What follows is a conversation that took place between a friend of mine and some dude who thought he had a chance with me:

“Elle seems like a good girl.”
“She’s great, eh?”
“Yeah, but you know, she’s wifey type – I can’t touch that right now.”
Insert confused look on my friend’s face.
“Uhm, okay…”
“I’m not trying to be all serious and sh*t, maybe we could work in the future.”

This was beyond hilarious to me. I wasn’t surprised when she told me about this conversation, it was one I’ve often heard before. “I want to be with you but not now, you’re wifey material.” And what does that make you – in transition?!

There are two sides to this equation: there are the men who will go around stamping “wifey material” on women who have all the supposed qualifiers and then there are the women who gladly label themselves as such (Ashley Iaconnetti from The Bachelor, anyone?). There are also people who, after checking off a list of requisites needed to play wife, automatically assume that a bevy of men will come running like the gold rush. It’s great to place a high value on yourself, but if a man doesn’t want you, the fact that you happen to be wife material will not change that at all.

I was having dinner with my best guy friend when he decided to divulge some male secrets (I milk him for all he’s worth). The most interesting nugget was that men know very early on whether they’ll be keeping you around and further, what category they’ll place you in (ex.: hit it and quit it, possible girlfriend, after midnight girl, etc.). He emphasized that it does not take them a year to figure this out, more like a month. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! He must decide to be with you as much as you decide to be with him, no excess of perceived wife material will have him stick around if (A) he doesn’t see you that way and (B) the characteristics he wants in a wife don’t line up with what you’ve decided makes you a great catch.

And another thing, when you’re labelled wifey material, it automatically seems to mean to some that it’s the end of life as they know it and with you, they are doomed to a life of boredom. Can we not have a fun and stimulating relationship with a person we deem to be wife-like? Does my aura reek so much of seriousness that it puts off potential suitors? For once, I would appreciate it if before labelling me, a man could ask me exactly what it is that I’m looking for rather than assuming that I want nothing less than a marriage proposal next week. Yes I want commitment and yes I am a one-man woman, but please don’t think for a second that I want to deny myself the critical time necessary for you to go from a potential love interest to a boyfriend and to, y’know, “hubby material”.

If I sound frustrated, it’s because I am. I think we often go around placing labels on ourselves and others which close us to infinite possibilities. We could miss the opportunity of meeting someone amazing just because they do not necessarily fit society’s traditional view of what qualifies as “wife/hubby material”. So what if he has tattoos? He could be a successful businessman and a hella cool dude, but you would never know because of this checklist of nonnegotiables where tattoos are listed. We’re so quick to dismiss people who are not “worthy” of our time for superficial reasons. Of course religion, values and whether you want children are understandable necessities, but when your list is more than five pages long, there’s an issue. Now, can we stop labelling people wife material based on limited information? It is relatively easy to construct a semblance of an image of perfection for the world when it usually only represents a small part of who we are.

Side note: Once a guy told me he could tell I was a good girl aka as wifey because of my Instagram. I rolled my eyes so far back into my head. I choose not to show myself getting turned up because I want to remain employed and employable. That’s it, that’s all. So of course my Instagram is a carefully constructed image, is it who I am of course, but there’s only so much myself I can put online.

So the guy who thought that in a faraway future we would become Beyoncé and Jay-Z was obviously fooling himself. Little did he know that I’m an emotional eater, I’m indecisive and a tad bit moody. Had he known all of this, would he still be interested in me? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever he saw in me that allowed him to confidently label me as wife material was baseless since we had never spoken before. Can you tell I like to only surround myself with open-minded people? Anyhoo, be open and inviting, people can and will surprise you if you give them a chance.

 

I’m often approached by strangers who are eager to share their stories with me. Moments seemingly insignificant to me have sat on the tip of their tongues just waiting for the right passerby to share it with. At first, I found it strange that in a room full of people, they chose to share their stories with me and a little bothersome to my daily routine. My route home is usually the only quiet time I have and to give those precious moments away was a tad irritating. But, as I began to understand the human experience and the relief that is felt after releasing your innermost thoughts, I came to appreciate these moments more and more.

I was waiting at the bus stop when I was approached by another rider who was wondering if there was a cell phone repair shop nearby I said, “No. Not in the area.” She let out a loud sigh, “I’m leaving my husband.” I looked back at her a little dumbstruck. She continued: “I’m leaving him this week. I’m taking my son, packing my bags and leaving.” A part of me wanted to ask her why, but even though she was sharing these intimate details, it didn’t feel right to probe. “I found him in bed with another woman,” she then began to break down. “Everything he promised me, the life he said I’d lead with him was all a lie. Now, I’m dependent on him. I don’t know how I got here, but I have nothing. I’m moving to government housing next week. I’ve explained it to my son. I used to work you know and I need to start sacrificing again, but he understands that it’s for our happiness.”

For what it was worth, I understood. To put it in context, she lived in the suburbs. At that point, I could only nod sympathetically. She was breaking free from the hold he had on her life. I understood her pain and the strength it took to walk away from that kind of life. Having briefly lived in a shelter and having been raised in the projects, I got it. I also understood the significance of having to start over and going back to your humble beginnings.

I wished her the best and told her that she had to do what was best for her and her family. I added that she would be okay. We exchanged names hoping to run into each other in the near future – I never saw her again.

I had a reader express how brave I was to share such intimate details of my love life with the world. It felt nice to be acknowledged; however, it’s odd how comfortable I am exposing parts of my world to complete strangers. Some, I’m sure, could care less about what I have to say; my setbacks, my wants, my needs and my hopes. Yet, this cathartic journey I’ve embarked on has allowed me to accept my past, embrace my imperfections and push me to be better. I am not ashamed.

People within my circle have voiced that they didn’t realize how little I divulged. The experiences that they now know of, some they’ve learnt of through my blog. Believe it or not, in my everyday life I am a private person. Maybe I share with you all because I can better handle the judgment from behind a screen or maybe I embrace the partial anonymity which tends to bring forth keen insights from my readers. All of this to say, I understand how easy it can be to share your innermost feelings with a stranger. I also know that we are drawn to certain people without quite knowing why. It was clear, with regard to the woman I met at the bus stop, that there was something about our individual stories, our individual journeys that allowed her to open herself up to me.

I share with you because I don’t want to hurt and burden those around me. I smile because I know the pain is temporary. I get up every day knowing that I’ve been given the strength to continue. And, I fight because I believe that there will be better days. I continue to share with you because our stories are intertwined by a common thread which helps bring understanding to the general scheme of things and allows me to believe that I am truly living a purposed life. So, don’t be afraid of who you are and don’t be ashamed of your story. Always and I mean always, stand firm in your truth.

 

I attended a yoga/relationship workshop last year that recently came to mind because of all this breakup talk. I thought I’d share with you what I had learned and the perspective I constantly try to live by. The relationship expert had explained that break ups are hard because of the emotional attachment. The relationship is something familiar so it’s only natural to delay the inevitable, but we must always challenge the people and things in our lives in order to improve and empower ourselves. Sometimes we are scared to be alone and we’re addicted to the relationship because it’s serving us in one way or another, even when it’s emotionally draining. Since it’s serving us, we rationalize and justify our decision to stay. At times, it’s the fear of being alone so we feel the need to keep this person around until someone better comes along, rather than keeping the space empty, we depend on the relationship.

I spoke to the speaker after the event wanting her perspective on my situation. I had made a decision recently to not date for a year. I needed to cleanse, but I also wanted to get to a place where I trusted myself to make the best choices relationship wise. I was proud of myself for stepping away from the relationship world for a while, but after my conversation, it was clear that my decision was rooted in fear and insecurities.

I had been dating the same type of guy over and over again, the type we would characterize as bad boys. She explained how this behaviour could wear on my self-esteem and it was important to understand the reasons why I had found these guys attractive. They were emotionally unavailable and it was a challenge – they were a prize to be won. They were the cream of the crop and somehow I depended on them to make me feel good, but they were unable to give me the attention I needed. She also explained that when a good guy is giving me the attention I rightly need, I may feel compelled to push him away because I don’t understand this sudden surge of positivity. As a result, I return to a person who will accurately mirror how I feel about myself and the treatment I believe I deserve.

So, was I taking a break because I really wanted to focus on myself or was I closing my heart to remain in control and avoid another painful heartache I believed I couldn’t handle? I had an ah-ha moment and I realized I needed to break up with the fear of being vulnerable again. I was scared to fall back into unhealthy patterns so I avoided relationships altogether, but how was I going to know how far I had come? I knew deep down I wanted more and I also knew I could control the pace and walk away when it didn’t feel right. I had the power to guard my heart, but if I did hurt again, it’d be okay because I know I’m stronger than what I credit myself for. I also needed to get to a point where I loved myself enough to accept my past and my imperfections, but to also be aware of how far I’d come.

As soon as I decided to open up my heart again, I began meeting people who found beauty in my imperfections and who were willing to hold my hand through the process. I didn’t need to be perfect first, I was perfect to them just as I was. When someone really wants you, who you are in that moment will be enough.

Interestingly, she had mentioned that we can predict how we feel about someone within 7 seconds of meeting them. So, she pushed me to trust my gut instinct. She also said I should go out there and date. Further, to not be afraid to date men that I wouldn’t normally be interested in and to learn to have honest hour-long conversations with them to really learn what it is I need. It was time to get more experience, the good kind of course. This does not mean I need to be invested, if it works then fine and if it doesn’t, I move on.

So, I’ve decided to let go of the fear of being vulnerable, comment below and let me know what you’ll be breaking up with!

 

I was re-watching “Think Like a Man Too” on Netflix which got me thinking about all the dating guidelines given to us by Steve Harvey. Being the horrible dater that I am, I have absorbed the bulk of his advice by osmosis. I know all the rules of the dating game. Every. Single. One of Them. I can recite them backwards, but for the life of me I cannot get my brain to recall these rules at the precise moment that they’re needed. During those moments, I’ve wished that a mini Patti Stanger would have appeared on my shoulder to offer some guidance.

I put together a typical dating scenario where technically everything should have gone right. All the initial rules of attraction were followed, but in the real world there is no telling how it will go:

So, you’ve prepped all week for your date and the day has finally come. While listening to your motivational tapes, you go through your date prep check list to make sure you’re all ready to go. Your hair is long and flowing per the help of extensions ‘cuz y’know, men looove to run their fingers through long hair. You’re wearing a red dress because they dig vivid colours on a woman. Your one hour long natural-looking makeup process has got you looking like you woke up like this and your bedroom eyes are courtesy of those fake lashes. Finally, your spanx got you nice and tight, although not eating all day probably had more to do with it. Don’t you love being a woman?

You’re feeling good about the night ahead and you’re reciting that night’s mantra hoping all will go smoothly: “He shall see my fabulousness. He shall fall in love with the foxy fox that I am.”  You’ve written the mantra on a business card that is now tucked into your bosom and if all else fails, you can stare at it during your date. You’re at the restaurant enjoying each other’s company and he asks you those two dreaded first date questions:  What happened to the last guy? (I guess you didn’t see those missing person flyers, huh?) And, “Why is such a pretty girl like you still single?” You’ve gone mute because your brain seems to no longer be functioning (great timing) and your silence is his cue to repeat the question. You’re thinking What-Would-Patti-Stanger-Do but your lack of brain function is disrupting your thought process. So, you sit there with a permanent smile on your face looking like the joker while holding your fourth glass of alcohol – two drinks minimum she says? Yet, still no mini sized Patti Stanger comes to your rescue. You’re feeling good (most likely from that buzz) so you scramble to remember the perfect answers that you had been coached to give. They did not go a little something like this:

“I mean I don’t know, I am great right?” Oh dear lord. “My last boyfriend just didn’t see it, but he like told me how great I was when he dumped me. I mean that was nice of him, but like I knew he had already started seeing someone else. I had climbed up his fire escape a couple of days before and there were two glasses of wine on his dinner table, one had lipstick on it that did not match any colours that I own. But everyone does this right? Spy on their boyfriends. I’m sure it’s my constitutional right to check on him.”  You suddenly have an out-of-body experience and you can see yourself babbling like a fool while your date looks horrified that he is conversing with a psycho. You pull yourself together, thank him for dinner and head straight to the mall to get a refund for your mantra tapes.

That wasn’t so bad. A myriad of dating rules were broken: no talking about your ex on the first date. Check. Do not divulge personal information that may make inference to your lack of mental, emotional or psychological stability and check again. It is true however, that certain rules were meant to be broken and this scenario shows how at times they are difficult to follow. Some people feel like rules are overrated; that there’s no need to play all these games, just follow your heart and go where it leads you.

My guy friend and I were discussing dating rules when he began to tell me that he found the 90 day rule women follow before giving up the cookie quite juvenile. He says that it really doesn’t matter if she gives it up after three months because he doesn’t consider any woman his girlfriend officially until he’s reached month six. His reasoning is that the first two months you meet the representative and it’s during the following four months that you really get to know the person, the walls come crumbling down. So should 180 be the new 90 day rule? If it takes approximately six months to evaluate whether we are girlfriend material should they get the cookie so soon? Is a rule even needed? I understand a woman’s fear of giving it up too quickly only to have the man pull a disappearing act. I tend to agree with relationship experts who state that it’s best to be monogamous or to have developed a bond prior to heading to the sack (or let’s wait until marriage, any takers?). Our brain can mistake lust for love and trust me when I say that this is not something you want to deal with. But go ahead, do what you like because there are so many stories in the New York Times wedding announcements section that read: “I just knew she was the one after we slept together on our first date and now here we are – married.” You can abide by any rule or no rule at all for that matter, but make sure that it is what you want to do. If you are following a rule, keep it to yourself. Don’t go blatantly advertising that there are 21 days left until you can test out his bad boy because I promise you he will be very good to you and he will stick around until day 21. Don’t make it some goal you need to attain either, let it simply be the result of a connection. When it’s a goal, you’re rewarding him for being patient – thank you for putting up with me for the past 90 days, here’s a cookie.

These rules that we tend to follow are not ingrained in stone, yet certain guidelines just feel right. I’ve broken every rule in the book, but the times I’ve listened to my gut and a touch of my heart, even when an “essential”  rule had been broken, I’ve never regretted doing so.

 

What rules do you believe to be dated or incredibly silly? List below!

 

I thought I’d revisit the topic of how individuals choose to handle their break-ups. I’ve always found it fascinating how people navigate the treacherous break-up landscape. For some, it’s a breeze, they seemingly jump from one ship to another without a hint of a scratch, while others like yours truly, are writing Shakespearean plays on love and tragedy hoping for a twisted Romeo and Juliette ending – yes I might do this (no shame in my game).

After a break-up, I always keep a running roster of people who I regularly contact so they can listen to me wail (I know which one of you purposely ignore me – I’ve been taking notes). The advice differs greatly from my male and female friends. My female friends who are emotionally in tune tell me it’s okay to eat the pizza, it’s okay to watch the Sex and the City episodes and it’s okay to cry and to cry a lot. They also tell me to take some time away from the dating world so that I can heal. Now my male friends on the other hand, they advise me to YOLO it out and to stick it to the loser. Basically, go out, live it up and keep it moving.

So, while talking to a guy friend about male psychology, he explained that in his group of friends he sees two distinct break-up patterns. The first are the men who temporarily withdraw from women, who want ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with us (IDFWU). Then, there are those who need mindless entertainment (if you can even call it that) to stay fully occupied and to stop themselves from thinking about the girl. So this “entertainment” includes strip clubs, one night stands, casual partners, you know, the works. From what I’ve been told, it eeps you clear-headed. I meditate to achieve that outcome, but hey, potato, patato. They want to make it clear that they are not looking for anything serious and they do not want to have to think of you the next day – sorry! Men and women approach things differently, in that men can compartmentalize and having casual sex is like going to the gym where they sweat it out, increase all those feel good hormones that they need in that moment and then they move on to the next task on their to-do list. Which is not to say that women don’t do that as well, I mean some women also choose to get a little lovin’ as a distraction.

I’ve asked myself if I could truly go buck wild after a relationship and I don’t think that I could. I am well aware of my limitations, and knowing how emotional I am (I’m a damn Cancer and love Jesus to death), this is very much one of them. I feel that acting like one of the boys, all blasé and ‘ish, would be detrimental to my person and would slow down my healing process rather than allowing it to take its normal course. I think what is of most important is knowing who you are and understanding how you best cope with heartache. Sometimes we’re so lost in the moment that we forget how we may feel in the near future (numerous boxes of pizza and twenty pounds later). What may feel good now may only hurt us more later. So, be kind to yourself, do what feels best for you (and you only) and woosah those emotions out.