Sunday, December 13, 2009


When we say that we are committed to someone, what does that mean? For most of us, we believe that once we enter into a commitment, a promise is made that requires follow-through on an agreement between two people. Once we establish this agreement, we feel that we can plan our future based upon this certainty. We take the “sweet whisperings” of love and all of its hopeful promises and attach it to some future that has yet to happen. But, the expectation that someone else’s emotions, beliefs or behaviors will remain unchanged is unrealistic at best.

The way that we have come to interpret commitment is that when an expression of love is made by a partner yesterday, along with the promises of forever based upon his/her feelings in that moment, it must always and forever be that way. In a commitment, we sometimes don’t recognize how we put people in a box and hold them forever accountable for a thought or a feeling that they shared yesterday. When a person chooses to no longer engage or honor those promises, we often create our own unhappiness by labeling the person as selfish, cruel, and deceptive.

When we do this, we don’t realize how we are being unfair to them and holding ourselves hostage. We cannot grow because we are choosing to be stuck in the past. We kick and scream and fight the process because we are trying to jam our present reality into yesterday’s picture frame. It’s like putting on clothes that don’t fit anymore. Yeah, we may have liked them. They may have been flattering at one time, but when we attempt to squeeze ourselves into clothes that no longer fit, it ain’t gonna be pretty! We are going be uncomfortable, and people around us are going to be uncomfortable watching us. Yes, the clothes used to fit, but they don’t anymore. What are we going to do with that? Fuss about the fact that they don’t fit, or buy some new clothes? We have choices…

What would it look like if we defined commitment as a promise to our partners and ourselves to live in the present? What if commitment was about growth and not a promise to stay the same? What if we chose to live without the pressure of dragging our pasts into our futures? What if we could simply be a witness to our partner’s personal growth and evolution and allow them to be a witness to ours? If our only promise to our partners is to make a commitment to growth, we would see ALL of our relationships as opportunities to love without fear.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Over the years, we have often observed that men make choices in their mates based upon an image of what “wifey” should be or look like. This standard is usually based on a need to impress others or to maintain their self-image. While we understand that everyone has their preferences on who they are attracted to, we can also see how these preferences can be a way of protecting a man from confronting his own insecurities.

We have all heard the stereotype of what men look for in a partner; a woman who is agreeable, doesn’t ask too many questions, doesn’t talk too much, maintains a certain physical “image”, and always, without question, has her man's back. On the surface, these may be perceived as positive traits but judging a woman solely on her ability to conform to this image does not allow a man to truly be all of who he is. When a man makes it clear to a woman that she is too much of one thing or not enough of the other, she may contort herself to fit the mold of what she thinks that man may want. But, what are the unintended consequences of creating this standard?

We believe that only seeking out these preferred traits in a woman could result in a man creating self-imposed limitations that ultimately stagnate his personal growth and stifle his ability to move beyond his comfort zones. Using the perception of lack and the belief in a shortage of “quality men” to instill fear and manipulate women into conforming to a certain standard not only causes injury to the collective self-esteem of women, but it also prevents a man from fully developing into his own manhood. When this happens, a man becomes a child to be catered to instead of a strong man that protects and supports his woman.

When a man deliberately seeks for a woman to be less than who she is, he does not allow himself to be more of who he is. By adopting these stereotypes, he is not making smart choices, as he would assume. What he is really doing is keeping himself safe from feeling vulnerable and therefore becomes a slave to his own insecurities. When a man requires that a woman be a Barbie doll character, he settles for a lie. As this deception plays itself out, he becomes more and more dissatisfied with the women that he attracts, and in turn blames the women for being fake. But, fake is as fake does. When we deny others to be fully expressed in a relationship, we deny ourselves the freedom of being accepted for who we really are.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


In response to the YouTube video posted in the blog, "You Can't Handle a Strong Black Woman!", we’ve had various off-line discussions. In our interpretation, the common theme among women seemed to be the willingness or a lack of the willingness to take personal responsibility for the truth presented in the video. While we don’t agree with everything presented, we take it as one viewpoint about who Black women have become in relationships; one that cannot be so easily dismissed. And, although we acknowledge that the images represented in the video are not indicative of every Black woman, we do recognize ourselves in some aspects of it.

We found that other women were not so open to the video and dismissed everything contained within it based on the approach taken by makers of the video. But, we didn’t find ourselves to be so easily offended. In conversations about the video, we were able to clearly see how being focused on making someone else wrong (i.e. the video makers, men, society, etc.) keeps us stuck and inhibits our ability to grow. However, for us, we were able to look back at some of our experiences and relate to how being resistant to taking responsibility leads to our own dissatisfaction and unhappiness.


I have not always wanted to take responsibility for my behaviors in the past. A lot of the time, I would not even know where I was being hurtful until someone pointed it out to me. When attention was brought to my ugliness, I didn’t want to admit that I had made a mistake. I felt that admitting a mistake would have made me appear weak and would have taken away my power and authority. Now “power” and “authority” may sound like curious words within a relationship, but from an early age, I was conditioned to not allow anyone, especially a man, take advantage of me.

I remember a past relationship where I was very loved by a man that had been my friend for years prior to developing into a romantic relationship. He was funny, thoughtful, sweet, intelligent and a man of his word; his only “flaw” was that he made less money than I did at the time. I recall an incident where I accused this loving man of not living up to his potential. I cruelly exposed his weaknesses and stripped him of his dignity. Although I knew this was wrong on a human level, I felt justified because I felt that I needed to put some fire under his butt to inspire him to want to be more…

Shortly after this incident, he cheated on me with another woman. It's only in retrospect that I see myself clearly. Instead of encouraging him and pointing out his strengths, offering loving guidance and supporting his growth in HIS time, I chose to contribute to his low self-esteem, break his spirit, and reaffirm his internal belief-system that had held him captive for so long.

No one knows whether he would have cheated or not if I had been secure enough in myself to focus more on his intense love for me, his integrity and his positive work ethic, rather than how I felt about HIS life choices. What I do know is that if at the time, I had been less focused on how he was wrong for cheating and more concerned about my role in making him feel like less than a man, I would have become more of a woman sooner.


For me, I see how easy it is for women to evade personal responsibility for our actions in relationships. After all, society supports us in our victimization. No matter what we do, it seems that we can always fall back on the same response, “if he hadn’t done X, I wouldn’t have done Y” or “it’s his fault!” But what is the cost for us using this excuse? The cost is a loss of power, dignity and integrity. It causes us to place our self-esteem and emotional well-being in someone else’s hands and it causes us to look outside ourselves for the truth the resides within each of us.

As I look back on each of my past relationships, I can acknowledge how very clearly I saw my partners for who they were. My “issue” was that I judged them according to the story of who I thought they should be and became offended or made them wrong whenever they couldn’t meet those standards. Therefore, for me at that time, I was quick to jump to the conclusion that it was their fault when we encountered problems in the relationship.

I do not know how long those relationships would have lasted if I had made myself responsible for what I knew from the beginning instead of waiting for them to magically turn into my “ideal man”. But, what I do know is that I would have avoided suffering had I only lived in the truth of what I had always known them to be. I would not have ignored those attributes that inspired me or would have allowed me to appreciate the love that they unselfishly gave; even though it may not have looked the way that I thought that it should have. Today, I am friends with my exes. Not because of who they should be, but because of who they are. My love for them is unconditional, period.

When we look at videos like RIP Black America2, we can choose to take what is true for us and discard the rest. When we are immediately offended by the delivery of a message, it can distract us from hearing the parts of the message that can propel us toward our own personal growth. Through our experiences, we have come to realize that we owe it to ourselves and our partners to be responsible for our choices and the actions that we take as a result of those choices. Focusing on someone else's shortcomings does nothing to bring us to a common understanding in our relationships. Instead, it only further alienates our partners and causes them to withdraw from being emotionally available to us. When we become stuck in the story of "It's not my fault!", NOBODY wins.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


While watching the video RIP Black America2, we were both struck by the narrator’s use of the statement, “You can’t handle a strong black woman,” to describe our denial and inability to take responsibility for who we have become in our relationships. He brutally describes black women as “egotistical children” that have resorted to petty power, bullying and tricks to get our men and/or develop relationships. He says that all the black woman has is an “ego” and a constant need to be told how great she is. While this is clearly a bitter pill to swallow, we asked ourselves “uhh, does he have a point?” :-/

Many times as black women we have been vulnerable in situations where we have allowed ourselves to be stripped of our self-esteem. From that, we have equated being vulnerable with being diminished, or made powerless. As a result, we find ourselves walking around at a ‘tea party’ with boxing gloves on; on-guard against attack. We don’t see how we’re contributing to the gap that has been created between black men and women.

The distinction that we see is between demanding respect and commanding respect. When we demand respect, we do look like “egotistical children” that need to resort to “petty power” to get what we want. Instead, when we rely on our authentic power as women to nurture, and to lead, and to hold things together, we are naturally positioned to command respect from a person that is willing and able to respond to our best selves.

What do you think, have black women replaced “authentic power” with “petty power”?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Growing up we both have memories of wanting to get bigger so that we could have access to what our older siblings and the big kids on the block had. We remember when we were finally able to make it past the height requirements for every ride at Disneyland, only to become equally as passionate about reaching the age where we could stay home alone. Soon we were looking forward to driving, later curfews, college, and then the freedom of adulthood to make our own rules and live our own lives.

And so it goes, a never-ending cycle of believing that once we get to our next level, our happiness will show up. As children we had defined timelines to progress in life and we used these milestones as a measurement of our success. This practice became a habit that as adults we now carry and we rarely stop to ask ourselves why we continue to race toward where we think we want to be. Often, we compare ourselves to others and feel anxiety if we see ourselves as losing in the race to getting "bigger."

As women, we learn early on that part of winning our race includes the magical day when some man makes us his wife. There is a timeline embedded in this milestone, as well. As single women, we gauge how on-track we are in life compared to members of our peer group that are married or in a relationship. We tend to create our own suffering when we conclude that we are not worthy, or desirable, or that something is wrong with us because we are single.

What's the hurry? We thought we'd be happy when we were old enough to be out on our own. We thought we'd be happy when we could make enough money to buy the things that we thought we should have. But, the more milestones we achieve, the more we feel we need to achieve and the more anxious we become.

When we let go of comparisons and instead appreciate each season of our journey, we release ourselves from the anxiety that is attached to a defined outcome. If being a grown up is about freedom, then let's stop following the cookie-cutter habits we established as children and start creating our own rules.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Yesterday, we had the pleasure of participating in the making of a documentary on love and relationships. Women and men from various backgrounds and professions came together to discuss the one thing that we all strive for but do not always agree on how to get it, maintain it, or how to conduct ourselves in it: LOVE!

The conversations were lively and provided everyone involved the opportunity to be honest about our philosophies on love and relationships, what we hope to experience in our relationships and where we sometimes feel lost. Looking back, the experience was both exhilarating and thought-provoking...

We both had many "ah ha" moments throughout the day and gained further insights on who we are and have been to the men in our lives, as well as who we want to be in relationship. While we would all agree that relationships can be challenging, in the end, we seek common ground and to love one another.

Peace and blessings to the cast and crew!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


In chapter four of "The Conversation", Mr. Hill Harper makes the observation that women sometimes fail to make the men they date feel wanted. He describes making a man feel wanted as, "...a woman[s] truly including a man in her decision-making process, asking him to weigh in on things that matter to her, and then valuing his answer." When we read this, we began to evaluate why we sometimes do not allow a man's opinion to weigh as heavily as our girlfriends' on things that are important to us.

Where did we get this? Are we fearful that if we accept a man's direction, we have relinquished control over our own lives and could be lead down the wrong path and left in a ditch? Too often, we believe that the way to make a man feel wanted is by wearing sexy shoes and lingerie, but this is just window-dressing. We tend to only accept his input when he agrees with our point-of-view and when he doesn't, we make it clear to him that we don't need his help, period. However, when it comes to our advice for him, we want to be the leader of the band! We want him to march in perfect step, never break formation, and to sound damned good while doing it!

So many of us desire the comfort of a good man, yet we find ourselves struggling with how to make a man feel wanted and how to share our lives in a meaningful way. Fear can cause us to be unwilling to allow a man who is worthy, but imperfect like ourselves, to step up in a way that honors the both of us. We would all say that we want to make a man feel wanted, but if that is truly what we desire, then we have to behave in ways that are consistent with experiencing that outcome.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We all know what it looks like when we get caught up running extra errands for our man and picking up his slack even when he doesn't ask for it; in other words, "I got you, Boo." Often, we do this to make ourselves indispensible. We live in the story of 'this is what you do when you're in a relationship' and in doing these things, our men will recognize how good we are.

But, daytime television would not be the same without all of the Court TV shows filled with cases of "I got you, Boo" gone wrong. Funny, how all of our good intentions and selflessness go out of the window when we perceive that our actions are not appreciated. When we are in the depths of a relationship, and it looks like things may go our way, we extend ourselves to keep the good feelings going by doing, doing, doing, for our men. However, when a man does not show the proper amount of appreciation for our efforts, we judge him as being bad for taking advantage of our willingness to make life easier for him.

What would it look like if we focused primarily on what we gained from the relationship that offered us such valuable practice? Practice at becoming a better cook, a more patient person, a sensual lover, or how to better relate to and communicate with men. Yet, we often choose to play the victim and focus only on what someone has taken from us. We feel taken advantage of when the truth is; we've offered ourselves not for the sake of being generous, but to enhance our image in someone else's eyes.

Can you recall a time when you may have given of yourself in a relationship to enhance your image and now realize that you missed an opportunity to appreciate who you have become as a result of the experience?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Last week we started reading "The Conversation" by Hill Harper. We were really excited that Mr. Harper is taking on a lot of the issues that we hope to explore in our blog. We will be periodically blogging about some of the issues that he addresses in his book and we invite you to share in some of your experiences and self-discoveries. We strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and be a part of our on-line discussions!

In chapter three of "The Conversation", Mr. Harper points out the various stereotypes that black women and black men have about each other and how they threaten our possibility of creating happy relationships. It started us questioning what stereotypes we've bought into and how they have impacted our relationships. Once we began excavating our belief systems and looking at the ickiness that we each have inside, we recognized that we would have to get real with ourselves before we would be able to get beyond these negative stereotypes and press the "PERMANENT DELETE" button on our real feelings.

While I don't buy into the stereotypes that were presented in the book, I was struck by the belief that black women have an "I don't need a man" attitude, especially since so many of us are looking to be in a relationship. As I thought long and hard about that, it came to me that in many ways, my preference for a particular kind of man comes across to brothers as judgment or simply put, that I don't need a man. I then realized that I, like many women, look for the same qualities in men that I saw in my father.

My father was strong. He took care of business and never complained. I rarely saw any sign of weakness. Because of this, I realize that I have often mistaken a certain sensitivity as weakness in a man. I now see that this is not necessarily so. While I still prefer a "strong" type I am now able to better make the distinction between what it is to prefer particular traits and having judgment about men who do not exhibit their strengths in the same way that I am familiar with. Strength can be shown in many ways if I am open to seeing it.

It is sad to say, but I identified a good deal with the stereotypes Mr. Hill listed in his book about black men. Once I concluded chapter three, and I had to 'permanent[ly] delete' these beliefs, I struggled. I didn't want to because these beliefs were too deeply rooted based upon what I had experienced, seen, heard, and felt. I had always felt that I didn't like the negative things that black men did but when I got real with myself, I discovered that all of the negative things that black men do actually added up to my definition of what a black man is. I was shocked.

Combing through my experiences and past relationships, I realized that I had so many bad feelings and mistrust toward men. To escape, I began reaffirming the negative stereotypes resigning myself to "that's just the way it is" but then I dug in and challenged myself to go further, to be stronger. It's just that I had no idea that I could run those negative tapes and stereotypes over and over in my mind and not be able to separate myself from the belief that that crap was true...

By doing the work to examine the stereotypes and how they personally affected each of us, we are now more aware of how harboring these false beliefs can damage our relationships. Holding on to negative generalizations about other people does not allow us to see the lie in the thinking and it prevents us from recognizing where we need to heal ourselves. Ultimately, this negative thinking holds us back from what we most want; to love and be loved.

What negative beliefs do you have about the opposite sex? How do you think they have impacted your relationships?

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Anonymous' Comment: "...I in no way feel satisfaction in making my mate unhappy. The satisfaction comes when they are happy to make me happy and vice versa. Sometimes that means making sacrifices. Aren't relationships all about making sacrifices/compromises?"

I am motivated by the desire to make someone happy. When a person has captured my interest, I want them to have something within them that causes me to want to step outside of myself and give more. But, I also want them to see something in me that will cause them to do the same. I recognize that there is a breakdown in that thinking. A person should not have to do something or be some way in order for me to be more of who I am.

"The satisfaction comes when they are happy to make me happy..." Hmmm...what exactly does this mean? Once we peel back the layers of the "story" about what relationships should be and eliminate all of the romantic notions about what it means to make someone happy, an undeniable truth remains. Someone cannot make us happy, they can only share in our happiness.

When we want someone to want to make us happy, we still want what we want; we just want them to be happy doing it. This thinking has nothing to do with having consideration for the other person; rather it is about us wanting them to want something for our own selfish gratification. Some would argue that they are not asking for something that they are not willing to give, but this is bartering.

This kind of quid pro quo can constitute a relationship, but is it love? Love in its purest form is giving without the expectation of getting something in return. At the moment that we expect something from love, we are no longer in a place of being loving. The concept that we have of love can be used as a tool to help us achieve what we want, or to feel a certain way, but love as a simple way of being requires nothing. Ironically, when we are loving, people around us are naturally inspired to share in the things that we appreciate.

In love relationships, how do we recognize when we are using love as a tool to get what we want? How do we begin to recognize in ourselves when we have turned the corner and have gone outside of love?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We often expect men to make certain sacrifices for the "good" of the relationship because in our "story" that is what love and commitment are all about. As women, we make certain concessions and go out of our way to prove our love. We demonstrate through our sacrifices that we are worthy of his love and we believe that he should do the same.

For a number of us women, one way that love and commitment are measured is by a man's willingness to do something that we want him to do even when it is clear to us that he doesn't want to do it. We get some kind of satisfaction in knowing that he has made himself unhappy to make us happy. Now this may not necessarily be the intention, but if we were to take away all of the superficial reasons behind why we have made his compliance meaningful, we would see how in some way our self-worth is tied to a story about how we maintain power in the relationship.

Of course, in love, there is sacrifice, but the distinction here is choice. The difference is in the person choosing how to express their love and commitment and our ability to accept that without making judgments about whether or not it is "good enough."

Where did the belief "if you love me, you'll do what I want you to do, even though you don't want to do it..." come from and why do we buy into it?

Why do we get tricked into thinking that sacrifice, as we narrowly define it, enhances the relationship? What role does obligation and sacrifice play in making the relationship "good?"

Sunday, September 13, 2009


In our discussions, we've discovered something about ourselves. We found out that in seeking a relationship with a man, we have created a character image of a man and our image of him rarely changes. This role comes complete with a costume, props, character breakdown and pre-written lines; and the accompanying story has a pre-determined "happy-ending" that more often than not ends with a ring, two kids, a house and a dog!

We spend our time looking for an actor to play the part and it doesn't matter who he is, or what he does, what his beliefs are or even what his expectations are for the relationship. You see...we believe that all men should follow our script. And, when he doesn't we ask ourselves "what's wrong with him?"

But more than that, we like this script, this script comforts us and when he doesn't follow it we think "what's the point?" The whole point of the script is to follow the script. He is supposed to sweep us off our feet, love us unconditionally and know exactly what we need and what to say at the right moments...

But then we figured out that we had bought into a story and we started to question ourselves, we began challenging ourselves and challenging each other asking:

Oh, really? And how realistic is that? Who made up this story and why have we adopted it as our own? If we look around at other people's relationships...I mean really look, do we see this fairytale story playing itself out according to our expectations? How many people follow a script that other people write for them?

And we asked ourselves "did we?" Do you?