying in.  On our way back to the car, the strap of mom’s shoe broke. Oh boy.  Of course the fashionista would not take another step until we mended her shoes.  We walked into a store at the waterfront and mom asked one of the workers whether they had crazy glue.  Undeterred by the blank stare she received, mom moved on to asking another worker for crazy glue.  After her 3rd attempt, I realized, they had no idea what she was talking about.  I imageexplained to a worker that she needed an adhesive to repair her shoes. The store did not carry an adhesive so mom was left to purchase a new pair of shoes.  Being the practical one, I recommended that she purchase a comfortable pair of shoes, but mom was having no parts of it. “I need a cute pair of shoes that is obvious that it is from South Africa.”  After much back and forth, she settled on a pair of shoes she could be semi-happy with.

Our next stop was the Old Biscuit Mill for lunch.  It is in an open air market where merchants gather and set up make-shift restaurants and sell various goods.  Unfortunately, mom’s shoe purchasing experience took longer than we anticipated, so by the time we arrived, the merchants were closing. Disappointed but undetered, we returned to the waterfront to have lunch.

imageIn addition to being a shopaholic, mom also likes to fine dine.  After perusing the menus at a few locations, we settled on Oyo.  We sat alongside the water and enjoyed a great meal while we people watched and relaxed. Our server Tapiwa (pronounced Ta-pee-wah), was very sweet and patient.  Mom and I discussed the interesting racial group distinctions in South Africa and the classification of called Coloureds (Coloured is loosely defined as man and women who are of mixed race). The waterfront was filled with many tourists and people from various areas of the continent.  We were trying to distinguish who among the passer-byes would be classified as Coloureds.  We were also admiring the interesting attire worn by women.  the passer-byes also stared back at us (we would learn why I few days later). Mom was taking it all in.  Hands down, the most beautiful natural women of the world live in Africa!  On our way out, we met an older couple from Switzerland who struck up a conversation with us.  They asked where we were from and later asked whether I was married.  Ace wasted no time in responding for me and letting them know she wanted to find me a husband (a statement she has made about 10 times during our trip thus far).  The gentleman replied, “you are looking for a chief?” To which his wife responded with disgust, “here in South Africa, you must be looking for a thief!”  Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended. She is starting to learn the dynamic do race relations in this country.

imageAfter stuffing our faces, we were exhausted. This did not deter us from experiencing more of this beautiful country.  We returned to our flat for an hour then headed to Camps Bay for sundowners.  Mom, the fashionista, could not wear the same outfit to dinner that she wore all day (plus she brought enough clothing to last a month).  Therefore, she she had another wardrobe change before we left.  Not to be outdone, I borrowed her leather jacket to spice up my own look.

imageWe drank and ate at Tuscany Beach Restaurant.  Mom was shocked to see a server who was not black. Since arriving, she wondered why she only saw black workers at the airport, in restaurants and in stores. This isn’t actually true she just hadn’t been paying close attention and she hasn’t adjust to being in a country where blacks are the majority.  She was also saddened to see homeless people for the first time in the country. We watched street children hustle people for money as they walked to their cars.  As we left the restaurant, two children approached us aggressively asking for more money despite the 4 Rand I handed to them.  Mom was much nicer to them as I got into the car and drove off.  Exhausted after a full day, we returned to our flat and passed out.  Our first full day was now behind us.

Sawubona South Africa!

Another Christmas has come and gone so quickly.  It was a pleasant day spent with my family enjoying old traditions and creating new ones.  This year, we are breaking with the usual tradition of spending the week of Christmas at my mother’s house in Florida.  After a lot of coaxing I was able to convince my mother that we should travel to South Africa for the holidays.

So today, my mother (who I often refer to as my Ace) and I will be boarding a 16-hour flight to Cape Town. The next few blog post will document our adventures together in the “motherland”. Making memories with her is important to me however, she and I vacation very differently. We have done mom and daughter trips in the past.  Her idea of a vacation is hitting every shopping mall and buying the most expensive and extravagant items that the country’s high-end boutique stores have to offer (she may also try to find a tribesman and organize an arranged marriage for me).  My idea of a great vacation is laying on the beach with a good book listening to the waves crash against the sand.   Needless to say planning this trip has been its own  adventure. For example, when I gave Ace a draft of our itinerary, her first question was why can’t we use public transportation? She can’t be serious. Her next question was if we were going to take a tour of wine country, why did we have to go to more than 2 wine estates? Breathe.  After explaining that we were not “real Africans” and would stick out like a sore thumb on a local minibus and would be charged an arm and a leg the moment we asked a cab driver to take us somewhere, she conceded to allow me to rent a car. It’s a manual and they drive on the left side of the street so she also made it clear that I am the sole designated driver.  As for the wine estates, she’ll appreciate it once we get there.

SuitcasesSo today begins the adventures of Ace and I in Africa.  She is traveling with THREE full suitcases for a 2 1/2 week trip.  I’m traveling with 2 (one is pretty empty and solely for the purpose of bringing gifts back).  Wheels up!!

….Stay tuned.

The Misadventures of Dating in Your 30s Part 2

As some of you noted to me in your e-mails, comments and Facebook posts, dating in your 30s (40s and even 70s) can be rough.  Part I of this series stirred up great dialogue about lessons learned, the importance of communication and questions about who should pick up the tab on a date?

My intent in writing these dating chronicles isn’t to dissect who is right and where things went wrong.  The goal is to find the humor in a situation that wasn’t so funny at the time.  But I always welcome your comments and opinions on these scenarios.  For those of you who are curious as to which of these were my experiences—technically they all were.  Because as my friends recanted the stories, I felt as if I was experiencing it alongside them.

Recreational Activities

I’m taking her out on our third date.  If I calculate all the money I’ve spent on this woman since our last two dates, she’s close to $250 (not that I’m keeping count). I order the chicken; she orders the steak—go figure. We make more small talk. Our food comes out and she uses her fork to penetrate the steak.  She asks the waiter to send it back–oh no not again! She now wants the fish instead. She has returned a portion of her meal during every date so far. Red flag? The waiter politely obliges. I’m not going to let it bother me this time because I’m focused on the big picture–my steadfast rule: if I’ve been spending money on you, I’m getting some by date number 3!  We enjoy the meal and have a fairly decent conversation. I like her smile, she’s pretty and she’s smart.  Despite her restaurant etiquette I’m starting to dig this woman.  We share a few laughs throughout our meal and I help her with her coat as we depart the restaurant.

We arrive at the front door of her place around 11:30PM.  I’m gazing into her eyes to see if she’s giving me a signal to park and come upstairs.  Before I could make a determination she asks, “do you want to come up for a little bit?”  I don’t hesitate and quickly demonstrate my superb parallel parking skills.  She lives in a five-story walk up—no wonder she stays in shape.  Out of breath I step inside and am greeted by a high-pitched howl—damn she has a dog!  I have a seat on her couch and she brings two glasses of patron and cranberry juice and asks, “do you smoke?” I reply, “nah, I don’t fool with cigarettes, you?”  She responds, “I mean weed silly!”  Feeling a bit goofy, I respond, “oh I tried it a couple times in college.”  Before I could say anything else she was back on her feet.  She returns with a contraption (I later find out it’s called a vaporizer) and two grams of weed.  She lights it up and passes it to me to take a hit.  I hesitate at first, but I tell her I’m good and decide to pass.

It’s 1:00AM and I’ve managed to position my hand on her leg.  She’s high and snuggled into my chest.  With one arm wrapped around my waist and the other hand holding tightly to the vaporizer, in a whisper, she asks, “have you ever tried coke?”  Okay I was just talking myself into getting used to the fact that she blazes on a regular basis.  But she does coke too? Weedhead is one thing, but cokehead?! Is it an occasional thing? Am I overthinking? Should I give it a try?

Little White Lie

I am ready to call it a night after being out at a club.  Since my car keys are in my friend’s car, I can’t leave until she gets in her last round of bootie shaking.  As I impatiently stand against the wall, out of nowhere he approaches.  We exchange pleasantries and he asks me whether (1) I have a boyfriend, (2) I’m single, or (3) in an undefined situation. I’ve never been asked the third option but I like his thoroughness.  The club is dim so I can’t get a good look at his face, but I can tell his body is attractive by his silhouette.  He tells me that he wanted to come over and say hello despite the very serious/mean look on my face.  I’m flattered. Mental note: stop mean mugging. Before he leaves, he asks for my number.  Should I give him my Google number or the real thing?  I will give him the real one since he seems polite, pleasant and pleasing on the eye.

He sends me a text message the next morning.  Damn, what happened to the 3-day rule? After a few exchanges, he calls.  In this new world of text messaging and tweeting, I appreciate a man who still picks up the phone to have a conversation.  We speak for hours on a variety of topics.  His peppering of questions demonstrates his keen interest in getting to know me.  The questions continue and I’m happy to answer honestly to give him insight into who I am.  I’ve already surmised by the many questions that he must have be a lawyer because I am feeling a bit interrogated—in a nice way.  We talk about his short term and long term personal and career goals.  He hopes to get married within the next five years and wants to land a job in the White House.  For a woman in her mid-thirties, his marriage trajectory is music to my ears!  I also like that he is ambitious.

As we’re talking on the phone I decide to search for him on Facebook to see whether we have mutual friends—DC is small, he may have dated someone I know.  He doesn’t come up in my search.  As I am logging into LinkedIn, he asks, “are you a big social media user?”  I tell him I use them sporadically, and ask him whether he uses social media.  Then I notice he has searched for me on LinkedIn. I’m not surprised, the internet makes it so easy for us to be nosey.  “No I’m not really much of a Facebook and Twitter user” he responds.  I ask, “so you’re not one of those who runs a Google search on people you meet?” He replies, “nope.”  I follow up by asking, “would you search someone on LinkedIn?”  He also responds “no”.  “Then why does my LinkedIn account say that you searched my profile a couple of hours ago?”  Damn damn damn! Did I just say that out loud?! Awkward silence.  He calmly says, “I didn’t search for you on LinkedIn.” Side eye. Did he just lie?! I said, “really? That’s’ not what LinkedIn indicates.” More awkward silence.  I switch the subject.   There goes my idea of him being amazing. Was I wrong for asking? If he can lie about this, what else will he lie about?

Inverse Relationship

I leave my favorite Thursday night happy hour spot feeling optimistic about the women I met tonight.  My swag was on 100, resulting in six phone numbers from some very attractive ladies.  The next morning I send them all the same text message: “good mrng. hope u had a good night. great meeting you.” Four out of the six respond. One of them follows up with a text message asking, “when will I see u again?”  After a few more text message exchanges, I focus my attention on her and she becomes my favorite of the six.

Our first date a week later was to see John Legend in concert.  She purchased our tickets and also treated me to dinner. Damn, I could get used to this! We sleep with each other on the first date.  Now that is what you call a new-age woman! Sex was aight but it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. A week later, a card with a gift certificate to my favorite men’s store is delivered to my office.  The card has no name attached.  Nah, this can’t be from her.  It is from her! We spend more and more time together. Within a month, I find myself calling her “baby.”  She’s not too clingy and she doesn’t ask me questions about trying to commit.  I’m feeling her style.  She laughs at my corny jokes, and constantly finds ways to do nice things for me.  She could write a book for all these chicks who are waiting on a man to spend a ton of money on them before they give the man some attention.

Six months pass and she still has the same ride-or-die personality.  But, I’m not sure I want to ride for her the same way.  Why am I hesitating? I’m ready to settle down.  I still frequent my Thursday happy hour spot and I am still talking to women and taking their numbers.  Some of them are slightly more attractive than her and they pique my interest.  I sleep with some of them. I should probably tell her that I don’t know if I can give her what she wants.  But she isn’t asking for anything–yet. I’m ready to settle down, I’m ready to find that woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.  She seems like the right person for me.  She caters to me.  She loves me.  Sometimes I can see myself with her long-term, and other times, I would be indifferent if she stopped speaking to me. She’s not it. How am I going to tell her? She likes me too much. I’ll just ride it out and not say anything.

The Misadventures of Dating in Your 30s Part I

My friends and I have experienced some of the craziest dating stories over the years.  I have decided to share these comical moments with everyone so that we can all have a laugh at how difficult it is to date in your 30s.  Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.  I hope you enjoy:

Long Distant Dating

While living abroad I met the most amazing woman. We hung out often and shared great personal conversations. I thought about how wonderful it would be to kiss her, but I always respected the boundaries that she never indicated that I could cross. I returned stateside but never stopped thinking about her. A few months later, she also moved to the States. I lived in NY, and she lived in San Francisco. I was so happy to reconnect after almost a year but when we spoke on the phone or via Skype our vibe didn’t seem the same. Was it my imagination? Why was she being so distant? I invited her to visit me in New York so that we could reconnect. I also decided to pay for her flight to New York. A month prior to her arrival, I hadn’t heard from her. I called, sent text messages and e-mails to no avail. Just when I thought I should call to cancel her flight, I receive a text message saying “Sorry I’ve been MIA; been a busy and hectic mnth. Looking fwd 2 seeing u!” The smiley face at the end of her statement melted away any frustrations that I developed from her absence.

I could barely contain my excitement as I drove to the airport to pick her up. As much as I wanted to share some great conversations with her, I was really looking forward to sleeping with her. A brotha been in a drought in NYC! She arrives. After dropping her bags off at my place we go to dinner. She’s still on west coast time so we have drinks back at my place and talk until 3 in the morning—I’m exhausted. She slips into something more comfortable as we prepare to go to bed—wait her idea of comfortable is a hooded sweatshirt and flannel pajama pants?! That’s okay it doesn’t change my desire for her. It’s time to go to bed. Wait…what?! She’s uncomfortable sleeping in my bed?! Why? She doesn’t really expect me to sleep on the couch? Hold up?! She has a boyfriend?!!! Why didn’t she tell me this a month ago? This is going to be a looooong weekend. Ain’t this a…… Should I tell her to leave now and get a hotel? Nah, I’ll just put her ass on my couch now and tell her to leave in the morning.

Who’s Going to Pay?

My girls and I are sitting at the bar having drinks at the W hotel. A gentleman walks over and offers to buy drinks for us. I coyly accept as I admire his finely tailored suit, monogrammed cufflinks and perfect white teeth. After sharing a few pleasantries, we exchanged cards and he walked away. A few days later while at work, I receive a call from him. He wanted to know if I had time to get a drink or maybe dinner. Once I described my hectic work schedule, he realized he had to act quickly or the opportunity for us to meet may pass. Despite having tons of work, I figured I could meet him briefly at the restaurant around the corner from my office and return to my office afterward to finish up the work I had.

He’s dressed as sharply as he was the first time I met him. The waiter arrives to take our order and I ask for a glass of water. He requests a bottle of wine and orders the sea bass entrée. Who’s he going to drink this bottle with? He did hear me when I said I had to return to work after this? “Are you going to drink a bottle of wine by yourself,” I ask. With a smile he responds, “no, you’re going to join me.” Okay this dude must not have heard what I said. The waiter brings his entrée along with the bottle of wine and two glasses—he proceeds to pour wine into the glass he placed in front of me. I sip it slowly as I listen to this man talk about himself. And talk about himself some more, and even more. Did I really give myself another 3 hours in the office just to listen to this?! The waiter eventually brings the check over. The gentleman dude acts as if he doesn’t notice it and continues to ramble on. “I’m sorry, but I really have to get back to the office so we should get going,” I said. He says, “okay” but continues to talk. WTF is he deaf?! I reach for my purse and take out my wallet. Maybe this will be the jumpstart to help him realize I really really need to go. He continues to talk. I place my card in the bill. He doesn’t move. The waiter comes by and picks up the bill. Wait….WTF?! I sit there frozen and stunned. Am I being punk’d? He’s going to stop the waiter right? Why am I paying for this dinner!?! The waiter returns and puts the paid bill on the table. Did this dude asshole really just have me pay for his meal!?!!! As I sign the $125 bill in utter bewilderment, I try to make sense of the situation. I leave the restaurant and as I walk back to my office, he steps into his 2014 BMW 7 series.

The following afternoon, my assistant stops by my office with an envelope. In it is a note and a check for $200 saying “thanks for dinner and the company.” I’m never speaking to this asshole again.

A Woman’s Sex Conundrum: The Solution

I can be a bit old fashion as it pertains to certain things.  If it were up to me, a man would still show up to take a woman on a date dressed in a tie and carrying flowers.  Okay maybe that’s a bit extreme, but my point is, we have strayed pretty far from the days where men really courted women and both genders had a deep understanding of and respect for dating boundaries.

Fast forward to 2011 and women have entered the era of the sex conundrum.  Before I go any further, this post pertains to a specific category of women and is not intended to promote premarital sex.  Rather, it is food for thought to those who fall into Category #2 described below.

Women generally fall into two types of categories as it relates to sex.

No sex before marriage (Category 1)

“I’m glad we waited”

We all set different boundaries for ourselves and draw the line in the sand at different points.  Although I applaud respect those who defer sex until marriage, it is not my reality.  Therefore, the following commentary does not apply to those who fall into this category and have chosen to wait until marriage before ever having sex.

Sex before commitment (Category 2)

Many women fall into this second category.  Instead of waiting for a marriage commitment, we have chosen to engage in premarital sex.  We are comfortable with this decision but have sometimes found ourselves questioning and/or regretting our choice of sexual partners.  Sex for women who fall into this category oftentimes occurs prior to determining the direction of the relationship.

In 2011 women who have sex without commitment have found themselves in what I refer to as the sex conundrum.  I specifically use the term commitment rather than the word marriage because oftentimes sex occurs prior to an expressed commitment of any kind or establishment of an exclusive relationship.  In this era of female empowerment women feel more comfortable in straying from traditional social norms.  But have we strayed too far from our best interests?  Have we convinced ourselves that we can freely have sex with whomever we desire, under any circumstance with little to no consequences?  Women (with men as their enablers) have created a sexual conundrum for themselves.

Some women believe that they can have sex with a man without an established commitment or emotional fulfillment.  They believe that their natural sexual desires can be satisfied without any emotional consequences or requirement of their sexual partner to want them beyond the act of sex.  I strongly disagree with this notion.  The only women who are able to rid themselves of any emotional draw to their sexual partners are prostitutes and women who are suffering from deeper personal issues and use sex as a means to mask/soothe those issues.  In other words, women generally lack the ability to have sex with a man without developing some emotional connection/feelings toward him.  The woman who consents to sleeping with a man after she is made aware that he does not want a commitment from her will still develop feelings for this man.  The woman who has a boyfriend/husband but decides to sleep with another man solely for sexual gratification will eventually develop feelings for that man.  The woman who convinces herself that she can remain emotionally detached from the man she is sleeping with is fooling herself.  Therefore, the problem usually arises when women sleep with men before having clearly established a mutual understanding of their relationship.

When is the appropriate time (for a category 2 woman) to sleep with a man?  I took an unscientific straw poll of my male friends prior to penning this blog and almost all the men believed that the best time was whenever the woman was ready, but preferably sooner rather than later—-generally within the first two months of dating.  But when I asked the men whether they were always prepared to commit to (i.e., date exclusively) the woman during this time, the general consensus was—no.  So if a woman almost always develops an emotional bond to a man once she has sex with him, and if a man isn’t willing to commit to a woman in the time frame that he expects to have sex with her, then how do we reconcile this?

Ever wonder why Michelle seems to have gone stark crazy over Sean even when Sean is not her boyfriend/husband? She calls him 100 times for the day, she slashes his tires and keys his car because Sean hasn’t returned her calls; she is standing outside his home screaming profanities to express her anger at the way she was treated.  99 times out of 100, whether she recognizes it or not, Michelle’s heightened frustration is because she has slept with Sean.  Herein lies the sex conundrum!

This problem can be rectified with a few simple steps.  Women should refrain from sleeping with men until they have had a discussion with their sexual partner and feel comfortable that he will embrace the emotional desires that will emerge once she has slept with him.  In other words, women must recognize and become honest with the additional demands they will likely place on their partner after they have sex with them.  I am not condoning the act of dangling sex in front of a man’s face like a carrot in order to get what she wants.  But it is important for men and women to recognize the depth of emotion that sex has on a woman (and sometimes men as well) and both parties must be prepared to handle the change that will inevitably come if a commitment is not established before sex occurs.

Within one to two months of meeting a woman most men aren’t prepared to answer the question, “where is this going and what are your epxectations” (and I doubt that a woman can be sure of her answer within this time frame as well).  Therefore, the best solution to this unidentified problem is…….wait for it…….women should wait until they have a clear understanding as to the expectations and goals of  a man prior to sleeping with him and men should start thinking about their own expectations of  a woman as they contemplate the idea of getting the woman into bed.  Men and women have sex too early in their “relationship”.  What is the requisite amount of time that a man should wait and a woman should hold out?  As long as Sean is unsure of how to answer the question “where is this going and what are your expectations” Michelle should refrain from sleeping with him because she will quickly become weary of Sean’s inability to answer that question once she sleeps with him.  On the flip side, men should not provide a woman with a false hope of something more than sex simply to get a woman into bed.  Her heart is attached to her body, so if he wants her body he must be prepared to take her heart as well.  A man should consider his desire to sleep with a woman in conjunction with his desire (or lack thereof) to commit to her.

The new-age concept of “friends with benefits” is a fallacy for a woman.  Maybe it’s time to revive the days when a man wrote a note asking “do you want to go steady? check the box” before he expects a woman to sleep with him.

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