What My Mother Didn’t Tell Me About Dating

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I could probably name 100 things my mother taught me about women, love, life, relationships and marriage. However, she neglected to tell me what I’d face once I decided to start dating. I’m sure she would have told me more had she known. Also, there are certain lessons my father should have taught me. That being said, by the time I started dating, the rules of engagement and the dating landscape had changed so drastically, that there’s no way she could have prepared me for this. And that, ladies and gentlemen is where I’m going to start.

The Beginning

I would say that I started, “real dating ” when I was a freshmen in college. But I started back in high school. Needless to say, even back then, dating was a big mess. Although, it was much more simple. I could take a young woman out (broke as I was) to grab a $2 Whopper without the cheese (and if she was special) she’d get cheese on it.  Yeah, cheese on your burger meant you were pretty dope back then. All that being said, I was still learning how to approach a woman in a serious way. I remember sitting on the stairs of my dorm and thinking of my father, and how I couldn’t call him and ask him what to do. So I fell back on the teachings of my mother and there wasn’t much I could use other than…be myself (at least, that’s what I thought).

That was a good start. Although, a lot of the guys who were, “faking the funk,” were getting all the women, I remained calm, and stuck with what she taught me.

Being A Conversationalist Requires Skill

Listen, I don’t know about your parents, but my mom didn’t tell me that conversation is actually something I needed to be good at when engaging with a woman I liked. Sometimes I would find myself like… “so…. what … am I supposed to say now?”

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Sitting there at a loss for words, blank stare and all, It was painful! It was gut-wrenching. Some grown men still deal with this issue. But I learned a value lesson. Great conversation is a skill. Some people have it, some don’t. But you can learn how to-be great at it. Problem, was, I was still green as hell and super bold. Not a good mix when you have no idea what to say.

One time when I was hanging out with the fellas (while in high school), we went to the arcade and of course they wanted to talk to girls. On the way there I was dreading the disaster yet-to-come. Once we arrived, they went straight to the girls. I tried to play it off and act like I was that much into a game of Centipede. But then the craziest thing happened… I walked over and tried to kick-game to a girl! Huge mistake. That was not me, and I got dissed because I didn’t know what to say. Of course, I never did that again.

Through each conversation, I learned a new lesson, and through that, I developed my conversation-swag. Now, I can talk to anyone, about anything. And it only took me 10 years ((sarcasm)).

Be Yourself Even When It’s Hard

As shown above, I had a hard time in my teen and post-teen years because, I truly had no idea what I was doing. No one told me about the pressure to-be someone else. I also didn’t know that being me would be so hard. I am still the same silly cerebral, slash, creative I was back then. When you’re a freshmen in high school, women were not checking for a guy like me. They wanted the rough and tough guy. The Al B. Sure look-alike. Sure there were some who thought I was cute, but I am dark-skinned, without the good hair. Yeah… good hair. But I’m tall (that was one superficial thing I had going for me).  But it wasn’t enough. And I wasn’t the type of guy to yield to peer pressure. Be-yourself-things-my-mother-didn't-tell-me-about-dating

I wore Timbs, baggy jeans, a New York Giants Starter jacket, skully covering my kinky hair, headphones with the foam cushions that you’d always lose, cassette tape that popped, and a yellow Sony walkman. That was me. Down-to-earth, musically obsessed, always staying true to myself. However, mother didn’t warn me about how lonely that would get at times.

Mother Showed Me What Love Looks Like

But she didn’t show me how to [give] love and affection. As soon as I turned 18, here they came. The women. the older, and the women who were around the same age as me. It didn’t matter, they came and I didn’t know how to handle them.

I went straight to college after high school and I remember when a much older junior  (we’re going to call her, “B.”) was after me like lioness after a Wildebeest. Every time I tried to get away, she would smack my back leg, I’d fall down and she was all over me. She was really nice, and the odd part was, all the men on campus wanted her. But, she wanted me! I wasn’t flattered, because I was too young and naïve to the fact, and couldn’t believe that this beautiful woman wanted a cornball.

She told me, “you have to figure that one out.” Really? That’s the best you got?

B, was always very affectionate, caring, and talked to me like a man. I knew how to accept that type of love and affection because my mother showed me something similar. That being said, I didn’t know how to reciprocate the love I was receiving. That was something she couldn’t teach me. Responding to the affections of a grown woman are, “man issues.” Needless to say, I was shy, apprehensive and very cautious. I even called my mother to ask her what to do. She told me, “you have to figure that one out.” Really? That’s the best you got?

When It’s Time To Choose, Do It Quickly (and wisely)

But, who teaches you how to choose? What if you have two or three women that really like you, and they’re all nice and showering you with love?

I’m a young man, I’m not ready for this! No one told me it would be this hard. I learned a tough lesson though…

“choose quickly or deal with the consequences.”

Women are not one to wait. And even when they act like they’re being patient, if you take too long, they will either walk, find someone else, or give you the 3rd degree. Oh and, they won’t tell you their timeline. So you just have to know that you’re taking too long by the mental clock in your head. Basically, you have to guess. And you don’t want to run out of time before you reach the goal or, GAME OVER.

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Whatever you do, be decisive about choosing a woman… or, don’t choose at all. Just stay single, but let them all know your intentions. And that’s what I did. I stayed single. I didn’t have a steady girlfriend until my junior year in college. And yes, I choose her.

No More Meeting At The Corner Store

When I was about 15, I remember hanging out with friends at the corner store, cracking jokes, grabbing some Jolly Ranchers, a couple of juices with the aluminum foil top, and just hanging out. Then, a group walks in…That’s when I saw the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.

She was dressed straight out of a Salt-N-Pepa video. Her over-sized gold painted earrings, black tights, red boots and 8 ball jacket made me reminisce the “Push-It,” video.  But that didn’t distract me… for the first time I was going to tell her how beautiful I thought she was.

That, was how it used to be. This is how mommy told me it would be. You see the girl, introduce yourself and the conversation begins. That was then. Now it is all about how savvy you are online. From dating sites to social media,

In 2015 Pew Research center conducted a study about online dating.  They stated that “1/3 of the people in marriages meet online.”

Now, you meet digitally. The innocent feelings are gone. People are now scared to initiate conversation. Instead of seeing the person live, they are online “catfishing.” Or, they are being dishonest about their relationships status. So you never know what you’re going to get. Dating in 2017, is truly a mixed box of chocolates.

My mother didn’t see this coming and quite frankly, neither did I. I miss the old ways of dating.

What Did I Learn?

In conclusion, I learned that my mother did teach me a few things about dating that I didn’t know she taught me until I was older.

  • Mom taught me, as a man I would have to stand alone as an individual (as a man).
  • If she doesn’t accept you for who you are, then she’s not worth it
  • How to love myself
  • She showed me what real love looks like

All the things I learned from her, including the lessons she didn’t teach me, all shaped the man you see today.

Thanks mom,
R.I.P.

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Dating And The Plight Of The Black Woman – Part I

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When dating, the plight of the black woman is like no other. This isn’t intended to diminish the challenges and obstacles of any other race of woman. This is also not written to attack the opposite sex.  It’s written to bring awareness, understanding and empathy for a culture of women that has to overcome not only the unfavorable stigma attached to their pigment and the texture of their hair, but also, the negative character portrayal and barrage of stereotypical images of black women in the dating world.

Stereotypes of the Black Woman

To name a few:

  • The black woman doesn’t care about her body.
  • She doesn’t like her own hair.
  • They do not listen to their man.
  • The black woman is not marriage material
  • Black women have bad attitudes
  • Black women have negative attitudes
  • They don’t get along with other women
  • Black women hate white women
  • The women are gold diggers
  • She is always angry
  • Black women are ghetto and ratchet
  • She talks too much
  • Black women are bitter and heart-broken
  • They are lazy baby-makers
  • Black women can’t keep a man

Of course, none of these insidious and damaging characterizations of black women are true.  However, it is important for you to realize how these stereotypes (or any stereotype) impact the dating landscape and the overall psyche of a black woman.

Origins

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Based on a study conducted in the winter of 1999 by Laura Green of Virginia Commonwealth University. Sambo, Jim Crow, The Savage, The Mammy, Aunt Jemima, Sapphire and Jezebel are major causalities that result in stereotypes centered around black people and black women.  In addition, the stereotypes of black women go as far back as slavery days and have stalked black people like a specter and/or evolved into modern-day thought.

Negative Polls About Black Women

Black women are beauty personified. However, black women have been degraded since slavery. Even so, by their own men.  In video poll conducted by Buzz Feed researchers, called, “Do You Have A Racial Preference…” 2.4 million heterosexual interactions from the app, “Are You Interested.,” were used to determine preference. Users were classified by their gender and race.

The study revealed:

  • Black women are the least desirable among all women.
  • Black men responded mostly to women of other races, even though black women were 3 times more likely to respond.
  • Black women are the least replied-to group.
  • Black women are also the most likely to respond when compared against other races of women.
  • Black women respond 25% more than other women.
  • A similar survey by OkCupid revealed that black women were the least replied-to group.
  • 1 out of 2.9 men respond to black women

 

More on that OkCupid survey

Back in 2009, the basics of race and attraction looked like this:

men
—non-black men applied a penalty to black women
—while black men showed little racial preference either way

women
—all women preferred men of their own race
—but they otherwise penalized both Asian and black men

Here’s how the exact person-to-person statistics look: Focus on the Black men rating and then look at the Black women rating.
I gather a few things from these numbers.

  • Black men are willing to seek love outside their own race willingly.
  • Black women are not as willing to do so.
  • Black men rate black women least desirable at -3%
  • Black women rate black men, “most” desirable at 16%
Dating-statistics-Black women
Photo Credit: OK Cupid

 

Some things never change…

  • Black men are still willing to seek love outside their own race willingly.
  • Black women are less likely to do so than they were in 2009
  • Black men rate black women least desirable at 1%. Which is a slight jump from 2009
  • Black women rate black men, “most” desirable at 23%. Which is a 7% jump from 2009.
  • Black women are the only race to rate black men, “positively.”
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Photo Credit: OkCupid

Continue reading “Dating And The Plight Of The Black Woman – Part I”

It’s Time To Accept The Emotional Shift In Men

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Are men “more emotional” now? Or, have men’s emotions been repressed all this time by socialization, tradition, norms, rearing, and conditioning?

A few questions

Why do you see men dying much faster than women outside our reluctance to visit the doctor? Why do you see so many men dying of depression and hypertension? Why do you see far more men (than women) shooting up schools and committing mass murders?
In his article about male violence, Jesse J. Prinz of Psychology Today says:
Men perpetrate about 90 percent of the world’s homicides and start all of the wars. A recent article in a prominent science journal contends that evolution has shaped men to be warriors. More specifically, the authors claim that men are biologically programmed to form coalitions that aggress against neighbors, and they do so in order to get women, either through force or by procuring resources that would make them more desirable. The male warrior hypothesis is alluring because it makes sense of male violence, but it is based on a dubious interpretation of the science.
The numbers are alarmingly slanted towards men vs women. You see men in movies and on television running around killing 1000 people without dropping one tear. That is the reality men have to live up too. Be like that guy! Hard, no-fear, no pain, no hurt.  Be sophisticated and savvy like James Bond, never waver, do not let any man beat you at anything.  

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Photo Credit: Jordan Whitt
Well shit… I hurt, I feel pain, and I wanna cry (sometimes) dammit. So call me a punk. Call me less than a man.

Emotional athletes

What about sports? We label these men as, “warriors.” Until…. you see them crying on the sideline .
Then, you say….”he’s being too emotional.” You look at this man, as, well… “less than a man.” Why? Because he’s in touch with his emotions and the other men aren’t? Or, maybe because society doesn’t let men cry. So, as result, you see repressed emotion on the field. The only emotions these men show is anger and aggression.  That’s what we pay for right? Gladiators. Well, even Gladiators had feelings.

To make matters worse

You see young boys being taught they shouldn’t cry, don’t be a punk, you’re a sissy if you express yourself, don’t talk too much, “get-up (from a fall) that didn’t hurt!” Meanwhile we embrace the exact opposite in women. Women live longer and more fulfilling lives as a result. Societal pressures have doomed men. This was inevitable. Women have begun to jilt their societal and traditional “garb” and have traded up for business suits, careers, expression, aggression, leadership, stabilization of finances, and independence. I applaud these women for having the courage to go against the grain.. and I side-eye, sneer and laugh at the men that don’t accept them.
 
Basically, there is a shift going on. Not women becoming stronger than men. Not men becoming more “feminine.” Just humans realizing that we were created to evolve.
Are you prepared?

Gal Pals 101

Yep…

First of all I am going to say that this it not friendship advice, and that I am in no way qualified to be dishing out any of that. That would be like Charlie Sheen being an AA counselor. However, …

Source: Gal Pals 101

Ladies – Do You Groom?

I’m not talking in general, but specifically when you go to the gynecologist. Do you groom your body before a pap smear or gynecologist exam? I mean I can’t be the only woman who thinks it is important when heading to the gynecologist to make sure that my pedicure is fresh and everything else from the top to body is as well.

I only book early morning appointments if I can help it. I also make sure that my legs are shaved, my feet finely shaped and no hammer toes or cracked skin. Yep, I still lotion my body from head to toe. I don’t use spray in between my legs because I don’t want it to mess up any cultures or exam. However, I refuse to let myself look like I just woke up and came out when someone is between my legs.

Especially a medical professional.

I had my exam yesterday with one of the male doctors in the practice and I swear he gets cuter every year. He’s not even 40 yet. This man diagnosed me 9 years ago with preeclampsia and he was only 31. He circumcised my son and has been a vital part of my medical history for the last 9 years since I arrived at the practice.

There is never awkwardness between my gynecologist and I. Great conversation and sincere concern about my health. He’s given me great advice on my weight loss and overall health. He’s also pretty hot.

He told me when he finished looking in between my legs that he liked my red toe nail polish. He noticed. Aww, it was the little things.

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Guest Blogger Post: …and some are TOADS!

For my entire life, I have heard that “All Men are Dogs”, to some extent that is true, but, some are “TOADS”.

Like so many of us women, when we were young girls growing up, we wanted that Prince Charming. We wanted the fairy tale life that we read about.  We wanted the white picket fence, a great job, and 2.5 children (I never understood the 2.5 children).

Unfortunately, many of you have not found your “KING” because you do not want to kiss the “TOADS”!

TOADS, yes!  Many of you are overlooking the toads.  You are overlooking them because they do not look good to you on paper.  They are not the ones that you have vision/dreamt that you would be with.  Many of them do not have the six figure income, they have children, they have baby momma/mommas drama (I think 2 baby mommas is the limit), drive a hooptie, live in an apartment, and so on.  Yet, they have dreams.  They dream of having their QUEENS, they are not looking for a helping hand, they are looking for support, but, yet they get overlooked.

These men are teachers, nurses, factory workers, coaches, policemen, mechanics, truck drivers, managers, small business owners, correctional officers, and I could go on and on.

They are overlooked because they do not meet your standards; so they are passed over.

These TOADS are not on your list. Why? Because you never gave them a chance. You judged them by their appearance, what they drove, what they wore, and where they worked. You never acknowledged him. You never got to know their heart, their desires, and their dreams. You didn’t get to know the man. You blew off the TOAD!

He could be the GREATEST PROVIDER. He may not have the six-figure income, but, you can enhance and encourage him to go back to school and help him to further his education and his goals. He will not let you do it alone. He will contribute and will be very proud to do so. His credit score may be a 650-700 or lower, help him to change it. You may be the bread winner, but you do not have to throw it in his face…Trust me he knows.

He is a GREAT PROTECTOR. He will fight for your honor. If someone hurts you, he is ready to go to WAR!

He is a GREAT COMMUNICATOR. He is willing to share his dreams with you. He talks about “US”. He is knowledgeable, he is intelligent. He can/will surprise you with some of his conversations. He doesn’t just know about sports, there are other things that he could teach you.

He is EMOTIONAL. He will let you see his hurts, his tears, and his pain. He will listen to your needs and desires, your hurt, your pain, and offer comfort instead of blowing you off.

He is a GREAT COOK! He must be able to cook more than Ramen Noodles. If he is a great cook, ladies you got it made.

He is GREAT IN BED! He is willing to let you take the wheel in bed. He is willing to allow you to be you with him. He is ready to be handcuffed, tied up, or whatever when it comes to satisfying your “bedroom desires”.

Ladies, get to know the MAN before you brush him off.

You can turn that TOAD into a KING! He is looking for his QUEEN, too!

If I had been focusing on appearance, I would not have found my KING. Sure, I was young, just starting life, but I knew he was the one for me. We have been together for 17 years; married for 12 years. He is all of the above.

I didn’t find the “Perfect Man”, but I found the “Perfect Man for ME!” We have grown together. It hasn’t been easy but we have made it.

I hope you enjoyed.

Life may not go as you planned, but it is worth LIVING!

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This post was written by my fellow blogger at A Flawed Ruby. Check her out at www.aflawedruby2015.com

Happy

“Cause I like to see you happy.” – Mr. K

Yesterday, I was emailing Mr. K back and forth and he was making me laugh with the funny things he was saying in his email. He had me in stitches. I responded, “I’m smiling and that’s a good thing that you can make that happen on a consistent basis.” He responded “I like to make you smile”. I asked why and he responded “Cause I like to see you happy”.

Deer in headlights moment for me.

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I had NEVER EVER had a man tell me that he likes to see me happy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated men that probably felt that way, but never did someone ever tell me that they like to see me happy. Do you know how that felt? No?

Let me see…Amazing. Overwhelming. Incredible. Mind-blowing. Earth shattering. Awesome.

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I really can’t pick an adjective to describe the emotions that I felt, but it felt good. I had this permanent “happy face” all day. Is this possible? With all that I have going on could I actually be cheesing over something so simple and yet powerful? Yeah.

Mr_Happy

I’m complicated, moody, neurotic, uber analytical, nerdy, smart, loving, humble and grateful and he likes that. I’m not saying that he thinks I’m perfect. I’m sure there are some things he finds annoying, but in the depth of what he sees and says about me, he likes to see me happy.

Me.

No one has ever said that they like to see me happy. Wow! I’m grateful that I met a really nice guy that doesn’t ask for anything other than to spend time getting to know me. Who sees me as nerdy, complicated and over-analytical and then just wants me to know that he wants me to stop doing too much and just let someone else carry the load.

Umm, I’m speechless. Doesn’t happen often. However, I’m grounded in the fact that God puts people in your life for a reason, season or lifetime. I wonder what Mr. K is in my life for? Not sure. But, I’m overwhelmed by the fact that he likes to see me happy.

Flattered Woman Smiling --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

Has Anything Changed?

On Wednesday, I was looking at my “Timehop” application on my phone and it showed that five years ago I posted this on Facebook:

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Interesting that when I posted this I was happily married and not even really understanding the plight of single black women when it comes to finding a man. Why? Because I had a man. I could empathize with my sisters from a married woman’s perspective, but I couldn’t feel their weight when it comes to finding a man.

Fast forward five years later and I am one of those women. Starting over and trying to figure out the state of relationships among black women and black men in their 30’s and 40’s. Now, what’s interesting about this conversation with my friend was that we were discussing the relationships among blacks but using a fictitious white couple as a measure of success. Why? Because this was our point of reference for TV. We are both successful people, but black women and/or men as leading characters on prime time weren’t shown. Not in our age group.

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It’s five years later and we have points of reference in fictitious characters on television that resonate with us as a people. We have Olivia Pope (Scandal – ABC) and Mary Jane Paul (Being Mary Jane – BET) that show strong and successful women trying to navigate dating and relationships. This is my reality. I know many successful women in my circle who are in the same boat. Looking for their Mr. Big. Is it wrong? No.

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Let me tell you why…I worked my butt off. Hard. I stayed focus and stayed out of trouble. I was the 2nd grandchild out of 30 to attend college. Unheard of right? I focused on being able to take care of myself. No babies. No drugs and no jail. If I did everything right, shouldn’t I expect to find someone on the same level? Is having expectations for my potential mate a bad thing?

No.

Last week there was a post about how black women marry down more than any other group. You get it? We marry down instead of out. We fail to practice “assortative mating” which basically means that we choose spouses that haven’t obtained degrees like we have. Now, this was a hot topic on many of the blogs that I subscribe to with women saying that they won’t marry down. Let’s keep these two issues separate for now. Marrying down could be solely financial but there are many men who didn’t go to college but went to a trade school and make more money than their spouse. Think electrician, plumber or even auto mechanic.

When we marry “down” instead of “outside of our race” we are in essence creating wealth inequality and have a harder time trying to balance work/life than if both partners had gone to college and could afford private school. The idea that we are choosing spouses based off of love became non-existent. The study suggests that black women should choose partners based off the person that can provide for you to not create this gap in wealth. Umm, now marriage is a business transaction? I had issues with this whole argument, but moving past that and getting back to my what’s wrong with wanting Mr. Big – nothing!

It’s not about the shoe purchases, fancy dinners and a black card, but a man’s ability to take care of business. To be able to date a woman on his level that appreciates him and the things that he can bring to the table. We need to stop thinking that women are gold diggers when there are a reasonable number of people making decisions off a person’s look instead of their background, character or values. Money doesn’t make the man and good looks won’t keep the woman.

There is nothing wrong with having expectations and standards when it comes to dating. You have that right. You owe no one anything when it comes to making choices about your personal life and what you want out of a partner. I get it! Heck, if we’re being honest there are many men who don’t want to date me because I’m a plus sized woman. I’m okay with that. Your choice and your loss. I know my worth.

So, if I want a Mr. Big, I’m going to get him. You better believe that I’m bringing my Olivia Pope Mary Jane Paul entrepreneurial skills and business savvy mixed with my Carrie Bradshaw appreciation for the man who appreciates and respects me.

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It’s not the Manolo’s (no matter how beautiful) that matter, but the man himself. Find someone that is your Mr. Big and don’t settle! carrie-and-mr-big

A Poem of Friendship by Nikki Giovanni

For my friend…

We are not lovers
because of the love
we make
but the love
we have
We are not friends
because of the laughs
we spend
but the tears
we save

I don’t want to be near you
for the thoughts we share
but the words we never have
to speak
I will never miss you
because of what we do
but what we are
together

-by Nikki Giovanni

Marriage for One

Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without. – James Dobson

So, by now you’ve all seen the reports of the Texas woman, Yasmin Eleby, who married herself last month. If you haven’t heard (because you’ve been out of mainstream media) it was publicized that she got fed up with dating and promised herself that she would marry herself by the time she turned 40 if she wasn’t already married.

Ms. Eleby had an all out ceremony with 10 bridesmaids, a huge wedding cake and her sister officiating the ceremony. The ceremony was a symbolic ceremony because you can’t legally marry yourself, but the bride decided that she wanted a  wedding. Now, as weddings go, this one was all out gorgeous. The decor, location, colors, photos were all beautiful and appropriate, but I got to ask the question…is this where we are headed?

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I know what it’s like to get engaged and be all googly eyed over the possibility that you are marrying your soul mate. The other half of who you are. You stare at the ring thinking “He did good” and rush to call your parents and tell them the good news. You start planning immediately. Who will be your bridesmaids, what will you wear, the guest list, etc? It goes on and on. It is a roller coaster of emotion and you think…this is happiness.

But, is that really fair? What if you don’t ever meet your soul mate or it takes you a few failed relationships or marriages to find Mrs. or Mr. Wright? Should you be depressed and drink yourself into oblivion? Should you just take matters into your own hands and marry yourself in a grandiose fashion? Is marrying yourself in a small and/or simple ceremony more appropriate? Is marrying yourself a desperate attempt at being a bride regardless?

I don’t know. But, does it matter? Not everyone supported Ms. Eleby’s personal decision to marry herself. But, is it wrong to want to commit to honor yourself and who you are as a woman in an all out ceremony? Not to me. I have to say that I was intrigued by her desire to put forth a ceremony to vow to honor, love and protect the woman she is. If no man is forthcoming shouldn’t we do it for ourselves?

Think back to Sex in the City when Carrie Bradshaw created a wedding for her stolen Manolo Blahnik’s? I loved that episode. In it Carrie, attended a baby shower and her new shoes were stolen because all guests were required to take off their shoes. The host actually blamed Carrie for her shoes getting stolen by saying that she shouldn’t have worn such expensive shoes. Carrie decided to get her money back by creating a marriage to herself with only one gift on the registry…the same pair of Manolo’s that were stolen. The host paid for the shoes from the registry.

carrie-and-manolo-blahnik-picture

Genius!

Ultimately though, I have to wonder will society think women crazy because they vow to commit to themselves instead of waiting for a knight and shining armor to come sweep them off their feet with a big ring? Or will we be forced to be mocked because we want to honor ourselves in the same way we would honor ourselves if we had a partner? In either case, (Yasmin or Carrie), I say no. Marry who you choose. Including the person you love the most…You.