11 Things to Ask Yourself (and Your Partner) Before You say “I Do”

by Rhonda E. Frost

I’ve been married and I’ve been divorced. I’ve now been single (in the technical sense) for 12 years. This time spent, outside of the covenant of marriage, has given me plenty of time to think about what I want and need, and what I hope to give to my husband; it has also allowed me the quiet space to think about what I will do different when I remarry. For starters, I needed an honest examination of my beliefs, behavior and choices. I wanted a clearer prism. And I needed meaningful questions to ask myself, and my partner.

Full disclosure (as one of my dear friends often says, before he tells me anything), I am no guru. In fact, I have more questions than answers. I am however, a woman who has risen from the ashes of past mistakes; a woman in full transformation mode who has had her share of painful love lessons and relationship regrets. I am also a woman who has read hundreds of relationship self-help books and articles and have had the privilege to interview married and divorced people over the years, to gain perspective.

I am wiser now.

A little back story: I was a wife at 23. It was an impromptu decision one day; we just went and got married. We were madly “in love”, and we didn’t want to lose that, or each other, so we drove to Reno, Nevada, found one of those chapels and tied the knot. And for almost two decades, we rode the wave of love and marriage dysfunction. I won’t speak on him here. I will only speak on me. I didn’t understand the gravity of the title of “wife”. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I did not know what to expect. I did not know how to love and give selflessly; nor did I fully understand or value commitment. I was without a point of reference. And the tumultuous events leading up to my marriage, didn’t help(that is a whole other blog). Everything was broken: my boundaries, thoughts, expectations, trust and self-esteem. What I learned is, being “in love”, isn’t enough when two people are broken and operating without a love and happiness plan.

Having said all that, if I knew at 23, or 33 what I know now at 54, about love, marriage, and commitment and how rare it is to find someone of quality who genuinely cares; who is willing to step-in, hold you up, and add value to your life, while being an “all in” partner, I would have likely still been married. but alas, we don’t necessarily grow from doing things right the first time, we learn and grow the most, through suffering.

The late great Dr. Maya Angelou said, “but when you know better, you do better”. I honor and value marriage today. I understand the work that it entails and I see the blessings and joy that come from a committed, healthy and happy union.

It’s taken years for me to even think about marriage, but now that I have begun to do so, there are questions that I deem important to ask. This list is not all-encompassing. You can certainly add to it or not entertain any of it, but the fact is, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. That’s a five zero(50)! That means there’s a one in two chance that if you get married, it will end in divorce. Imagine hearing those odds on every flight you take. Imagine the airline staff announcing, “excuse me ladies and gentlemen, we are so glad you are flying with us today to sunny Florida, we just want to let you know there is a fifty percent chance that this flight that you are about to board, won’t make it to its destination. Some of our pilots are trained, some not so much, but we trust them to get us there. Thank you for flying with Delta, we know you have a choice, but we are glad you chose us”. Would you still fly? Or would you look for other viable ways to get to where you are trying to go, with better odds? Or perhaps, you might decide to just stay home.

The point of that imperfect analogy is: all of us want to get there successfully, and with as little turbulence as possible. So, if you are going to take the chance, and if you actually want it to work, and enjoy the beautiful journey, we have to prepare for it. These questions are just a start. The rest is up to you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you take the marriage flight:

1. What do I want? -It’s imperative to know what you want and to examine if it’s reasonable.

2. What do I need? -Make a list of what you believe you need from your mate. Talk about those things while dating i.e., sex, communication, attention, financial help, religious connection, someone to guide you, a chef, a prayer partner, a workout partner, a parent for your children, a business partner, etc.

3. What do I expect? -Examine your expectations. Are they reality based or fairytale driven? Do you believe every day is going to be blissful, and without conflict? Do you think your mate is supposed to pay all the bills, initiate sex every night, keep the house clean, never get angry, be ready for sex on cue, look amazing waking up, cook 7 days a week, never get tired or frustrated…? I could go on, but you get the idea. Expectations can kill relationships.

4. What can I offer? -Every person needs to examine what they bring to the relationship. Ask yourself what you offer besides sex, having a six-pack stomach or being fine or sexy. Physical attributes are lovely and they add icing to the cake, but who are you without that, or in addition to that? Do you bring stability? A good credit score? Loyalty? Wisdom? An ability to plan and organize? Financial management? Humor? A good heart and loving spirit? Parenting skills? Communication skills? Another language to teach? Dreams and goals to share? Kindness and clarity? Prepare for that question. Think about how you will add value to your partner’s life. If all you have to offer someone is beauty, booty, a nice body, or a snazzy car and “things”, then you might want to beef up your relationship resume.

5. What am I willing to sacrifice? -I read this quote in a Christian article that aligns with this question. It said If we want to have a satisfying marriage, one where the passion and excitement never ends, we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our mate. In other words, we need to be selfless.

To that point, one of my single male friends called me recently to talk about the idea of marriage. He is 58 years old. I’ve known him for 9 years and he’s been running the streets as a single man and enjoying his freedom. But this call was different. He called to talk about marriage and how much he wants companionship now and how conflicted he is about sharing a life with someone, even though he believes it’s something he wants now. I asked him if he was fearful of sharing his money and assets (because he’s done well for himself financially and is nearing retirement) and surprisingly, he said “no, not at all, that’s the least of my worries”. He went on to say “I am more concerned with sharing my space and having to answer for my time.” There was a lot more to that conversation, but my point here is that the longer we are single, the more selfish we might be about time, resources and sharing space. And the less we want to sacrifice for someone else. Marriage is about sacrifice and caring for someone else. Think long and hard about what you are ready and willing to sacrifice.

6. Can I commit? -This is self-explanatory. It’s a yes or no question. And it’s not a convenience thing. It’s a lifetime thing. Commitment is real even when someone gains weight; even when days aren’t good, even when someone is sick, and money is tight; even when that sexy new coworker is smelling good and looking good sitting in the office right next to you, and you just had an argument with your spouse last night. Commitment, in today’s throw away, swipe left or right, effortless access to new ass, society makes this challenging. If you can’t commit and stay through a couple of forever’s, don’t commit or say “I do”. Period. You can’t straddle the single fence, in marriage. There’s no harm or foul in remaining single.

7. Will my baggage interfere? -We all have some sort of baggage, especially any of us over 40 or 50 years old. But yes, even young people can have baggage depending on what they have experienced growing up, and what they’ve experienced in love relationships. But the question is, will your baggage make your mate suffer and will it impair the relationship?

Baggage is anything you’ve been carrying from the past into the present moment that hinders you from being happy or living your best life. It is anything that will impact your relationship in a negative way. Baggage can be: trust issues, fear, low self-esteem, inability to allow your mate to feel free, inability to communicate, shutting down emotionally, violent tendencies, selfishness, non-productive financial habits etc.. You know what your past looks like. You know what issues have come up over and over again. You know what you’ve been through. It’s unfair to bring someone into your life and expect them to fix you or “just deal with it”, (though some will). And no, you don’t have to be all together to fall in love and marry (there are lots of married folks who didn’t have it all together, found a way to make it work and are still happily married), but you should have at least identified your issues and be actively working on them.

On a personal note, after carefully looking at my dating and relationship history, I sought counseling. I knew I didn’t’ want to go into my marriage(you notice that I am calling it into existence?) with baggage, and repeating old thoughts and patterns. I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to offer a better me. And perhaps I won’t be baggage free, but instead of having the type of baggage noted in the arrival scene of Coming to America, (only Coming to America movie watchers will get this), I will instead, enter with just a “carry on”.

8. Who am I when I am alone? -It’s been said that you have to know how to enjoy your life alone and be whole, before you get coupled up or marry. Your time being single(alone) is precious and is necessary. Being single allows you to do everything you want without accountability or sharing your time. It also is the time you learn to appreciate who you are, work on self and identify what you like about you. It’s the time when you can be completely naked. If you don’t like spending time with you, why would anyone else?

9. What is it that I think marriage will do for my life?- Ask yourself why you want to be married. Is it just to avoid feeling alone? Is it for financial reasons? Is it to have someone help with raising kids? Is it to be Facebook official; to be able to tell your friends you are married? Know why you want to be married.

10. Do I know what love is? And can I love? – Yes, I realize that is two questions in one, but both are so good! Listen, I don’t have the lock (aka the skinny) on what love is, but I do know saying “I love you” is easier than actually showing love on a daily basis to the same person. In my humble opinion, those words are over used, in feel good moments, and underperformed, in real life. I bet right now you can name some people in your circle who claim to “love” someone or who once “loved” someone and their behavior didn’t match what you thought love looked like. When is the last time you even examined what the word is and what love actions look and feel like? To “fall in love” with someone or to say “I love you” is supposed to represent the highest form of feeling for another person, and the highest level of care. So the question is, what made you say that or feel that and what will it mean to say that to someone in terms of your actions? It can’t be just emotion during good times and great sex. When I was 20 and 30 those words didn’t mean the same as they mean today.

To go a little further with this subject: What makes us “fall in love”? To “fall in love” with a person, should mean you’ve seen something good from them. You’ve seen their light and promise. Perhaps they’ve shown consistent and demonstrative behavior that shows you how much they care. In my mind, it means they’ve established that they’ve got your back; they’ve been consistent in their truth and kindness, they’ve shown an undeniable level of attention; they answer your calls and texts, they show up when you need them, they support and encourage you, they laugh and cry with you, they ask about your life and dreams and they care about what impacts you. This application applies to both parties. Also for the sake of clarity, it’s worth it to find out each other’s love language.

11. What will I do different this time? -If you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship, and it didn’t work, ask what you will do different this time. Yes, it’s easy to blame the other person and to think you were perfect in your relationship; but if you are completely honest, you will acknowledge that you probably didn’t get it all the way right and that perhaps you even did some things that were just wrong, selfish, and hurtful. The key here is not about blame or dredging up the past, but to learn from what you didn’t get right in your other life, and to avoid repeating the pattern.

There are many other questions we can ask before thinking about getting married, but these will get you started in self-reflection. What I’ve learned is that baggage, unrealistic expectations, lack of commitment, and just not knowing how to be a partner, are just as problematic for marriage, as are money and sex issues. I realize that this is a non-scientific statement, but I’d like to be proven wrong.

There is a quote that says, “to have what you’ve never had, you have to do what you’ve never done”. There is also a quote that says, “doing the same thing, and expecting different results, is insanity.” If all of your previous relationships have worked, this isn’t for you(and you should write a book that tells the world how that’s done). This is for the rest of us. We have to do what we’ve not done before, think like we’ve never thought and be open to seeing it from a different view, in order to grow in our relationships. Our future marriages depend on it.

*This is a chapter from the upcoming book: Relationship Soul Food: A Collection of Heartfelt Stories, Inspirational Quotes and Powerful Lessons about Love, Dating and Marriage, due out Spring 2019

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Dear Men: Here are 7 Dating Tips that We Need You to Follow Now! Part 1

by Rhonda E. Frost

I’ve been divorced since 2004.  I’ve had meaningful relationships since. I’ve dated and had countless conversations about expectations, love, dating and marriage. I’ve learned lots since 2004 and I will tell some of those stories and lessons in an upcoming book. I feel qualified to offer this advice to men because I am a woman and I know what I need, expect and want. I also have had hundreds of conversations with women about their experiences with dating and how real the struggle is for the single woman looking for love and commitment. I’ve heard every dating story known to woman! These 7 dating tips are just a start.

Before I go into my tips for you, let me just say this. I am one of the lucky ones(or unlucky depending on how you look at it); I get my fair share of dating opportunities. I get to talk to y’all regularly on social media and in real life. I see what you do and what you say, first hand. I also get to interview men as a writer, so I am privy to lots of stories and much raw honesty!

To be clear, these recommendations apply across the board no matter the man’s title. I have dated men with different backgrounds, from IT professional, small business owner and retired, to Doctor, Sr. Vice President, and President of such and such. I’ve met assholes as well as some amazingly kind and good men along the way. And yes, I’ve also dated a married man (or two or three). So yes, I can advise you on what we need and want from you, unflinchingly. And age is not a factor, young or old, too often men still miss the mark, either on purpose or because you just don’t know better. So, allow me to reintroduce some rules.

1. Treat us like you would want someone to treat your mother, daughter, sister, or best female friend-I don’t think I need to add much to this. If you love and respect your female family members and you want the best for them, you know what this means. Talk to her and treat her like you want someone to treat your mama (in my India Arie voice)

2. Don’t lead with your wallet -That is unless your intentions are to do the following: Contribute to her life (pay bills or buy her gifts), allow her to share in your good fortune, or unless that is what you want her to value you for.

I cannot tell you how many men I’ve met who start out in the first hour, or first week, by telling me how much they make, what their title is, how much is in their 401K, or how great their credit is. And while I want to know that you are financially stable and bring something to the table, if that is what you tell me first, it sends mixed signals. I am thinking you must want me to know for one of three reasons: 1) You are bragging (which is a huge turn off) 2) You want me to know you can take care of me or 3) You are about to add value to my life(see above). Other than that, I am not sure why that is what you tell me first.

If none of these are your intentions, why lead with that information? It’s the equivalent of a woman stripping naked at the end of the first date to reveal her beautiful body and makes no other move. She just stands there naked long enough to let you see, then she simply puts her clothes back on, and continues the conversation as if it didn’t happen. It would be perplexing, no? In your mind you might have been thinking something else was about to happen, right? My suggestion: Lead with your intentions, your character, realness, kindness and your story. Tell her what you want, need and hope for.

3. “No” means no-If you are trying to get to know a woman or are dating and she tells you “no” to sex, “no” to a date, “no” to staying over or anything else, remember that “no” is a complete sentence. Unless you want to end up in jail or be accused of some horrible crime, just accept it. Live to pursue her or someone else another day. It’s always best to indulge in what’s offered freely. Her body and her time are hers until she decides to share it with you. Period!

4. If you meet a woman who is in crisis, financial, emotional or otherwise-either be man enough to step in and see how you can help, or bow out gracefully before you become intimate or invested. The last thing any woman in crises needs, is a man who knows about her current difficulty, and who acts as if it’s not real.

In recent months I had this experience. I met someone while gainfully employed (actually I had known them for over 30 years and they came back into my life), and during our “getting to know each other better(again)” phase, I was laid off work. This person was delighted to be back in my life and I was happy to conversate and see where we could go. We chatted all day every day, he sent texts, and called at all hours of the day and night for months on end. He was fully aware I had been laid off. Over time, I noticed that not once did he ever ask, “how is everything going with your job search”, or “how are you managing your bills and life in the middle of the layoff?”, or “is there anything I can do to help?”. But to be fair, he did take me on some trips, and he did profess to “love” and care about me and stated he wanted us to grow old together.

This nonchalance, aka selective ignoring of reality,  went on until I said something. He was in the middle of talking about taking me on yet another trip to some exotic island and while I absolutely love traveling, all I could think was, this person is disconnected from reality or selfish(yes, selfish!). Neither of which are good things.

I wondered why he didn’t instead say, “hey, although I want to take you on another trip, what I think is smarter is to see how I can help you, maybe I can give you the money I plan to spend on the next trip to help you out a little, how does that sound?”. But he never did. I pointed all that out to him, and it went south from there. We never recovered from this disconnect.

Here’s a hint, if we can’t see you as someone who will help us, be there and show care about when we are down, we won’t see you as husband material. We won’t trust that you have our best interest at heart, and likely won’t want to see you, when we bounce back up. I must feel cared for and covered, in good times and bad. What you show during these times are trust and foundation building behavior.

Fellas, don’t waste a woman’s time if you can’t see her through bad times. Just go and do you. As the old saying goes, “she can do bad by herself”. Truer words have not been spoken. No one will blame you or be mad if you just tell the truth and bow out gracefully before you make her think you care. If you don’t want added responsibility, that’s understandable. Just don’t hang around and waste her time, pretending her crisis isn’t real and having “fun” is all that matters. And ladies don’t let him!

5. Keep your word-If you set a date, keep it and be on time. If you promise to do something for her, do it. If you say, “I got you covered”, cover her. Don’t say what you don’t mean, and don’t plan things you don’t want to do. Period! And if you must be late, or if a real emergency interferes with whatever intentions, be man enough to call, not text and tell her what it is. If that “emergency” happens more than once, it’s a game-it’s disrespectful of her time. Just don’t.

6. Date with a purpose-If you simply want some a** without commitment or expectation, that’s cool, there are women who want the same, for a small fee. You can find them most anywhere. But for the most part, women I know are dating with the expectation to “go together” aka to work towards a relationship, and/or marriage. After a few months of dating, you know if she is someone you could spend your life with, and invest your time and money into. You know. Be up front about what you want and need and don’t waiver. I get that marriage isn’t for everyone and not everyone we meet is ready for that level of involvement, be clear about wherever you are on the relationship continuum.

In the past decade, I have had a couple of men tell me at the onset of meeting them that they didn’t want any commitments and they were simply doing them. One of them, I decided to date anyway. Bad decision! I wrote about him in my first book, “Why Do I Have to Think Like a Man?”, in the “Single Man” chapter. The other one I met years later, he had just recently gotten divorced, he was in full swing, being single and free. When he said it, I took him at face value and respected his position. I didn’t get involved. We are good friends to this day, boundaries intact. I respected where he was coming from and I let him “do him”.

And finally,

7. If you are married and dating someone else, be ready to handle it-Yeah I know this will come as a surprise to some (sarcasm), but there is a small fraction of married men who date other women outside of their marriage. It happens every single day, all day long. Check the dating site for married people, Ashley Madison, that site touts over 56 million “discreet” subscribers, even after the major security breech last year! People are about that life!

But I digress. If you are a married man and dating someone who is not your wife, please understand feelings get involved. Women, will want your time, they will want you to do things with them, care about their lives, surprise them with gifts and show love and affection, just like any other woman or any other dating situation. Now I won’t say all “side chicks” or mistresses want you full time, or want those things, some just want sex and fun moments and to send you home, but many do. And the more time you spend with her, the more likely the water is going to get muddy, as they say.

In African cultures, I am told it is acceptable for a married man to have more than one woman or wife, but I am also told that he has to man up and care for them all equally. Listen to this audio clip from an interview I conducted with a West African man on this subject. So, my advice is, if you aren’t able or ready to give her much of what you give the wife (within your time constraints and within reason, of course), then you probably should rethink your ability to date on the side. Unless of course the agreement is “no expectation” and the woman is “down”.

Even with that, I would caution you to be real and know that if you keep seeing a woman, keep making love to her and spending quality time, she will eventually fall for you and emotions will get involved. I would also caution you to think about everything you have to lose. This situation is akin to what I imagine drug dealing is like, the fast money, the high of beating the system, and the sexiness of the life (if I can use those terms), are all good, until you get caught or get shot.

And just like with drug dealing, in the long run, these situations usually end bad for all involved. But, if you do it anyway, man up and be ready for whatever. And whatever you do, don’t blame the “other woman” for the demise of your marriage or the spousal and child support you end up paying, or the house and cars you lose, after the sh*t hits the fan and your wife files for divorce. Take ownership! Grown men, do grown men things. All parties must handle the fallout with their grown-up panties and shorts on. Decide wisely and keep it 1000.

Of course there is so much more to say about dating and our current relationship status in the era of social media, and “swipe left or right” dating, but my hope is that these tips will give you something to think about. Let’s try the Golden Rule here, treat people how you want to be treated. Love people how you want to be loved. Respect how you want to be respected and be the type of person you want her to be or find yourself a toy and go play elsewhere. Sounds simple enough huh?

 

An Open Letter to Usher Raymond…I am Sorry

By Rhonda E. Frost

Usher, I am sure this is likely one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to endure. Confessions must pale in comparison. The past two weeks have had to be hell for you and your family. To have a deeply personal incident with your medical privacy violated and a previously settled lawsuit plastered all over the news, on social media, blog posts and gossip outlets, is unfathomable. My heart breaks watching it unfold.

I read one of the first stories to get the gist of it and then I saw the memes that were meant to be jokes, pour in on my social media feed. I read one or two of the comments with tears in my eyes. I simply couldn’t read them anymore.

I am ashamed that people turned this life altering situation, involving real people and a real disease into something entertaining. For that, I apologize to you. I apologize for the judgement, harsh words, the jokes and insensitivity. This story hurts my soul on many levels.

On behalf of our people, I am sorry.

I am sorry that its unfolding like this. I am sorry that someone gave herpes to you. I am sorry for the woman(or alleged women) who you exposed to it (knowing or not). I am sorry you couldn’t find the courage to tell them. I am sorry that now they want your money and that you will likely pay the hefty price for that secret. And I am sorry for the millions of people who have herpes and other STD’s that they have to live with, and who fear what you are going through.

Too many black folk in particular find this situation joke worthy. I apologize that our community finds humor in disease and in stories that hurt others. I am sorry that we have become disconnected to the point where we don’t stop to think before we pass along hurtful memes, videos or news clips that expose our people suffering. I apologize that basic humanity is no longer present in this social media, disconnected world that we live in. It’s all about the “comments”, “likes” and the “check” one can potentially get from a story.

Do the sharers of this news not realize that 1 in 6 Americans have herpes and that anyone can have it and not know because they are asymptomatic? Do they not know that statistics show almost forty percent of African Americans have this disease and that almost fifty percent of black women have it? Someone else gave it to these people too. Do they not realize that if these numbers are true(and apparently they are), that when they post these articles and jokes on their page, they are shaming and making fun not just of you, but also some of their own friends and family members who are also suffering? These millions of sufferers didn’t get a million dollar check when it was given to them, they simply had to keep it moving and figure out how to live with it. The lack of connection is mind-boggling.

And although not the same circumstance, I am reminded that just a week or two ago our people did the same with the Maia Campbell situation. Some clown(for lack of a better word) made a video recording of her at a gas station here in Atlanta, exposing her in one of her low moments. In the video, she is seen talking to the man recording and she tells him she wanted some “crack”. She looked disheveled, she was missing a tooth and was in a bra and panties(shorts?) at a gas station. It was painful to watch. The “brotha”(dubbed a “male friend” in one article),  added further insult to injury and said to Maia, “pump my gas” in pimp-like fashion, disparaging her further while continuing to record and mock her broken state. This black man thought it necessary to post this event on social media, I suppose in an effort to become relevant. The video went viral. It was shared thousands of times amongst our own. People thought it funny. According to reports, she has a crack addiction and suffers from mental illness. How the f*ck is addiction and mental illness funny? Shame on us! Shame on the man who made the video.  And shame on everyone who shared it to get a “like”. But I digress…

The callousness in our people at times is baffling. Did slavery, Jim Crow, lack of opportunity, lack of education, lack of nurturing and poverty make us into insensitive human beings? Can we blame those real conditions on our current spirit? As if we don’t have enough issues and obstacles to fight, we have to deal with our own village frenemies as well. These are the same people(your fans), same magazines and news papers that applaud your music and talent, that showcase your success as an artist, your love as a father and who have honored you as a member of the black community. And poof! Just like that, you are reduced to simply a story line, and your business is all in the streets. Oh, what a fickle world we live in!

Social media can be like shark infested water, all they need is a little “chum” or for someone to fall off the boat, and the mindless feeding frenzy begins. Black folks in particular feed off of this kind of thing. We always have. We are the kings and queens of tear downs, demonstratively hateful gossip, and finding ways to shame one another or point out our brothers and sisters mistakes and missteps. I believe it gives those telling someone else’s news, a moment where they don’t have to think about their own misery, ugliness, vulnerability or pain.

Confessing an incurable disease is risky for anyone, but exposing it as a celebrity has to be the scariest thing ever. It’s another level of risk. People pay money for that kind of news story, whether you’ve infected someone or not in today’s “sell a celebrity story to TMZ for a check” climate. I am not excusing failure to disclose, I am simply pointing out the obvious. All of that aside, disclosing isn’t an option.

Living with disease, navigating dating and relationships with a diagnosis and trusting someone with that information has to be the highest level of risk out there. But to be clear, numbers don’t lie. Others are also keeping the secret for whatever reason and by doing so, are infecting other people in our community at an extremely high rate. We cannot continue like this! We have to find the courage to share the news. We have to talk about it openly and do forums that help ease the stigma and that provide a way to share the news safely. Millions of people carry this STI. You, Usher, have an opportunity, like Magic Johnson did back in the day with his HIV diagnosis, to make people aware of the disease and impact lives. The conversation has already started. It’s a wide open opportunity. You have this difficult moment to reflect and teach. Use it to be brave, to stand up and to create something meaningful. I will be happy to help you.

The good news is, herpes is not life threatening. All involved will find a way to keep going forward. You and all involved will bounce back and keep living. You must. Life surely goes on. The victims in your case will be a little more financially secure at your expense and though that doesn’t fix the life long condition, it certainly makes life a little easier for them. Again, millions upon millions of people have it, who never were given money to ease the pain or shame or give them the means to buy medications, pay bills or take a vacation to clear their head.

The statistics with STD’s and it’s impact on our community are real. We have to care enough about each other to have the honest discussion. We have to get tested. We have to set aside our own discomfort to protect others. And we have to hold those discussions in confidence on both sides. We have to care enough about our bodies to use protection especially, if we aren’t brave enough to talk about the elephant in the living room or ask for test results. We also have to do better at becoming caring human beings and not using these stories to bolster our own numbers(“likes”, “friends”), or to gain notoriety by furthering the pain.

The moral to the story is: if you have a disease and you don’t tell someone, you put them at risk, and they don’t get to decide on the act or relationship with all the facts. That is a costly decision. And this applies to every aspect of our dating lives, not just STD’s. We have to have the conversation(s) about things that aren’t pleasant as well. It’s the only way to know if what you share is real. It’s what grown people who care, do.

At the end of the day, this story will give way to the next big news story. Soon and very soon, it will become just another blurb in the social media news spectrum and the sting of the jokes and the headlines for this will fade. Let this be a wake up call about dating, relationships and our sex lives. This isn’t so much about you as a celebrity, as it is the cost of not speaking up and the reality of how hard it is for us to talk about issues to our own people.

And for the people with all the comments and jokes, let this be a reminder to return to compassion and to remember that just because something hasn’t affected us yet, doesn’t make us exempt and that we need to be mindful that even though we may not be impacted, we might have a friend, or family member who is(go back and look at the statistics then look at how many “followers” you have, it’s a given that some of them have it). Words are powerful. Use them to uplift, to improve your people, to offer guidance and advice, to make positive change, not to be the antithesis to that. We have enough mess in our community to overcome, let’s not add to it by jumping on the popular mean-spirited bandwagon.

Usher, my sincere hope is that you will rise from this moment better than you were before, to care more about the people in your life, to protect women and to be open and honest. My hope is that you and the women involved in this unfolding story will all be able to live happy and full lives and that when it’s all said and done, our people will do better.

Let this be our Magic Johnson moment of truth on this topic. Let us be brave enough to keep the conversation at the forefront in an enlightening and honest way and let us be better for it.

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An Open Letter to the Man Who Asked “Why We Women Celebrate Being Single, Knowing We Want a Relationship”

I read a post the other day from one of my male Facebook friends who asked “Why do you single women celebrate being single, knowing you want to be in a relationship?” Then he mentioned Beyoncé songs having us “messed up”.

Well the long and short answer is: Even though we women are plenty powerful, we can’t make someone be in a committed relationship with us, last time I checked, it takes two. Regarding “celebrating being single” well yes, of course. If I wake up and I’m single, I celebrate my life as it is. I enjoy my moments, hours, days and years as they are, not as I wish they were. To that point, I want 10 million in my bank account, but since it’s not there (yet), I celebrate the $100(give or take a few dollars) that’s left over after my bills are paid. And I want a baby blue Continental GT V8 convertible Bentley, but since I don’t have it, am I not to celebrate the great car I have? How should we live our lives when we don’t have exactly what we want? Should we be unhappy, angry, sad, miserable and bitter?

To your point, yes, of course many of us want to be in committed, loving, supportive relationships or even married, but it’s not about us and what we want. We can only manifest so much on our own.

Shall we talk?

Let’s keep it 100. There are so many men playing games and playing house, that it will make your head spin. Some men are maximizing their social media outlets, dating apps, work relationships and social outings using them as springboards into new vaginas. They go from one woman to the next, like a honey bee pollinating flowers. It’s not an easy task to have a man see the value in loyalty, love and commitment with one amazing woman, when his options are wide open and each day adds new forums that allow him to dabble in something new.

Today even men in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are still “sewing their wild oats” like a boy in high school. No, not all. There are some men who are seeking marriage and commitment. There are faithful, committed and happily involved men who lead their households and take care of their women and children, men who show love and appreciation for the women in their lives. I personally know a few. But this isn’t about those men. This is about the “others”.

As for me, when I think about spending the “rest of my life” with someone, I don’t want to settle for just OK. I want it to feel right, not just in the bed, but after the “nut” too (yeah I said it!). The next morning and throughout each day, I want my spirit to feel good about my life with him. I need him to be my friend, the keeper of my secrets, the one I trust with my heart and time. The one I can watch Steeler football with and share laughs.  A partner who will love me, care about my family and perhaps teach me something. And to be clear, yes, I’ve had people want to commit to me and I’ve had a person or two since my divorce, that I cared enough to commit to, but the Universe, timing and fate had other plans. So “single” it is for now.

And finally, can we go there? Can we talk about the millions of married people and people in “relationships” who are miserable and barely holding on? Can we talk about the men and women who cheat to augment their unhappy “couple” lives? The ones who tell their friends and loved ones how miserable they are? The ones who hate to go home after work because they aren’t in love or they argue all the time? The ones who are in relationships but bored to death and lonelier than many single folks. Can we talk about that? Dare I say, they (you) should probably celebrate in our joy, peace and freedom.  Note: All single people aren’t unhappy and all coupled people aren’t happy and in love.

Regarding music and it’s impact…though I am not a Beyoncé record buyer per se, I do love some of her music. And a few of them do resonate. One of them is called Best Thing I Never Had“, when I hear  this song, it makes me feel grateful for the ones that got away. And then there’s Irreplaceable that song that too many of us can relate to and there’s If I Were a Boy that reminds us of all the things you do that we put up with. I could go on but you get the point. Settling is not an option, not anymore. Don’t hate on Beyoncé. Trust that when we have a good man, we will take care of him and we will ensure he knows we have his back and his front. We got this! In the spirit of songs, what we need from you is to say Never Felt This Way and Spend my Life With You and then we will be able to say I Know.

So do us a favor, don’t ask us “why we celebrate being single”. We celebrate life with or without a man because that’s exactly what we are supposed to do until we find the one person who is ready, willing and able to add value, stability, peace and joy to our lives.

Now back to my life. As you were.

Rhonda E. Frost

 

10 Reasons Why I am Still Single

By Rhonda E. Frost

1/7/2017

The other day, I posted a quote on my Facebook page that said something like “humble enough to know I have a ton of flaws, but wise enough to know my heart is pure and my soul is as dope as they come”~Author Unknown. To that, one of my 4800 male followers said “why are you still single then?”. Mind you, I get that question often(as if they just don’t understand why I am single) and usually I dismiss it lightly or ignore it completely, but for whatever reason, I decided to respond to him. And I did so with this:

Not sure how that applies but to oblige you, here’s my answer: Finding love, and a person to spend the rest of your life with isn’t something to take lightly and it’s not easy. It’s magical…it’s serendipity. One day, he will appear and I’ll know he’s the one. I won’t force it, nor will I settle. I’m OK with being single vs just being in a relationship to say “I’m in a relationship”. I go on plenty of dates and I actually have pretty good offers out there but in due time…”

That response seemed to work and he politely thanked me and wished me the best in my love/dating journey.

Now, having said that,to be clear, that is one of the most insensitive and ridiculous questions to ever ask a single woman! And by design (or at least it sounds like), the person asking, is insinuating that something might be wrong with the unattached woman. Maybe I have it all wrong, but it sounds like it. For an analogy, it’s like asking a woman who wants to get pregnant, and who is doing all the things it takes to have a baby(regular sex, good health, a willing partner, etc.) and saying “why haven’t you gotten pregnant yet?”. Really?

I wonder if men ask other single men, “hey man, why aren’t you married yet?”, or “why are you still single?”. Or if these same men ask unhappily married folks “why are you still in that f*cked up marriage?”(yeah there are lots of those too). I bet not! Yet, they look at single women like she must be “crazy” or must be lacking something wifey pertinent, otherwise they’d be married. Hmmmm…And if a woman is in decent shape, fairly attractive and half-way smart, the questions are even more incredulous.Smdh! By the way, half the country is single-that means, there are millions of single men and women. Millions! The reasons are boundless.

So for all those men, who take the time to ask single women this insane question or who judge women in some way due to her “unmarried” status, consider these 10 reasons that I/we might be single:

  1. No one has proposed! News flash! Yeah the guy we are dating, has to ask us to marry him!
  2. We haven’t met the man who is “ready, willing and able” to be a loyal, monogamous, and a provider husband(yes, I am old skool to a degree). A man who we have a mutual attraction, respect and connection with to accept as our life partner. Yeah, that guy…he hasn’t arrived yet.
  3. Too many men are maximizing their options on social media, dating sites, and in these streets-one good woman, won’t do-they are swapping bed partners like a game of musical chairs, and changing women, like people change their underwear.
  4. Married men who want to date us, can’t marry two women at the same time. There are laws against it in the United States.
  5. Too many men show up with just a “dick pic”, a dinner offer, some “hey beautiful” compliments and think they can sell women the dream. They don’t bring a plan, they lie, actions don’t follow the offers or promises, they don’t know what to do when they get the woman they chased, and their sexual prowess is underwhelming.
  6. Some women like being single and aren’t ready to give up their comfortable life, to rush to be in a lackluster, unfulfilling, anxiety producing situation, just to say she’s in one.
  7.  We are working on self. We realize we are broken and are taking the time to review our relationship choices, get ourselves together(credit scores, health, mind), examine the lessons learned, and the mistakes made in the past, before opening the door.
  8. Not enough quality choices to go around-(gay, incarcerated, broken spirits, broken morals, broken lives, nothing to offer, selfish, unromantic, etc.etc.).
  9. Societal norms have changed-We’ve gotten away from basic dignity, respect, and loyalty in the courting process-dating with a long term purpose is no longer the priority-everything is game and fast.
  10. Timing-everything is about timing and fate. Two people meeting at the same time, who are “ready, willing and able” to be in a committed relationship, do the work, who communicate openly, genuinely like each other, and who have good chemistry-is about timing. That isn’t something that can be forced or cajoled. It happens organically. Humans have zero control over timing or fate. All one can do, is be ready when the “magic of timing” happens.

I am still single for all of the reasons above. Are there lonely nights on this journey? Oh my goodness, yes! But are there also weeks of endless dating and fun conversations with new people? Absolutely! Have I had people love me and want to be in a relationship? Yes! And yes, I’ve had my heart open to a select few and have had it bruised. And I’ve had high hopes with a few who showed their character in short order and those hopes were dashed. It’s all part of the process until one day everything changes. Love is still out there and I will have it, but not at the sacrifice of being treated less than what I deserve just to have a piece of something. Nahhh, that won’t work.

So the next time you get ready to ask a woman, “why are you still single?”, just don’t. Put this list in your pocket or frame it and hang it on the wall in your home, and memorize it. And do women a favor, come up with better questions or better yet, bring more to the table and deliver it with good intention, and perhaps you won’t have to ask that question at all.

My PSA for today.

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Dear Future Husband: A Grown Woman’s Thoughts on Dating

By Rhonda E. Frost

I don’t necessarily want to know what college you went to and what degree you obtained. I need to know if you can communicate in good and bad times in the wee hours of the morning and late at night, about things that matter.

I don’t care how many S550s, Bugatti’s, BMW M6 special edition cars you have, what your 401K balance is, or where you go for vacation; I need to know if you will be there when I call, to make sure I’m OK and to talk me through my issue or share in my joy. I need to know if your word is “bond”, and if I can trust you to protect my heart. I need to know if you care enough to be fully present, when we spend time.

I’m no longer impressed by titles and the extras after your name, (Dr. MA, Ph.d, VP, or President of so and so- I’ve dated them). I need to know if you are kind and affectionate, if you will care for me if I become sick, and if you will pray for me when I can’t pray for myself.

I need to know what makes you feel alive. I want to know your fears and your back story. I want to know the parts of you, you’ve never told anyone. I need to know how you treat your Mama, your children, and those you say you love. I need to know who you are when you are angry. I want to see you laugh til you cry. I want to know your love language and I want to show you mine.

I don’t need to hear another promise, or necessarily be told how beautiful I am (though I am not opposed to genuine compliments ), but more importantly, I need to know that you see my inner being, the beauty and grace of my soul, the struggle in my story and that you want to be here. It’s important that you see and accept my broken parts, that you keep my secrets, protect my scars, and value my stretch-marks. I need to know that when you look at me, you see the blessing in our union.

I don’t need to spend weekend after weekend on another pointless date, hanging out with you at the “spot” or making love without purpose or meaning (that’s something I don’t need to practice); I need to know what you want to do and where you want to go…with us. I don’t have any more years, to donate to the game.

I don’t really care how much “swag” you have, how many Purple Label fine suits you can pull out of the closet, or how many Gucci driving loafers and silk ties you can rock on any given day. I need to know who you are when I’m not looking, and who you are when I am.

Your fine-ness, collegiate accomplishments, snazzy cars, gift of gab, credit score and dollars in your bank are icing on the cake-of-you. But if the rest of the above is missing, if your character is broken, and your words don’t match what you do, we won’t make it.

Just let me love you. Let me laugh with you, spend time, develop trust and move towards eternity with you as my partner, my backbone, my supporter and friend and let me be that her for you. That’s what matters. Take my hand, lead the way…I’ll follow.

That’s where this grown woman is today.

(updated 2/5/2018)

 

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Dear Future Husband: We Almost Had Forever

by Rhonda E. Frost-12/15/16

You are this enigma. This amazing man who pours on the appeal and feeds a woman everything she needs to hear and feel, and then you disappear for inexplicable periods of time, leaving her “fiend-ing” for more, craving a hit, like a washed up heroin addict.

You communicate with precision, grace and fluidity when you feel like it and then you shut down on a whim, like a level IV prison after someone’s been stabbed. It’s the most complex thing I’ve seen.

I wish I understood this. I wish I understood why the Universe felt like I needed you to enter my life? What was the lesson or purpose? And why didn’t it let us get to the promised land?  Yeah that’s what I want to know.

I wanted to know you. What you felt about love, trust and relationships. I wanted to go to a park and run or walk with you, go to concerts and plays. Have get-together’s with friends and play dominoes and spades, while Kem, Tamia, J.Cole and Ne-Yo entertain us from the playlist.

I envisioned making love in the morning and then making you breakfast before you left for work.

I wanted us to cook dinner together and try new recipes, while sipping on Patron margaritas (with salt on the rim) and that tasty splash of Grand Marnier.

I wanted to work with you and learn from you. And build an empire.

I wanted to trust us.

I wish I had gotten past the surface to know your secrets, to learn your hustle, and see your real feelings.

Mostly I wanted us to fall in love and stay there. I guess the Universe had other plans.

Perhaps you were saved from me and I was saved from you. And perhaps instead of mourning the loss of us, I should stand in gratitude for having shared those beautiful, temporary moments in the first place.

Sure-fire Way to Get Over Your Ex- Make a List!

There’s no pain like break up pain and there’s no task harder than letting go of a bad relationship when you still love someone. It takes work and a definitive plan to move forward. And while you will need a strong support group and lots of care during this time, you will also need a list. Yes a list! One of the most helpful things you can do during this fragile time to get over your lost love and unhealthy relationship is to write out why you broke up. This isn’t just any list, it’s a lengthy “post-it” note on college ruled paper to remind you why he wasn’t good for you. Make a list of every time he hurt you, make a list of all the things he did to disrespect you or show you he didn’t care. And make a list of all the reasons it won’t work. Be honest with it. Tell the truth to yourself.

Let me help you get started. It goes something like this:

He allowed his ex girlfriend(s) to call, send texts and pictures
He never checked on my well being or went out of his way to uplift my life.
He didn’t listen, always blamed or played victim
He was selfish(and say how)
He cheated on me (and name her and the number of times)
He made promises he didn’t keep (remind yourself of which ones)
He took more than he ever gave
He was abusive
He was disrespectful (say how)
He didn’t communicate worth a damn!
He was rude: talked on the phone, took calls in my presence, text folks etc
He didn’t handle his business in the bedroom(or whatever fits here)
He lied to me not once but many times about…(fill in the blanks)
He forgot my birthday
He’s married or in love with someone else (Duh! but yes this is a real situation)

Anyway, you get the point.

When you have completed your honest list, post it everywhere: your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, your computer at work etc. So the next time you start waxing nostalgic about what you had and how much you miss him, just go stand in front of your list and remind yourself why it was best to let him go and remind yourself that you deserve a whole, happy, loving relationship one on one with a good person.

If you don’t remind yourself of why he wasn’t good for you, the emotional part of you will succumb to the non-sense (aka bullsh*t) again. If you aren’t armed with the truth at all times, that next text or call from him will make you weak in the knees and he will have you caught up again, sipping the Jim Jones juice, killing off more of your life, all to your peril.

And lastly, give yourself the extra help you need at this difficult time, use the “block” button on your phone. It works and saves you from checking your phone every 15 minutes to see if he called or text you (Lord knows I did that sh*t before LOL and SMDH). You have to do all you can to get over anyone who hurts you and takes more than they give. It’s your responsibility to love you and take care of your heart. Let them go!

The only time you should think about taking them back, is if they undo all the wrong, apologize and SHOW you in every way, they learned their lesson and then come correct. Yes, that means they need to put a ring on it (in my Beyonce voice) and invest time and money! Otherwise tell em boi bye!

By Rhonda E. Frost

Published author, of the book Why Do I Have to Think Like a Man? , writer of all things relationship, formerly married, current serial dater, lover of life and 100% Steeler fan.

 

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Don’t Awaken Her Love…if You Have No Intentions of Loving Her

Bob Marley has this quote that says, “The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.”

And to that I say this: for any man entering (or trying to re-enter) any woman’s life…if your intentions are dishonorable, if you want only to take and not give, if you aren’t clear about what you want and need, if you aren’t emotionally (or otherwise) ready, and if you cannot add value: emotional, joy, love and financial value and commit to the process and the relationship, then do yourself and us a favor and keep it moving.

Don’t open a woman’s heart if you have no intention of doing right, being right and loving her. And if you aren’t capable of loving and staying-then stop before you start. To be in it, you have to be “ready, willing and able…”(in my Jaheim voice). If you play games, or dabble in it…if you toy with her emotions and heart, be ready to manage whatever the outcome of that looks like. Don’t play victim when it gets real. At this point in life, none of us have time for anything less than ALL IN LOVE. Most women have had enough of the nonsense, I know I have. I won’t do it anymore. Come correct or don’t come. Either way, we will be fine. Love us or let us be!

Now that you know…let’s proceed~

~by Rhonda E. Frost

 

 

An Open Letter to Exes

If you break up with someone or get a divorce there’s usually a reason that occurred. There was something that wasn’t working to the point where it made sense to let that person go. That being said, it’s natural to miss the one you loved or still love for that matter. Let’s face it, breaking up is hard and we all reminisce and sort through memories of times you shared with that someone who was special at one time or another and we all imagine what it could have been like had they worked for us. We all do that.

But here’s the deal, if you broke up with someone and you go back to someone else or you move on quickly to the next person before your heart is healed or before your mind is clear on what you want and need, it creates a messy situation and potentially a hurtful situation because what you will find after the salve of him or her over your wounded needy heart has dissipated and the excitement of someone else filling that empty space has worn off, you wake up and realize one of these things: 1)they are not what you really want or need, or 2) the relationship isn’t going to work for a myriad of reasons, 3) you realize you just aren’t ready for another relationship or 4 ) you miss the person you had-and then you have to back out of the new situation and risk hurting someone. Sometimes you can back out peacefully and amicably, sometimes not, because emotions are a tricky thing.

Now the other piece to this very important message today is this-if you move on to the next thing and you find you aren’t as happy as you might have envisioned…don’t, and I repeat DON’T pull the one you left back into the fray. Don’t text them, don’t send subliminal messages, don’t send sweet songs for them to listen to, don’t send flowers, don’t tell them you miss them and by all means, don’t tell them about your current or failed new relationship! All that does is: 1) it keeps them connected to you and keeps their hopes up of rekindling(which is what you hope it does) and 2) it creates a volatile situation for all parties. And above all of that, it’s selfish.

So if you have moved on, know that the other person is also trying to move on. And you calling, texting and sending mixed messages doesn’t serve the healing process. You trying to keep them in the relationship matrix because the new thing isn’t as good as what you had, isn’t fair or right. This is how people get hurt, physically and otherwise. The only time you should reach back to rekindle love with your Ex is if: 1) you plan to do right, 2) you have cleared the mess you created, 3) you’ve apologized for the wrong you’ve done and 4) both people want the same thing at the same time.

This is about feelings and raw emotions and selfishness. Be careful with folks hearts. It’s not a game. Playing with fire will often times get you burned or in street terms get you f*cked up!

In closing, the next time you decide to move forward with someone else, take a good hard look at what you have and examine the value and what they give to you and do for you and if you decide after that evaluation to go on, then do that and never look back but don’t do that and keep pulling others back in for your selfish needs. And if you disregard this PSA and do it anyway, well don’t act like a victim when the sh*t goes bad. You get what you get.

~Rhonda E. FrostMe June 2016