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It only took a smoky, dimly lit lounge and a few glasses of adult beverages after work for a group of otherwise professionally conservative corporate folks to drop their inhibitions and launch into the mother of all discussions. A discussion about the age old question that seems to always come up when men and women are hanging out together, “what do men really want from women?”
It seems no matter how many times this question gets asked and answered in magazine after magazine, including this month’s Essence, it continues to be one that never fails to strike up a spirited conversation. This time was no different. In true blogger fashion I took the opportunity to jot down a few responses from this diverse group of men. Just to be clear, the men ranged in age from early 30’s to mid 40’s, majority African American with one Caucasian American, and all had different marital statuses including married with children, divorced with children and single without children.
So when asked the question, “what do men really want from women?” here’s what these real men had to say:
- It’s All in the Details – Men like a woman who cares enough to pay attention to the details when it comes to her appearance. Do the best with what you have to work with. Translation…heels, toes and nails done ladies. They went on and on about the appeal of a woman with a mean shoe game and were ready to stage a collective beat down on whoever it was that invented the ballet flat. (Side note: All the women in the group were wearing heels but had a pair of ballet flats in our bags!)
- Break from the Group – Apparently (in my sarcastic voice) a group of more than three of us is intimidating for men to approach. So they suggested we should break from the group during the night to give a guy a fighting chance to get to know us away from our girls.
- Carry-on Sized Baggage – No man wants to pay the price for your past hurts. So ladies, do the work to unpack that baggage and get it down to carry-on size.
- Let Us Know We Matter – A man wants to feel like they matter, like you’re happy to be with “them” in particular. Little gestures like a hand on the knee, rubbing their head, or laughing at their jokes are how we can demonstrate that they matter to us.
- Professional but Keep it Real – This group of men took a page out of rapper Ludacris’s book. They say every man wants a “lady in the street but a …” you finish the rest. They also want a woman they can basically take anywhere, whether its out with friends or to a business function.
- Don’t Try to Fix Us – How many times have we heard this one? Stop trying to “fix” a man. No more projects ladies. They are who they are and while maturity and experiences may prove to change them over time, we should put a period to trying to actively be the catalyst for that change.
- Profess, Protect, Provide – They all unanimously agreed with Steve Harvey’s statement from his “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” best selling book. The statement being that if a man really loves and cares about you, he will profess it outwardly and unabashedly when asked about you, he will do all he can to protect you (including things like taking care of your car, etc.) and he will want and try to provide for you.
As I was writing this article, I had an “a-ha” moment. My “a-ha” moment was this, while all of these answers came from men, the reality is they could have very well come from women too. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t want these same things. A man who cares about the details of his appearance, who is confident enough to break from his gaggle of guys, whose baggage doesn’t crowd his relationship with us, who let’s us know we matter, who can rock a Brooks Brothers suit or a pair of Timberlands, who will let us be who we are without trying to fix us and who will show his love by professing, protecting and providing for us.
So the question becomes, if we all want basically the same thing, why is it so difficult for us to give it to one another? Vyne readers, let us know what you think!
There’s nothing like being out in New York City on a holiday weekend with your girls at a swanky spot. Such was the case last Labor Day weekend when we had drinks at Ink48 with our girl Danielle and a few other friends. The fancy (and might I add expensive) drinks were flowing and so was the conversation. At some point Danielle remembered an article she came across in GQ about “The Sweet Spot”. Here’s an excerpt:
Somewhere between puberty and Cialis is that perfect moment in a single man’s life when he can date the broadest age group, when he can [date] 23-year-olds—and their mothers—without being called a creep. …[The] Sweet Spot, when suddenly you find yourself free to date anyone from recent college graduates to near re-tirees. It begins sometime after your thirty-fifth birthday, though the precise moment is impossible to identify. Suddenly, the pool of available women you can feasibly [date] expands to include everyone—and her mother.
Naturally, this spurred a larger conversation which prompted us to ask the question, is there a “sweet spot” for women? Last we checked, when women reach their “sweet spot” (according to this definition) they’re considered pumas (30’s) or cougars (40+). On the surface, there’s nothing sweet about a prowling, predatory animal but perhaps on second look, maybe “puma” is in fact our sweet spot. If that’s true, then turning 35 should mean that the dating world opens up to us, technically making it possible to date a wider range of guys (and their fathers…so to speak). So what do you think Vyne Readers…is anyone actually experiencing the female version of the “sweet spot”? If so, tell us about it!
Heartbreak. We’ve all experienced it. That feeling when your mind and body simultaneously realize that the man you’ve invested significant time and energy in and fantasized about the future with is no longer a part of your life. It’s that visceral response you have when you begin to imagine how your daily routine will change now that he is no longer a part of it. Often times the sadness of heartbreak can be so overwhelming that it paralyzes you. While there’s no cure for heartbreak, there are a few things you can do to get yourself back on the mend. Consider these six “heartbreak repair tips”:
1) Cry – Give yourself permission to have a good ol’ fashioned ugly cry. Whether by yourself or with your friends, having a good cry can do wonders for preparing your body to release the person and the relationship in order to begin the grieving process. So go ahead…let it out!
2) Soundtrack Your Heartbreak – Music is so healing. Try making four playlists for your iPod. Start by creating a “lovey dovey” playlist with all the romantic songs that make you think about him (e.g. Pattie LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew”). Next make a “you make me sick” playlist with songs expressing your anger about the situation (e.g. Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know”). Then make a “It’s time for me to get over you” playlist with songs like Mariah Carey’s “Shake it Off” and finally make a “I’m over it, happy and moving on” playlist with songs like Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine”. Listen to the “lovey dovey” playlist until you’re ready to move to the “you make me sick” playlist, and so on. You’d be surprise how the music helps you through your grieving process.
3) Plan Your Thinking and Crying – If you find that you keep thinking about him and crying throughout the day, try planning your thinking and crying. Sounds odd I know. But if you tell yourself, I’m only going to think/cry about the situation after 5pm it gives your brain a way to make it through the day and the part of you that wants to grieve will have something to look forward to. Eventually you’ll find that you can shorten the timeframes to “after 7pm” or “just before bed time”. Soon, you’ll find you’ve gone a whole day without even thinking/crying about the situation.
4) Keep Busy – You may not feel like talking and hanging out with your friends but do it anyway. It will keep your mind occupied so that you don’t spiral further down.
5) Pamper Yourself – Do something to take care of yourself. Your mind, body and spirit are going through a rough time right now. And since all three are connected, doing something for your body (like a massage) can instantly raise the harmony levels in your mind and spirit.
6) Ground Yourself – Take the time silent time at the end of your day to ground yourself. Whether it’s through prayer before bed, chanting, meditating or just being silent. Make it a habit to ground yourself in the reality that while your heart may be broken, you are not…and this too shall pass.
Not long ago a good girlfriend of mine, whom I affectionately call “Gordy”, loaned me a book she received from her sister. It’s a self-help dating book called “Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid” by Nina Atwood. Lately, most dating self-help books that hit the market are some comics entertaining rendition of trite advice wrapped around a punch-line (no judgment). So I was eager to see what this book had to offer. I was pleased to find out that the author is indeed a licensed therapist, so I commenced to reading. And boy am I glad that I did.
If you can get past the ridiculously cheesy cover, what’s great about this book is that it’s told in a story format, centered on the main character, a woman named Kelly. Kelly is your typical single woman who’s fortunate in all areas of her life with exception to dating. She get’s offered the opportunity to work with a “dating coach” and the story unfolds as she continues going through her dating life and meeting with her “dating coach” regularly for insight, reflection and guidance on her decisions related to the men in her life.
You’ll find that each chapter is like sitting in on a real counseling session. Having been trained as a psychological therapist myself, I can say that Nina Atwood (the author) does a great job of offering meaningful self-help tips in such a way that provokes you to think about your own situation.
Here’s an exert from the back cover of the book:
Meet Kelly, a charming, pretty everywoman. She’s successful, intelligent, financially secure – and notorious for making bad decisions when it comes to men. As Kelly travels the bumpy road back to self-care, she sidesteps one emotional rut only to land squarely in another. But every time she dusts herself off and gets back into the groove, she comes one step closer to being an emotionally healthy woman who is ready and able to welcome true love into her life.
As with any self-help book, you apply the learnings that fit with your life and whatever doesn’t you take it for what it’s worth. The book is written in such a way that you get to accompany Kelly on her “journey of self-discovery” and get tips from an actual therapist along the way. Additionally, threaded throughout a few chapters in the book are a few subtle spiritual nuggets of advice, but nothing overwhelming or judgmental if you’re not a Christian. So if you’re looking for a practical, relatable self-help book for dating, give this one a try.
By Keesha Boyd
It must have been an optimist who said “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. To which a pessimist replied, “out of sight, out of mind”. This topic hits home for me. I’ve done the long distance thing and have several friends who have been or currently are in a LDR. Some stats: The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (Director- Dr. Gregory Guldner) reports that 1 in 10 marriages are long distance not including military marriages which are an expected but still astounding 2 out of 3. It’s harder to track dating relationships but The Center reports 1 in 7 as long distance relationships.
By nature I’m an optimist so I do believe that LDR’s can work. However, the people involved have to be very deliberate about making it work. LDR’s need constant and consistent nurturing, like a plant. You can’t leave it for dead then dump a gallon of water on it hoping for a spontaneous resurrection (shout out to George & Wheezie…my former plants…whose life with me was surely the equivalent of plant hell). Whether you’re in a committed long distance relationship, a marriage where one partner travels more than the other, or are starting to date and you live in different states, be deliberate about prioritizing each other and making whatever time you spend together, quality time. Here are a few tips and resources for those of you in LDR’s. Stay positive!
· Be Creative– Think out of the box when it comes to staying connected with your partner. Leave a sentimental card in their luggage so they find it when they unpack. Send a care package of their favorite snacks/foods.
· Communicate– Lots of ways to do this! Don’t just tell each other about your day. Watch a t.v. show together. Talk about how you’re feeling. Play the 20 questions game. Text message each other throughout the day. Invest in a webcam (shout out to K&J for this suggestion). If you suspect that you have miscomnunicated, check with your partner to see if the impact of what you said, lines up with what you intended.
· Quality Time– Get on a schedule for spending time together and try to stick to it. Make sure your time together includes not only something fun but also some down time to just “veg out” with each other.
The Center for Long Distance Relationships
The Complete Idiots Guide to Long Distant Relationships
Leslie Karsner, Ph.D. Author on LDR’s
All last year choruses of women raised their left hands to sing along with Beyonce that “if he liked it then he shoulda put a ring on it!” Even the Chipettes got in on the action. Whether it’s a solitaire or surrounded by baguettes, diamonds have maintained the reputation of being a girl’s best friend, especially when it comes to proposals. Jewelry companies pander to the fantasies of women that if he really means it, if he really loves you, he’ll give you a big, fat “fill in the blank brand” diamond. It’s practically second nature to ask about “the ring” when you hear one of your friends has gotten engaged. Many a nose has turned up at the sight of a cloudy, tiny, speck of a ring. For some the ring symbolizes a well thought out plan to commit and invest in a sustaining relationship. Some prefer to shop for the ring with their partner while others prefer to be surprised. But what if your significant other doesn’t have the money for a ring?
Unless you’re filthy rich, the current economic “slow down” in America has undoubtedly impacted your lifestyle in some way, shape or form. I recently had a conversation with a sociologist friend of mine and he insisted that no woman would accept a proposal without a ring, particularly black women. He shared a few thoughts, to which I countered that if a woman feels truly loved and committed to by her partner, she would understand if he couldn’t afford a ring and would likely accept the proposal anyway. But maybe that’s just me…Vyne readers, what do you think. Would you accept a proposal from the person you love without a ring?
Experts say the best relationships are the ones that have a strong friendship as the foundation on which the relationship is built. Pick up any self-help book and you’re sure to find guidance about the importance of forging a friendship before getting serious with a person. So let’s say you take the advice of the relationship gurus and invest in the time to build a friendship with your wonderful, shiny new guy before getting into a serious relationship. Fast forward a couple few years, you’re in the relationship, tumbling your way through the ups and downs, the countless “girl you won’t believe what he did” sessions, peppered with the trips you’ve taken, family mingling and secret thoughts of what your wedding dress would look like, until finally (much to your dismay)…you break up. Now comes the dilemma, do you stay friends or not? In the age of all things Facebook, very often men will make the “let’s be friends” suggestion. On the one hand, you could put your big girl boots on and (gulp) maintain a friendship where bygones are bygones. But if the thought of him telling you about his new girlfriend makes you want to break into the latest Beyonce “I don’t need him” song, then can you really consider this a friendship? Does secretly hoping for more mean the friendship is a farce that’s setting you up for delayed reoccurring heartbreak? The reality is you’ve shared a lot with this person so letting go is understandably not easy. That said, the “friend” zone is often used to bridge that gap but you have to wonder, how long before the need for authenticity slowly erodes that bridge?
What do you think Vyne Readers, can you really be friends with your ex or is it better to cut your losses and move on?